DIY Titanium Anodizing
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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
-A cathode

-Some titanium
-Fresh water

-Whink rust remover
-Windex

Optional:
-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:
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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
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(not my pic, but it's been passed around so many times I don't know who to give credit to)
thumb_upDale Butterfield, fhood, and 42 others
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Kavik
4398

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DougFLA123
1209
Aug 8, 2019
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I just turned on the tv and saw the show Life Below Zero, which takes place in Alaska. One of the people trying to survive this brutal place lived near the Kavik River. Is that where your User Name comes from?
Aug 8, 2019
Kavik
4398
Aug 8, 2019
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Lol not from the river, but from that language, yes. When I was a kid I remember a story called "Kavik - the Wolf Dog", or something like that. The name just kinda stuck in my head through the years
(Edited)
Aug 8, 2019
DougFLA123
1209
Aug 8, 2019
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Cool! : )
Aug 8, 2019
reswright
882
May 22, 2019
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Does solution temperature have an impact? and have you tried using straight borax powder solution?
May 22, 2019
Kavik
4398
May 23, 2019
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I certainly don't feel like this knife stuff is work yet, but mainly because I don't have other people asking me to do it for them lol Other creative hobbies have been woodworking/turning, leatherworking, digital artwork / photography / photo editing...but it doesn't take much for me to switch from hobby to work brain. With the wood stuff, for example, I've spent many many hours making things as gifts, and enjoyed every bit of it. But the minute i go out and buy a bunch of wood and turning project kits, with no one in particular in mind to make them for, it immediately feels like a chore and i haven't made a single one of them...even though most of the projects are super quick and easy, and would be great practice. I get your points, and I don't disagree with anything in particular...I'm just weird about this stuff. Most times I'd rather make something and give it away to someone I know than turn around and profit off it from a stranger. Hell, the one time i did try selling something to a casual friend, i ended up telling him to give the money to a fundraiser he was helping with instead lol For whatever reason it just didn't seem as appealing once he was ready to hand over the cash. It was a turned acrylic shaving brush and, cheesy as this sounds, seeing how excited and impressed he was with it was satisfying enough
May 23, 2019
reswright
882
May 23, 2019
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Lol, well, I’m glad the folks at Two Sun are a little more willing to be validated by cash. But I can dig it. Gotta dance to the beat you hear.
May 23, 2019
14themoney
940
Mar 30, 2019
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The anodizing on my FF knives has been rather atrocious. It wears poorly and shows scratches very easily. I hope that you get up some data. I will likely try to redo mine.
Mar 30, 2019
Kavik
4398
Mar 30, 2019
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I don't really know how one company's anodizing could hold up to scratches any better than another, to be honest. I mean, with aluminum anodizing you're dying the top layer of metal, and from what I understand there are ways of getting the dye to go deeper, meaning it would take a heavier scratch to get back through to bare metal. But with titanium anodizing you're adding a layer of oxidization on the surface. The different voltages cause thicker or thinner layers, which is what causes the light to appear different colors by refraction when the visible light passes back through after reflecting off the surface. Per Wiki: "An anodized oxide layer has a thickness in the range of 30 nanometers (1.2Γ—10βˆ’6Β in) to several micrometers." That's a super super thin layer of, essentially, surface rust. None of these should be very wear resistant. I think that's the whole reason why the multi-colored stonewashed / tumbled looks started to become popular in the first place. They know we can't avoid scratching these things, so they come up with a way to camouflage the scratches instead of trying to avoid them
Mar 30, 2019
14themoney
940
Mar 31, 2019
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Thank you. That was very informative. Maybe I'll try and find that can of Rustoleum Applicance Epoxy. Psi. I will take a bit more care of them in the future.
Mar 31, 2019
viper24bw
90
Mar 24, 2019
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Just came across this discussion and I have to say I wish I had found this thread a few weeks back. I have been searching all over the place for the details that are laid out in this discussion. I know this isn't a knife but here's the latest anodizing of my TiScribe Bolt .
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Mar 24, 2019
Kavik
4398
Mar 24, 2019
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Certainly not limited to knives in this discussion :) Yeah, none of this info is necessarily new, but helps having it all in one place sometimes. I come back here myself all the time when I forget how I did something the last time lol
(Edited)
Mar 24, 2019
Kavik
4398
Mar 18, 2019
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@mike.j @DougFLA123 Figured out my new setup over the weekend 😁 Since the titanium plate I got was too thick to bend into a cylinder, I decided to go for a hexagon with an open gap to adjust for the final size of the interior barrier (still most likely drilled pvc, but I haven't gone out to buy that yet) Cut out a section first using a nibbler, so that 5 panels sit below the surface of the glass jar, and one panel has a tab coming out of the water for the negative clamp. Set up a fence on my drill press and set the depth to roughly half the thickness of the sheet, then got to work drilling a couple hundred dimples to make fold lines. Then clamped a straight edge to the edge of a table and bent by hand to the appropriate angle. The part with the hand held, drill mounted nibbler got a little sloppy, but the rest came out pretty darn good i think 😁
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That tab has been bent down over the edge of the glass so it's out of the way. Just need to finish filing some edges smooth, so there's no risk of snagging the expensive electrical gloves on anything, and make the inner sleeve, and I'll be all set! Did do a couple test pieces, and it does work well. It seems quicker and more consistent than the stainless steel bowl setup...but I can't say if it really is, or if it's in my head. What I CAN say for certain is it takes up a helluva lot less counter space and feels like a more professional setup
(Edited)
Mar 18, 2019
reswright
882
Jun 2, 2019
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Doug Ritter has a nice looking preorder at Knifeworks. I’ve been thinking of putting my name on for one. Prolly will now. Not my state but it is my fight. https://www.knifeworks.com/knives/rskmk1g2.html


