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Author Topic: etching  (Read 1690 times)
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brad westring
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« on: December 14, 2015, 02:57:28 AM »

Hi Ed, Chris, and everyone,

Well, I've been forging some blades this fall. Instead of using the bars of 52100 from the Willow Bow, I decided to practice on some roller bearings I got from my local junk yard. ( are all bearings 52100?) I'm getting some banding and nice hardening lines. I'm etching with ferric chloride 1:3 water for 20 minutes. My main question is how do you clean up the blade after it is etched? But any etching advice would be appreciated. Thanks    

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Daniel Rohde (D-Vision)
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2015, 03:49:59 AM »

Hey Brad and welcome!
Ed uses a loose buffing wheel loaded with pink scratchless if I remember right and I do the same thing.

After etching I usually take the blade to a sink and hose that puppyndown a use a brush to get some of the oxides off then take it to the buffer.

Hope that helps!
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John Silveira
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2015, 05:31:51 PM »

wow - everyone has their own way of doing things - it's amazing.

3:1 on the ferric is probably way more than you need.

i'll etch a blade maybe 5 minutes - than over to the sink and lightly with about 1000 grit wet paper i'll go over it to knock off the residues.

then i'll go in for another 3 minutes or so and repeat the 1000 grit but more lightly - if it's starting to look right to me then it goes into the etch again for several more minutes - 1500 grit and light polish ( i use blue magic ) but any chrome polish will work - of course if you have a buffing wheel setup then follow the other recommendations in other posts (i don't have a buffer setup yet ).

good luck
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Daniel Rohde (D-Vision)
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2015, 10:30:53 PM »

Gee...I etch for 35 mins strait...I guess there are  allot of different ways of doing things. If I was doing a hamon I would do more what John does
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John Silveira
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2015, 06:03:38 PM »

i got cautious with etching because there were a couple times i got severe pitting when i left blades in the F/C for longer periods . So even when i etch a blade of 52100 i use the same process - - - >  about 3-5 minutes max - then rub with 1500 - then another 3-5 minutes and rub again with 1500 and repeat till i'm happy with it.
and since i don't have a buff wheel setup i'll rub the blue magic on by hand with a rag wrapped on my finger kinda thing. Goes pretty quick.

OH !  i also use baking soda to neutralize the F/C.

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TomWhite
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2015, 11:49:53 PM »

I have heard of people using vinigar to etch, I would bet most anything acidic would work. I used a rust remover solution on my blade and got good resolution, it took several days. Finish is important so that the echant doesn't get into the scratches and cause a stress riser. The commercial solution will give quicker results.
I have wondered if Coca cola will work but have not tried it yet. Might be a different look.
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John Silveira
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2015, 01:19:30 AM »

I have heard of people using vinigar to etch, I would bet most anything acidic would work. I used a rust remover solution on my blade and got good resolution, it took several days. Finish is important so that the echant doesn't get into the scratches and cause a stress riser. The commercial solution will give quicker results.
I have wondered if Coca cola will work but have not tried it yet. Might be a different look.

Yup - i've used only lemon juice a couple times as well - it's a mild etch - takes about 10 minutes to start to bite into the metal. Just gives me a change of color to the steel ( Patina ). Then i lightly rub it up with Blue Magic - and repeat till i'm good with it - usually 3 times approx.

don't know how it would work though if trying to bring out those banding/grain characteristics -

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TomWhite
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2015, 10:18:47 PM »

John, what is blue magic and where do you get it. Sounds like it might be something that would work on a gun perhaps also?
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John Silveira
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2015, 07:00:15 AM »

John, what is blue magic and where do you get it. Sounds like it might be something that would work on a gun perhaps also?

Hey - blue magic is just a chrome polish - like flitz or semi-chrome polish. Smells like it has amonia in it. I get it at the auto supply stores like Napa or pep boys and the like. I should probably try more of the flitz product just to compare. I've tried Mothers brands as well - they all have slightly different qualities it seems - the guys who do alot of Hamon work like "Flitz" .

Amazon probably sells the stuffs too

There's probably better products for guns - especially because of the bluing - so you'd have to experiment - i can't say if any of the ones i mentioned will remove the bluing or not.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 07:02:21 AM by John Silveira » Logged
Joe Calton
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2015, 05:43:28 PM »

welcome to the forum Brad!!

