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Ferric


Christopher Price

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So I picked up a bottle of Radio Shack PCB Etchant Solution, with Ferric Chloride. Is this what we consider "pure" and must be cut with water for an effective etch? I must admit my only experience has been with stuff others have already mixed up, so I'm curious how I should approach this.

 

Thanks.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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From Cronite

Ferric Chloride, Engraver's Grade - A dark, caramel colored acid used for etching various metals. Available in 30° and 42°Baumé densities. Recommended for use in etching machinery of all types, but can be brushed on by hand with an acid brush. The acid will stain skin a brownish-yellow color, but it does not seem to affect it in any other way with incidental contact.

 

Ferric Chloride is the by-product of hydrochloric acid pickling of iron usually being descaled in a steel mill. It is usually important that there are no silicone additives used as anti-foams in the acid. It is possible to reclaim Ferric Chloride, but for the engraver, we recommend only virgin engraver's grade acid.

 

30°Baumé Ferric Chloride effectively etches brass, zinc or copper. Predominantly used for etching copper when using the powderless etching or self-banking method.

 

42°Baumé Ferric Chloride is used for etching steel.

 

The best bet is to mix up a small amount and try it to see what is most effective for what you want to do.

Don Fogg

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What works for me is to use one bottle of the Radio Shack stuff and then refill the bottle four times with distilled water to get a 4:1 ratio. Then again, Harley uses it straight from the bottle.

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Looking at the label, there's no reference to what "Baumé" it is, though it does list the ingredients as: Water, Ferric Chloride, Ferrous Chloride, and Hydrochloric Acid.

 

As always, trial and error are important. I just don't wanna screw up a knife I have in front of me or be too inefficient because I didn't do it right the first time.

 

I'll probably mix up some 4:1 in a glass, and try a little straight, on a test piece before I go bonkers on the blade.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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i actually cut it almost 8:1 because I like the look of several light etches vs. a single hard etch

President - Georgia Knifemakers Guild

ABS Journeyman Smith

 

"Wisdom and experience are built of bricks made from the mud of failure." - Mike Blue

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So I picked up a bottle of Radio Shack PCB Etchant Solution, with Ferric Chloride. Is this what we consider "pure" and must be cut with water for an effective etch? I must admit my only experience has been with stuff others have already mixed up, so I'm curious how I should approach this.

 

Thanks.

I'm suprised you found it there. I was under the impression that RadioShack stopped selling it. I've called all of the local stores as well as computer parts places and nobody carries it. i had to buy it in solid form from a medical supply company. i have no idea what they inted it to be used for, but I had to sign some chemical release forms.

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.

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If you find it at Radio Shack then it is an old bottle (not a problem) as they haven't restocked it in some time.

 

One reason I've found for cutting it is that if you are etching damascus, the full strength has a tendency to etch both steels where a 3/4:1 solution won't etch the second steel as much giving a better contrast. I haven't tried cutting with alcohol.

 

Gary

Edited by Gary Mulkey

Gary

 

ABS,CKCA,ABKA,KGA

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The funny thing was, that I wasn't looking for it. I was there to buy some other stuff, and saw the bottle. Not the old yellow ones I've heard of, but a new bottle.

 

Alan, I used the heat trick when etching wrought on that hunting knife I did a while back, worked very well. The rest of the responses all make sense, thanks everybody.

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

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Chris,

 

A lot of variation in both mixing proportions and etching tecnique. From reading and asking knife makers 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, FeCl3 to distilled water is common. Folks etch for 10-15 min. one time, to 1 minute at a time for 3-20 times. I adopted a formula from Dennis ??? on KN of 1-FeCl3 to 1-white vinegar to 2-distilled water and multiple short etches. I usually etch 1 min., tooth brush off the loose oxides in water and repeat to depth wanted. Some times I boil in water after etching... theory being it sets the oxides... got this last and the tooth brush from Wayne Goddard specifically for etching cable knives.

 

I feel like the etch I use, weak-ish with another acid in it, and multiple short times makes a very crisp, clear etch. It's fussy, but it's pretty.

 

Mike

 

100_2284.jpg

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Chris,

 

A lot of variation in both mixing proportions and etching tecnique. From reading and asking knife makers 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, FeCl3 to distilled water is common. Folks etch for 10-15 min. one time, to 1 minute at a time for 3-20 times. I adopted a formula from Dennis ??? on KN of 1-FeCl3 to 1-white vinegar to 2-distilled water and multiple short etches. I usually etch 1 min., tooth brush off the loose oxides in water and repeat to depth wanted. Some times I boil in water after etching... theory being it sets the oxides... got this last and the tooth brush from Wayne Goddard specifically for etching cable knives.

 

I feel like the etch I use, weak-ish with another acid in it, and multiple short times makes a very crisp, clear etch. It's fussy, but it's pretty.

 

Mike

 

How long do you boil it for?

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I checked with one Radio Shack and they said that it wasn't available. Drove about five miles to another and the salesman said that he could get all I wanted. I just need to give him a little notice so that he can get it with a regular order. He said that to order it special he would have to pay a hazerdous product fee. Apparently it just depends on the store. By the way, I think they still list it as Archer Etch. I mix one bottle with three bottles of water.

 

Dale

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How long do you boil it for?

 

Boil for a couple of minutes is what Wayne Goddard told me. That is what a person doing rust bluing would do to set oxides on a firearm part. I just don't know if damascus etch oxides and rust blue oxides are, or react, the same.

 

Mike

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I got three bottles from Radio Shack. I checked one and they said that they couldn't get it. Checked another about 5 miles away and the guy said that he could get all I wanted. He said that he couldn't special order it because of hazerdous material fees but would order it in with his regular orders. I think they still list it as Archer Etchant. I mix it as one bottle to two bottles of water.

 

Dale

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