Marking the tools I make

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I've been making a lot of chisels and other tools as of late - and selling them as fast as I can make them (If you're interested have a look at http://members.shaw.ca/mathewa/tools4sale.htm ). I'm going to start making them on a more commercial basis and need to apply a makers mark. I've looked into having a steel stamp made up that I would hammer into the red hot tool steel - but this would probably cause too much bending and or distortion in some of the tools so I've ruled that out and a laser image is out of the question so if anyone has any ideas could you post them.
Thanx Mat
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Damned if i know writes:

Toner transfer.
Rubber-stamp epoxy paint.
Sandblast through logo mask.
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Laser
UA100
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You might consider putting your mark on either the ferrule or the handle itself. As you know, the handle is the typical location for the larger commercial producers.
-Verne

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Damned if i know wrote:

You might want to look into chemical etching. See the following link for examples:
http://www.etch-o-matic.com/EOM.html
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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Great idea. Many years ago a friend bought a similar device. You could type or write on the stencils. I typed my name and etched many of my hand tools They still look good today, about 25 years later. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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Jack Novak wrote...

I second Jack's suggestion.
Electrochemical etching is an easy and safe process. It can be used to make a deep etch or a very thin surface mark. Beware of commercially available electro-marking equipment, though; it is ridiculously expensive. On the other hand, it is very easy and inexpensive to build your own. My electro-etcher is shop made from materials I had on hand. The process, materials, and equipment are almost trivial, but information is closely guarded within the industry.
For the resist, I've been happy with photo-sensitive stencils. I create the image on the computer, print it on the photo-resist using a LaserJet to make a contact mask, and expose the film using simple shop-made light box.
Knife maker Bob Warner's tutorials provide a good starting point: http://www.warnerknives.com/tutorials.htm (check out "Electro-Etcher" and "Stencil Exposure unit")
Additional practical information on the process can be found here: http://www.ckdforums.com /
Electrochemical etching requires an electrolyte. Last summer, I got free samples of three different electrolytes from IMG, intending to experiment with them on different steels, but I haven't got round to doing that yet. I did use the SC-50 electrolyte on O1 and it worked very well.
However, I also had good results with a homebrew electrolyte of about equal parts of potassium chloride and salt in water. This solution works even better with a bit of muriatic acid added. I was experimenting around with this before I got the commercial electrolytes from IMG, and it worked pretty well. The "recipe" came from a paper on sheet metal strain studies.
The original recipe in the paper was: potassium chloride, 80g sodium chloride, 90g nitric acid, 100ml hydrochloric acid, 100ml water, 4.5L
With no nitric acid readily available, I just winged it with what I had on hand and it worked well enough. I had previously tried various concentrations of plain salt and water with poor results.
On stainless steels, I have heard that the commercial electrolytes are best, but I don't know from experience.
My contact at IMG was Patricia Bruno. She was very helpful. She also mentioned something about an inexpensive "knifemaker's sample pack" with five different electrolytes that they were planning to offer. Here is IMG's web page.
http://www.img-electromark.com/catalog3.php
Snoop around their web site for some good basic information on the process and equipment in general.
The technology is solidly within reach of the average do-it-yourselfer. I made both the light box for exposing the stencils and the electro-etcher for a fraction of what the commercial units cost, all from information available on the web. My total out-of-pocket equipment cost was about $8 for the high-output fluorescent light bulb in the stencil exposure unit. Everything else was already on hand in various junk boxes.
I did buy photo-sensitive stencil material and developer. The stencil material was $12 for one 8.5 x 11 sheet, but since the marks are small and a stencil can be re-used for some time, one sheet goes a long way. The developer is a concentrate and a quart cost me $20. I have no idea what's in it -- for all I know it could be plain water (G).
Before I got the stencil material from IMG, I used a different photo- sensitive material, called PhotoEZ High Resolution. As far as I know, Gwen Gibson Designs is the only source for it.
http://photoezsilkscreen.com /
Five sheets were $38. This stuff works a little differently. It doesn't require a special developer (just water) and it can be exposed in sunlight. I don't think the screen is as fine as the IMG stencil material. It doesn't handle fine detail as well. Also, the emulsion appears to soak up some electrolyte in use, which can cause blotches to appear on the mark. If you're doing deep etching and don't need fine lines, though, this stuff does work. You just have to rub off any blotches with an abrasive pad.
By the way, I tried using ferric chloride and was disappointed in the results. It's messy, takes a long time, tends to undercut, and presents a disposal problem.
Good luck!
Jim
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What are the limits with the stencils? Could I have a negative printed on a transparency? Could it be a cut-out in heavy paper? I don't really understand how it all works. Can someone elaborate on the process?
Thanks,
Eide
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Eide wrote...

