Damasteel Bolsters


Well-Known Member
Alright everyone, I'm looking for some advise from the more experienced makers here for some Damasteel bolsters that I'm putting on one of my folders. I've used Damasteel before for both blades and bolsters, but I can't ever seem to get a good contrast after etching. The best I can do is a very light grey for the contrasting layer. I've been using muriatic acid (hydrochloric) and have even tried a follow up etch in ferric chloride like Todd Begg shows in a YouTube video of his. The light grey is the best I get.

It seems that on the blades that I have done I get a better etch with better contrast between layers. Could that be due to the blades having been heat treated where the bolsters have not? I'm thinking about heat treating the bolsters to see if I can get a better look. Any advise on etching Damasteel would be appreciated.


"The Montana Bladesmith"
Based on your description, it sounds like the etch difference is what's often seen between heat treated, and non-heat treated damascus parts that are etched. My guess is that is you refinish the bolsters, then heat treat, then etch, they will be more to your liking.

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
I agree with Ed. Hardened Damascus will always show better, bolder contrast when etched than unhardened, whether it's stainless or not. I could be wrong but I believe it's the tempered martensite that makes for the better contrast.

You can temper non-blade parts much hotter than you would a blade and still get really good contrast but leaving your parts soft enough to drill/file/grind or otherwise tweak them if necessary.


I'm a damasteel noob, but am wondering if the instant coffee soak overnight like we do for carbon Damascus will add more contrast?


Well-Known Member
Thanks everybody for the response. I went ahead and heat treated the bolsters and re-etched them. I found that the Muriatic acid did a much better job. I did follow up with a couple of seconds in ferric chloride which improved the contrast even more. The etch wasn't perfect, but it's a good starting point for the future. Thanks again for all the comments.