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Conner Michaux

What is A Copper wash?

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I have seen some amazing pictures of knives with copper washes, And I reaaaaally want to try it out on a sample piece of steel.

How is it done?? here is one of the pictures.

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Probably the easiest way on a non-stainless blade would be to dip it in exhausted jeweler's pickle.  That's sodium bisulphite used to shine up sterling silver by removing the copper that comes to the surface during soldering, etc.  Or you could do the same thing with Ferric chloride.  Dissolve a bunch of copper in ferric, dip a blade an bam! Instant copper plating.

For stainless you'd probably have to do a crude electroplate job.

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So I can get a bunch of ferric, then put a few pieces of copper into it, Then did a piece of metal in. Can I use copper pipe to put onto the ferric? 

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Any copper is fine.  Leave it in there a long time.  Like overnight or longer.  And realize you will not be able to use that ferric for anything else.  It's not terribly durable.  I mean, it won't rub off, but it can be polished off with steel wool.

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If the wash is instant then can you leave it in for a minute or so and get a deeper layer of the copper on it? There for getting a darker color? 

Edited by Conner Michaux

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In theory, yes.  It will plate the steel as long as there is copper dissolved in the ferric.  Might want to soak the copper for a week or so before trying to plate with it, and then if it doesn't do what you want, you can use the saturated ferric as the electrolyte and plate the blade.  Using a battery charger or other low-amp low volt DC power supply, run the positive wire to a piece of copper and put it into the solution.  Hook the negative wire to the blade and put it in the solution NOT TOUCHING THE COPPER unless you like fireworks.  Turn on the power.  Something like 6 volts 2 amps is more than enough.

The steel has to be spotlessly degreased and clean for this to work.  Not even fingerprints allowed.

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32 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

In theory, yes.  It will plate the steel as long as there is copper dissolved in the ferric.  Might want to soak the copper for a week or so before trying to plate with it, and then if it doesn't do what you want, you can use the saturated ferric as the electrolyte and plate the blade.  Using a battery charger or other low-amp low volt DC power supply, run the positive wire to a piece of copper and put it into the solution.  Hook the negative wire to the blade and put it in the solution NOT TOUCHING THE COPPER unless you like fireworks.  Turn on the power.  Something like 6 volts 2 amps is more than enough.

The steel has to be spotlessly degreased and clean for this to work.  Not even fingerprints allowed.

Fire works you say or a nice ZAP of electric shock.  I don't think I'd be attempting something like this myself.

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Is Copper wash considered a Patina?

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In that anything you do to the finish is a patina, then yes.  Plus copper takes on its own patina, so the blade will eventually be a deep russet brown.

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There is a ton of good info in this thread.  I copper plated a blade this summer just to get a handle on the process.   Like Alan mentioned, the blade has to be completely cleaned and degreased before hand, but other than that it's pretty straightforward.  

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20 minutes ago, Alex Middleton said:

There is a ton of good info in this thread.  I copper plated a blade this summer just to get a handle on the process.   Like Alan mentioned, the blade has to be completely cleaned and degreased before hand, but other than that it's pretty straightforward.  

The blade  there is mine. I ended up not caring for it and sanded it off.....so I can tell ya anything about durability.

I dissolved an old wheat cent as mentioned in the other thread.....no electricity or current was used at all.

Edited by Kreg Whitehead

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Im getting some ferric this week so i can try this out.

 

Is this the right stuff??https://www.amazon.com/Ferric-Chloride-Solution-Choose-Your/dp/B07BHX1X1F/ref=sr_1_1?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1549224769&sr=1-1&keywords=ferric+chloride

Also why does it have to be diluted with water?

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That's the stuff.  For etching damascus, diluting it makes for a cleaner etch.  A weak solution is easier to control.  For doing a copper wash I don't know if you'd need to dilute it, I've never done it.

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It should work fine if you dilute it 1:4. I did something similiar except in my case it was by accident. I had a cable damascus blade with some brass bolsters attached and I wanted to re-etch it since I had shaped the bolsters after I attached them and I sanded through my previous etching. I put a piece of brass bar stock into my FeCl first just to make sure I wasn't going to mess up the work I had done. The bar came out pretty dull so I just went with the blade the way it was and attached some scales. Now anytime I etch anything in that container it comes out with a brassy color. I had to mix up a new batch to avoid it. 

Edited by Will Drake
Edited cause I can't spell.

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So if you etch a blade a bit deep, then stick it into the plating solution then sand the plating off the raised areas....

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Yep.  The late Larry Harley once etched the heck out of a blade and had it plated in 24kt gold.  Then polished off the high spots.  Because he wanted to.  Pretty spiffy little knife in his self-proclaimed Hillbilly Baroque style.

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