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  #1  
Old 05-10-2017, 06:41 PM
FMLOL FMLOL is offline
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Question about etching and coloring blade

I plan on using Ferric chloride to darken and protect a knife and would also like to start etching a logo into my new blades. I'm just wondering which I should do first?
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:50 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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For me, etching the logo is actually the very last thing I do. I even sharpen the blade before I etch the logo. After sharpening, the blue protective tape comes off the blade and the only thing left to do is etch the logo. All the metal finishing steps, including etching if done on that blade is already done and then covered with blue tape to protect it while I work on the handle.

So, etch the blade first, then etch the logo at some point after that...


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Old 05-11-2017, 01:17 PM
FMLOL FMLOL is offline
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And if I ever decided to try powder coating would I want to etch my logo after the coating?
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:00 PM
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Well, I'm sure you wouldn't do the etching before you did the powder coating as the coating would likely completely cover the etch. But, I'm not certain how well trying to etch over powder coating would work as I never tried it. Might be no problem or could be a big problem. Unless someone else has that experience this could be one of those "try it and let us know" situations ...


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Old 05-11-2017, 08:07 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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The powder coating is a polymer plastic coating and won't etch in a normal type of etch. Indeed that's what it's there for. A strong acid would be needed to eat into a good powder coating.


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Old 05-12-2017, 10:30 AM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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This is one of those scenarios in knifemaking were you're likely going to have to choose one or the other, or at the very least compromise on one or the other.

Etching in Ferric Chloride will certainly darken a blade (provided it's not stainless), but it doesn't offer you any more protection then the bare steel. In fact, if you don't neutralize the ferric well (I use a saturated solution of TSP), it will cause significant rusting in a very short time.

Etching your "mark" on a blade that's been etched in ferric won't be overly challenging, but there will be some issues to contend with....it's very likely you'll get some lighter/darker tones around the etch on a blade that's been etched in ferric.

Don't expect ferric to produce a "black".... there's going to be a lot of "sludge" on the blade after etching in ferric, that needs to be cleaned up.... once it is, you'll end up with varying shades of grays to dull silvers. Generally I clean up ferric etched blades with soapy water and #0000 steel wool. You have to get ALL the sludge removed, otherwise things will rust rapidly.

When it comes to powder coating, that creates a whole new set of challenges. As has been said, powder coating is a "plastic" coating, which will not allow electrical "flow" through the blade (that's what makes the "mark" etching process work...assuming you're talking elctro-chem etching). Something I've seen work in the past is using cold laminate material, cut to fit the logo area, and applied to the blade prior to powder coating, then peeled off prior to baking the powder coat. This leaves an area for the "mark", but then you have to find somewhere that's clean of the powder coating to connect the negative lead of an etcher.... you also have an area where there is no powder coating.

The way to overcome all of these hassles is to stamp you're "mark" into the blade. If done correctly, you've got your "mark" on the blade, that will show up well even if the blade is powder coated.

This is another example of "give-n-take" when it comes to knifemaking.... generally gaining something, requires you to give up something else.....very rarely do knifemakers encounter a situation where we can "have it all".

It's all about getting creative in the area of problem solving... there are ways around just about anything, but only you can determine if the "work around" is viable.


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Last edited by Ed Caffrey; 05-12-2017 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:03 PM
dtec1 dtec1 is offline
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Ed you covered a lot....I am still confused. Obviously etching the whole blade he ment with acid. But etching the makers mark was he talking about a acid etch or more commonly electro etch? If it was me I would etch the whole blade in ferric clean it up then electro etch the makers mark through a stencil. As far as powder coating goes. I have never tried it but I did play around with cera coat most likely trying to achieve a similar thing as your powder coat idea. Honestly I did it on a few blades and then decided It was a waste of my time...ended up getting old quick...but hey when I was new it sounded like a great idea
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:11 PM
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I'm assuming we're talking etching the blade in ferric, then applying the "mark" via elctro-chem etch. I suppose a person could do both at once using some type of resist for the "mark"....but in my experience that usually ends up looking like a cat's behind.

Any way it's done, (etching the blade AND etching a "mark" there will be issues to overcome. That's one of the reasons I choose to hot stamp most everything.....it eliminates most issues when it comes to etching, coatings, etc. The only time I use an etched mark is when the stamped mark is unsuitable..... like very thin blades, or those that are left machine or hand finished and no etching or coatings.


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