Damascus Thoughts: Thinning Impact

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SilverSwarfer

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That’s easy enough! I had thought about ferric chloride but have none in hand nor experience in handling.
 

ian

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It’s under $10 on Amazon, if I remember correctly. I was careful not to let it touch my hands, but as Kippington was saying, maybe I didn’t have to be careful. I did it outside, but the fumes weren’t so bad at all. You could probably do it under a vent hood, next to an open window, or even just on the counter....

That said, use coffee etc... if you want. I’ve never tried that and would be interested to see the results.
 

billyO

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Hello all. New to the forum, but have been forging damascus knives for the past 5-6 years so I thought I'd chime in.
Because ferric chloride isn't an acid, it wouldn't be worse that soaking in plain water.
This is incorrect, because ferric chloride is an acid.

By soaking a blade in acid (after heat treating), the acid will etch, or dissolve away the steel and the nickle resists this reaction. So in a damascus blade the bright lines are the nickle layers and the dark lines are the non-nickle layers. Some folks refer to the dark layers as the carbon steel layers, but that's not really accurate because with modern steels, the nickle steel is also most often a high carbon steel as well.

As far as restoring the blade, what I'd try first would be just a coffee soak. Some folks call this a coffee 'etch', and I guess that because coffee is slightly acidic, it is etching VERY little, but more of what's happening with the coffee soak is that the nickle resists staining as well.

Many bladesmiths finish their pattern welded blades by first etching in ferric chloride or other strong acid to get the topography (depth of etch) they want, neutralize the blade, clean/wash/degrease, (EDIT: and sand , I use 5000g sandpaper with hard backed stick/pad for and hand sand as needed) then soak in a strong coffee solution (use the cheapest instant coffee you can get, not just to save money, but because the cheaper stuff actually stains blades better, in my opinion).

There's plenty of information with more detailed instructions and troubleshooting if you search any knifemaking or bladesmithing forums on the net. I'm also willing to give more info on my process as wanted.

as always
peace and love
billyO
 
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Dendrobatez

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This is incorrect, because ferric chloride is an acid.

as always
peace and love
billyO
I was just reading through this thread thinking the same thing the entire time. A lot of Smith's even neutralize with baking soda after, wouldn't make sense to use a base on a base.
 

ian

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Indeed, but guys... it's not like this is news to the thread. This was talked about quite a bit on page 1. Cool info, though, @billyO, hadn't thought to do ferric chloride and then coffee after. Will have to try that sometime.
 

billyO

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but guys... it's not like this is news to the thread. This was talked about quite a bit on page 1.
ahhh...you're right, I got distracted and didn't finish where my brain was going :oops:.

What I wanted to end with (that I think is new and relevant information that I wanted to contribute) was that you don't need to do the acid etch, you can just do the coffee. If I were you, I'd get a jar of the cheapest instant coffee I could find, make a strong large enough batch (IIRC, I used 1/2 pound ground generic instant coffee to 1/2 gal water), let it cool, then use a suitable container to stand the blade on the tip (I use an old water bottle) and soak the blade. Soak as long as necessary to get the look you are going for with just rinsing and wiping dry with a paper towel. Don't worry if you leave it in too long and the nickle starts to stain, as you can just scrub the blade clean again and re-do the coffee for a shorter time.
 

billyO

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Just thought I'd post a picture of what a few hours in coffee can do for a pattern welded blade.
20190403_150552.jpg

The steels are 1080/15N20.
 

inferno

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I avoid damascus since you riun it on the first big sharpening job, so for me its knives i can never use. so why even have them?? i have a few damascus ones though. but not many. and 1 was etched/sandblasted/polished so the damascus pattern is very deep, and there is no way in hell i can get it back to new. ever.

these days i try to get some action in the blades through hammering. kurosakis are good for this imo. the hammered patterns a like a mm deep. so you cant really ruin the look just by sharpening them. will probably never ever get another damascus knife, unless its just for show/not for actual use.
 

ian

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I avoid damascus since you riun it on the first big sharpening job, so for me its knives i can never use. so why even have them?? i have a few damascus ones though. but not many. and 1 was etched/sandblasted/polished so the damascus pattern is very deep, and there is no way in hell i can get it back to new. ever.

these days i try to get some action in the blades through hammering. kurosakis are good for this imo. the hammered patterns a like a mm deep. so you cant really ruin the look just by sharpening them. will probably never ever get another damascus knife, unless its just for show/not for actual use.
Seems like it’d be a pain to refinish a hammered blade too, though, since you’d have to get into each of the hammer marks. No?
 

inferno

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no why would you??

most dam blades are flat ground v blades, or one big convex grind.
most hammered ones are wide bevel, a v/concave that terminates into 2 parallel sides so no problem really.
 

ian

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Makes sense if they’re all wide bevel, and you’re careful not to scratch above the bevel. Never had one. I always wonder if the hammer marks really do anything with stiction, or if it’s just aesthetic...
 
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