Etchung Solutions for Damascus

Good day folks! I'm new to this news group and trying to get some information. I have been working a coal fired, hand cranked forge for
about 6 years. Recently I have bowed to local pressure to make Damascus Steel, and to shape into knifes. My problem is that I'm having a difficult time finding an etching solution ie. ferric chloride, or nitric acid. All of the local Radio Shack's have discontinued ferric chloride and I can't find a supply of nitric acid. Can anyone suggest a supplier? I live in rural southern Illinois.
                                                     Thanks, Rich
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You could try "Edinburgh etch" - 70g Copper Sulphate, 70g common salt (Sodium Chloride) per litre of water
You need to make it up in hot water but you use it at room temperature. We use it for etching designs onto steel plate. It's fairly slow but comparativly safe. Gentle stroking with a feather (we don't want to remove the etch resist) helps things along.
--
Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Isn't that likely to copper-plate the steel? I've had that problem even with ferric chloride that's ever come into contact with copper.
John
Stuart wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Surprisingly enough, no. I thought it would have done because I've certainly copper plated steel by dipping in Copper Sulphate before but I was recently shown this and it doesn't seem to. I don't understand the chemistry but it must be something to do with the salt.
--
Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Re: ferric chloride. Google is your friend. I typed "ferric chloride, Chicago, Il" into google and got a few hundred thousand hits. Kepro is just one of dozens of companies that come to mind that sell printed circuit board supplies. The stuff is very dense and is classified as HAZMAT so finding a local warehouse would probably be a better option than trying to have it shipped. If you do have to have it shipped, get it in dry form to avoid paying lots of $$$ to have water shipped to you.
If that's too much trouble, simply make your own. Get some hydrochloric acid (muratic acid) concrete wash from Home Depot or wherever. Place some in a glass or ceramic vessel. Drop in wads of fine steel wool. Preferably, heat the solution over a camping stove, sterno, etc. Outdoors, of course. Keep feeding the steel wool until the reaction stops.
Re: nitric acid. Have you called to local chemical supply houses within reasonable driving distances? Nitric acid is such a commonly used industrial chemical that I can't imagine it not being available. Especially in an industrial area like S. Il.
I get mine from a chemical supply company that caters to the textile industry. It comes 4 one gallon glass jugs to a case. Technical grade should cost less than $50.
You don't even want to think about paying to have the stuff shipped, which is why I suggest limiting your search to convenient driving distance.
You might also try electrolytic etching. Make up a salt water solution (experiment with concentration) in a non-metallic container. Suspend your Damascus object in the solution using iron bailing wire. Drop a hunk of clean scrap steel (stainless or carbon) into the solution. Connect the object and the steel to a car battery or similar source of low voltage DC. It'll probably etch best if the object is the + terminal. Control the current with the salt concentration and with how much of the hunk of steel (cathode, - terminal) is immersed in the solution. I'd start with about an amp per square inch of Damascus surface area. The action can be greatly sped up by adding some hydrochloric acid.
I know that this will etch ferrous metal quite well. The only unknown is whether it'll develop the Damascus pattern that you desire.
John
-- John De Armond See my website for my current email address http://www.neon-john.com http://www.johndearmond.com <-- best little blog on the net! Tellico Plains, Occupied TN What do you call 10 blondes standing in a row? Air line.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
That looked like good input to keep.
As for the Ferric - why not just use pool acid - Lowe's and Home Depot have it out in the garden area (Lowe's does for certain) in 2 gallon boxes. (Easy to carry). I use it to pickle (de-rust and etch) the surface of steel. [ if lacking a big toy store like those - pool supply stores will sell the pool acid - HCL. ]
I use a far amount of A400 steel that is used in (large machine)buckets, knives, targets, etc. I get a nice etch pattern from time to time on the A400. Not so on HRS.
I don't think you will have to heat H Cl and steel wool - I think it will self heat.
I use large plastic storage bins. I put 2-4 gallons and use it as a soaking. Takes 15 minutes to take a strong rust off and give me a nice silvery metal. I use acid gloves and sometimes rub a spot to see if it is working - and find the surface layer wipes off.
Martin
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Endowed; NRA LOH & Patron Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot's Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member. http://lufkinced.com /
Neon John wrote:

----== Posted via Pronews.Com - Unlimited-Unrestricted-Secure Usenet News==---- http://www.pronews.com The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World! >100,000 Newsgroups ---= - Total Privacy via Encryption =---
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Certainly will, and don't get a naked flame anywhere near it as Hydrogen will be released as part of the reaction!
--
Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Just depends on how long you want to wait for it to get rolling. It's an exponential process so self-heating will get the job done eventually. I'm just not very patient for such things.
John -- John De Armond See my website for my current email address http://www.neon-john.com http://www.johndearmond.com <-- best little blog on the net! Tellico Plains, Occupied TN Unable to locate Coffee -- Operator Halted!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.