In this case, I had made a set of handlebar riser extensions for my motorcycle and wanted something stylish to finish them off, oh, and also fill those nasty holes ...
This instructable is based in part on techiques I found on the web, plus some of my own experimentation. A different approach can be found at: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-etch-aluminum-panel-labelsdesigns-with-a-r/
Step 1: Things you will need
The first thing you need is an idea of what you want to achieve! I wanted to make a couple of polished aluminium buttons to fill the holes in my handlebar risers, but you will probably want something different. Basically, the thing that you are going to apply your etched artwork to has to be made of aluminium, or some other metal that will etch well with acid.
So, the list looks something like this:
- The thing you want to etch
- wet and dry sandpaper (various grades from about 100 to 1200 grit)
- Brasso or similar polishing compound (or a buffing wheel)
- A laser printer
- A sheet of printer labels, minus the labels (i.e just the waxed backing sheet that you would normally throw away)
- A clothes iron
- some sticky tape (sellotape or similar)
- a couple of facial tissues
- disposable (latex) gloves
- 2 small artists brushes
- nail polish
- Acid - hydrochloric or sulfuric (Lemon juice might work as well)
SAFETY NOTE: Concentrated acids can be dangerous! At a minimum, observe the following:
- WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING. Gloves and eye protection are a minimum.
- ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION when working with dangerous substances such as acid. You only have two eyes, and they are very sensitive to any sort of injury, much more so than your hands.
- NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID. If you need to dilute acid, add the acid to water. If you splash water with a little acid in it, it won't hurt you, but if you splash acid it WILL.
- WORK WITH SMALL AMOUNTS and keep the bottle capped. A small spill is easy to neutralise by flooding it with water. A large spill will ruin your whole year!
- DON'T BREATHE THE FUMES. The fumes from this reaction contain hydrogen and gaseous hydrogen chloride, both of which are bad to breathe in.
- Work on a flat surface clear of clutter, preferably somwhere you can flood with water if you need to. A kitchen sink or a laundry tub is not a bad choice.
Alright. Now that I've told you what not to do, let's get on with the fun stuff ...