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The Newbies Arena Are you new to knife making? Here is all the help you will need.

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  #1  
Old 11-22-2015, 09:33 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
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Electro Etcher

Finally got my electro etcher working. Practicing on a scrap piece of 5160 now and I keep getting small spots where it doesn't blacken right. My etcher is build off Chris Crawford's design. First I tried 1 minute of 5 seconds etching and 1 second degas'ing. Then tried 10s on 1s off. Using the same timing for etching and for blackening. Is that right to blacken as much as you etch? Should I try intervals of more than 1 minute? Can't seem to get a crisp blacken throughout the stencil. BTW, using stencils ordered from Ernie Grospitch.

*Edit* Forgot to mention, I'm cleaning my stencil after each use but I can't seem to get all the "dirt" out of it. Using a little dish soap and rubbing it between my fingertips.

Last edited by MSullivan; 11-22-2015 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 11-22-2015, 09:41 PM
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DanCom DanCom is offline
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A couple of things to look into. What are you using for the electrolyte?
Can you confirm the voltages with a meter? You should be getting DC in the Etch mode and AC in the Mark mode.

I've never had a problem with Ernie's stencils.

Dan
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2015, 11:13 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
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Ernie's stencils look great. He was awesome to work with. I definitely don't think it's the stencils, unless I ruined it with my inexperience and just don't know it.

I'm getting 27v on AC and 24v on DC at the plugins. Double checked voltage using the ground and the marker thinking maybe I wasn't getting a good connection to the stainless plate (couldn't get solder to stick so I TIG'd a #8 bolt to it and connected wire using that) I'm getting same voltage as I did at the plugins.

I'm using Knifedogs electrolyte #94 and neutralizer from USAknifemakers. Using plain white felt from Walmart. Wetting the felt with electrolyte then using a paper towel to soak up the excess so it isn't soaking wet.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:41 AM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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I haven't seen the Crawford design but something sure sounds wrong to me. First, you have almost the same AC and DC voltage. Every etcher I have used has the DC voltage level at half the AC voltage. That is just naturally what happens if you convert AC to DC voltage without going to a lot of trouble to have it be otherwise. Etchers are too simple for that so it should be more like 24v AC and 12v DC.

Second, far too much time. I have two etchers, depending on the steel either will etch within 15 to 25 seconds. I etch 3s on and 2s off, repeat that cycle 3 to 5 times.

Etchers are so simple that one can be made from nothing more than a 12vac wall wart and a diode. Can't imagine what's wrong with yours but some pics might help ...


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Old 11-23-2015, 07:13 PM
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Whenever I hear "minutes" I think the polarity is wrong for the DC etch part.
The voltage seems pretty high. My etchers operate in the 6 to 12 VAC range and normally we're done in 10 to 20 seconds (as Ray suggests too). As a rule, the DC will be 1.414 * the AC. e.g. 10 VAC = 14.1 VDC. It's possible you have several things going on at once. Can you send a couple of photos?

Dan
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  #6  
Old 11-25-2015, 02:52 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
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Chris Crawford's design

Sorry about taking so long on the photos, hope they can help...With the etcher I wasn't able to use the exact parts that Chris Crawford uses so I had some issues getting it working. A guy at my work is a genius with this stuff so he got it running. He said that the bridge rectifier is wired differently than the one Chris used. Ray, when I mentioned to him halving the DC he said that would be as simple as removing one wire from the bridge.







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Old 11-25-2015, 03:36 PM
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Hi Matt,

What are you using for the pad? I found that craft store felt works good. A felt insole is a little thick but will work also. Soak it in the electrolyte then tamp off the excess with a shop towel.

As far as I can tell by tracing the wires around the circuit looks okay.

Dan


Last edited by DanCom; 11-25-2015 at 03:41 PM. Reason: added linked image of pad
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  #8  
Old 11-25-2015, 03:53 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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QUOTE: Ray, when I mentioned to him halving the DC he said that would be as simple as removing one wire from the bridge.

True enough, but did you? We etch first with DC current for 10 to 20 seconds using that on/off method I described earlier. Then we switch to AC and repeat the process. If you aren't doing that the etch would look shallow just like yours does. Also, just to cover all the bases, the stencil is taped to the steel during the etch process, not stretched over the pad like some instructions I've seen ...


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Old 11-26-2015, 05:49 AM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
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Ray, I have not halved the DC yet. Honestly I'm not even sure which wire to remove so my coworker is going to do it on Monday. I'm taping the stencil to the steel. I haven't seen a tutorial yet that mentioned stretching stencil over the pad and that didn't even occur to me...seems a terrible idea.

Dan, I'm using plain white felt from the fabric section at Walmart. I'm also doing exactly what you described for applying the electrolyte...It should maybe be mentioned that at the end of my first attempt to etch, the pad was dry and slightly "burnt". I assume that's from a combination of too much etch time and high voltage.

I appreciate the help from you both. Once I get the DC voltage correct I'll give it a shot again with much shorter times and update the post with results.
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Old 11-26-2015, 10:08 AM
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Don Robinson Don Robinson is offline
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Your practice piece looks pretty rough. An etch requires a smooth surface.
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  #11  
Old 11-26-2015, 08:57 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
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It is very rough, didn't consider that, was just eager to try it out. Would 300 grit be smooth enough?
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  #12  
Old 11-27-2015, 07:22 AM
Bailey Boat Bailey Boat is offline
 
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What it that in the 3rd pic with 3 wires coming/going to it???
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  #13  
Old 11-27-2015, 08:59 AM
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A 300 grit finish would be fine but it will only make the etch you have look a little better because your etch just sits on the metal surface. To make it right it needs to cut into the steel. You'll get that when you fix your lack of DC current problem ...


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  #14  
Old 11-27-2015, 12:08 PM
MSullivan MSullivan is offline
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Bailey, that's the on/off switch. One to the right of that is the switch for AC/DC
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Old 11-30-2015, 02:54 PM
Bailey Boat Bailey Boat is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSullivan View Post
Bailey, that's the on/off switch. One to the right of that is the switch for AC/DC
Not the unit itself but the wooden block looking thing with what appears to be a piece of steel on the end....
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