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post #13 of (permalink) Old 04-17-2012, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
B&C 120 Class
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 215
Marking Steel

It was asked that we talk a little about marking your knives. There are three basic options.
  1. Stamping
  2. Acid Etching
  3. Electro Chemical Etching

About 15 years ago I purchased a custom made stamp with my initials. I paid about $60 for it at the time and it has served me well ever since. Stamping is inexpensive. There are no additional supplies or consumables to keep purchasing. There are no dangerous chemicals or acids that can stain your blade if not properly cleaned. It is fast. One good whack and it is done. It has two downsides though. You can only stamp steel before it is heat treated. So if you are purchasing finished blades, you can not stamp them. The other downside is that you can not change the stamp. If you want another mark, you have to purchase another stamp. These are available from different vendors. Try searching for "custom steel stamp". Here are a few places to start.

Steel Stamps and Marking Dies - Columbia Marking Tools
Infinity Stamps - Quality Custom Metal Stamps for Marking Steel, Jewelry, Leather, Clay, Wood and Plastics
Buckeye Engraving Custom Steel Hand Stamps

Acid Etching:
I have personally never used this method, but lonehunter uses it. Hopefully he can chime in and give us some more detail. David Boye writes about this method though in his book "Step by Step Knifemaking" and Bob Loveless talks about using UV light and chemicals in his book "How to Make Knives". Basically you coat the blade in a protective coating such as wax and then scrape off the coating to expose the steel where you want to etch it. An application of acid etches the blade where the protective coating has been removed. Proper clean up is important when you are done. You can also use stencils instead of wax. This is performed after the knife is finished so it works on pre-finished blades as well.

Boye Knives How to Make Knives (9780873413893): Richard W. Barney, Robert W. Loveless: Books

Electro Chemical Etching:
Electro chemical etching is very common and is probably what I would choose if I did not already have my stamp. In this method you place a stencil and electrolyte on the blade. Then you pass an electric current through the steel and the electricity etches the blade through the electrolyte where the stencil is not protecting the blade. You can make your own stencils, have them custom made or buy pre-made ones. Like acid etching, this is done on finished knives and good clean up is important. This method can be a little expensive but they do have good budget models. has a lot of good information on their web site about this.

Etching Supplies : USA Knife Maker Supply, Operated by a knifenaker for knifemakers!

All of the techniques take practice. Each one has it advantages and disadvantages.
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