Etch-o-matic, anybody use this brand?

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Jun 21, 2005
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I used it for a few months. It wasn't producing a good etch (not sure if it was etcher or etching solution) so I built one from the plans Chris Crawford's has on his website from Bob Warner. His link is http://www.chriscrawfordknives.com/. Since then I have had no problems. I do use their stencils. In fact I just ordered another a new stencil this week. I just use my name so it only cost 9 bucks a stencil. They last about 3 or 4 months. Hope that helps.

Parsons Knives
 
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I used one for about 4 years. I now use the personalizer plus. The new unit is faster - but not better.

Rob!
 

Richard338

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I think it is all in the power of the various units.

The etch-o-matic basic unit is 10V with 2A.
Their "heavy duty" version is 15V with 10A.
The tutorial on Crawford knives uses a 25.2V with 2A transformer.
The Marking Methods 300 has a max output of 36V with 30A.

This all suggests that it is fairly flexible. If building your own I would suggest getting a reasonably priced transformer with at least 50W output. The basic etch-o-matic has 20W, while the one on the tutorial has 50.4W.
I have the etch-o-matic basic version. I have got reasonable but not great results in my short time of experimenting with it. I'm thinking of throwing together one like on the tutorial, but with a 25V and 3A transformer.
 
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I think the biggest difference besides power is the AC/DC abilities of the more expensive units.

Use DC to deep etch and AC to put black oxide back into your etch(or vice versa, I have to retrain myself everyday so may have that backwards);). If you do it right, it's almost like it was typed on paper. It will appear black and sharp.

I don't know if that feature is of any use on acid etched knives.
 
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Before I bought my Marking Methods machine, I used a 6/12 volt battery charger for years with good results. Ground to blade, 6 volt gives deep white mark and 12 volt colors it. I still use it with MM's hand peice. Try it before you go nuts buying crap you don't need. The only reason I bought the machine is cuase it was almost free.
 

Richard338

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All the ones I listed including the home built have both AC and DC capabilities.
 
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Mike Hull said:
I think the biggest difference besides power is the AC/DC abilities of the more expensive units.

The etchomatic also has AC/DC capability - just uses a small diode on the ground clip. It works great and in this case, the low power is almost an advantage beacause it goes slow enough that you don't go too far too fast or burn out your stencil.

Rob!
 
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The material you are etching and solution make a difference in the performance.
Check into it.
The small one works fine...:)
 
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Rob! said:
The etchomatic also has AC/DC capability - just uses a small diode on the ground clip. It works great and in this case, the low power is almost an advantage because it goes slow enough that you don't go too far too fast or burn out your stencil.

Rob!

Yes, I have a marking methods and I only use it on half power. Anything higher gives fuzzy etches and burns the stencils out prematurely.

Hell, it it works and is affordable, go for it. The biggest reason the lower priced units don't give really good results is because of hand pads and cheap, or the wrong material stencils.

Get the Marking Methods deep etch hand pads and felt pads and rubber keepers to go with them and the biggest part of the problem is solved. Getting the Marking Methods heavy duty green stencils will complete the job. You might have to argue with Marking Methods to get those stencils, so the best bet is to get the equivalent stencil material from this place, the one that started the metal etching business in the first place. They have deep etch hand pads and the felt covers for them too.
http://www.lectroetch.com/

The thing is, buying all the extra stuff to make one perform better brings you close to the price of a more expensive unit to begin with.

The other part of the problem is using that had pad correctly.
Saturate it in the "correct" solution for your steel type, and blot the handpad on a folded paper towel until it barely makes a damp mark, then it's ready to use.
With everything ready to go, place the handpad on the stencil without too much pressure and hold for the count of three, lift for a couple of seconds and repeat. Do that about 15-20 times. If you see wetness under the stencil, dab the handpiece on the paper towel a couple more times), then switch to AC and repeat the same process about 10-12 times to redeposit black oxide in the etch.

Take the blade to the sink and peel the stencil off(I hold mine on with tape on the sides) use the cleaning solution(you do have that don't you?;)) on blade and stencil. If your blade is mirror polished, lightly buff that area to get rid of any hazing and fuzziness. If it's handrubbed, then just make a few passes with your last grit used, using WD 40 as a lube and you can watch it get sharp detail as you rub.
If some of the black should come out, no worries, just clean the area of the etch and use a black sharpie permanent marker to rub that area. Let it dry and using a piece of sharpened hardwood or micarta(Just a chisel type edge on a small piece of scrap) scrape the excess off. It shouldn't harm the finish of the blade if you're careful.


Edited to add: Mike Fitzgerald(Fitzo) did an in depth study of all the available etching units in a detailed thread at the place that used to be called CKD.
But they changed the name and in their infinite wisdom made all the saved links inoperable so I can't provide it for you here.

It was originally done in the Supply forum over there. Maybe Mike has a link to the new location?
 

fitzo

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It was a study on the stencils only, Mike, all done with my MM. It's available on Tracy Mickley's site.
 
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fitzo said:
It was a study on the stencils only, Mike, all done with my MM. It's available on Tracy Mickley's site.

Ah well, the memory is growing dim I guess.;)
 

Richard338

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Thanks Mike, it sounds like I had the pad WAY too wet. The pad was dripping wet. I was doing 7 bursts of 15-20 secs with the low power unit. I'll try it again with many more shorter bursts and less solution. Also I'm using the general purpose solution for A2. Is there a better solution??
 
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Richard338 said:
Thanks Mike, it sounds like I had the pad WAY too wet. The pad was dripping wet. I was doing 7 bursts of 15-20 secs with the low power unit. I'll try it again with many more shorter bursts and less solution. Also I'm using the general purpose solution for A2. Is there a better solution??

They make solutions for many different types of steel.

Go to the lectroetch site(link above) and see if they make an electrolyte for your steel. It's probably listed as carbon, or non stainless steel, but I'd check anyway. It's not expensive and a quart will last you a loooooooooooooong time.;)
Let us know how the new method works out. Yes, sounds your pad was way too wet. it should make an improvement in your etch to use it just damp.

You have to start out by saturating the pad so the electrolyte will reach the handpiece so contact is made. Then you just blot it to take the excess off. It should barely leave a mark on the paper towel when it's just about right.
Experiment a little to get it right for you, as all machines are a little different.
 
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When I first stated out in my Knife Shop I used the etch-o-matic and did not like how the mark came out. So I, hand sanded it all off and stated over using my stamp in the 12 ton press. And the stamp came out perfect. stamping your name in is the way to go.You can use what you want. But I would think about it. You are not going to sand that out. Thanks and God bless.

Barkes:thumbup:
 
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I've used an etch-o-matic for 15 years now. A couple of tips:
Replace the pad once in a while.
Clean the stencil before using. Just wipe gently with water and a paper towel.
The alligator clips tend to develop a coat of fine rust on them between uses. Take this off with fine grit wet or dry paper before etching.
And finally, throw away the top of the etcher - the part that's designed to hold the stencil in place. You don't want to attach the stencil to the etcher. You want to attach it to the blade with masking tape. Attach only one side, so you can lift the stencil to see how the mark is progressing and then lay the stencil back in the exact same spot.
 
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