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Robert D.

Hamon questions.

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Ok, so I admit it, I have caught the bug pretty dang hard, In addition to the two pictured here, I have 5 other blades in W2 that I plan to go for hamons on as well ( smaller friction folders ) 

These are sitting on about the 4th or 5th etch cycle, I am using vinegar but its slightly below room temp ( stored in my garage ) I do have ferric, but I would have to figure out a larger container to fit these in to use it. 

The line has been getting successfully easier to see, and when I pull them out of the etch there are more variations and activity, but after scrubbing the oxides off I am basically just staring at the line, which now is at least reasonably visible at almost any angle. 

I have watched about 15 different videos on youtube on polishing out a hamon and every maker seems to have their own process, and it seems that the consensus is after you finish your etch and clean cycles, you sand / polish the blade in some manner. The highest grit sandpaper I currently have is 1200g. 

So what are some of your methods after the etch cycle to get really good results? 

And should I even bother trying to get better results out of these two blades? 

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Yes!  There is more stuff in there.  To get the most out you need to go to loose powdered abrasives in oil.  And if you have watched the videos you know some people will use Mother's Mag Polish above the line and Flitz below, and some don't use either.  It gets tricky since both will erase the hamon if you use too much on the actual line.  Keep looking aroud here, there are lots of good threads detailing assorted methods.  And I am not very good at it myself, so listen to everyone who is!

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Hey Robert! Those look good! I think you need more polish. Looks a bit grainy

I'm not the best either, but I do ok. 

I use about a 1:1 ferric chloride/water mix. My etches are very short. Sometimes just a minute. I don't recommend this, but it works for me. 

I dont follow any strict set of rules. I etch hard around 80 grit, a little less aggressively around 400ish. I sand it all the way to 1200 at which point I do short etches and resand; stepping backwards in grits if needed to smooth things out until i see what I like. Then I take it all the way to 3,000 grit. The last grit is spongy type paper. 

The trick is to polish more and etch less. Read all you can, experiment and see what works for you.

 

 

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My etching rig for years. 2" ABS pipe with caps epoxied on the bottom and rubber caps on top. 

 

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Nice rig, Dan!  (and Dan is one of those guys who is really good at it)

I don't dunk hamon blades, I just wipe warm ferric on, let sit 30 seconds, and wipe off.  You don't want any topography, you're just trying to make the microstructures show up.

And if you think it's hard getting a nice hamon, wait until you try to capture all the detail with a camera...

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I like the tanks because I can do test etches really easy as I polish. Just dunk for a few seconds and see what's happening. My ferric is very dilute, maybe 10:1, faster than vinegar but not damascus etch. Also good for darkening the blade between grits to easily see where you're polishing.

For finishing up, try an etch (few seconds to a minute) then rubbing out with finest paper. Maybe a couple of times. Then etch and rub out with loose powder (I use 600 grit, or 1200 depending), see if that looks good. Quick etch and finish with fine paper for a shinier look. Play with it (why I like the tanks) to see what gives good results.

Seems like I spend more time playing with these things than actually finishing stuff :-)

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Both of those are fresh out of their last etch cycle, and all I had done to them was use a scotchbrite pad to clean the oxides off, wiped down with windex, and then sprayed off with WD40 to keep them from rusting overnight. 

Where it seems everyone else gets two different " colors " to the steel after polishing it up, I seem to only get one, with the line being the only difference in color, my guess is I am polishing off the results of the etch. 

I also lack anything beyond 1200g paper for polishing, It sounds like I should take these back down to like 800g and do the etching and use my 1200g for post etch polishing... 

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If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, try polishing with water stones Japanese style. The hamon will show up in the rough stage, then disappear until the final stages. It is a substantial investment for the stones, but the results are very traditional if care is taken.

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Edited by SteveShimanek

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As far as loose abrasives go, would 2000g powdered diamond lapidary abrasives work? 

I found some off ebay for like 20 bucks a small bag so I snatched it up to give it a try.

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Yes indeed.  I use 320 and white diamond buffing compound.

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Ok, so here is where I stand with one of them. 

I think I need to replace my vinegar, As it would etch, it would turn dark from the oxides. But every time I went for my polishing phase all the slight details vanished in seconds.

So I threw some gloves on, and took a paper towel and wiped some ferric on it. I immediately saw more activity in this. 

And some of it appears to have survived the polishing process this time around. I am using 2000g Diamond lapidary polishing powder abrasive mixed in mineral oil. 

Its possible I was overpolishing it with the vinegar. But so far ferric seems to work best for me.

 

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There ya go. Much better. If your're happy, stay there.

For more detail you can sand out on your finest paper, not full sanding, just to remove oxides and etch again, paste rub. You can also just paste rub the hamon to the edge to highlight that. Use a small pad of blue jean material. Watch each step you do to see the effect.

The bug becomes a fever.

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Honestly, I am not happy with it yet, I cant really describe it in words other then " Fresh out of etch there is a LOT more activity " 

I will snap a pic of what I mean after work today and post it, I am thinking that my issue is that I am polishing through the etched surface to get the oxides off. 



 

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Don't forget to neutralize your etch, water and baking soda, or Windex, ammonia, etc.

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This is why I am not happy with it, straight out of the etch ( still wet from the windex ) there is a TON more activity in the blade then there is after I clean it up, ive tried polishing it with my 2000g loose abrasive, ive tried a scotchbrite pad, ive even just sat and scrubbed them off under hot water with a wet piece of tshirt.

No matter what I do, that activity is lost.... 20181029_214433.jpg20181029_214347.jpg20181029_214412.jpg

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The process I use is similar to the lemon juice one, only with dilute ferric chloride. I'll etch for a minute on the first one, rub out with finest paper. Second etch, ferric for 30-60 seconds, rub with paper. Third etch 30 seconds, rub with 600 grit loose abrasive. Last few etches are quick and move to 1200 grit loose. I might even leave the last one, without rubbing for a darkened effect above the hamon and rub the hardened section below the hamon to whiten it. You could finish with lemon juice to highlight activity. So many variables, but it is a progression.

I just talked to a very knowledgeable fellow that said rubbing Simichrome on a finished blade, vigorously, would give a blueish color so desired in koto blades. Something new to try. Always something new to try.

Just thought of something, make sure you're using lots of water when rubbing out with paper. Just dry paper smears the surface. The loose abrasives can be a paste to very watery depending.

Edited by dan pfanenstiel

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How far up the grits do you take the blades before you begin your etch cycles?  

On both of these ones, I took them up to 1200g before I started etching, perhaps I should have started my etch cycles at like 500g and etched as I progressed in the grits. 

As they say, more then one way to skin a cat.... 

 

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No, that would wipe out the effects of etching. I finish to final grit, 1200 is fine, then the etch process. Stopping polishing at various final grits give different surface looks. Stopping at 600 grit as opposed to all the way up to 2500 grit will look different. Why I'll etch between grits to see how things are looking. Doesn't hurt anything.

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ok, so I am thinking my " sanding the oxides off " process is the problem then, I think I am just sanding off the etch results each time. I will have to try some lighter sanding / polishing then and see if I cant get better results. 

Thank you for your suggestions.. 

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