Mirror polished, ready to go into the acid. (Pictures 17, 18 and 19)
After the acid etch. (Pictures 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24)
To get to that mirror polish, once it's ground I use grit 80, then 150, then 220 and then 400. After that is polishing cloth. I don't have a belt sander, I use smaller diameter belt sand pieces on a rubber addaptor on that bench grinder you saw on previous pictures.
I got many questions as to why I mirror polish the blade instead of saving some time by skipping that step, so here's the deal.
1. When you acid etch a blade, it doesn't get rid of the outter layers of steel and that's it. Even if it eats up metal, it mimicks the relief on the steel, so the better finish you have on the blade before the acid etch, the better it will look after.
2. I always mirror polish every knife I make as it allows me to make 100% sure the grind lines and blade is perfect. Mirror polished are less than forgiving if you know what I mean ;) I kind of think it this way... "Would the customer like this blade grinds if he'd received mirror polished instead of acid etched?" If the answer is "yes", then it goes to the acid, if not, it's time to do some more work.
As with anything I explain, this is not to mean this is the only way or even the right way, just the way I do it myself.