Electro Etching

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smallfoot

He's rockin' the "Nuttin Special"!
Joined
Nov 15, 2013
Messages
7,236
Location
Flawda Flats
I'll do a short tutorial on this process. Recently, one of my Neighbors passed away named Phil, he was father to my neighbor Joanne. He was also the man that wanted me to take his dog. He had been hinting to me as long as I had known him that he wanted me to work with his pup and when he told me he was looking for a family for Chief, I told him that I would really like to have him. He's one of the smartest dogs I've ever seen, and we do good together...
When Phil passed, my neighbors and I got together with a plan for a living tribute to Phil rather than the cut flower routine. We went to Joanne and asked if she had a favorite plant that she would consider planting in honor of Phil. Well to shorten it, if key lime pie had anything to do with it, we planted a key lime tree.... My project is to make the memorial plate for Phil's tree.
This is what happened. All that is involved is a battery charger, a little salt mixed in a little water, a few Q tips, a length of stranded copper wire , You could use anything for a stencil as long as you can make it stick closely to your target. I was lucky. My daughter has a Cricut and cut my stencils out of vinyl. In the photos you'll see the red (+) positive lead from the charger is on the piece you want to etch, the length of wire was stripped back where about an inch of bare wire was showing. One end is clipped into the black (-) negative lead from the charger. The other end of the wire is wrapped around the end of the Q tip tightly around the thin area of cotton. That Q tip will be your magic wand. I put a small amount of salt(tspn) into that small cap of water and dissolved it. Now when I say a charger it needs to be an old one without the computer features for safety. One of those will just shut down when it reads short. I've got mine hooked up to a large floor charger but you can use something as small as a 9 v battery. Believe me, it works! My test was done on a metal cup I use daily. It came out really well and it surprised me on how deep it etches. I went over everything 3 times but I suspect if you were careful and sure of your strokes, one complete coverage would etch it pretty good. I put the cup to a test against my buffing machine...you won't polish the etch off anytime soon. Both items done are on stainless steel. It works on many other metals such as copper, brass, aluminum, etc,.
With your red clip on your target, your wand in hand, dip the wand into the salt water and dab the Q tip around your stencil area you want to etch. Pay attention to what the burn is doing. Your Qtip will only hold enough salt water to do a small area before you need to dunk it into the salt water again. You'll see it bubble and smoke (well ventilated area only as some fumes are dangerous). I watch that happen until I see the tip look like it's drying up and I re-dip the wand in salt water. If you keep at it without dipping it back in the salt water, you will burn the cotton off the Q tip and have to put another one on. If you make sparks you have burned the tip down to where your wire is touching the target. You have either wrapped your wire down too far or you have burned your cotton off. It only took 3 Q tips to do the 2 projects I'm posting here. If you just keep moving the wand around and as long as sufficient electrical contact is made it will produce a gray/green sludge around the tip. I do that until the area is completely covered then remove the stencil.
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Chief

He's a rare colored Catahoula Leopard hound. He is all brown and no leopard markings except when he's wet. His eyes are also what they call "cracked eyes". Meaning he has spots on the colored portion of his eyes which give him an intense look. They are the state dog of Louisiana. Working dogs, love to swim, a nose that can smell a 3 day old fart. Known for herding tendencies and tracking. Can climb trees. Right now, he's not sure what he wants to hunt so he hunts it all.:D
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Very interesting etching technique. Now I have to find something to etch.
Such a nice story too.
That dog sounds exceptional. You two should become best friends.
 
Ha, refer back to pic 4 on original post...that brown blob is Chief sitting on my foot underneath the cup!
 
Awesome lookin dog!!!!!!!!
Thanks for the tutorial on etching.
I really like learning new processes and procedures.
 
Etching looks great.:cool:
So does the dog.:cool: :cool:
Sounds like my dog ,Duke.
He's half German short hair and half blue tick.
He tracks and scents. He points and trees.
He herds and retrieves. 100% hunting dog.
Except he's not gun broke.:eek: :eek: :p
Torchie
 
Thanks guys. That really is a simple process. It etches deeper than I expected. I can see somebody that is talented enough to cut the stencils out in decorative designs could make some really cool stuff. You could probably use vinyl tape if you can manage cutting what ever design you use with a razor knife or similar. I'm still playing...
 
cool post Small.. and nice work too !

am i correct thinking what youve made a stencil out of, is like a heavy duty decal or vehicle wrap vynil ?.. see your point about creative folks .. .

never heard of a Catahoula Leopard hound before today .. great looking dog !!...
just need to scam / bribe mrs Crate to wanting one... seems they are hard found downunder
 
cool post Small.. and nice work too !

am i correct thinking what youve made a stencil out of, is like a heavy duty decal or vehicle wrap vynil ?.. see your point about creative folks .. .

never heard of a Catahoula Leopard hound before today .. great looking dog !!...
just need to scam / bribe mrs Crate to wanting one... seems they are hard found downunder

My stencils were made on a Cricut machine by my daughter. They are vinyl. A very thin sheet. Probably similar to the wrap materials you mentioned. Over here you can buy the material in craft stores. On her machine, it fits in the machine sort of like a typewriter but it's computer controlled for fonts and spacing. She's a wiz at it. I'm pretty sure any kind of tape would work as long as it is short term "water proof" and sticky enough so you don't let the salt water creep up under the material enough to ruin the edges of your pattern. The wrap material works well as it has a peel off backing and good glue, but I see a good tape probably doing ok too. The advantages of the store bought vinyl would be it's size. It comes in sheets like typing paper. Depending on the size of your artwork, tape might have to be put on in strips to enlarge the working area.
 
yeah ok im going to ask my Son, i think he was talking that sort of size a few years back at school, , they made decals for his bike on a similar machine ?! size wise typing paper would a lttile easier to manage as well..


this very intriguing and worth more investigation...
 
Yessir, when you take the parts out of the stencil to make the etch, you could take the pieces and peel the back of them off and stick them to whatever surface you wanted. The wrap stays on a while by itself but I'd still consider it temporary only. The etch would require work to sand it off. Polishing it off would take days. I have a bench polisher that I use for knife work. I put black compound on the buffs and leaned into the etch on my cup test piece. That's a coarse grit and it wouldn't touch the etch.
 
My wife just picked up a cricut machine like your daughter uses, smallfoot.
She has been messing with making decals as well as labels for the all natural soaps and salves she makes.
I got her messing with some small flame decals....LOL.
Torchie
 
My wife just picked up a cricut machine like your daughter uses, smallfoot.
She has been messing with making decals as well as labels for the all natural soaps and salves she makes.
I got her messing with some small flame decals....LOL.
Torchie

Yessir, I've been thinking a flame design could get incorporated into something kool too!
 

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