The stencil material is a silk-screen -- a fine mesh coated with a photo- sensitive emulsion. It is exposed to UV light through a mask and then developed. Development dissolves the unexposed areas of the emulsion, leaving only the porous mesh there, which liquid can pass through. The exposed portions of the emulsion do not wash away; they remain and provide a barrier to liquids.
The stencil is placed between the part to be marked and a felt pad dampened with electrolyte. One electrode is attached to the part. The other connects to a plate which is placed in contact with the damp pad. A current passes between the electrodes -- through the moist pad, the stencil, and the part. This etches the metal, but only in the areas where the electrolyte is able to pass through the stencil and contact the part.
Cheers!
Jim
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Nice explanation. Succinct. Thanks
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Bob Engelhardt wrote...

You're welcome and I'm flattered. I've never been known for brevity! (G)
Cheers!
Jim
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Thanks! Very good explanation. I hope to put it to use some time in the near future!
Eide (oops, replied to myself the first time)

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Jims explanation is right on and explains just about everything needed to understand the process. Although not needed use the process, some additional info will help explain what happens during the exposure and development process. The exposure and developing process is very similar to how printed wiring boards (PWB) are made. The photo resist is an emulsion of polymer molecules, the exposure to UV light cross-links the molecules into long polymer chains while the ones covered by the mask are not cross-linked. The long polymer chains are more resistant to solvents than the short molecules. In the developing process a solvent washes away the short molecules and leaves the cross-linked ones untouched. When making PWB a copper clad board is covered with resist. A mask with the circuit runs is placed over the board and then exposed to UV light. The board is then developed by using a solvent to remove the unlinked molecules. This is often done in a vapor degreaser. Making the stencil is similar only that the resist is a coating on a piece of silk instead of a copper board. The board is then put in an etching solution to remove the copper except in the areas protected by the resist. A ferric chloride solution is often used to etch the copper.
If you wanted to make the markings on your tools deeper, coating them with resist then etching them might be another way to mark your tools. Where I used to work we used this technique to make stainless steel nameplates. It s interesting why we had to make nameplates from stainless steel. They were used to replace brass nameplate on navy equipment. It seems that the navy loves to polish everything. The sailors were polishing the nameplates so often the markings on the nameplates were polished away. You dont have to polish stainless and if you did it took a lot longer to wear off the marking. We also used a similar process to make parts out of very thin sheet metal.
A similar process is used to sandblast patterns onto materials such as glass. The pattern is printed on the glass and then sandblasted. The coating allows only the unprotected areas to be sandblasted.
Jims explanation is more to the point, but I thought you might find this interesting.
Scp
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Thanks! Very good explanation. I hope to put it to use some time in the near future!
Eide

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Jim Wilson wrote...

Oops. Brain cramp strikes again. The above should read:
I create the image on the computer, print it using a LaserJet on ordinary paper to make a contact mask, and expose the photo-resist using simple shop-made light box.
Sorry for the confusion.
Jim
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How about a decal and then varnish over it?

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wrote:

Acid etching?
Mike Patterson Please remove the spamtrap to email me.
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Try an electro-etching unit, commonly used by knifemakers to mark their work.
Regards,
Bob
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Damned if i know wrote:

http://www.mscdirect.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=1&Section_Id 11230&pcount&Product_Id$8577&Keyword=Y
Might have to cut and paste that in if it wraps.
Martin
--
Martin Eastburn, Barbara Eastburn
@ home at Lion's Lair with our computer snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net
  Click to see the full signature.
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Wow thanx for all your responses - I'm going to take a good look at teh etching idea.

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