I remember when I was trying to figure out how to mark my knives, there wasn’t much out there on the internet other than expensive stamps or electric etching machines. I didn’t invent this method I’m about to describe, but neither have I found the whole concept in one tutorial. I now use a stencil and electric etcher, but the method in this tutorial got me by cheaply for quite a while.

I etch the blade after the handle is finished, before I sharpen. It’s the last step before I call a knife “done.” Step one, the blade must be clean. I clean the blade with acetone, then wash it with dish soap. It’s important to do both, or the etch won’t come out right.

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Next I write my name with a sharpie marker and box it in. It usually takes me several tries to get it right, but sharpie comes off easily with acetone. It needs to be a regular sharpie, as the fine point ones don’t lay down enough ink.

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Next I apply a little bit of diluted ferric chloride, careful to keep it inside the box. Ferric chloride is available as PCB etchant at Radio Shack. I dilute it 4:1 with distilled water for my knife making use.

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I let the ferric chloride sit about one minute, maybe 90 seconds, then I rinse it off in the sink. I rinse toward the spine, so the FC doesn’t run back across the unprotected blade. Coming out of the etch, the logo looks like this.

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After cleaning the sharpie off with acetone, it looks like this. I take a tiny bit of JB bore paste on a rag and buff the logo by hand. I assume Iosso or Flitz or something similar would work as well. If your etch comes out where the letters have some etch in them, you left the etch on too long. You can buff the logo until almost all the oxide is gone, and it looks more frosted. If you etch went well and you have no etch in the letters, you can buff the logo just a little or not at all.

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After buffing with the JB and cleaning with acetone, the logo is finished and looks like this. This method isn’t nearly as professional looking as an electro etcher or stamp but it works well for those of us on a budget. I suppose it would be harder if my last name were Szymanski or Wilkerson, but it works pretty well for Fry.

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