In this article, we will cover how to stone wash and acid etch your knives. This is a really popular finish right now, that a lot of knife manufacturers use. They use it on knife blades, and knife scales are pretty popular right now. I really like it. It’s a very durable finish because of the nature of it being stone washed, it kind of looks a little aged.
As you use your knife if it’s an EDC or hard juice knife, and it gets some wear on it, it’s not really as visible or as bad because your knives are already stone washed which I kind of like and it just looks dope too.
I really just like the way the whole acid etching and stone washing looks; I started doing this on my own knives and when I realised how easy and inexpensive this was to do yourself at home.
Let’s go over some of the items we need to make this happen. First thing you’re going to need is a knife. You definitely need a knife. Other than a knife, probably the second most important ingredient is ferric chloride. I’ve seen lots of other people do apple cider vinegar baths and there’s some other solutions you can use to kind of achieve the same thing but from what I’ve seen it takes a lot longer to get the same dark result.
Anyway ferric chloride is your first ingredient this stuff is dangerous – it is corrosive so be careful which leads us to the next thing you need PPE personal protection equipment you’re going to need to like make sure you have some like latex gloves. Also safety glasses – you don’t want this stuff splashing in your eyes.
This is very corrosive, so be careful when you’re using it. I mean we’re not dealing with nuclear waste or anything nevertheless, be responsible and be careful. Use the appropriate safety wear. An optional thing that might come in handy is a tumbler of some nature. I will go over different ways you can achieve the stone wash effect.
You’re also going to need some nail polish so if you’ve got a girlfriend or a wife or maybe you just like to paint your nails. You’re also going to need some kind of wire – I just use a coat hanger. You’re going to need some cleaner – I mean some form of something to degrease things. I usually use denatured alcohol or acetone.
You’re probably going to need a sharpener. You don’t need a knife sharpener to create the stone wash acid-etched effect but creating this effect does completely destroy your knife’s edge so you are going to need to sharpen your knife after you get done.
Start by disassembling your knife. I didn’t go over the details of that everybody’s knife is going to disassemble a little different, nevertheless you want to get your knife taking part down to just the blade.
You’re going to wanna glove up because you don’t want your greasy hands getting stuff on it either. You don’t want your greasy little mitts getting stuff on the knife so after you’re gloved up you’re going to take some denatured alcohol, some acetone, something of that nature and you’re going to want to degrease this blade really really well.
We’re going to be putting some finger nail polish on parts of this knife we don’t want to get etched. It really makes the fingernail polish stick better if you don’t have any oils or grease or anything like that on the knife.
Rub down the whole surface of the knife really really well to make sure you’ve got all the grease off. After you’ve given it a good thorough scrub, and you’re confident all the grease is off you’re just going to give it a minute or two to dry. We’re going to move to the fingernail polish any fingernail polish will work just whatever – this is gel effect – I don’t know something on my wife’s drawers.
The whole area where around your pivot point where your washers are on both sides you’re going to wanna make sure you cover that whole area your detent and then the track that your detent goes on any surface that engages another metal surface.
I usually go along the locking surface, I even get back to where the stop pin hits. You don’t want this to remove any material here, where you’re locking point you’re going to have blade play. You don’t want anything in here to affect the washers, and you don’t want anything on your lockup area. Basically, you just want to coat with fingernail polish all the areas that interact with the knife.
Now you do need to give this some time to dry before you move on to the next step. If the fingernail polish is not good and dry, then it could come off in the acid wash and then you’re going to end up acid etching parts you don’t want to so make sure this is good and dry before you move to the next step.
At this point we’re going to start working with the chloride, so you’re going to want to make sure you have on the appropriate PPE. You don’t wanna get this stuff on your skin, and you definitely get in your eyes you’re going to probably want to wear some kind of eye protection.
So now we’re going to actually dip this in the ferric chloride. I keep mine in a mason jar, it’s just easier to dip. You don’t want to keep this stuff in anything that is metal obviously. A lot of people keep it in full plastic containers. Don’t put it in metal, as it’ll eat through it.
Before we get dipping, I’m going to do one last wipe down because I have touched this with my fingers. Obviously don’t get any of the cleaner on your parts that you painted because it might remove some of the paint.
So we’re ready to put it in the acid solution, now as far as this goes the ferric chloride that I’ve been using is from Amazon. I don’t dilute it with anything. There are multiple recipes online of people using different concoctions of ferric chloride diluted with apple cider vinegar or fifty-fifty water to fit.
There’s a lot of different ways to do it, I just go with the straight ferric chloride. I’ve had good results with that, it gives a good nice even edge, it’s quick and it’s cheap enough so that’s what I’ve been doing.
This is where your wire or your coat hanger comes in – you want to go to suspend your blade off some form of wire, and dip it down in the solution. I use like a little pencil or something – a little carpenter’s pencil will work just fine – and we’re just going to dip it down in the solution.
The amount of time you’re going to leave it in here is going to depend on how exactly dark of an etch you want. If you want it really light, maybe a couple minutes and if you want a real dark etch, maybe five to ten. The best thing to do is put it in there after a few minutes, pull it out. Check it see if you like how dark it is; you don’t want to leave in there too long because it can degrade your steel and give it a weird texture.
Until you figure out the kind of steel you’re working with, and how long and how dark that you want, I would check it every few minutes. Generally for me it’s been about five or ten minutes so I’m going to leave this knife sit for around 10 minutes.
Now, rinse it off real good with some water. Check the colour. There’s a fine line though between getting it as dark as you want and going too far. There’s a couple of ways that you can go about neutralising the etch. You can give it a good thorough rinsing with water, you could put it in a baking soda bath, that’ll do it ammonia will also neutralise it.
Regardless of how you do it, you want to stop the edge so it doesn’t go any further. You could leave it and then just get to sharpening and put your knife back together. There’s a lot of different things you could do at this point.
We’re going to stone wash it, the cheapest way to do it basically free is you get some kind of plastic container, grab a bunch of rocks, put a little water – some people use wd-40 – put your blade in there and shake it for about five minutes.
Depending on the type of look you’re going for, you’re going to want to just check it frequently. If you’re doing it by hand, I’d say probably around five minutes I found is a good amount.
Next thing we’re going to do use some acetone some fingernail polish remover whatever to get this fingernail polish off then we’re going to put this baby back together touch up this edge see what we get in the end
So, there we have it, an acid etched, and stone washed blade. I really enjoy doing this, I think it’s a really cool inexpensive way to put a nice custom flair on your knife. It really gives it a much more expensive kind of custom look.
You can customise any of your knives, just kind of give it your own a little touch and like we talked about with the different ways you can acid etch these things with different kinds of media, getting different effects – scales or clips – pretty much anything that’s steel.