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I Forge Iron

Pattern Welded Contrast

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I said I'd follow up so here it is. I made a stack where I fored all the pieces to 1/4" x 1". The stack goes like this from top to bottom:

Wrought Iron
Leaf Spring
Wrought Iron double refined


Then forge welded it and drew out the one end and twisted it. Then ground it down and etched it. All I had was muriatic acid. It was about a 12 hour etch. Here's the results:


As you can see not much difference between the A36 and the wrought. The leaf spring is the darkest section. (Didn't have any emory paper to shine it back up). The non refined wrought got more texture in it than the double refined, but color is the same.

Not quite the results I was hoping for but I learned a lot. I could make a nice candy cane though.

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the etch does have an effect on color and contrast... .. ferric chloride would be better ... and you wouldn't have to etch long at all
- its good that you kept the layers close to same thickness in size... that'll help the bold look

you can etch the material before hand and compare it to others.... this way there is less chance of a surprise ...

a wrought iron with phosphorus in it will definitely resist the etch... ... it'll end up light in color...

- adding carbon to the alloy will darken up the steel in the etch... ... so will changing the structure to martensite

I've made some O1 steel and 15n20 patternweld that was very bold.... O2 would have been a better choice if you can find it... its best to match steels that like to move at the same rate... or if you push the metal too hard it may come out badly

lots of great info from the previous posters !

- if your looking for a softer look... then you can rub the etched damascus with 4f pumice powder to remove the oxides and show the bare metal... ... changes how it looks, and even how it feels ..

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Thanks! Good tips.

So where is the best place to get ferric chloride with out paying twice as much for shipping? Also is the powder okay? Is it best to buy as "already diluted, don't dilute, use full strength" ? Radio Shack does not have it even as etchant.

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I get mine from
- the one i get is liquid... but powder should be fine and you'd save on shipping
- mix it to the concentration that gives you what you are looking for.. myself , i mix 50/50 with distilled water... and it etches fast in a couple minutes ( make sure sample is very well degreased... i like dawn dish soap )
- then neutralize in something basic.... bake soda, or tsp etc
- rinse
- dry immediately... preferably with alcohol... or it may take on abit of a orange hue... ( this is not so much a problem with ferric but with other etches like nitric, it is )

good luck and please post your project... it sounds very cool

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Our local Radio Shack carried it last time I bought a bottle. Of course the staff may not know it as Ferric Chloride. Did you ask for "Archer Etchant"? Or ask if they could order it?

The local Radio Shack fellow told me that knifemakers were the only people buying it out here in the boonies anymore.

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Finally made it over to Radio Shack and they didn't have the ferric chloride or the PBC Etchant and won't get it for me. Went on-line and to dimenickel's suggestion of http://www.mgchemicals.com/ . That just sent me to other sites which some were under construction, others were blank and others wouldn't take my payment method. Finally SRA Soldering Products at http://sra-solder.com had it and at a reasonable shipping rate which is still almost the same price as the product, just so you know. I bought the MG415-1L. Now my question is that is says : Note: Do not dilute this product with water. yet dimenickel said you're diluting it 50/50 with distilled water. Right?

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Hi Randy
- i got mine through a electronic supply store up here in canada... thats why i just posted the link to the manufacturer thinking you could probably get a distributor much closer to your location ..

you have the exact stuff that i have (415 - 1liter ) ... it says not to mix it because its set up to etch copper circuit boards for those in the electronic field .... our purpose is different

it does depend on the material you are etching... some stuff etches super fast... like quenched and hardened knife steel eg 1080/15n20 mix ..... so you'll have to try it out.. but i do use distilled water to cut the acid down... tap water can sometimes have a affect on the acid..

also ... it keeps a long time.. ! i've been etching in this batch of ferric for over 2 years

i'd make up some test samples of the steel mix you are using.... and try different dilutions to get the effect your looking for ....
----- Often it takes a couple of etches on the same piece to get the look your after........ basically etch for 10 min.. then wash off the oxides under running water and scrubbing with a sponge pad, then back in the acid and repeat.... in a short time you should arrive at the contrasting pattern in the steel.... neutralize and dry immediately..

sorry i don't have a clear cut answer to diluting the acid... just for my purpose and steel mix of W1/15n20, it works well even if its diluted much more than 50%..
- as for safety.... its quite safe... just don't drink it.. but it does like to stain anything it touches ... ...

oh and do not put any non-ferrous things in it...... any copper in it... and now its spoiled for iron... it'll just plate your iron with a copper film... ... so the wire you use to suspend things in the ferric bath has to be iron wire... never copper !

hope that helps abit

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We are trying to get a differential etch. This means we DON'T want a strong etchant that would pretty much eat *everything*. So we generally dilute the etchants to get a weak solution that will eat some of the stuff preferentially compared to the rest and as most of our alloys are pretty close to the same we need to adjust the strength carefully!

In printed circuitboard etching *any* metal left in the etched areas is a big no no and so they want to be sure it's all gone.

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I said I'd follow up so here I am. I got the ferric chloride and recommended neutralizers, distilled water, etc. I mixed the acid 50/50 with the distilled water. I found the ammonia removed some of the contrast where the baking powder didn't so liked that better. I haven't been able to get the 2000 grit sandpaper yet so used a scotch-brite pad. I see where the other will be better. The ferric chloride gave a nice etch in 10 minutes. There was also a coloration to the wrought iron that I didn't get with the muriatic so I liked that better, too. Attached are the photos. The one after neutralizing, before sanding and the other after sanding.



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