View Full Version : acid etching carbon blades

07-08-2013, 08:22 PM
decided to etch my knives other day, had nice results.
hard part was finding a container large enough to fit nearly 11" gyuto, used a tall plastic cereal saver box.
mostly filled with warm water, then 250mL of ferric chloride. so a very diluted solution.
3 times at 1 minute intervals, scrubbed with 0000 steel wool in between each dunk and cleaned with soap after final soak.

left to right:
watanabe 270, shigefusa 240, tanaka 210, tanaka 105

my reason for doing this was not to make it look cool, but in hopes to make it less reactive and offer some sort of protection. the looking badass is just a bonus. after using them they stink less and aren't leaking all sorts of marks on the blade as crazy as before. perhaps forcing a mustard patina OVER this acid etch would serve to be even more robust.

07-08-2013, 08:31 PM

07-08-2013, 08:39 PM
Awesome. I just ordered a Tanaka. I'm absolutely going to try this.

Dave Martell
07-08-2013, 08:42 PM

07-08-2013, 09:27 PM
They look pretty sweet.

07-08-2013, 09:39 PM
How's that Watanabe Pro working out for you?

07-08-2013, 10:32 PM
Those look really cool! And reducing reactivity is good, too.

Any idea of about how much water you used? Some of us might want to try, and having a better idea of the ratio would help. Thanks.

07-08-2013, 10:36 PM
Those look great -

I saw a great setup watching a Fowler vid on youtube. He used a length of PVC with a cap on the bottom and a screw cap on the top. That way he could store his etching solution and use it at will. It's a stiff setup so you can rig up a dip for already handled knives without worry of a complete dunk.

07-08-2013, 11:05 PM
re: wat pro - working quite well, it falls through things (even sticks into the board) and the best food release i've encountered. still getting used to the profile and massiveness of it all. get some mild accordioning and wedging, but that will settle once i get accustomed to using it.

ratio is just about 10 parts water 1 part acid as the container was 2.5liters and i used .25liter acid.
i forgot to mention i also heated up the blade prior to the first dunk by running it under hot running water for 1 minute (rotating the face every 10 sec). whether or not that did anything i have no idea, i just remembered someone saying that if you heat up the blade it helps get a better patina so i tried it.

07-08-2013, 11:53 PM
Nice work Panda can't wait to do this on some knives. By chance do you have before pics so we can see the contrast?

07-09-2013, 12:45 AM
Nice work and nice blades.

07-09-2013, 12:57 AM
That looks great. I love the look of the darkened cutting edge!

Did you neutralize them afterwards? I think a lot of us are using ferric chloride, which you can get from Radio Shack (listed at Etchant Solution). Generally, I use this in a 1:3-4 solution (water:fecl). I find that it is pretty important to neutralize them afterwards to avoid making them more reactive. TSP or ammonia work pretty well for this. Also helps to make sure that the blades are extremely clean before etching them. I generally wipe them with a bit of acetone to make sure I haven't got any of my fingerprints on the blades first.


labor of love
07-09-2013, 01:12 AM
industrial gallon size glass jars that our hamburger pickles come in at work, worked really well for me FWIW as far as containers go.

07-09-2013, 04:36 AM

wat: http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd212/vlsun/watanabe2_zps05696352.jpg
shig: http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd212/vlsun/shig2_zps283a7803.jpg
tanaka: http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd212/vlsun/tanakasekiso_zpsacebb5d1.jpg
tanaka with vinegar patina: http://s226.photobucket.com/user/vlsun/media/vinegarpatina_zps56da0b86.jpg.html?sort=3&o=17
i actually prefer the look of the vinegar patina, which i may just try to do over the etch.

i cleaned with soap and scrubbed with fine steel wool prior to etching. only rinsed with cold water in between each dunk plus the scrubbing off the oxidized stuff.
was told a more diluted solution brings out more contrast.

07-09-2013, 06:12 AM
i actually prefer the look of the vinegar patina, which i may just try to do over the etch.

how'd you do the vinegar patina? is it like etching but using vinegar as the acid instead?

07-09-2013, 08:15 AM
here you go mark. might help you with what you're looking for with the vinegar patina.


07-09-2013, 11:43 AM
Looks great! I haven't tried with that dilute a solution before. -Kinda like a hybrid between the pcb and hot vinegar methods.

07-09-2013, 01:22 PM
I find that it is pretty important to neutralize them afterwards to avoid making them more reactive. TSP or ammonia work pretty well for this.


Wouldn't a baking soda/water solution work for this also?

07-09-2013, 04:33 PM
Wouldn't a baking soda/water solution work for this also?

That's what I use when "aging" nickel hardware.

07-10-2013, 02:18 AM
processed 50# of root veg today with the watanabe, and don't have a huge callous on my index finger for the first time. it really does do the work for you! never encountered something that glides through carrots and stuff with such ease.

justin - your etching results from your shig is what convinced me to give this a try, thanks for the inspiration! i really prefer the shades of gray especially with dark near the edge over polished look. and it gets darker where i thinned, almost looks like a shinogi line :D