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 Post subject: How do you etch a design on a blade?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:21 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2016 12:23 pm
Posts: 637
I saw a post on this and don't remember where of course, but someone had made a design on a tojiro with chemicals and some sort of stencil. Anyone know how this is done?


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 Post subject: Re: How do you etch a design on a blade?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:23 am 

Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 9:54 pm
Posts: 406
Acid, something like HCl or Muriatic acid. HCL won't eat into wax.
There are other acids which act slower. Be careful handling the stuff. I always use goggles around HCL no matter the form or concentration. You only need to hear so many chem lab stories.

I remember seeing a video where a guy used vinegar - cover the areas that you don't want etched.
There are vids & how to's floating around.

It's worth seeing if glass etching cream will do steel, you can get a bottle of the stuff for less than $10 at an Arts & Crafts store.


Last edited by Ourorboros on Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How do you etch a design on a blade?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:46 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:50 pm
Posts: 348
Weak acids (mustard, vinegar) or hot proteins (heat a roast, stick the knife in it and leave it for a while) are generally used for a forced patina or light oxidation of the surface. Paint on the mustard or dip the knife into vinegar and leave it for a while and it'll accelerate the natural process of the steel developing a patina. You can do some light patterns with this method, especially if you repeat the process several times.

If you want a deeper gray or black and a more distinct design with deeper penetration, you're going to need an acid with some more kick like ferric chloride, copper chloride, or muriatic acid (hydrochloride acid) solutions. Ferric chloride is readily available at RadioShack as PCB (circuit board) etchant. All are hazardous and should be handled carefully. Research how to handle them before you melt your pinky toe off.

There are a few ways to create the resist, or the coating that will keep certain areas from being etched. You can paint on lacquer based nail polish- I recommend something that represents your aura like Passion Pink- and wipe it off with acetone after the etching.

If you want to get fancy and design something on the computer- like a copy of that pony tattoo you got during a late night out drinking with your buddies- you can use transfer paper to transfer the thermoset plastic from laser printer toner to the surface of the knife by heating it with a clothes iron. After etching, you can heat the knife up a little and wipe the plastic off with a plastic putty knife.



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 Post subject: Re: How do you etch a design on a blade?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:12 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:16 am
Posts: 630
Location: Oxford,MA
there is a book David Boyes knifemakeing or something like that...he goes into good detail on etching steel using a resist and acid.



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 Post subject: Re: How do you etch a design on a blade?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:57 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2016 12:23 pm
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Oh man that sounds fun. I'm gonna have to try it! I have actually printed a few t shirts of my own before with transfer paper. Is it like that or am I off base here?


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 Post subject: Re: How do you etch a design on a blade?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 5:55 am 
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Chefspence wrote:Oh man that sounds fun. I'm gonna have to try it! I have actually printed a few t shirts of my own before with transfer paper. Is it like that or am I off base here?

It's very similar.

(Disclaimer: I have yet to use this method personally. I'm currently playing around with the acid wash process using nail polish as the resist and plan to build a little power supply to do some electrochemical etching. I learned of this method after finding out toner was a thermoplastic and then a subsequent search found that this method was being used in jewelry.)

Most professional fabric transfers use a form of thermoplastic polymer called poly(vinyl chloride) aka PVC, printed on a substrate (the transfer paper) that provides for a weak bonding. You probably think of plumbing pipe when you hear PVC, but it comes in many forms, rigid and flexible. When heated, the plasticity- ability to change shape- of PVC increases and allows it to mold to any surface it's pressed into. When heated and pressed into fabric, the PVC clings easily to the much higher surface area of the fabric and as it cools and the substrate is peeled off, the PVC sticks to the fabric more than the paper.

Laser toner also uses a type of thermoplastic, often PVC, as a matrix to hold the pigment powders (carbon powder for black). It's a slightly different process: a laser changes the electrostatic charge on a drum that picks up toner in the pattern the laser draws, and presses it onto the paper. The paper then runs through a heating roller or under a heating element to melt the polymer matrix and semi-fuse it to the paper. It's actually similar to powder coating, where the electrostatically charged polymer powder particles are attracted to the oppositely charged item being coated, and then the plastic powder is "set" inside a low temperature oven. \tangent

For making the resist, start with printing on transfer paper or transparency film like you would for fabrics. Fully degrease the steel surface with denatured alcohol and apply the transfer with a clothes iron. Hopefully the PVC clings to the steel more than the substrate when you peel it away after a short cool. You might have to try this a few times to get it to stick well enough.

Since PVC is virtually immune to acid, it will resist the acid and protect the metal underneath. After the soak in acid, you can heat it up a little again and scrape it off with a non-marring material. Acid soak times will depend on the strength of acid solution you use, which you'll have to experiment with. When you pull the blade, neutralize the acid left on the surface in an alkaline baking soda water solution or with liquid ammonia (Windex is 5% ammonia).

**Important note: The more powerful the acid, the shorter the soak times, but the more dangerous to handle and store.**

***Most thermoplastics become flexible enough to "melt" at around 300-325°F. In theory, this should be low enough to not mess with most steels' temper if applied for a few seconds to a couple minutes or less, but I make no guarantee of this. If the heat transfer method worries you, you could make cutout stencils to use for painting a lacquer (nail polish) on the surface in a pattern.



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