I have been doing a lot of etching lately, and the etchant is very hard to get here on the island. Sometimes Radio Shack has it, and usually they do not! I had been looking into getting Sheri haab's etchant system, which operates on salt and a battery. Lance looked into it and decided he could make me a reliable etching unit that did not need harsh chemicals. He got the idea from this: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Electro-Etch-a-Solid-Metal-Plaque/ I have read other electro etching descriptions that say salt does not result in good etches - that you should use copper sulfate crystals for copper , etc, - but i got excellent results on the steel and good results on copper too.
So the picture below is the first resulting set up. (Since then, he has permanently attached bolts that I can hook the electrodes to)
The set up is pretty simple. You need a 12 volt battery with an anode connector and a diode connector.. Attach one connector to a wire that is then clipped to a piece of steel . Connect the opposite side to a wire which is then attached to the piece of steel or copper or brass you wish to etch. You can't use staz-on or sharpies to create your design because the electified salt will eat it off. You have to use deco paint markers, nail polish or some type of enamel paint.....vinyl sticky paper or tape works too....so this aspect is more difficult than using the radio shack etchant.
You put water in your container and then saturate it with salt. I used about 1 1/2 cups salt (5 lb bag from costco for $5!) disolved in about an inch and a half of water in a rubbermaid 15x10 inch container. Lance used an adjustable current 12v battery charger for the power source. once everything was connected I plugged in the battery....
VOILA! tiny bubbles started coming off the metal electrode plate. (Small piece of metal on the right)
|CU of bubbles coming off|
|This was my first piece..... stainless steel etched for 30 minutes...design was with nail polish smeared with a pin|
|Stainless steel that was painted both sides with primer, and then the design was created by scratching of the paint with an awl and an electric engraver|
|I'm hoping all the iridescent colors stay, it being stainless steel and all....|
...and this is a a teeny solid bronze troll i finally finished. It has red swarovski crystal eyes.
My latest cuff. Etched (regular acid etching) with celtic designs, formfolded, then primitive bezels set with beetle wings.