You will want a work area where some spilled not-that-toxic chemicals and water can be cleaned up. Keeping paper towels and some rags around is always a good idea.
There are a lot of ways to cut brass into smaller bits. A hacksaw, miter box, files and sandpaper to smooth out the edges would work. I happen to have a non-ferrous metal cutting table saw blade from my old battlebot days. (Battlebot Flickr photosets available here
) Brass is a non-ferrous metal so that would give a nice smooth cut on the ends - no sanding or smoothing needed. A new blade like mine at Amazon.com
goes for $75.
- Plastic tubs and buckets to mix the chemicals in and do the actual etching. Glass is OK, do NOT use anything metal. I mixed up the chemicals in a cut down 1 liter seltzer bottle, and did the actual etching in a 2lb Imperial Margarine tub.
- Utility/Xacto knife & good tweezers
- Any color Spray Primer - I used black so any brass showing through was in high contrast and visable. I used the cheap stuff from the autoparts store - $2.44 a can
- touch up paint - could use almost anything, I used black acrylic modeling paint
- 12V DC Power Source with at least 1 Amp output. Could be a car or SLA battery. An old PC power supply converted into a bench supply. I used a variable power supply.
- 12V automobile lightbulbs - I used type 561 and those worked well. These are used for current limiting in the circuit. Cost $1.96 at the autopart store.
- 16 AWG (or thicker) wire to run from the power source to the brass bits. Alligator clamps are your friend.
- SOS pads for scrubbing the paint off the brass.
- small, 2" wide post-it notes
- Brasso & toothbrush to clean the brass
The etching process is basically putting two pieces of brass in a bath of copper sulfate dissolved in water and running 12V DC between the two. We need both pieces of brass and the copper sulfate.
Brass Hexagon Bar Stock. At least five inches. Why five inches? So we can make a pair of dice at two inches a piece. I used 3/4" diameter hex bar, 5/8" diameter would work as well. I got mine off Ebay
but you can get it online at places like onlinemetals.com or speedymetals.com. Check to see if you have a Metal Supermarket
nearby. In the past I found having one within reasonable commute distance to be handy. Unfortunately I no longer live near one. Online with shipping, getting it new costs around $18 per foot.
A Brass strip to act as the cathode in the etching process - I had some spare brass bits laying around and a nice piece of 4" x 10" brass plate, 0.032" thick. Didn't need it that wide or thick, 2" x 10" and 0.025" thick is plenty. Most good hobby stores carry some metals from K&S Engineering. One that would work is K&S Part #239
. Plenty of length at 12" and you get 3 pieces! Cost around $11.
Root Kill - this is the household chemical used in the etching process. What we are really looking for is Copper Sulfate - which this is 99% of. I originally wandered around the gardening area of the local home improvement store looking for this stuff and finding nothing in frustration. Later I discovered it's in the plumbing department, not gardening. They had plenty a few isles over from where I had searched endlessly. There are other "kill roots" type projects out there. Look at the ingredients and make sure the stuff you get is blue crystals and Copper Sulfate, not something else. Costs $9.89.
Vinyl Letters - the 1/4" sized ones. Cost $3.79 at Staples. I used these because my attempts at the classic toner thermal transfer method where a complete disaster.
Now that we have enough stuff to be dangerous, it's time to start cutting metal.