How to Stonewash a Knife- Your Step-By-Step GuideGreg
Stonewashing, also called tumble finishing, customizes knives by fashioning interesting contrasts on their blades and sometimes handles using friction. It applies to all blade material, but the end result is more pronounced in darker blades because the contrast will be more apparent once the process is complete.
Different reasons inspire people to achieve a stonewashed finish, chief among them being the restoration of old knives to more presentable custom upgrades by hiding the scars from the previous service.
The desired outcome here is to hide imperfections by blending in the scuffs, dings, and scratches the knife will have accumulated over time from regular use, making them less pronounced, if at all visible.
The stone washing motivator may also purely be the resultant aesthetic appeal of the stonewashed blade. A well-done stone wash gives the knife a rugged, sexy look, closely resembling Damascus steel.
Actually, if you love the look, but you still feel unqualified to stonewash your own knives at the end of this article, we have the perfect craggy alternative to spruce up your knife collection. The TUO RING-D Series Damascus Steel knives come as a set comprising a chef knife, Nakiri knife, and paring knife, befitting all occasions.
There are variations to stonewashing which produce different end products. Your preference and priorities will determine the tumble intensity and the media input.
These influence whether you will end up with the overall distressed look, a matte stonewash finish, a more polished version of this, a rough scratched-up look, a different shade of its color, or a kind of finished pattern.
Warranties and Guarantees
Before you can stonewash a knife, you need to disassemble its various parts, and since the process affects the blade, you will need to sharpen it later. You are likely to violate the terms of your warranty first of all because you are making modifications to the original product.
Secondly, some warranties restrict sharpening the knife blade on your own within the warranty coverage period. Finally, you will be dismantling their knife, which could absolve them from any manufacturer liability.
You need to go over the terms of their contract and decide whether the warranty or guarantee is worth more than the self-upgrade you want to undertake. You can cash in on the warranty and get the knife replaced instead of getting your money back and buying the knife you prefer if this is defendable.
Often there is no warranty to speak of, or its time will have lapsed by the time you consider stonewashing. Maybe you just want to do it without having to consult on how to handle your personal property. After all, you already bought the knife once, and it’s starting to look old and unpresentable.
Which Materials Are Needed to Stonewash a Knife?
The media used determines the end result; fine media like sand and walnut shell fragments produce a more even matte finish. Heavier media like real stones or pieces of ceramic will result in a more rugged appearance. You can make it even rougher by applying unevenly shaped stones or marbles to the mix.
Presently you can purchase packaged media, which saves you the trouble of scavenging. You can try out the Frankford Arsenal Corn Cob Media for starters, as it can be used multiple times before you need to change it out. This is good for practice.
This is the medium in which the stonewashing will take place.
Mass knife producers have large industrial machines that they use to stonewash multiple blades. These are not practical in a domestic setting. You can scale down the same techniques to fit your small-scale or domestic settings.
Another available option you should know about is bead or sandblasting, where the abrasives are fired at the knife blade from a pressurized nozzle. You need to set up for this and acquire an air compressor, though. This is complex and may demand a larger investment whose cost surpasses the value of your knives.
This leaves us with two simpler options more suitable for domestic settings.
The Vibratory Tumbler
This washing tool has a tub in which the media and the targeted knife part are placed and vibrated. The shaking causes the media to rub against the workpiece to achieve the anticipated outcome. A stonewash knife tumbler comes in the form of bowls and cases.
Our recommendation for this task is the Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Case Tumbler. It is fast, aggressive, and has a clear lid that allows you to watch the action inside.
The Plastic Jar or Container and Dryer
This combination is the makeshift alternative for instances where a vibratory tumbler is not available. The jar is the tub and should be big enough to fit your blade and tumbling media and a dryer, while the dryer is the vibrator.
Nail Polish and Remover
These help to seal off areas you don’t want to be affected by stonewashing
Soap and Water
They lubricate the tumbling media for the process to be effective.
A black stonewash finish, also known as an acid stonewash finish, is a blade that has had an acid treatment. The treatment darkens the knife blade before it goes through the stonewashing process.
The oxidation because of the acid enhances the blade so it is more rust and corrosion resistant and places a stable oxide barrier between the environment and the stainless steel of the knife.
The Steps Involved in Stonewashing a Knife
Disassemble the Knife
This is necessary so that all the parts can be handled separately. Screws should not be stonewashed as this may interfere with their thread alignment when putting the knife back together.
Other parts that should not be washed which are inseparable can be covered in nail polish. The folding knife’s pivot area is one because the folding motion will be affected, and the blade can get stuck.
There are different ways of doing it depending on the medium you are using:
The Vibratory Tumbler
Fill up the tub with your chosen media and add some water and dish soap for their lubrication before inserting the workpiece. Run the tumbler for as long as it takes to achieve your desired texture.
The Plastic Jar in a Dryer
Insert the blade, stones, and some dish soap and water in the designated plastic jar. Close the lid and wrap the jar in a towel. Secure the jar in the towel using rubber bands to not come into direct contact with the drier, which can cause serious damage.
Ensure the dryer is set to heatless dry and let the jar stay inside for 10 to 20 minutes. The longer it stays, the darker the finish. The motion induced by the drier performs the role of a tumbler.
The stones create abrasions along the knife’s blade with help from the lubricant. (You can opt to spray WD-40 on top of the rocks instead of soap and water). This process is called tumble drying.
Clean the Blade
Once you remove it from the tumbler, you need to clean off the residue. You can apply a nail polish remover to take care of the nail polish. Oil the parts if they need to be oiled.
Assemble the Knife
Ensure the screws or rivets fit perfectly, and any movable part is restored as it was. If they don’t fit, you may need to give it another wash to remove stubborn debris.
Sharpen the Blade
Stonewashing tends to dull the blade, so you need to restore it to its initial sharpness.
Much like Damascus steel, stonewashed knives are more susceptible to rust and general corrosion; consequently, they have a smaller window for neglect.
Avoid leaving them wet for extended periods; always clean them immediately after using a soft cloth and mild detergent, drying them immediately after.
It is not always about functionality when it comes to knives; otherwise, we would all buy the same brands at the same prices and use them until failure. We also want a tool that looks good and makes us feel good while allowing us to cut effortlessly.
Instead of retiring all your old knives and going through the dance of identifying other great pieces, how about customizing the existing ones to make them less boring while retaining their functional attributes that you are already accustomed to? We hope this article has helped you learn how to stonewash a knife the right way.