Q:

How do you acid etch steel?

A:

Quick Answer

After cleaning the steel, cover it in beeswax or another "ground" and carve the desired image out of the beeswax to expose the steel, then submerge the steel and beeswax in ferric chloride until the image has been corroded onto the surface of the steel. Depending on the hardness of the steel, different acids may be used for etching.

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Full Answer

Using acid is a quick and easy way to etch images or words onto steel. Gloves and protective equipment should be used when dealing with acid.

  1. Prepare the steel to be etched
  2. Use a brush or file to take off all of the burrs on the steel. Then, clean the steel with water and isopropyl alcohol.

  3. Apply the "ground"
  4. To protect the areas of the steel that should not come into contact with acid, cover the entire surface in beeswax or special "ground" material. Some companies make iron-on grounds that will protect the steel. Scratch away the ground into the shape that is going to be etched onto the steel so that the acid will only come in contact with the steel at those specific areas.

  5. Apply the acid
  6. Cover the edges of the steel, and then submerge everything into ferric chloride until the image has been corroded into the steel at the desired depth. Use gloves to remove the steel and wash it off with water.

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