Introduction: DIY Metal Etcher

Picture of DIY Metal Etcher

This project can use as engrave any metal product or if you giving a gift you can etch your name on it wright draw somethings be creative have used a stencil because my my free hand drawings are bad.

Step 1: Things What You Need for This Project

Picture of Things What You Need for This Project

Power Adapter Between 6V -12V

2 Aligator clips

Small piece of jumper wire

Stensil (if you are good at drawing free hand don't need it )

Step 2: How to Do It

Picture of How to Do It

In here i have used 12V A/C power adapter you can use old phone charger or old router power supply


1st step

connect alligator clips to the power adapter (i have cut out the wire on this adapter because this wire is not enough for this project )

2nd step

clip the piece of jumper wire to the alligator clip

connect the other alligator clip to the metal that you gonna use for etching

now you all done check the video how i did it

Step 3: DEMO

I Have used old floppy drive here you can use any metal surface for this etching

When you done clean the surface with some paint thiner or rubbing alcohol

thanks for watching hope you enjoy feel free to comment if you have any problems or question ;)

Step 4:


pheenix42 (author)2016-10-23

Ahhh...I saw a tool over in a flea market just a few weeks ago that works exactly the same way. It was an electric marking tool for identifying tools and such if you didn't have an engraving tool. Nice job on a modern-day adaptation!

AndreasC2 (author)2015-05-15

Jesus... most of the posters here, ...i get upset reading the comments. The author didn't force anyone to construct the so called "metal etcher"

Do you want to construct it ?? construct it,its simple !! By the way its not so dangerous as the they mentioned.

stephan.fortin.142 (author)2015-03-09

looks pretty cool.... but as mentioned before, this is not etching, it's small scale DC welding.... etching by definition removes material, you are adding... therefor welding or "plating"

Very cool nonetheless

That looks like 'spark erosion' to me. NOT welding at all

The smoke you see is small amounts of metal material being vaporised.

For it to be welding, you'd have to have a steady arc to melt the material and then use a filler rod to add material.

If it was me, i'd just buy an etcher or a dremmel, but thats me.

I get more than enough arcs and sparks at work as a welder!

Plus, it's a bit irresponsible promoting kids start messing about with live electricity. You might find an inquisitive little bugger decides to try something a bit more powerful, takes the mains cable from a light or something else and winds up at best blowing the main house fuse, at worse blowing their life away...

RobertC2 (author)2015-03-17

Rant begins:

Safety is such an annoying subject! Of course it's essential to be careful, but do we really have to go on and on about every little thing? -- In every friggin' instructible?

There should be a link to all the warnings in all the various categories of projects and it should be the responsibility of the user(or his/her parents) to make sure these warning are observed. Then a poster could simply refer to the existence of that repository of fear-mongering and boredom, and then move on to the creative stuff. Having so many of the comments about hand-holding is restricting more inspirational input from other members who already know all this stuff. How many good ideas were never posted for fear that one might forget to state the obvious and get all this backlash?

I fail to see why we should all endure this silliness every time we read an instructible just because of the possibility that some stupid kid might blow up his house. When did that unsupervised kid become MY problem? Where are the parents??? How about assuming that users are smart enough to care about their own safety and stop obsessing about everything that MIGHT happen? Enough already!

Yes, by all means, keep mentioning safety in your instructions but keep it simple and/or refer the user to the appropriate page at the Warnings part of the website that i suggested earlier. Otherwise, this site, like so many others will become so tedious that we will stop coming and join another website where people are less obsessed with other people's right to be wrong.

Rant over. ;-)

mohammed_reaid (author)2015-03-03

mohammed_reaid (author)2015-03-03

bruce5000 (author)2015-02-27

i wise to ask will these metal etch work on annealed stainless steel ?

Tissa Liyanage (author)2015-02-23

හොඳ අදහසක් !! නියමයි.

Fastfocus (author)2015-02-19

The name of this "project" should be called the...

Miniature (Dangerous) Welder

The kid who made this project is probably new to electronics because he seems Oblivious to the dangers of "etching" as he calls this but it is no different than welding but just on a smaller scale -_- And if anyone does go the ought with this and try's to "etch" by shorting a 12v power supply on a floppy disk drive, god help them, and it would be best to where some sort of uv protection and a mask for the poisonous gasses u make. But hey u could just not do it and maybe live another day:)

luc_ki (author)Fastfocus 2015-02-22

there is absolutely no danger in doing this because:

1) when you touch it, the current will flow through the shorter path, that means it will go through the metal

2) this is DC, and we humans have a great parasitic capacity wich blocks DC

3) you get twice the uv radiation by just sitting there looking at the computer

4) the ammount of poisonous gases is lower than the one your car produces

you would need to do this for continous hours for days to barely get anything

the only real danger here is to break the power source or get your fingers burned in the sparks

sorry english not my first language

thataintworking (author)2015-02-22

I agree with Fastfocus, this is not etching, it is welding. This is exactly how and electric welder or arc welder works, just on a smaller scale. Etching is the process of removing small amounts of material.

