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_upkstokley, reswright, and 45 others
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Kavik
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mceschx
4
Jun 26, 2020
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Just wanted to say that I really appreciate this thread! My only (very basic, and dumb contribution, as I'm just getting started, and don't know anything), is that if you find you have excessive bubbles from part and anode during anodize, you can try to reduce the number of: A) Dead bugs floating in your electrolyte solution (set aside for garnish) B) Random Aluminum chips, coolant or other contaminants (use distilled instead of tap water) C) Setting a current limit on your power supply to something less the default. I've found that many of these power supplies enable current limiting by turning it on while shorting power to ground leads (and then adjusting current limit either through an indepdent knob, or up/down buttons) Many thanks for the leg up on all the techniques and reference materials! (I've got miles to go, but having great fun) (center piece only is Ti)

Jun 26, 2020
mceschx
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Jun 26, 2020
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Apparently don't know how to post images yet, either~
Jun 26, 2020
reswright
2611
May 12, 2020
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did up the Envy 2
May 12, 2020
reswright
2611
May 10, 2020
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80V Stargazer

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(Edited)
May 10, 2020
reswright
2611
May 6, 2020
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It makes for a lively blurple.
(Edited)
May 6, 2020
Kavik
5080
May 6, 2020
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That's a very nice color 👍
May 6, 2020
reswright
2611
May 5, 2020
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First two anodizations with a titanium plate for an anode, and I see some difference. The first one, a TS-111 half Ti half CF started out with black finish over all the titanium parts that took quite a while to clean off. The second is my trusty TS-128 Dynamo, sanded down again. Starting to think that the little pocks in the Dynamo aren't from stonewash, they're from gas coming out of solution as the alloy hardens. The more I sand it down, the more I can see. It's a known thing from what I have read.
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You can still see the banding effect from the wirebrushing (at least that's my current hypothesis). It's there, just not as pronounced at this voltage.
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May 5, 2020
reswright
2611
May 4, 2020
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Re-redux:
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The thing I don't like about weathering large sections of etched and anodized titanium to reanodize is that whatever color you reanodize with just isn't going to look as vibrant and intense as whatever the primary color is, because weathering wore off some of the etch. For example, the reanodized metal in this shot, and the unweathered metal of the clip and backspacer, are both 57V, but the reanodized metal just seems very pale by comparison. To me, the weathering and reanodizing I can do to titanium looks ok at the edges and ridges and corners and so on because those areas are so small that the comparative thinness of the secondary color won't register so much. When I weather large areas of titanium then reanodize the colors just look like someone did them with a Sharpie and a cotton ball. I did order some titanium to use as an anode, in keeping with your suggestion that you seemed to get better results with difficult anodizations using Ti as your plate. When it arrives and I fashion a cell with it we'll have to see if that difference carries over to my setup.
May 4, 2020
reswright
2611
May 10, 2020
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So I've been thinking about this for a bit. When I dive into a new hobby like this I spend the first bit of it learning new stuff and then the next bit of it unlearning other things that I had assumed were correct based on prior experience. In this case I'm thinking about things i have to unlearn about surface prep. Part of the reason we're seeing different things when we weather and reanodize a second time w/o etching again, is that you're using comparatively advanced means of weathering like tumbling that leaves a more complex and 3D surface than the beginner stuff I've been doing, which is all hand weathering using abrasive media designed to cut or polish material. I'm thinking that what I do leaves, by force, a much evener surface with less exposed surface area than tumbling or blasting would, and while that sounds great at first, I think it's part of the problem. Some of the nicest looking anodized surfaces I've made yet have been on titanium that I did nothing more to than wash it and then go back and forth down it with a Scotch Brite for a few minutes. Some of the most drab and colorless anodization I've done is on metal I spent literal hours polishing -- not to mention, how easily scratches show on a high polish surface. I've been staying away from building or buying any sort of mechanical weathering apparatus because they take up space and are somewhat noisy in my experience. Also $. Doing it this way has definitely been less expensive, and I've frankly enjoyed the manual meditative aspect of it, but I think I'm seeing the limitations of relying on finer grit sanding media, and to some degree, sanding media in general. I might have to break down and buy some kind of drum tumbler but... the ones I'm seeing online all seem to have like three star reviews until you get into professional grade equipment which I'm not at all sure I wanna commit to doing. Also not sure I want to deal with the faff of modifying the less expensive ones the way you had to in order to get one that you could get even weathering on a single knife scale, know what I mean? But one thing I do know about tumbling is that you gotta do it for a while to get a result you'd like to actually see, and I don't know if I'm down for shaking a PVC cylinder filled with sand and busted dishes for hours on end.
May 10, 2020
Kavik
5080
May 11, 2020
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To be honest, I didn't do THAT much with the tumbler before the power supply died on me. It was using in a good direction though...but yeah, i could see why a larger drum, or a vibratory one would be much better.... But way more noise, and money. The sandblasting.... I'm actually eager to try that out, but haven't yet. So far the only media I have for it is glass beads, not sure if that will do for titanium, but only one way to find out I suppose 😁 You know I'm tempted to just buy that replacement power supply, to get back into this...but i'm also looking to buy a house in the very near future, if possible....so I'm trying to behave on the frivolous spending 😔
May 11, 2020
reswright
2611
May 3, 2020
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Same piece, roughly the same voltages, masked instead of weathered.
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May 3, 2020
Kavik
5080
May 4, 2020
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Both look good for what they are, but I personally preferred the more natural fade in the first one
May 4, 2020
reswright
2611
May 3, 2020
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May 3, 2020
reswright
2611
Apr 26, 2020
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Apr 26, 2020
reswright
2611
Apr 25, 2020
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Ready for another effect to try and replicate once you get up and running in the power source department? Here's the same polishing process on a different piece, this time sans BKF, at 85V on the dot:
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The two effects compared:
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The finish on the TS-128 is still pitted from whatever they used to stonewash it -- buckshot, maybe -- so the finish is a bit more orange peel than it is on the TS-21.
Apr 25, 2020
reswright
2611
Apr 26, 2020
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All TwoSun. All the knives where it's happened have been anodized and sanded and polished and etched several times over so it could be the result of accumulated bad techniques. in at least some cases I'm thinking it's a case of trying to polish out too much -- you know, trying to polish out imperfectly resanded 800 grit sandlines with green and red rouge because I missed a spot with the 1200 grit sponge. The thing is, both effects look like they could be harnessed and used more deftly if I understood them. As it is they don't look terrible, but they do still look a little haphazard.
Apr 26, 2020
Kavik
5080
Apr 26, 2020
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Agreed, it would be an interesting pattern if intentional and controlled! Would be real cool doing something like a solid color, with that pattern in a masked area using the same solid color with slightly different streaks, for a sort of ghost image effect Both those possibilities you mention sound plausible. I know I have a test piece that I anodized and stripped so many times that it doesn't quite come clean anymore, for lack of a better term
Apr 26, 2020
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