I would bet that not all bearings are 52100.

when I etch a blade with ferric, I mix 1 part ferric with 4 parts distilled water. and I keep it in a glass mason jar, with the date that I mixed it written on the lid. I hand sand the blade to 600 grit, then etch my mark, clean it back up with 600 grit, and then without touching the blade or blowing on it {the moisture from your breath can make little spots on the blade that wont get etched}, put it in the ferric for 10 minutes. then it gets rinsed under hot water, then into a tsp solution {never kept track of the mix, and have used both the concentrate liquid tsp, and the powder} for 10 minutes. then the blade comes out, gets rinsed in hot water again, then sprayed down with wd-40 to set the oxides {I like the more matt color of them}. for a final cleanup after fitting the guard and handle and sheath, I rub it down with mothers aluminum wheel polish from the auto parts section at Walmart.

vinegar works good for an etch also. I use straight vinegar, kept in a section of 4" pvc. it takes longer, and gives a rougher finish for me anyways. so I like to use it on choppers, or any rough forged looking kind of knives. lots of times ill forge out a blade, heat treat it, grind in the bevels, then etch it in vinegar and that is the finish.

I do want to experiment with coffee as an etch. I hear that it gives a really nice grey color. but haven't tried it yet.
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Daniel Rohde (D-Vision)
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2015, 06:18:36 PM »

I'll have to try some new etching mediums but I really like 1:3 ratio FC to water. Doesn't seem like coffee would etch the steel at all? I should try vinegar again.

Maybe I should start making some videos....
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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2015, 06:49:34 PM »

Wayne went to a mustard finish, he said it did not reveal the scratches like the FeCl3 leaves. All he did was dab the mustard on the blade with his fingers then buff.

When working the blade on a piece of sand paper on the bench the problem is that you cannot see what you are doing and have to turn the blade over each time you want so see what happened. But for some it works well.

I tried about everything you can to etch blades and found the acids to be too hazardous for me in my shop. Just too easy to spill and you need stuff to neutralize it handy.

Myself after etching with all kinds of acids and stuff the ferric chloride has become my etchant of choice. All you really need to neutralize it is water or soap and water.

You can also etch a blade with TSP and water.
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Joe Calton
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2015, 07:01:49 PM »

my first blade that I ever saw a hardening line on was etched in blood. I had tried all sorts of things, and could not get a blade to etch. then I made myself a new hunting knife, tried to etch it also, took it to a 2000 grit handsanded finish, then buffed it with something or other, then tried to etch it, and nothing happened. took the knife with me hunting, and after dressing out a pair of antelope, it was starting a patina, then when I was dressing out the 3rd deer of the season, all of a sudden I noticed a pattern on the blade. finished the deer, took some snow and cleaned the blade off, and there it was, right where it was supposed to be, and it was gorgeous!!

I think what was happening was I wasn't getting the blade clean enough before the etch, and the etchant could not cut through to the steel. that hunting knife, after it had been washed a few times, and the blood etching it between the washings finally got etched. it was probably the most beautiful etch I ever saw, all the different colors in the blade, and them revealing what I had been working for months to see!
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John Silveira
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2015, 06:19:50 PM »

my first blade that I ever saw a hardening line on was etched in blood. I had tried all sorts of things, and could not get a blade to etch. then I made myself a new hunting knife, tried to etch it also, took it to a 2000 grit handsanded finish, then buffed it with something or other, then tried to etch it, and nothing happened. took the knife with me hunting, and after dressing out a pair of antelope, it was starting a patina, then when I was dressing out the 3rd deer of the season, all of a sudden I noticed a pattern on the blade. finished the deer, took some snow and cleaned the blade off, and there it was, right where it was supposed to be, and it was gorgeous!!

I think what was happening was I wasn't getting the blade clean enough before the etch, and the etchant could not cut through to the steel. that hunting knife, after it had been washed a few times, and the blood etching it between the washings finally got etched. it was probably the most beautiful etch I ever saw, all the different colors in the blade, and them revealing what I had been working for months to see!

Humm - warm blood - LOL - awesome !
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TomWhite
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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2015, 06:16:36 AM »

Read history, or watch old movies.
The blood quench is ceatInally not unprecedented,
I have no doubt it is unique.
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