A place for members to share their methods, show off their work, or just ask and answer questions.
I'm still pretty new to this, but will do my best to share what I learn along the way
I had planned to break this up into separate posts, but since MD won't show oldest posts first, that kinda messes up that plan for keeping things in order. This is gonna get long, I'll continue adding to this first post over time.
Safety first :
We're dealing with high voltage Direct Current (DC) electricity here, along with some caustic chemicals.
Be sure to have ventilation when etching your titanium, the gasses this creates aren't pleasant. You should also be wearing gloves and goggles for this.
When anodizing, you should be wearing rubber electricity resistant gloves.
Required equipment :
-A source of DC power
-An electrolytic solution
-Whink rust remover
-Natural sponges, brushes, etc for spot anodizing
-Various abrasives for removing anodization from specific areas for special effects
-Vinyl, electrical tape, nail polish for creating stencils/masks
While this can be done with 9v batteries, I'll be focusing on using a bench top DC power supply. Use of batteries is inconsistent, and difficult to repeat unless you start with fresh batteries for every piece. And at the cost of batteries, you might as well buy the power supply if you plan to do more than a couple pieces.
As far as the electrolytic solution goes, I've seen people use all sorts of things for this. You can use cola, you can buy pre made solutions, I've been having good results with a mixture of 1tbsp TSP (a powdered detergent) and 2tbsp baking soda in a large bowl of water.
The cathode is a piece of conductive material with greater mass than the piece being anodized, this will clip to the negative lead. Many people say it should be of the same material as what you're anodizing/etching...steel for etching steel, copper for etching copper, titanium for anodizing titanium, etc. I've been getting decent enough results using stainless steel, so I haven't invested in a big chunk of titanium to see if it makes a difference.
The Whink rust remover is used to strip the surface of the titanium piece prior to re-anodizing.
Fresh water is used to rinse off the solution after you pull the piece out of the bath
Windex is used to clean the piece after you rinse in water. For some reason this really makes the colors pop as the final step
This is my current setup:
A stainless steel bowl full of the water/tsp/baking soda mixture, with the negative lead attached directly to the bowl.
Then I place a plastic strainer inside the bowl, to be sure the piece being anodized can't touch the sides and cause a short.
And for added safety I drop that into a larger plastic bowl so that I don't accidentally touch the metal.
The positive lead is clipped to a length of titanium wire so that the clip itself never has to go into the water and get corroded. The piece to anodize hangs from the other end of the wire.
EDIT: updating the following steps after just noticing something in manufacturer instructions for the power supply
From there I make sure the dial is set to 0 volts, attach the handle to the titanium hook, lower it into the bath, then slowly raise it up to the desired voltage.
(this used to read set the voltage first, then lower it in.....that's why i was getting occasional voltage spikes, don't do that.)
I'll leave examples and specific methods for separate posts, along with a list of links I found useful once I have time to collect them.
Only other thing I'll add for now here is this tip:
Always remember when working in more than one color, a higher voltage will change the color of a lower voltage, but a lower voltage will have NO effect on a higher one.
So, if you want to create a sky blue knife with weathered edges showing a bronze color underneath, dip the whole thing at the higher voltage (around 25v for light blue), weather your edges next (via tumbler, sanding, scotch brite, rust eraser, etc), then dip it the second time at the lower voltage (around 9v for a light bronze)
Lastly, here's a generic color chart to get started with. Note that the actual colors will vary depending on your solution and the type of finish on the metal
(not my pic, but it's been passed around so many times I don't know who to give credit to)