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I've got a damascus steel knife, which I accidentaly broke the wooden handle. I teared it apart and all I was left was a bare blade. I've created a new wooden handle, but while making it, I've also brushed the blade a bit, while fine sanding the wooden handles while attached to the blade.

Is there any option I could re-etch the blade again, and if so - what acid should I use (I've heard for Ferric III Chloride (Fe3Cl)) but I don't know the concentration neither the time or temperature of etching or the whole procedure.

So, how do I etch a damascus steel knife?

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  • $\begingroup$ There are some good u-tube videos explaining this... $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Nov 28 '17 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Mike's right. I've watched a few of Alec Steels vids on it and they seem very comprehensive about it. I often make PCBs at home using ferric chloride and i can tell you, unless you heat it up it acts very slowly (on copper atleast) but i can imagine it would work just as slowly on steel. watch a few vids on it and just give it a shot, leave the metal in there for a few mins, wipe it and and repeat til you're happy? $\endgroup$ – CraigC Nov 28 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ OK i forgot how annoying his videos were but i just sat through an etching one and he used 400 grit emery on the blade first before etching it (a sword) for ~30mins in ferric. $\endgroup$ – CraigC Nov 28 '17 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ @CraigC, the best bits are when he does a time lapse of himself mopping his workshop floor. That, and saying how fantastic everything 87 times per episode. I only say that because I'm jealous of him in every way imaginable. :) $\endgroup$ – user6335 Nov 29 '17 at 16:03
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From Damascus type steels you only need quite a gentle etch normally a you are really just exposing the crystal structure and selectively oxidising the metal rather than aiming to remove much material.

Ferric chloride should work fine, the concentrations isn't critical, you are aiming for a fairly dilute solution, orange fanta sort of colour.

White vinegar should also work and is less of a problem if you have already permanently attached the handle.

You may need to give the blade a polish to get rid of any scratches and existing oxides form the surface and you definitely need to make sure it is thoroughly clean

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After removing scratches with silicon carbide paper ( 320 > 400 > 600 , etc) try Nital etch. It is the standard for etching for steel metallographic examination . As I remember there is 2 and 5 % nitric acid in methanol. Cotton swab , room temperature , a few seconds , rinse, dry. Ferric chloride is aggressive , I guess it could be used.

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