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Mike DePaola





Joined: 11 Mar 2015

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2015 6:56 pm    Post subject: Etching Metal at Home         Reply with quote

Does anybody know a homemade method of inscribing writing on a stainless steel dagger or sword? I've looked up others online, but they usually involve a dangerous amount of electricity. Do I need a battery, cotton swab, and vinegar?
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Glen S. Ramsay




Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Joined: 10 Dec 2003

Posts: 91

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2015 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a do-it-yourself guide that I haven't tried, but from the photos it seems to do a pretty good job...

http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/sword-engraving.html
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2015 7:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

no, you won't need to do all of that. adding an electrical current just helps speed up the reaction of the acid and metal by adding heat to it.

you can easily use a salt and vinegar mixture to make an etch, it will just take some time for the reaction to give you the desired depth you want.

ferric chloride (which you can get at radio shack) will also etch, and is highlighted by most hobbyists. its still a pretty mild acid when you buy it over the counter.

you can do some tests by using nail polish as your resist (it works just fine) and giving a test metal a dunk for a period of time to give you the desired depth. however, a deep etch can get sloppy if your image has a lot of fine detail, the acid will eat under the resist and undercut other section bleeding into places you don't want it.
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Josh Davis
Industry Professional



Location: Minneapolis, MN
Joined: 16 Oct 2011

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2015 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Mike,

I just wanted to give you some pointers as I have just finished up an etching project recently.

I used ferric chloride acid and diluted it a bit as per suggestions from other blacksmiths. One little trick I used to get a deep etch without too much bleeding was that I did 30min dunks for a total of 5hrs. Each time in between I cleaned off the oxides with windex glass cleaner then rinsed it again with water and submerged it again.

Granted I have done this in a shop but I feel confident that you could do this within your home no problem, just be sure to use the proper holding tanks for the acid and such.

Here is the link to the post about the project I just finished up:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=31681

Let us know if you have any further questions,

Josh

www.davisreproductions.com
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2015 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stronger acids such as muriatic acid for cleaning concrete will do the job much quicker... but the hazards are much higher (fumes, burns, etc). There may also be reactions with whatever you use to mask the metal. So I will strongly advise to use FeCl. It may be harder to find at Radio Shack as, well, that chain's closing down all over the place. May need to procure online or find an alternate supplier.
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Peter Lyon
Industry Professional



Location: New Zealand
Joined: 20 Nov 2006
Reading list: 39 books

Posts: 225

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2015 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I use Nitric acid a lot for steel etching, it is fast and clean, but a bit nasty to work with (fumes, bad for skin etc). Buying those little bottles from the electronics places is very expensive; I get it by the 20 liter drum. I don't know the cost, as I don't do the ordering myself, but it is likely about NZ$80 (US$65) or so for 20 liters.
Still hammering away
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Jesse Belsky
Industry Professional



Location: Durham, NC
Joined: 12 Aug 2007

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 171

PostPosted: Thu 12 Mar, 2015 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do all my etching with salt water and a car battery charger. You can find instructions in various places on the internet...search for "salt water electrochemical etching" or similar. It's super simple, and requires no toxic chemicals. You can also do it with lesser power sources like 9 or 12 volt batteries. It does produce dangerous fumes (although in very small quantities), so its best to do it in a well ventilated area.

I find it's much faster and easier to control than acid etching, and you can do it very selectively with a wet q-tip for very small areas (perfect for makers marks and such)--so you don't have to mask the whole blade to etch a small section. It provides a nice clean cut and its easy to stop at any time to check the depth of the cut.

[EDIT: I wanted to clarify...i've actually never etched with Nitric Acid, only Ferric Chloride. So Nitric may be faster than electrochemical etching, but of course you have to handle and dispose of the acid]


Here are a few examples, done with all different kinds of resists...arcylic paint, adhesive vinyl, laser jet toner transfer, etc.



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Last edited by Jesse Belsky on Sat 14 Mar, 2015 6:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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Harry Marinakis




Location: Kingdom of Ęthelmearc
Joined: 30 Jul 2012
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 13 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 656

PostPosted: Sat 14 Mar, 2015 4:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks!
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Sat 14 Mar, 2015 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As Jeffrey says, H&S is important with this kind of thing. Before you go off buying vats of acids etc, get gloves, apron, goggles and mask. You can get new raw material but lung linings and other easily dissolved and irritated organic bits are a bit more difficult.

Any thing that is visually reacting is undoubtedly reacting invisibly as well. Happy etching!

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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