Etching with vinegar

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Need to etch a billet or knock the scale of a freshly forged blade ? Don't want to mess with dangerous acids, or can't buy them locally? A gallon bottle of household white vinegar usualy costs less than $2.00 and is quite safe to use. If you get it on your skin you might smell a little funny, but NO emergency room trip.
To speed up the etching it helps to warm up the vinegar, at room temperature de-scaling a blade may take over night. But if you do like I do and keep the vinegar in a tupperware like container, warm it for 2 or 3 min. in the microwave (WITHOUT ANY STEEL IN IT) and it will knock the scale off in a matter of just a few moments. Granted it dosen't work as well as muratic acid or ferric chloride, or nitric acid. But it does work, you can get it anywhere, it's cheap and above all is safer to use than some of the more agressive acids.

Jens

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Posted · Report post

Try adding some salt to that hot vinegar for a bit more aggressive etch.

Thomas

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Posted · Report post

Could someone post of picture of a blade or something that's been done in this way for me? Not sure what it looks like.

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Posted · Report post

mcraigl, The first blade here is 1084 and has been vinegar diped to remove the forge scale, to save wear on files , sanding belts and of course save on that expensive elbow grease. :) The 2nd one here is a 1095 blade that has been etched in Vinegar to reveal the hammon line.



Jens

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136.attach

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Posted · Report post

Right on Jens. That's pretty nice. I've got to try the pattern weling / damascus thing once I get my basic skills up a little more. Pretty busy makeing hardies, chisels, tongs and steak turners right now. I did through a couple of steak turners in vinegar and WOW, it really knocks the scale off them. Since I don't have my wire wheel set up yet, and forgot to take them to Mike-hr's.

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Posted · Report post

Vinegar is a cheap and effective way to remove galvanization (zinc) from a piece that you want to get hot. A few bucks worth can literally save you thousands down the road in medical bills.

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I use vinegar because when I was ready to etch it was too late at night to go buy anything else. I knew vinegar was not only tastey on salads but was also a mild acid. And I had to see the pattern NOW!!! (Well, in the morning anyway) I used it cold ;)

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In my flypress tooling class, John Crouchet used "Agricultural" vinegar he bought at a local feed and ranch store; it is a slightly more concentrated form of vinegar and worked nicely for removing scale.

One thing I like about vinegar is no disposal or environmental problems......

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Posted · Report post

If I recall correctly, the water in vinegar will freeze before the acid will, so you can put some regular vinegar in a dish in the freezer, and shim off the ice that forms to concentrate it.

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Posted · Report post

Interesting idea, Jeff. I might have to try that. My wife already thinks I'm nutz. Wait'll she see's the vinegar in her freezer! LOL

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Posted · Report post

Adding lemon juice to white vinegar really makes a Hamon line "pop out " visually. Apply warm and evenly for best results.


Jens

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Posted · Report post

Just as Ellen, I used homemade vinegard in some japanese type blades and lets a more "natural" hamon, some friend of mine told me that was more "traditional" in japanese blades.

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Posted · Report post

excellent idea!! i will try this on my new dagger ASAP!

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I have not used anything but vinegar. I've made some damascas knives and the vinegar works very well. I wish I tooks some pics.

Fred

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Not got a picture handy but the cable damascus knife I made was etched in warm vinegar, you'll find it on the gallery.....
Anyway that aside the smell of warm vinegar will make any smoker cough but it does work pretty well when you don't have anything else handy (such as when you're out in the middle of the outback :))

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Posted · Report post

If you need to etch something very lightly, try taking a glass jar of water, and adding enough snow melting salt until it JUST WILL NOT mix anymore.

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Posted · Report post

vinegar is great for revealing very fine patterns in damascus; it takes longer but shows more. Personally I use pool acid to etch damascus, it doesn't immediately burn a hole in your skin as long as you wash it off quickly. Windex or some kind of liquid containing ammonia is very good to have around to neutralize acid.

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Posted · Report post

Havent tried it to etch blades but use HTH PH minus to remove scale from steel and a differrent bucket of same stuff to clean copper.
Get it at Walmart $10 for 10# dry. Mix a capfull to 5 gal of hot water for quicker cleaning.
It is found in the pool supply area.
sodium bysalfate (SP)
I think I got Tom Latane" switched to it. He used to buy $90 a gal vinagzar

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Posted · Report post

At least it's not roadkill in the refrigerator or freezer---don't ask.

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I used it for mass rust removal ..I keep finding old hammer heads and files in old trunks in the attic ..and wherever i roam in my village ...( when im there. .)
I cut the top of a gallon bottle ..put everything in and duct tape it shut. . I call em Blacksmith Pickles :D . In 2 days . .all the rust and paint falls off and you can clearly see which parts are hardened as they show up black.

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