This Sunday was very productive – we managed to create our first really good looking damascus billet and to electro-etch our logo.
“Secret” behind getting a good damascus pattern is just choosing the right metals. This time I spent quite a lot of time digging in steel specs to find out which would probably create good patterns (which have enough or at least some chrome or nickel in it to create light lines etc.). After that I had to find out which steels are available locally – not many, unfortunately. What makes this difficult is also the fact, that all my info is coming from American books or forums, so I’m quite acquainted with US steels. So then I had to figure out which US steels have Russian on any European maker analogues. The damascus you see on the photo is made from O1/W2 steels. The pattern is nice, but as I found out (later, of course) that it might create problems during heat treatment. We’ll see that soon enough.
Electro-etching. Basically what this does, is to create any mark on metal. In our case it is our logo. The stencil was ordered from one company in US (again!). We got 6 stencils, each should be able to create about 300-400 etchings. The etching process itself is quite simple. You place the stencil on the metal, one wire from DC supply goes to the knife, other is in ‘etching pad’. This pad is just a piece of metal with cotton over it. The cotton is made damp with electrolyte and you just dab the stencil about 30 times or so. Metal is eaten away where there are holes in stencil. Following photo is just an example etch made on ATS-34 steel knife.
Actually, after the DC etch it is necessary to etch a little bit with AC too. Reason is that when DC removes the metal, AC creates black markings. AC makes the metal go from steel to etch pad 50 times a sec, and somehow leaves a black mark.