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I Forge Iron

Making Damascus: Used Roller Chain, now what should I use to etch?

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I used the roller chain and made a nice billet today which fell apart three times in the process but I ended up with two nice billets which I formed into knife blanks. My method was to fold the chain over on itself until I had a piece roughly 2" wide by 6" long and about 1/2" thick. I wired it together and just kept adding borax and smacking it together. I kept the chain pins parallel to the ground (read that online somewhere) I think that was the right idea because it mostly held together. Like I said, it fell apart a few times and I ended up with a couple of billets about 1/2" x 1/2" and about 3-4" long.

My forge welding needs more improvement as there are a few open cracks in my knife blank, but I thought I continue all the way to see what I'd end up with. So, I've shaped and shined and heat treated, what should I acid should I use to etch? A search turned up ferric chloride as the recommended but I'm not sure where to find it. What can I find at a local place that will etch? I've got a wal-mart, menards, rural king (like a Tractor Supply) in town.

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I believe Ferric Chloride is the most commonly used echant. Radio Shack used to carry it in every store (about $4.50 for 16 oz). They call it Echant. Mix one to one with water for knives. I have had trouble finding it lately in Radio Shack stores where I live, but it can also be bought on eBay in powder form. I have read this is the least caustic echant. The length of time you need to submerge will be determined by the amount of etching you want. Try 30 minutes first. Rinse well with water, blow dry (it will rust if you don't). If you want more etch... spend more time submerged.

I use Ferric Chloride undiluted for etching wrought iron. It works well.

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Pretty much any acid will do in a pinch. Different alloys react differently so you may want to play around and see what works best for this.

Besides the ones mentioned easily found acids include HCl---AKA muriatic acid often sold as a brick/concrete cleaner and H2SO4---AKA Sulphuric Acid used in car batteries and so can be found in old junked batteries or at Car parts stores.


Also note that to get good differentiation you will probably want to dilute the acid fairly heavily as strong acid eats everything while weak acid will prefferentially eat some alloy bands over others.

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ive got a nice etch using HP (brown) table sauce - just smear a couple of mm evenly over the blade - this is handy for when the blades to big for the etch container :)

Wait 10 mins and watch it start to bubble!

apparently salad cream works aswell. (though not tried it personally)

ferric chloride is my new etch of choice though.

Its becoming a home from home for BB'ers here !

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