In the video, the guy was actually holding onto the welding rod with his bare hand so there doesn't appear to be much danger in this configuration because it is a low-amp transformer. The issue is if someone else grabs something with a little higher amps and actually gets hurt.

Finally, the end result is kinda cool. This could be a good instructable if more knowledge was put into it, especially around the amperage concerns.

agis68 (author)2015-02-15

pretty nice job done many Amps is the transformer pack??

neranjan.ghost (author)agis682015-02-22


tosomja (author)2015-02-15

Yeah I am with you NERANJAN.GHOST..Who cares about these people that are scared to burn the house down inhale some yammy yammy fumes or go blind, blow of couple of fingers or little bit of brain damage.They have no common sense to do experimentation the right way.You are my hero and I would jump out of a plane without a parachute to prove it.


neranjan.ghost (author)tosomja2015-02-22

Cheers mate (Y)

neranjan.ghost (author)tosomja2015-02-22

Cheers mate (Y)

tboyrock2 (author)2015-02-18

where do i connect the alligator clips? on the prongs that go in socket?

antioch (author)2015-02-18

Instead of including health warnings and pointing out hazards and dangers the author prefers scoffing at people who are trying to be helpful.
Pretty immature for someone his age, but fits the selfie in the portrait. =)

lathe_makeatio (author)2015-02-13

Most wall socket supplies are not build to run in almost short circuit mode. Sorry.
Also there is no description how many Ampere the supply must have. The range of success is from a poor spark to an eye burning welding arc. There I would recommend welding googles. Also burning zinced surfaces results in hazardous fumes. So don't do that inside the house.

if you are afraid to do experiments and make things blow stuff don,t do any DIY projects go to a shop and buy it and the other thing is this thing doesn't required goggles its just a 12v power supply not big welding transformer,

FYI i dont give a damn about burning my house down or about hazardous fumes and it doesn't produce any hazardous fumes because its a dame 12v power supply

It will produce hazardous fumes if you are, as mentioned, doing this to a galvanized or zinc plated surface. Zinc fumes are toxic, and inhaling them is anything but healthy. It's a fairly common coating for rust proofing metal, so you should be careful what you "etch". I say "etch" as it's a bit far fetched to call this etching, as you don't use an electrolyte. It's more like low power welding.

It's all fine and dandy if you don't care about your safety, but recommending others to do the same is careless.

Also, stainless or chrome plated steel will give off hexavalent chromium which is carcinogenic.

It is very unlikely/almost impossible for the transformer to explode but it will get very hot and potentially melt the insulation on the higher voltage side of it, causing a live-neutral fault and tripping your MCB.

it's also a galvanized floppy driver cover that does produce hazardous fumes with heat. you'd be better off snorting lead dust.

Most electric welders opperate in a range from 3 - 30 volts, and at 3 volts you most certainly need at least a shade 10 mask. Also experimentation is not needed in this case since you could easily use mesh or nodal analysis to determine your current draw and compare that to the maximum for your power supply. And since in this case your resistance is close to zero I guarantee the current will exceed the max for the power supply.

boyd32450 (author)neranjan.ghost2015-02-15

Wow......great attitude. You are obviously young in years, or maybe in your thinking. When you are older and can't see or walk up a set of stairs without stopping you may stop and think " Maybe I should have taken some basic safety precautions." but reading your response it seems extremely doubtful. DIY projects aren't defined as taking shortcuts on safety. I love making things and I have been lucky so far. The only time I have ever been hurt it was because I forgot to take or forgot a safety precaution. I am 65 and still have my hearing, my sight and all my appendages. I hope you wise up and keep yours as well.

Arezus (author)neranjan.ghost2015-02-13

If you don't care, than it's your problem, but you had to mention the parameters of your power supply and warn people that are new to electronics about hazards.

samtechpro (author)2015-02-18

Forget about that jumper wire. I tried solder wire with a 12v adapter about 10 years ago. And i think that was cool than this. Because solder wire makes nice prints ;)

tomas75a (author)2015-02-17

Nice one, although the L became an I ;)

biggy boy (author)2015-02-15

what's an instructabies?

BukkakeTsunami (author)biggy boy2015-02-15

....Nice. Yeah, I didn't understand the lowercase "L" either. But good job!

biggy boy (author)BukkakeTsunami2015-02-16

I was wondering if it was some Gangster way of saying two Instructables. IE:(Pleural) more then one. Instructabies super ghetto ;-)

It is a neat way of doing arc etching though, with a stencil!


wisconsinjimmy (author)2015-02-15

Hey this is what experimenting is all about, just think if Edison had not taken a chance there would be no light bulbs, why not use a ball point pen case I would think it would be easier to write.

I like it

privatex (author)wisconsinjimmy2015-02-16

Can you imagine Tesla with free hands, without obstruction and hungry businessman's around him? What would our world been today?
Edison was killed dog to show how's Tesla's AC voltage dangerous. Tesla has always answered that with proper management and precautions, there is no need to fear. Now we know that even our brain send electrical control pulses. His vision was true gift but as today money makes rules...

