Damascus - Etch Help

Discussion in 'Knife Dogs Main Forum' started by LobosStyle Blades, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. LobosStyle Blades

    LobosStyle Blades Well-Known Member

    Hey Guys,

    I'm working on this new piece that is some steel I got from a guy in trade for services. The steel is a "Damascus" from Pakistan that he got somewhere but I have no clue what the actual steel is. This piece actually had a really ugly forge weld that didn't weld right in a hollow grind so I had to reshape the blade and grind it to a flat grind profile to get rid of it. I was actually able to heat treat it and get a good temper on it. So I'm hoping with that background information on this steel might help those of you with good experience in the steels.

    The photos here show how far I've gotten on finishing the etch, but was hoping that someone might have a few suggestions on how to make it nicer. My process was to etch in FeCl (50/50 mix) for 10 min and then wet sand with 1200grit. I know that it probably doesn't have any form of nickel steel in it that would provide a nice contrast, but was hoping to do something with it anyways.

    Any help is appreciated.

    Dama1.jpg Dama2.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  2. J. Doyle

    J. Doyle Dealer - Purveyor

    What grit did you sand the blade to prior to etching? I've found that I go to about 600 grit only, maybe 800 grit in some cases.

    Your FeCl is a little on the strong side for my tastes. I like a 4:1 mix of distilled water and FeCl. You might try etching longer to get the pattern a bit deeper. I've etched fittings for an hour or more. Blades...I usually don't go that long. But may go 20 mins to 30 mins, depending on how it looks.

    I'd say you're probably sanding too much after etching, and 1200 grit is pretty coarse for that. You only want to BARELY shine up the nickel layers and leave the black layers as dark as possible. So a light touch is the key, sanding no more than necessary. And I'd try 2000 grit or 2500 for that final stage.
  3. LobosStyle Blades

    LobosStyle Blades Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input John. I'm not sure there's actually any nickel layers in this steel. I'll definitely go with your recommendations on how to finish the sanding on it with that light touch.
  4. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Beyond what John said, based on the pictures, that is some pretty "muddy" damascus.... meaning that the welding/forging technique was lacking. I suspect the best you're going to do with that particular piece is to re-etch it fairly deep, and then LIGHTLY sand with 2000 grit (only enough to clean the high areas of the topography as John said). I suspect it's still going to have a somewhat "muddy" or "fuzzy" appearance, no matter what you do to it.
  5. LobosStyle Blades

    LobosStyle Blades Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input guys. I'll do my best as this is the my first attempt at any form of Damascus. I guess the real beauty in this piece will need to be in the handle and sheath.
  6. tapforge

    tapforge Member

    Im a fan of multiple etches, i etch in diluted ferric 4:1 (4 parts distilled h20) dip for 5 min only, then clean all the black oxides off and dip again. do this about 10 times it is far more effective than a single long dip. be sure to clean the blade between etches. you will get a nice even deep etch this way, and then you can folgerize to get the black if you want high contrast...

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