Jun 2, 2019
Kavik
4398
Jun 2, 2019
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Thanks for sharing that too, definitely interested after doing a bit of reading there tonight
Jun 2, 2019
Kavik
4398
Feb 25, 2019
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This is getting so frustrating. I love the deep, textured colors you can get on these bead blasted titanium handles, but it's SO unpredictable from one piece to the next! These two pieces for my Dao were done identically (yes, both had stencils on them to start)
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The one on the right was done first. Was meant to have that deep, rich, coppery-bronze like in the left in the scales. The shadowy greyish-purple between the scales came out as intended. Couldn't get the dark bronze to come through, so i left it at the light bronze and resigned myself to making the other one match The one in the left was done at the same voltage for the bronze, but when I removed the mask and dipped for the lower voltage purple it reacted completely unexpectedly. It erased the scales that should have been a higher voltage color and instead made the whole thing this gorgeous mottled solid finish. But....it's a one shot deal on these blasted finishes. If I strip it then it won't react the same when I anodize again. I'd be happy to keep that copper as is and forgo the idea of the scale pattern, but now I can't make the lock side match. So annoyed right now. Going to have to strip them both, re-cut the templates, go through applying all that again, then end up with something that isn't going to match the finish on my Buc as intended @DougFLA123 This is my failed attempt at making up those vinyl template instructions for you lol
Feb 25, 2019
Kavik
4398
Mar 12, 2019
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Well, that might be pushing it a little lol I'm just hoping it makes a noticeable difference in the speed and quality of the work 😁
Mar 12, 2019
Kavik
4398
Mar 16, 2019
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I don't know what I'm the world made me think 1/16" titanium sheet would be thin enough to bend by hand to fit into a cylinder 😳 Dumbass lol This just got more complicated, but I'm still committed to making it work, for keeping the "bath" small with anodes around multiple sides. I feel like this will help with consistency, and allow the higher voltage to work without raising the amps by having to travel through so much water. More to come soon πŸ˜‰
Mar 16, 2019
BarryO
159
Feb 15, 2019
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I have a collection I would love to sell some at great buys if interested let me know.
Feb 15, 2019
BarryO
159
Feb 16, 2019
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Knives......i am not looking to make money, just own way too many and would like to thin it out. None were ever used ...all in perfect condition from manufacturers....
Feb 16, 2019
Kavik
4398
Feb 16, 2019
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Ah, wasn't sure if maybe you were talking anodizing supplies since, ya know, this is an anodizing info thread lol If you got a list of what you're looking to get rid of, I'd give it a read though w_wolfie over at the good ol' yahoo dot com
Feb 16, 2019
Kavik
4398
Feb 15, 2019
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With the arrival of my Dao, i decided I needed to do something a little different on the Buc from my original post, since the handles are way too similar. A bit of a reference to it's Buccaneer / pirate-y lineage 😁 I've actually had this idea in mind for a while, but finally had time to sit down and play with the vinyl cutter tonight.
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Looks better in person, a very subtle "ghost" effect Unfortunately, gonna have to redo the whole thing. Had some issues with the vinyl sticking, and a couple uneven spots (the purple highlights were unintentional). Plus there are a couple scuffs and scratches that need covering anyway. But still, thought it was a decent enough first attempt to share 😁 And before it goes back together this time, the hardware is all getting torched. That shiny silver needs to go.
Feb 15, 2019
Omniseed
1499
Feb 25, 2019
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What's hilarious to me about the Buc and Dao is how similar yet individual they are. I saw the Dao and thought, 'dammit, I would have only grabbed one Buc if I had known'. Then I get the Dao and immediately think 'this is exactly what I was expecting, but different. Maybe I need a spare Dao as well...'
Feb 25, 2019
Kavik
4398
Feb 25, 2019
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Lol you know, if they'd been released at the same time, I might have only gotten the Dao. I do love the unique looks of the Buc, but I rarely carry/use it. It's a little ridiculous if I need to cut something in public But, I don't regret owning both 😁
Feb 25, 2019
Ender12
75
Jan 28, 2019
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Sharing some new work.
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Jan 28, 2019
Ender12
75
Jan 28, 2019
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Here you go
Jan 28, 2019
Kavik
4398
Jan 28, 2019
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Very interesting, thanks for sharing! And agreed on the update ZT post above. The depth is good πŸ‘
Jan 28, 2019
Cdoyle
257
Dec 25, 2018
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Cool thread! I have a ti ZT 0450 had professionally anodized but havent tried it myself yet. I do have a ti twosun knife i might just try diy anodize
Dec 25, 2018
Kavik
4398
Dec 25, 2018
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It can definitely be a fun little hobby :) I gotta get back to a few knives I have waiting to be done, but keep getting distracted
Dec 25, 2018
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