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Old 1st August 2016, 02:26 PM   #1
mariusgmioc's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 1,134
Default Restauration of antique oriental Damascus / Wootz blades

Restauration of antique oriental Damascus / Wootz blades

1. always wear protective vinyl gloves
2. clean the blade thoroughly with White Spirit
(3.) if the surface is rusty, remove all rust with Picreator’s Renaissance Metal De-Corroder, by either completely immersing the blade in the liquid or applying the liquid locally where needed
(4.) if the surface is badly pitted, polish the surface with sandpaper up to grit 2000-5000 (be careful that polishing is removing material from the blade, thus, it is an invasive procedure and should be applied with restraint; wootz is highly susceptible to pitting but slight pitting does not affect the end result too badly)
5. clean thoroughly the blade with White Spirit
6. etch the blade with Nital (solution of nitric acid 3-5% in alcohol) or with ferric chloride (20%)(best results have beeen obtained with Nital 3-4%).
6.1. protect the areas that do not need to be etched with polyethylene foil (cling film) and/or with Renaissance Wax
6.2. immerse the blade in the etchant solution, or apply the solution with cotton swabs, in quick moves in order to distribute the etchant evenly over the whole surface
6.3. the time for etchant to work should be very short, around 3-7 seconds (for Nital 5%) or may require more applications for longer times for Nital 3%, depending on the quality of the steel and the quality of the etchant (longer times at higher concentrations tend to cause a golden oxidation and can completely mask the watering patterns of the Wootz)
6.4. remove all the etchant by flushing it generously with running water (some suggest to neutralize the etchant by using water with baking soda but I did not try it)
6.5. dry thoroughly the blade with soft, absorbent tissue, and if necessary use a hot air blower (but make sure the air is not too hot since differential dilatation of the components of the weapon can cause major damage)
(6.6.) wipe very gently the blade with cotton swabs and Picreator’s Pre-Lim polishing paste (I use this to remove the golden oxidation that appears occasionally)
6.7. clean the blade thoroughly with White Spirit
(6.8.) repeat steps 6.2-6.7 two or three times
7. protect the whole blade with Picreator’s Renaissance Wax for long term conservation

a. steps in brackets are optional, if necessary
b. The quality of the end result depends mainly on
• the quality of the Wootz
• the heat treatment of the blade
• the quality of the etchant.
c. I had situations where I got very different results, varying from a very high contrast, dark pattern similar to Kara Taban, to low contrast silvery-grey watering pattern over the length of the very same blade. I assume this was caused by the different heat treatment the blade was exposed to.

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