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Damascus Pattern and Etch questions.


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I made my first cable Damascus knife. I'm wondering if the welding of the ends to keep it from fraying made the light color marbling effect in the patter? Also how do I get the actual cable pattern to pop or stand out more? It stands out great right out of the etch but after I neutralize it and wipe it off you can see it very well. I heard that heat treat will make the contrast of the patter stand out more is that so? Any thoughts or tips are welcome thanks. 

Here is right out of the etch

0602172028.thumb.jpg.de49ad67f81283ee7845ee91142adf7f.jpg

This is with it neutralized and whipped off.

0604170935.thumb.jpg.9070c691e10f516e49a1ce192f1c9adf.jpg

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Yes the heat treatment will affect the etched pattern. Did you not cut off or grind off the welds after you got the cable forge welded? Did you do any welding where you see the light spots in question? I don't know why you would have welded in the middle of the cable but, that's where the only real light spots I see are at. Did you polish and etch more than once? Is the etchtant full strength straight from the bottle or did you dilute it a little?

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No I did not cut the welded end off. I thought I came back far enough to draw out the tang. I guess I was wrong. I really think the light color like that has to be from the welds from my mug welder. I did not weld in the middle. I just thought I came back far enough to draw it out and not be exposed to the welds. I will cut it off next time. I really want to make the patter lol more or stand out.

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Unless you used strange rod to weld with it should be darker. You didn't use hard facing rod did you? Looks like a cable pattern to me but I'm not a bladesmith guy. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I etched with a homade ferric chloride. It was murratic acid I think 32% and hydrogen peroxyde. 3% and steel wool. 2 to one ratio peroxide to acid. I left it in for an hour. The neutralized it in water and baking soda.

8 minutes ago, Frosty said:

Unless you used strange rod to weld with it should be darker. You didn't use hard facing rod did you? Looks like a cable pattern to me but I'm not a bladesmith guy. 

Frosty The Lucky.

If that is how it is suppose to look then ok. It was my first try and didn't know if I did something wrong.

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I couldn't say if that mixture would work well, (never heard of that one being used) but I had decent results with just 5% acidity Apple cider vinegar heated to around 160 degrees or so. I believe it was a half hour soak. might have been a little longer. (heating the vinegar seemed to speed up the progress a bit.) There are other etchants that would work better I'm sure.

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Not criticizing Scotty, I was just rambling on about my observations without taking into account you don't know how this stuff works yet. My bad.

Most welding rods and wire is pretty low carbon. Low carbon etches dark while higher carbon etches light. If it got included in the blade almost all welding rods would etch dark. Unless it was something with a high carbon or an alloy rod like hard facing rods, then it should etch much lighter. 

The guys out there who weld (Damascus) billets might even want to experiment with the idea.

I'm not familiar with that recipe for ferric chloride either. The couple times I've been involved with a batch we dissolved steel wool in HCL then added peroxide a dribble at a time till we got the color and aggressiveness the fellow wanted. I've wondered about using scale from around the anvil and skip the forced oxidization step of adding peroxide. Maybe bubble a little oxy through it. Old school is just let it sit in open air in shallow pans till it's oxidized.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I know it's been a month, but next time try brewing an entire can of coffee into about a Gallon of water. The etch takes a few hours but gives a much better contrast. Your silvery areas stay very bright and your dark areas go dark, but without the "Blurring" that stronger acids like ferric chloride do.  The picture is not my work but Tapforge from Reddit. He is the one that told about the coffee etch.

mMrm3vW.jpg

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Here's what I found with cable, use ferric chloride warmed to 100F.  Cable also likes to etch for a long time, 15min each session warm (at least 2), longer the cooler the etchant).  If the cable isn't properly hardened the pattern will wash out and look different.  Polish to 600 grit first, finish with finer grits after every etching cycle.

007.JPG

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4 hours ago, metalmangeler said:

Normal cable won't give you the contrasts you will see using different steels especially the types chosen for contrast such as in the post directly above this one.

I didn't mean to imply you would get that level of contrast. I was just thinking you would get better then you were with just ferric chloride.

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