The telltale etch.

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Terry, I appreciate your last post, I want you to know that I was not alluding to you when I was talking about makers doing the "down and dirty", I find your work exemplary.
Kit, dont try to fool me, I know for a fact that you been making for two years now. New maker indeed.;)
 
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Terry,

Thanks for your reply. I don't know if this is going too far out on a tangent for this thread, but could you try to explain the process of fully hardening a blade and drawing the spine back? Would the drawn back portion of the blade etch differently than the edge?

I also have another question I've been wondering about, that may not fit in with this thread, regarding the geometry of the blade. How much does the geometry of a blade impact it's performance. Is the grind as important as the forge/hardening process, or does it not play as big a role?


-Jose
 
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Jose,
Rather than get too far off topic, let me direct you to an article on my website that I did a few years ago. It is written for folks who are not knifemakers, and therefore is a brief description of some of the various methods, rather than a tutorial.

It briefly describes three methods of what I call differential hardening:
- Edge Quench
- Clay Coating
- Torch

and a fourth method I call differential tempering. This is the method you are inquiring about. Here's the link:

Differential Heat Treating

I don't claim to be the authority on the subject, but I believe it will give you a fairly good idea of what the methods are.

Finally, edge geometry is certainly important, but I personally believe that all the facets of knifemaking pretty much have equal importance. Ed Caffrey uses a phrase that I like very much. He calls it "The Overall Package". To have the best overall package, everything needs to be right.

[ Edited for spelling errors. There are probably more. I'm a knifemaker, not an English teacher. :D ]
 
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I do not wish to imply that only forged - differentially hardened etched blades have merit.

Any knife that comes from the dreams of man to make an honest statement of purpose is a worthy companion of man, be it stainless, carbon, forged or stock removal. Art is an expression of one man and if it creates emotion in another it qualifies as art in both arenas.

My dream has been and continues to be the high performance field knife as I see her and am able to make her sing. I may be right or wrong, but wish to share the lessons my lady has taught me with those who may benefit.


Jose: the fully hardened soft back draw blade will display a vastly different etched patern than the differentially hardened blade.

Fully hardened blades can be very tough. One reason for the zones is to provide a reference point for the maker and client to see the whole picture.

Kit, Us beginners got to learn someplace and this is as good as any.
 
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Originally posted by Ed Fowler


Any knife that comes from the dreams of man to make an honest statement of purpose is a worthy companion of man, be it stainless, carbon, forged or stock removal. Art is an expression of one man and if it creates emotion in another it qualifies as art in both arenas.


Outstanding statement Ed. Could not have said it any better!
 

wolfmann601

Gone, but not forgotton. RIP Ira.
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For a NEWBIE, I have just been given an education I could not have gotten by reading an entire book. Gentlemen, I thank you very much. When this thread began, I did NOT have a clue to what the word ETCH meant. Now I actually understand what you have said. This is a wonderful thread, Thanks.......Ira:) :)

BTW, who is this knife-maker KIT CARSON? Must be one of those NEW and UNKNOWNS still trying to establish himself, HUH?:eek: :eek: :eek: :p ;)
 
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Ed, thank you very much. That was a great statement.:D
Ira, yeah this Kit guy hangs out at shoptalk, think he's a newbie just tryin to get a rep. ;) ,..........just kiddin Kit.
 
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someone above wanted to know what benefit there would be in etching a fully hardened blade. It is my personal opinion that an etched blade that was fully hardend, correctly would have no story to tell. However If any mistakes were made during the hardening etching would reveal the story to the maker so that he/she could remedy their process to correct the problem. Therefore if the etch on a fully hardend blade revealed no story, that in itsself would be the story of the makers' ability.
 
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I would think that etching a blade, even a fully hardened blade, would always be of assistance. Even if only to discover that everything has been done properly. After it has been etched to look for faults, it is easy enough to put a nice polish in the blade. As R.W. has pointed out, it really helps in learning what you are doing wrong, or right for that matter.
 
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Some good thoughts here. What kind of flaws would we be looking for on a fully hardened blade that has been etched, that would not be seen with a high quality finish? mw
 
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I etch many of my stock removal blades, most in fact, because I use etching instead of bead blasting to create non-reflective finishes. When I started doing this, it was a real eye-opener. The grain, especially inconsistencies in the grain, are very noticeable with stainless steels. That's one reason I switched from ATS-34 to 154CM. It is quite different in it grain structure when viewed after etching. With ATS-34, some is good; some isn't. All 154CM I've gotten has been consistent and fairly fine grained. What I call "bad" ATS-34 has a very uneven and splotchy (can't think of a better word) grain structure that sometimes varies even within a single blade. I've ruled out heat treating as the variable, by intermixing "good" ATS-34, "bad" ATS-34 and 154CM in a single batch. The results are very clear and reproducible. By contrast, CPM-3V has almost no visible grain after etching, while S30V had just a little but it's very uniform. A2 I've etched looks like "good" ATS-34, which surprised me; I expected a finer grain in view of its impact toughness. D2 has pronounced grain, but it is uniform.

How all this relates to performance is unclear, but it certainly has shaped my choice in steels.
 
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M I Williams: If there were faults in the steel, most of them would be more noticable in an etched blade, for example inclusions may become very obvious, exclusions (pits or faults) may become magnified. If part of the blade did not harden this would be apparent. In some steels you could see representations of grain structure. When I wish to explore an antique blade many times I will polish and etch in hope of gaining information. It takes a long time to figure out what you see, but the exploratin is always informative.

