Finishing Damascus

Joined
Jan 1, 2006
Messages
5
Greeting from a new poster:
I recently decided to make myself a damascus knife and therefore aquired what I thought was one "in the rough". Now I'm not sure. My blade is so hard it can't be filed. It has (had) a coarse grain to it but a few laps on a 4x36 belt sander has only slightly polished surface and a definite coarse grain pattern remains too deep to grind/polish out.
A "google" of the net has strangely provided nothing in the area of finishing damascus steel.
In short, I can see I need some instruction/advice about how to proceed.
Can anyone help?

Thanks,
Joseph
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2005
Messages
406
have you heat treated it? We need more info on what type of damascus. Did you make the damascus yourself?
 

SDS

Joined
Oct 22, 2007
Messages
1,389
It sounds like you purchased steel that was already heat treated. If so your going to have a tough time grinding it. I have heard that some folks prefer to grind damascus after it is heat treated but you would have to work it very slowly and keep it very cool to prevent it from overheating and burning out your heat treat.

I'm certainly no expert when it comes to damascus but I've done a little reading and purchased some at Blade. I haven't gotten around to finishing anything from it yet though.

I'm sure someone with much more expertise than I have will chime in soon enough.

SDS
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2006
Messages
5
I should have mentioned in initial post I purchased blade from India and seem to remember ad claimed it was hardened to approximately 55 to 57 rockwell.

Joseph
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2007
Messages
915
yea it's already heat treated, the 55-57 HRC is a hardness measurement and that is given after heat treat most generally. My advice is polish it with a wet sanding tecnique by hand, to keep the blade cool. Then after you get it to atleast 600 grit, use a buffing wheel and buff to a bright mirror polish. Then suspend in a acid bath (I recommend a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and 100% lemon juice. for a 8-12 hours. Also do not let anything touch the sides. as this will "dam" the acid and you'll have banding of half etched steel where it touched the wall of the bath)
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
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12,297
If you bought a finished blade, it should already be finished and etched.
And a 36 grit belt should not have touched this blade but to late now.
How about a picture.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2006
Messages
5
J S:
Thanks for the information. This is exactly what I wanted to know.
And Don I hate to show what this "thing" looks like right now. Let me work on it awhile and I will post pic.
Because it is so hard its going to take some effort to get it to 600 grit. BTW it wasn't finished as blade edge is about .303" thick. It will need to be ground later which I will be asking about. I have a pretty well equipped shop for "amateur" knife work including wood working, stick welding and mechanics tools from when I worked as an A&P mech (still do most all of my own car work @ 74 age). I'm just a little short on ingenuity and find so many ideas here BF that I feel like a kid in a candy store.
JS, I'm somewhat familiar with acids and I can't see vinegar and lemon juice doing any more than staining the metal or is that all it is supposed to do?
Previously on a used belt sander I "worried" down a section some what smooth on one side and suspended it in full strength muriatic pool acid and all it did was slightly discolor after about 30 minutes. Anyway I'll work on grinding/polishing and get back later.
Regards,
Joseph
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2005
Messages
2,527
Tell us where you're located and you might find someone near you eager to give you a little one on one help.

I use ferric chloride and water 1:3 ration for my damascus. Straight acid etches the different steels very quickly and doesn't show a pattern nearly as well as a slow etch does. Ferric Chloride can be purchased at Radio Shack as PC Board Etchent.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2007
Messages
748
Try this with the muriatic acid, let it sit for a little while suspended in the acid! It will take a little while to etch dependent on the strength on the acid.
You might need to use mutlitple dips in the acid to get a good etch!
After that let it soak in TSP (check your local hardware store), rinse with warm water and you might want to rub some baking soda on there (once or twice) just to make sure all the acid is neutralized. I used some car paint polish (swirl remover, super fine rubbing compound) after the knife was fully dried, and then some wax (car wax) since I noticed the cable damascus blade I had forge welded tended to pick up fingerprints extremely easy which is a negatice. I figured the wax would provide a protective coating against those who can't refrain from touching and it worked!

Good luck!!
 
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