Anodizing question

Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
I am just getting into anodizing titanium and i am wondering if etching a scale with the detent already set can affect it. I assume ceramic is fine but what about steel? Is it affected by multi etch or the actual anodizing process and if so what do you use to mask it off? I have heard that people use nail polish to make patterns so I assume that it should mask sufficiently.

I am in the process of building my own carbidizer and anodizer and I have a loaner knife coming in the mail to test the processes. I want to ensure that I do a good job on both.

Once I have everything figured out i plan to post a tutorial on building the unit with step by step instructions. I couldn't find a ton of info online so I hope it can help someone down the road.

Thanks in advance for your help.
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
With a steel detent ball, you will get some damage/pitting if you anodize with it in place.....the longer it's in the anodizing tank, with power applied, the greater the damage.
Personally, I use ceramic detents, so it's not an issue. However, back when I was using steel detents, I'd have the detent hole pre-drilled, anodize, then set the detent.

If you're building your own anodizer, the best advice I can offer is to ensure you have enough amps...... the one I build has adjustment for both DC volts, and the amps..... through experience, I've found that I prefer 5-6 amps, because the anodizing process is almost instant..... for me, using less than 3 amps, and I have to let things "soak", some for extended periods of time.
 

Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
With a steel detent ball, you will get some damage/pitting if you anodize with it in place.....the longer it's in the anodizing tank, with power applied, the greater the damage.
Personally, I use ceramic detents, so it's not an issue. However, back when I was using steel detents, I'd have the detent hole pre-drilled, anodize, then set the detent.

If you're building your own anodizer, the best advice I can offer is to ensure you have enough amps...... the one I build has adjustment for both DC volts, and the amps..... through experience, I've found that I prefer 5-6 amps, because the anodizing process is almost instant..... for me, using less than 3 amps, and I have to let things "soak", some for extended periods of time.
Thanks for the reply. I totally agree about pre drilling and/or ceramic detents. The only reason i need to worry about it this time is that I had someone send me a knife for testing. He said its a crk clone so I assume it will have a steel detent. My supply will output 5A but the current draw is load dependent. Its just a variac that goes through a filter box. It definitely has more jam than a small dc variable supply. Do you think a lower voltage color will be better (cause less damage)? I think ill still try to mask as well i am hoping someome can recommend a masking material. I told the person to send a cheap knife with bad stick that they didnt care about. I disclaimed that there were no guarantees and this was a trial but all the work was free. I am hoping to send back a knife with no stick and a fresh ano job.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
You may know all this already....feel free to ignore any of it.
  1. Using Multi-etch from Reactive Metals will make a huge difference in how well your anno works. Heat it to around 120F before using. I use a microwave to heat it.
  2. Liquid TSP works better than powder. There are other solutions you can use but I've had decent luck with that. The powder tends to leave white spots. There is probably a perfect mixing ratio of TSP to water but I never found it.
  3. Your cathode should be bigger than the piece you are doing.
  4. Using a titanium or niobium wire to suspend your work piece does help.
  5. The voltage determines the color. Make several test coupons and record your voltage levels for future reference.
  6. Hard water can leave spots. Distilled water doesn't cost much.
  7. Masking can be most anything. Tape, nail polish, paint pens are pretty common.
  8. Multi Etch won't affect a ceramic ball. I would remove a steel detent ball before etching but I suspect the etch on a steel ball would wear away in just a few openings and closings.
 

Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
You may know all this already....feel free to ignore any of it.
  1. Using Multi-etch from Reactive Metals will make a huge difference in how well your anno works. Heat it to around 120F before using. I use a microwave to heat it.
  2. Liquid TSP works better than powder. There are other solutions you can use but I've had decent luck with that. The powder tends to leave white spots. There is probably a perfect mixing ratio of TSP to water but I never found it.
  3. Your cathode should be bigger than the piece you are doing.
  4. Using a titanium or niobium wire to suspend your work piece does help.
  5. The voltage determines the color. Make several test coupons and record your voltage levels for future reference.
  6. Hard water can leave spots. Distilled water doesn't cost much.
  7. Masking can be most anything. Tape, nail polish, paint pens are pretty common.
  8. Multi Etch won't affect a ceramic ball. I would remove a steel detent ball before etching but I suspect the etch on a steel ball would wear away in just a few openings and closings.
Thanks for the info.
I didnt know about the liquid tsp i will definitely look for some. I did order some titanium wire and sheet material for use as an anode and cathode. I saw a video online from keybar about anodizing and they said to heat the multietch in an ultrasonic cleaner so i ordered one. I think it heats to 140 degrees. I will mask the detent and hope for the best.

On another forum someone recommended that i carbidize after ano. He said it can be affected by anodizing. I will follow this advice but i am wondering if anyone has any experience anodizing an already carbidized lock. I may need to do this in the future.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
I’m not sure how anno of a carburized face could affect the lock up. I’ll have to think on that a bit. It would wear instantly. It’s not all that durable.
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
Do you think a lower voltage color will be better (cause less damage)?
Low voltage(s) will certainly cause less damage to things like a steel detent. In my experience once I get past 20 volts pitting on any ferric material in the mix is extensive.
 

Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
Thanks everyone for your tips so far. I learned that for my setup the multi etch is useless unless about 160 degrees. After that it really comes to life. I tried a few colors and found my finish to be uneven a bit. I am wondering if anyone has any tips to help get an even uniform color. I thought i was careful about wearing gloves and rinsing but there are some uneven areas. Any help is greatly appreciated. This is a finish i got after tumbling.
20190310_161122.jpg
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
WOOT!! Love it when a plan comes together!

Just in case your not aware...... the anodized colors on Ti are impacted greatly by the finish applied to the Ti. Brushed or satin finishes prior to anodizing produce more pastel type colors, and the more you get to a mirror finish, the deeper and more vivid the colors. As with etching damscus.....CLEAN is the name of the game. There are commercial cleaners available, but I generally clean well with acetone prior to anodizing. ;)
 
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