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Jeroen Zuiderwijk

First hamon attempt & failure

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Today I set up my etching tank, using ferric chloride acid, diluted 1:4. I'd polished the blade up to 1200 grit. Then I cleaned it in water mixed with soda, and dipped in the acid for about a minute. I then cleaned off the oxides using 2000 grit sandpaper. I saw that further dips were not going to be needed, as the hardening was not successful: the tip is not hardened. And in the the front half of the hamon is very irregular, and jumps to the spine, not what I had intended either. So I will have to redo the hardening process. Hopefully the other blades I have lined up are better, but they still need to be polished up further.

 

I've also found a huge difference in the quality of the sandpaper I'm using. F.e. my 400 grit really sucks. I've got 600 from a different brand, and it's quicker going straight to 600 then trying to go from 320 to 400. So I need to get better quality sandpaper, which will hopefully safe me a lot of hours polishing. And I need a much bigger supply anyway.

 

Img_4451a.jpg

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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+1 to what Connor said. Rhynowet is fantastic, and I buy it 50 sheets at a time from SuperGrit.

 

Hamons can make you crazy. There is always that element of surprise waiting to see how it turned out. And disappointment when it didn't turn out in a good way. Good luck with the rest.

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Also, you may want to do a test etch just to check your hamon a little earlier in the sanding process. You should be able to see what is going on when etched well before 1200 grit. Could save a lot of time and paper.

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100% of the time, to check to see if the hamon is where I want it, I'll grind the bevel with a 60g belt to see the activity in the steel, directly after heat treat.

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Also, you may want to do a test etch just to check your hamon a little earlier in the sanding process. You should be able to see what is going on when etched well before 1200 grit. Could save a lot of time and paper.

 

It's difficult to see. I've test dipped my other blades, which are at 320grit, but I see less of the hamon then before I dipped them. Perhaps I'd see more if I dipped them multiple times. But from what I can see, the hamons seem to be running correctly on at least two of them.

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I just got my Rhynowet redline sandpaper in, and holy crap! That stuff works! I just used a 3x3cm piece to test, and went over a small sax blade with it. I nearly got both sides done in a few minutes just with that small piece, and the finish is much better then I usually get with 400 grit. This will make finishing my work very drastically easier. Thanks guys! :)

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Glad you like it! I love the finish that it leaves; so much cleaner and consistent than anything else that I have used.

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I sanded three blades up to 1000 grid today. Tomorrow etching time! :) On one the hamon is already very clear before etching. On the other 2 I can already see most of it, and what I can see looks quite good.

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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This time more success. I etched three other blades that I had differentially hardened. Excuse the crappy photos, but that's the best I can do at the moment:

 

Img_4577a.jpg

 

Img_4582a.jpg

 

Img_4589.jpg

 

 

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The lowest blade was made from an old file, and has the sharpest hamon. It was already well visible before etching.

 

The top and middle one have splodgy areas at the hamon. The middle in particular near the front. Here the clay had come loose during the quench. It's made from layered W2. The layers are well visible with the naked eye, though tricky to catch on photo under the current poor lighting conditions.

 

Img_4570a.jpg

 

The top one is also spotty in general. I don't know if that's the steel, or that the blade wasn't clean enough or something during the etch. It's mostly the case on one side. I might clean that up better, sand it again and have another go.

 

 

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I like the shape of the last three blades you posted.

 

To see the hamon at the early stages of grinding I find that being very consistent in leaving parallel grinding marks will allow you to see the hamon at 220 grit or earlier using a strong light source directly above the blade without a need for etching.

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I like the shape of the last three blades you posted.

 

To see the hamon at the early stages of grinding I find that being very consistent in leaving parallel grinding marks will allow you to see the hamon at 220 grit or earlier using a strong light source directly above the blade without a need for etching.

 

I couldn't see that much at such a coarse grit, except for the recurved blade. There the hamon showed up quite clear early on in the grinding. With the other two I could see some indication of the hamon, but not enough to trace the entire line.

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You might want to try this.image.jpeg

I know it's a terrible drawing but what I am trying to get at is take a photo along the length of the blade with the light source at the far end above the blade, try moving the camera until the reflection of the light just moves off the blade, also limit your light to a single source, a dark room with either a spot light or directional work light works best for me.

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I don't get anything like that, at least not on these blades. I polished up to 1000 grit, with the last grit lengthwise in full length strokes. I'll re-polish one of the blades, get it up to a higher grit and see if that makes a difference. But I'll doubt my camera will pick up anything I can see by naked eye at that stage, even placing it a the most optimal angle between camera and light source as you sketched.

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Yea, you just got to play a round with your set up, the most important things that I can find are just limiting the light source. I actually tale pictures on my work bench, because there is no extra light in my garage and my work light is at a pretty good angle. Walter sorrels made a "tips and tricks" video on photographing blades and he touched on hamon's as well, you should check it out on YouTube he explains it better than me.

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I've repolished one of the saxes to remove the etching results, then brought it up to 2000 grit. This time even less of the hamon was visible, almost none before etching. I did several dips and cleanings, and the hamon came out much more vague then the first time, and the area above the hamon much more splodgy then before. It's starting to look like only a very thin layer directly connected to the clay did not harden, which I've now mostly polished off, and the underlying metal is through hardened like the edge. Is that a possibility? Anyway, that particular blade I removed the etching again, and now just left it in polished condition only. I've put enough hours into that blade that I'll just leave it at that. It just doesn't have a good enough hamon apparently.

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