My stencils and I have been fighting recently and I was wondering what steps you take post electro etch on your blades. Like sanding after the etch etc.
The etcher I have can do AC or DC but the problem I have is when I use AC I sometimes get stray black marks on my blade near my logo and it looks like crap. It does not happen all the time but sometimes in enough for me to revisit my process. I thought about going the bluing route or marker route because if it etches a small stray mark and I do not go over it in AC then it should be less noticeable because it will not be black. I think I will give that a try.You can make an AC power supply from a doorbell transformer, and etch to get a blackened finish. You can skip the cold bluing. See Ernie's website for more info.
I have a homemade etcher made from a old battery charger,I sand to at least 400 grit,then clean with alchohol, tape my stencil down with scotch tape,I load the felt on my wand with a mixture of salt and vinegar and etch holding the pad down for 3 to 5 sec and repeat until I'm satisfied. Then take off the stencil and run tap water over the blade,clean the stencil and lay it out to dry. Take the blade and hand sand the area again with 400 grit,clean the area good with a tooth brush. Recently I have been taking a small paint brush and using cold blue gel on the etch after clean up and then hand sanding again for a awesome looking makers mark.
I have the same etcher. I just received stencils from Ernie a few weeks back and so far I've had good results. I've also been using the commercial etchant you mention from USAknifemaker. I mae my own pad setup with a piece of brass attached to a block of wood with the brass part soldered to the electrode. For a pad I've been using a piece of felt that I bought for chair backing. So far so goodI clean my blades with either 90% alcohol or windex prior to etch. My stencils are from Ernie Grospitch, and I tape them down with black electrical tape. My etcher was built from Radio Shack parts based on plans from Chris Crawford's website. I use alligator clips and q-tips for the etch... changing the q-tips frequently. One thing that helped my etches was changing from a salt-water etchant to a commercial etchant from Tracy Mickley. It's also important to not have too much, or too little etchant in the q-tip. I don't want so much that a droplet will form on the q-tip... but it is important that the entire q-tip is saturated. I frequently use a dabbing motion as I move across the stencil... and I watch for the gross foam to form on the cotton. When the etcher is working well, the foam will form quickly. If it's not forming, it usually means that the q-tip is too dry.
I always clean up the mark with one or two swipes of the last grit of paper that I used.
I built my etcher with an HO Train transformer. It has both AC&DC. I sand down to at least 400, clean with alcohol, tape down stencil with cellophane tape, mix warm water and sea salt for the electrolite, hit it with the DC then switch it over and finish it with AC to stain it good. Pull off the stencil wash the area with soap and water then sand with whatever I ended on the blade with. It works good takes a little longer with the Train Transformer as it's not super powered like a battery charger. Maybe you could use a transformer for an O gauge train?
I just have a large nail with a large head on it ,I wrap a strip of craft felt down the length if the nail and around the end of the head and hold it in place with a small clothes pin.I use a clean spot of felt for each etch until I've used up all the felt then cut a new strip .I will be trying this soon. How did you make you wand?