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Acid Etch Question

Discussion in 'Fit & Finish' started by 250Gimp, Apr 9, 2021.

  1. 250Gimp

    250Gimp New Member

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    Good afternoon everyone!

    I have decided to dip my toe into the pool of patterned steel, and I have a question.....

    I am planning on using ferric chloride but I would like to know if you mix it with water or just use it straight.

    This is the product I am planning to get but it says “ready to use solution”.

    https://www.mgchemicals.com/products/electronics-prototyping/copper-etchants/ferric-chloride/

    Any guidance would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks a lot for your advice!
     
  2. Griff

    Griff Active Member

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    Yes mix it with water.

    You’ll get recommendations of 2:1 or even 4:1 (the larger number being water)

    I went equal parts 50:50 and like my results. I have used distilled water and tap water, haven’t noticed a difference personally.

    This is a good question to ask. But more importantly like anything you do in this endeavour it’s all to do with the prep-work you’ve done before hand

    The flatter / smoother the surface the better the etch will look on a mono-steel blade, regardless if you finish at 400g or higher.

    Clean, clean...then clean again. An area you missed cleaning, or a few will look like blotches in your etch.

    I find multiple dips work far better than one long dip.

    You need to neutralize the acid with baking-soda & water, or glass cleaner if you find one that still contains ammonia.

    Brasso and 0000 steel wool works great to remove excess oxides and smooth things out.

    On Damascus you’ll find a ton of recommendations. I suggest getting on YouTube and watching Kyle Royer etch and clean his knives. He uses 2000 grit paper to remove oxides between etches.
     
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  3. 250Gimp

    250Gimp New Member

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    Thanks for the great advice Griff!

    I didn’t expect the cleaning to be so intense, so I will be sure to clean it as suggested.

    I’m on city water so will just use it instead of distilled.

    Cheers!
     
  4. Griff

    Griff Active Member

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    Sorry should have iterated that gloves on while you’re cleaning. Acid from your fingers can contaminate the surface and undo all your prep work.

    I typically do mono-steel blades. I had success with this method though on my one San Mai knife.

    So sand to your intended finish. Up to you, none of my business or anyone else’s what grit you finish at, just know the acid will amplify deep course scratches. As I said above my minimum is a 400G satin finish by hand or an 800G cork belt when machine finishing.

    Degrease and wipe clean

    Acetone or thinner and wipe clean

    Rinse with clean water and dry

    I dip the blade for 2 minutes and pull it out to see if the etch is consistent. If all is good, in for another 3 minutes.

    Pull the blade out.

    Neutralize the acid.

    0000 steel wool and Brasso and wipe off excess black sludge with paper towel.

    Repeat cleaning cycle

    Dip 5 minutes

    Repeat above for a third dip and clean

    Should be good:beer:

    I know some guys do a 20-30 minute etch. I don’t feel it’s necessary. You may feel different, each to their own and all that.

    I probably will do longer dips to get a real black finish if I were to do a stone wash finish. I have some bush craft knives on the go, and I want to experiment with that this year.

    Cheers!

    :beer::beer:
     
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  5. 250Gimp

    250Gimp New Member

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    Hey Griff

    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to detail your process!

    I’m hoping to do some tests this week.

    Cheers!
     
  6. Joelsund

    Joelsund Active Member

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    I don't have any experience with Damascus, but I've etched some Hamons.

    I think Griff has covered most of it, but ill share what I do which is quite similar.

    Before etching, get it sanded as smooth as you can. I do 2000, then buff and hand polish with aluminum oxide powder.

    then etch for about 2 mins (I agree with Griff, multiple shorter etches seem to work better)

    after the etch I clean with 2000g sandpaper, buff, and hand polish with aluminum oxide again.

    repeat this till you're happy. I usually do it 5 times.

    I've also found etching with instant coffee works quite well and gives more of a grey-blue color. where ferric gives mostly just a grey.
     
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  7. Scott Kozub

    Scott Kozub Member

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    I don't do any of this but I've seen will stelter and Alec steele use coffee for etching pattern welded steel with great results.
     
  8. 250Gimp

    250Gimp New Member

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    Hi Joel &Scott, thank you for the input!
     

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