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Etching Cable Damascus


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#1 Shane Harvey

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 03:45 PM

I have a billet of cable damascus that is not etching very well. I am currently using a Ferric Chloride solution that is cut approx 5 to 1. I am using the basic process outlined in http://www.dfoggknives.com/etching.htm.

I suspect the solution is too diluted but I have no idea what kind of metal the cable was made from either (image attached) and that may be a factor. If anyone has any input on getting better results I'd appreciate it. Cheers.

Shane Harvey

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#2 KPeacock

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 04:07 PM

Though I'm not an expert, I have dealt with cable a bit. I do believe your solution is a bit weak. To get by this you might be able to get better results by heating up the solution. A warm solution willwork faster than a cold solution.
Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

#3 ahigh forge

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 04:10 PM

hay how did you heattreet it did you harden the hold blade or just the eged of blade I have herd that cay caoting will work
just what I think any one got some thing beter chim in.
good luck Al High
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#4 burton

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:16 PM

I have been using a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio with good results.

#5 KPeacock

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:31 PM

I forgot to comment on the steel itself. As long as it is not galvanized, it's okay to use. some stel cable has a rope/cord center and that should be avoided as well. What gives you the contrast in cable damascus is the decarburisation of the individual strands. The silver borders of the grains is where the carbon has been burnt off. I think it was Don Fogg that mentioned this only happens when borax is used as the flux. So, perhaps it is not strictly based on carbon. Either way, it appears that your cable is perfectly fine to use.
Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

#6 Shane Harvey

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:25 PM

Gents,

Thanks for the feedback. The solution was a bit cool at about 55 degrees (sitting in a cool garage) and it is probably too weak as you've suggested. I'll warm it up a bit and make it stronger.

Thanks also for the observation on the steel as well. With luck I'll have some good results to share. Cheers.

-Shane Harvey

"I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Thoreau


#7 Viktorkrupp

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 07:12 PM

Hi guys,
I just finished heat treating my 1st Damascus knife, and am about to etch it. I am wondering if the etching solution is reusable?
I'm going to split the difference for what Don specified and go for a 3:1 with multiple cycles. I'll post results.
VK

#8 Mike Blue

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 07:31 PM

Cable can be lousy knife steel and etch beautifully or not at all.
Cable can be good knife steel and etch better when soft than hard. Etch first and heat treat later.
Cable can be good knife steel and etch better when hard than soft. Heat treat first and etch later.


You won't find these things out until you go all the way through the process for each step.

Edited by Mike Blue, 27 February 2009 - 07:35 PM.

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#9 Mike Krall

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 11:37 PM

Cable can be lousy knife steel and etch beautifully or not at all.
Cable can be good knife steel and etch better when soft than hard. Etch first and heat treat later.
Cable can be good knife steel and etch better when hard than soft. Heat treat first and etch later.


You won't find these things out until you go all the way through the process for each step.


Mike,

How do you pull off "Etch first and heat treat later"?

Mike

#10 Mike Blue

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 07:45 AM

Same way that you normally heat treat anything with the tools you have. There will be some surface losses due to scale if you have to use an open fire. I used some heat treatment foil for a few occasions before realizing what a pain that particular piece of cable had turned into. Now that I have high temperature salts, I suppose I could go back to it sometime, but if I had my choice, I'd rather find the cable that I heat treat first, then etch.

I've got a ton of old fence that's one inch rope core. It sparks well. It makes a decent blade, but does not etch well either pre-HT or post. I thought I'd gotten a great deal for a little work pulling it out of the field. Hah. It reinforces the idea of knowing your materials.
There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. Will Rogers




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