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I Forge Iron

Small Damascus Skinner


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After selling out of my knives at a recent show, I just wanted to get something done this past week to put on the table for this past weekend.  Its not big, the pattern is rather plain, and the finishing work is sketchy, at best, but I did get it done in time to put on the table.  It did its job of drawing people in to the tent.

80 layers of 1080 and 15n20, san mai style with a 1080 cutting edge.  Handle was from some scrap maple burl I had lying around. Edge quenched in oil, which did give me a very distinct quench line.  I've gotten them before on 1080, but this one is a little more bold than I normally get.  Haven't figured out what I might have done different in the HT, but with more knives, comes more experience, and I'll figure it out eventually. 

Normally, after taking it to 800 on the belt sander, I'd do several hours of hand sanding to get it squeaky clean, but I just didn't have the time on this one.  I used the same belt sanding technique I use for my cable knives (Just quick and dirty... get them as clean as I can, but they're a gimmicky knife, so I don't put a whole lot of time in to them and sell them pretty cheap)  Not real happy with some of the sanding marks that remained, but figured I'd throw some picture up since I haven't posted a knife in quite a while.


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Just a couple of suggestions for finishing: I use 3M film backed belts that come in micron sizes...60, 30, 15, and 9. These are used for polishing and not stock removal and are relatively inexpensive. I usually buy online from TruGrit. The 9 micron will not give you a mirror finish, but close to it. I then use a cork belt loaded with the white compound to polish the blade from there. Some smiths say to not polish before etching as they think it muddies the etch. I haven't found that to be true. I wipe the blade using lacquer thinner, then scrub with 409 and scouring powder before etching.

I etch using ferric chloride that I buy from MicroMark (on line). Their ferric is much stronger than R.Shack and about half the price. I dilute at least 1:10 distilled water, sometimes greater as I like a slow etch. After 10-15 min, I pull the blade out and sand it with 2k grit paper and Windex. This polishes the more noble 15n20 highlights, then back into the etch.
 This is the only hand sanding I do.. When finished, I neutralize by scrubbing with baking soda on a sponge, then rinse with water and spray Windex (with ammonia).

I never grind using 36 grit to start. It will leave micro scratches the never seem to come out. Also, I have work lights on my grinders use halogen spot lights. They make a big difference.

Steel that has been heat treated will etch differently (better) than than that which hasn't been.

Hope this helps.


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