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Ed Caffrey's Workshop Talk to Ed Caffrey ... The Montana Bladesmith! Tips, tricks and more from an ABS Mastersmith.

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Old 09-04-2001, 08:08 PM
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etching damascus

How long do you etch damascus? I know it will vary from maker to maker but what I really mean is what effect are you trying to get?

Should you be able to see the pattern while minimizing the roughness caused by etching or "raising the grain or pattern"? Or do you etch to get the "raised grain" as well as the pattern to show up?

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Old 09-05-2001, 12:35 AM
Tom Ferry
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Hi Tony well I usually etch for 5 to 10 minutes then scrub with a tooth brush in a bucket of water and continue to etch then scrub until I get the desired result which for me is usually when I can start to feel the pattern with my thumbnail. Overall it usually takes at least 4 times in the etch which is 1 part ac## and 3 parts water. The temp of the ac## also plays a role in how aggressive the ac## is. A rule of thumb is that the slower the etch the more even and better looking it will be. Hope that helps
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Old 09-05-2001, 08:48 AM
J Loose
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I etch for 5-10 minutes and clean with soapy #0000 steel wool under running water: rinse, lather & repeat.

I think how long / how much is partly going to depend on what combinations you are using. Combinations with a strong color contrast might not need to be etched as much as damascus with a subtle watering, where relief helps define things.

I have had nice effects with both light and heavy etches on low-contrast combos... it seems to me that low layer counts tend to work better with the light etching and high layers look a little better with the heavy etching... but again that is on my damascus that has mild visual contrast to begin with.
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Old 09-05-2001, 09:30 AM
Mike Hill
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Im fairly new at this but so far I have gotten great results on Cable damascus by etching for 30-40 minutes in 1 part ferric chlor##e and 4 parts water. Scrub afterwards with baking soda and lightly polish with 1500 grit wet/dry paper untill desired look is achieved.
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Old 09-05-2001, 07:16 PM
Tom Ferry
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Mike is right about thoroughly scrubbing with baking soda after the etch to neutralize any res##ual ac## and stop the etch. Then I lightly hand sand with 600 grt and use wd-40 as the wetting agent.
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Old 09-06-2001, 12:53 AM
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I use mainly Damasteel and I like a DEEP etch that really gives it contour...that way it is much less prone to be scratched. I etch in sulfuric 30% solution in about 5 minuttes...soak in soda and handrub with 800 grit.
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Old 09-06-2001, 02:29 PM
Michael Sanchez
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I'm a little different I actually started making Damascus before I got into making knives. I usually give the metal a real good etch, usually 30 to 45 minutes, and then buff with green roughe and WD-40 to get the luster I'm looking for.
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