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Nathan Beal





Joined: 02 Apr 2006

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2010 7:29 pm    Post subject: pattern-weld cleaning & maintainence         Reply with quote

I tried the search function but, clearly my search-fu is weak. So here goes.

I have a hector cole pattern-welded knife that has spent the best part of 18 months in storage (I moved to Canada, my stuff has taken a while to catch up with me), I pulled it out yesterday (to work out how to make a scabbard) and is a little 'dull', all the detail in the welds are difficult to pick out, i'd like to fix that.

So question to the forum is, how do I pick out the weld lines and any advice on polishing it (I don't have a buffing wheel)?

It does have a handle attached (antler, very carved) and as the tang is peened over it's not coming off, so anything that is going to hurt the handle is right out.

Thx
N

Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.
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Ken Nelson




Location: central Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue 20 Apr, 2010 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are several things you may be able to do to bring out the pattern again.

I would first recommend contacting the maker. Many makers will do what I do, and clean, sharpen, or polish a blade for a customer for no more than shipping. The Maker may also have a method that they recommend for your blade.

If you are interested in continuing, proceed with caution.

I would start by taping off the guard with blue or green masking tape to avoid scratching it. then claen the blade with 600 grit sandpaper, or a grey scotchbrite pad, or a rust-eraser(klingspor flex-sand block) Try to make all the passes lengthwise to keep random scratches to a minimum. Once the blade is polished again, remove the masking tape from the guard. Mask off the base of the blade and then cover the guard with clear nail polish. This will act as a stop for the etchant. Remove the blade masking tape and clean the blade with rubbing alcohol to remove all oils and fingerprints. Then apply an etchant.

Many makers use Ferric Chloride as an etchant, but other etchants that will work are muriactic acid, vinegar(warm it for a better result), pHMinus, and CLR. Dip the blade in the etchant for 2-5 minutes, take it out, rinse it in water and lightly sand it with the 600 grit paper or rust eraser. Repeat several times until the level of depth and contrast you are looking for is achieved.

Another etchant that works well but is harder to find is Stainless Steel Pickling paste. Brush it on evenly instead of dipping, and use three or four cycles. I use this when working on blades that have handles on, as it is easy to control.

Make sure that when you have the etch you want, clean the blade with baking soda to neutralize the acid, and then oil or wax the blade to preserve it.

Good luck

"Live and learn, or you don't live long" L. Long
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Apr, 2010 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Nelson wrote:


Many makers use Ferric Chloride as an etchant, but other etchants that will work are muriactic acid, vinegar(warm it for a better result), pHMinus, and CLR. Dip the blade in the etchant for 2-5 minutes, take it out, rinse it in water and lightly sand it with the 600 grit paper or rust eraser. Repeat several times until the level of depth and contrast you are looking for is achieved.

Good luck


This is pretty much spot on. Finding out what metals are in the blade will make a difference. In my opinion, 1075 or 1095 plain carbon in the "dark layers" respond better to differing concentrations of etchant. (Higher levels of manganese and other impurities in the 1075/ 1080 tend to make it etch faster. I would go more dilute on the etchant if you have that material.)

Our electronics outlet chain "Radio Shack" sells the ferric chloride as PCB (Printed Circuit Board) etchant in an 8 oz or 16 oz bottle for about $10 U.S.. That should be enough to last you a lifetime of maintenance for one or two pattern welded knives. Just remember to store it in a obviously labeled plastic container suitable for dipping your knife into. It will probably look like a drinking water bottle with clear water like fluid, be around for a long time, and could become a poisoning hazard if you don't put an obvious label on it. Depending on what the plain carbon material is, you may be able to get better control by diluting the ferric chloride with between 3 to 5 parts water to 1 part ferric chloride. You should be able to buff with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper, and then steel wool as you think the contrast is getting close to what you like. (This helps brighten the shine on the higher nickle content layers.) I would not etch longer than 15 minutes as the plain carbon steel layers actually get eaten away to a noticeable discrepancy in depth at around that much time. After you think you have good contrast, rinse it with water. I recommend that you neutralize the ferric chloride. If you don't, and simply oil it, the higher nickle layers (L6 and 8670 are only about 1% nickle, most contrast layers are no more than 1.5% nickle if they are suitable knife grade materials) may tend to continue darkening up and loose contrast despite having oil on them. To neutralize a ferric chloride etch, use a dilute ammonia cleaning solution. (A "Windex" brand or similar ammonia based window cleaning spray bottle will work. Be warned, full concentration ferric chloride plus high concentration ammonia makes heat and noxious fumes.) Rinse the ammonia off with more water, dry, and oil.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,803

PostPosted: Tue 20 Apr, 2010 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A picture of the blade in question might help suggestion. Personally. I would not approach the matter by diving into re-etching the pattern. If the appearance has simply appeared to be duller, try just cleaning the blade and add a quick wipe of light oil. Knowing how the maker supplied it to you may make a difference as well. If the surface was finished with a wax (even Ren wax) or a polish that left residue, that may be why it seems duller over time. I have seen some pretty stark differences in appearances from the same maker and that is often a matter of what the final polish was. Some are of such high contrast that a very smooth/fine polish still reveals every layer.

Cheers

GC
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Nathan Beal





Joined: 02 Apr 2006

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Tue 27 Apr, 2010 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestions.

I'll reach out to the maker see if there are any specific suggestions. If not then vinegar seems the most available route for re-etching.

Thx
N.

Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.
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