ProCactus (author)wisconsinjimmy2015-02-15

Edison did not invent the light bulb !

askjerry (author)wisconsinjimmy2015-02-15

Edison used his employees to take chances... in the case of X-Rays... sometimes they died.

The first man to die as a direct result of x-ray exposure is likely
Clarence Madison Dally, an assistant to Thomas Edison. Clarence tested
every x-ray tube he produced on his hands, which, over the course of
several years caused him to develop a cancer of the hand. In 1900,
despite several futile amputations he died of mediastinal cancer; an
event that reportedly caused edison to abandon all experimentation with

In 1903, when asked about the event Edison replied, ‘Don’t talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them”.

boyd32450 (author)wisconsinjimmy2015-02-15

The ball point pen idea is good, but experimenting is not about taking chances. Edison most likely did not know about electrical safety. But I bet he was VERY careful, evidenced by the fact of him living to old age. Companies and engineers experiment all the time however they take safety precautions because they are liable for damages to property and personnel. There are scientists and engineers on this site as well as adults that like building things. There are also young people on this site who haven't a clue how quickly soft tissue can disappear in an experiment without the proper precautions. To instruct someone to do something while being cavalier about safety is in my opinion irresponsible. wisconsinjimmy, this is not directed at you since I don't know you but I do believe you are wrong about Edison. Its really just common sense which increases as the years go by.

bruce5000 (author)2015-02-15

i have seen these with to wires some water & a q tip i ask will these etch deep & etch stainless stell

sreeci (author)2015-02-15


Your discovery is nice. Thank you.

But your response to the public was not.

You don't get mad at people when they comment on projects.

This is a forum, that contains, Engineers, Scientists, Scholars, IT people and many other people who are experienced in all walks of life.

98% of them already know 98% of the DIY projects that's posted here. So knowing that (you may have not known this statistics) and when we are dealing with people of that category, we get comments, both positive and negative.

You do not respond in hate and frustration. Please remember this.

Wishing you all the best in all your future experiments and do post them in


Thank You once again, Niranjan.

ElectroFrank (author)2015-02-15

What you are doing is etching by arc-welding ! And welders wear (very dark) goggles !

You might get away with doing this using a low powered supply, but a high current supply will definitely get you in big trouble !

throbscottle (author)2015-02-15

I made lots and lots and lots of sparks as a kid/teen, experimented with carbon rods, different metals, high voltages, low pressure tubes, the lot, and I'm still here, didn't shock myself, the house didn't burn down, nothing exploded, my eyes still work and I don't have any ill effects, and I'm pretty sure I must have exposed myself to UV, X-rays, ozone, and some fairly nasty fumes. So you can guess what I think about the naysayers. This isn't industrial scale exposure folks.

Oh and to the person down below somewhere - you won't get worse than a tingle or twitch in your fingers from 12v, throwing scary numbers like 35mA around is just an irresponsible joke. Yes, only 20mA can kill you, but you need enough volts to drive it through. Having wet skin helps if you want to do that. Describing current as "across" is inaccurate too, it's "through". Volts go "across".

So it's really good and refreshing to see something useful done with sparks! Etching without chemicals - that's some kind of holy grail isn't it? ;)

sdfgeoff (author)2015-02-15

I did his quite a bit a few years ago, but I used a peice of sharpened pencil lead in the alligator clip. This meant I could strike a sustained arc (caution: bright).

Melting solder with this is also possible, it works underwater etc. Etc. All in all, a great lot of fun. Good to see someones put this in an ible.

junits15 (author)2015-02-15

wow so much hate from people that don't understand. This is not nearly as dangerous as people are saying, the worst that could happen is that you kill your power supply, the risk of a house fire is low, the power supply is acting like a limiter here. When you short the ends through the metal case the power supply dumps as much current as is can into the part, which is usually around an amp or so. You guys seem to think this is the same as shorting together a wall socket and it's not. At most you'll be drawing like .2A from the wall and that's not nearly enough current to start a fire or even trip a breaker.
THAT BEING SAID, you should do this outside with the power brick on an extension cord, so that if the power brick decides to melt down and catch fire it doesn't spread to your house. I think it's a cool instructable man :) If you have to ask why or point out the flaws then this clearly into the experiment for you!

RedBinary (author)2015-02-15


tautius (author)2015-02-15

I think you should wear a welder mask or at least look at sparks through a piece of glass, because these sparks emmits a lot of UV, which can damage your eyes.

sylvain01 (author)2015-02-15

I like your idea I will test it with a small fan to rate thank you

rupert243 (author)2015-02-12

would it work on glass ? thanks

avarma4 (author)rupert2432015-02-15

No , Because glass doesn't conduct electricity. It will work only on conductive material. I.e. Metals.

Kafukai (author)2015-02-12

neranjan.ghost (author)Kafukai2015-02-13

nice drawing i must say

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