Wayne Goddard put to bed forever the idea that some etches could reveal the forged to shape blade. He etched a stock removal blade that if you looked at the grain alone, you would have bet the ranch it had been forged to shape.

Some etches reveal different aspects of the steel.
A full discussion gets into a post graduate course. I stick with the ferric chloride as I am more familiar with what it tells me and is not destructive to the steel.

When judging a knife, One aspect of functional balance can be investigated by asking the knife maker how he tests his blades, then how he makes them. The etch can be help verify his results, helping both the maker and the client understand part of his ability and hopefully the performance potenital of the knife. The more readilly all facts come together, the smoother the voyage.
 

fisk

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Ed
So basically what you are doing is what the Japanese have been doing for hundreds of years. Light etch and or stoning the blade to see what is going on.
Don Fogg showed everyone down here at a hammer-in a few years ago how to read what is going on by simply stoning the blade.
Etching will indeed tell you if you hardened the blade. So will the scale breaking from the blade right after heat treat. Both will tell you if you went up high enough on the blade to work well.
But you got to explain to me how etching relates to functional balance.
fisk
 
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I would really hate to see this thread start to turn into a fight of some kind. I think that it has some great information in it and I am sure it is going to have more great posts. It was not started to belittle the efforts of any knifemakers or manufacturers, just to see what people think about the merits of etching a blade.

What Jerry had to say has piqued my interest and I wonder what Ed's answer will be.
 
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I too was taken back by RW's comments on this "certain company". I for one can appreciate many styles of knives, but would choose an assortment of finishes over a polished blade any day. Why? Aesthetics mostly, but also I hate to worry about scratching up a shiny blade. That finish just doesn't equal "user" to me. I love etched, beadblast or even parkerized blades. I guess I'm just not as refined as a lot of collectors or makers. Or maybe I'm just a dupe of the "tactical knife hype". Not.

RW's comment is alienating to me and a LOT of other knife aficionados because I can appreciate the work of a few guys that he refers to as "machinists". Poor choice of words, Mr. Clark. These men are your peers and fine knife makers (good guys to boot).

I hate to think of what you would say about another knife maker that I happen to be very close to. He has over 20 years experience making knives that aren't shiny or fancy, but they work. And they work very well. Being a knife maker isn't only about flawless cosmetics, perfect hand-polished blades, and hand tooled sheaths.

One more thing. I'm a beginner knife maker myself. Any I'm not even bothering to learn how to do hand-rubbed finishes. Not because I'm lazy or want to jump on a tactical bandwagon. I have my own aesthetic sensibility and am being true to that. Call me what you want.
 
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I have to put my two cents in on this one as well. RW Clark made no real attempt at disguising his lack of regard for a certain maker of knives in his post. I found that to be highly disturbing - and as for worrying about this extremely informative thread deteriorating into a slugfest - I'm sorry that no one saw fit to call him out on this issue earlier and put things to rights.

I am far from a knife afficionnado. I like to think of myself as one, but I know the truth. However I am one of those kinds of folks who DO use a knife on a daily basis. And I use them pretty hard from time to time. So I do my research before I purchase my tools. And I try very hard to glean the truth from the cheerleading that often times can go on in these forums. I currently own one knife made by the "certain company" that RW Clark eschews. It is one of the better investments I have made. As a result, I have another two from the same maker on order.

These are hard use tools designed for people who are going to go in harm's way. They aren't meant to be pretty - though there is definitely an aesthetic appeal in their lines and brute strength. Personally, they appeal to me. Mr. Clark needs to step back and rethink his statement and his stance on what determines the value of a blade to the intended market. He knows the answer already as his product is geared more toward the collectors and hunters/sportsmen. By and large they are not "military knives."

Vermonster... Cut the crap. You may have taken offense at the statement Clark made, but why take a hack at his work? It was completely out of line. Can YOU do any better? Mr. Clark makes very nice looking and, I'm certain, quite serviceable knives. They are just directed at a different market. If I was in the market for collecting knives for show (as these look too nice for me to want to mar through saltwater immersion, etc.) I would definitely consider some of Mr. Clarks Blades.

Let's all just make certain that we accord each other with the respect we deserve.
 
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Geez guys settle down. Despite what you are thinking, that was not a shot at Strider Knives! While I feel that Striders are overpriced they are very well made with good fit and finish. And no it wasn't Busse either.

Shots at my work. Who cares. Doesn't change the fact that I am sitting on over a hundred backorders.

But I stand behind the fact that there are actually several OTHER companies that are trying to hide poor workmanship behind super heavy bead blasting. I didn't go for the black knife craze ten years ago and I still don't. I have however made a few "tacticals". Its just not me. Funny thing, I know a couple ex-spec opps guys. One flew with the CCC in Nam and one was a Navy SEAL. They both laugh at the whole non-reflective blade hype.

Enough on that! Lets get back to etching. Feel free to start a new thread, I am always happy to slug it out over a topic:D.
 
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Well Mr. Clark, perhaps I was mistaken then in my interpretation of the maker you were alluding to. Fine. Well, now that we know that it isn't SK, it narrows the field a bit. Who ELSE might be making their living making knives of that kind of design?

Congratulations on your 100+ backorders. But I still think you are showing extremely poor form in this.

You don't need to be badmouthing colleagues' work like that. I'm quite certain that you are correct in everything that you have said regarding some shoddy work being produced out there. But makers whose products don't hold up to daylight scrutiny will become known through the rep they earn from disgruntled customers.
 
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