How do you etch your damascus?

Bill Vining

Dealer - Purveyor
I have always had trouble getting a deep black etch on my carbon damascus. It always seems to come out more gray than anything else. I have tried many methods recommended by other makers and I've never been happy with the results. I've recently spent some time trying various methods trying to get that black black etch. I think I have found something that works for me.

I soak the blade in a 3:1 FC mixture for 1 minute to start to bring out the pattern
Neutralize in baking soda and water
From there, I rinse that blade in distilled water
The blade then goes into an coffee etch. 1/4 cup instant coffee per quart of distilled water. It will stay in the coffee for around 6 hours.
Rinse in distilled water and submerse immediately into acetone for a few minutes
Hang the blade and hit it with a heat gun on high for a few minutes.
The black will not rub off.

Has anyone tried something similar? What are your methods?


Mark Barone

Well-Known Member
Thats a pretty deep etch for coffee. I heard others use that. I don't have a lot of experience but have settled on this right now. I have a 2:1 mixture FC to distilled water. My blade was brought up to only 400, I probably should go higher. I etch it for about 45 minutes but keep checking it. I rinse in baking soda water, then really scrub the blade until my cloth doesn't show any black. I then gently hit it with 1000 grit lightly and slowly until I'm happy with it. I basically just used one finger over the paper. I don't hit it with a sanding block or anything. Have I perfected it. Nope. Although I like it , I see others that are gorgeous.IMG_4013.jpg


Well-Known Member
I do it pretty much like you Bill. I've found that longer soaks in a somewhat weaker solution gives you a better etch.
I use about 3 to 1 ferric and distilled water. I soak for about 2 min. than rinse with regular tap water, rubbing lightly wearing rubber gloves. I do that 3 or 4 times then pat dry with a paper towel. I usually etch just until you can feel the etch thru the latex gloves.

Then I use a little oil and lightly go over the blade with 2000 grit paper.
I like my blade coffee like I like my coffee, strong and black. I buy a cheap jar of instant coffee at the grocery store, usually from some third world country with funky writing on the label and dump the whole jar into a good quart sized container.
after between 2-6 hours the blade come out nice and black. I then put oil on it and rub it in lightly to make sure nothing black is coming off....which sometime takes a few times.

By the way, that's a really nice looking folder you have there !