So it’s Christmas again, and anyone with a large extended family knows it can be quite expensive come gift time. We use the Secret Santa process where you buy for single family member using a set budget. The only problem with this is I still can’t shake the urge to do something slightly over the top. Living in a small secluded northern town can make this tricky. Sure you can order online, eBay is one of my best used services, but this involves some advanced planning, something our family is not the best at. Usually the secret Santa list is set out early, but I tend to forget about it until its too late to order something in on time. This year I picked my brother in law to buy for, and I couldn’t figure out what to get him. He was hinting at a hydrometer, but the weather up here wasn’t permitting me to drive to the next town to get one. Time was running out and I still had no inspiration…
Prologue: In early December a friend of mine Oliver James Brown who runs a tattoo shop (Divine Ink) had his foot pedal beginning to die, (it runs his tattoo gun). I was over getting an arm sleeve started and we talked of my various instructable builds. He asked me if I could machine him a new foot pedal and I thought why not. He said it didn’t have to be special, but I thought why not do something interesting with it. I suggested etching the metal with acids and asked him for a couple of his logos to use. Within a short amount of time it was finished and It turned out awesome with a nice deep etch. One day I will write the instructable for it as well. The photos below show the etched portion of the switch, basically the top portion of the pedal.
A week before Christmas I was sorting out some of my photos on the computer and found the ones I had taken of the switch and that’s when I realized I could etch him a family portrait into metal. I would use a photo snagged from facebook featuring his wife Nicole who kindly helped model my Apron of Holdinga while back, in addition to his daughter Mia and son Asher. This would be something that would literally last forever, and with the etch being nice and deep he could use it with his small children as a rubbing plate as well.
This instructable uses dangerous power tools and evil chemicals.
you have been warned, if you’re not careful you could be
Scary enough? Good, this will keep you safe. As long as you’re careful and take precautions everything will be fine. But… if you are the sort of person who likes to play it ultra safe, this may not be the thing for you, maybe you should stick to macaroni art. “inside joke for certain readers”
Lastly, I will be entering this instructable here on on the instructable site in several contests, one being the Christmas contest of course, this being a Christmas present and all, but I am also entering this in the ShopBot Challenge in an attempt to win the CNC router they have up as their No.1 Prize. That would be awesome for everything I build, for building lay-outs to 3D relief patterns and artwork. I would be a very busy body indeed. Either way, if voting makes you feel uncomfortable please rate me, it lets me know how I'm doing. Or, please feel to ask a question or leave a comment.
The main choice you have to make is what kind of metal you are going to use. I used Aluminum plate as takes a nice etch and finishes well. Aluminum is not my favorite metal by far as it is not as forgiving as plain steel, but it was perfect for both the tattoo pedal and for use as a portrait medium. A couple years back I made my best friend a steel box shaped like a book from the TV series Battle Star Galactica “The new version” with the intent of holding his Battle Star Galactica DVD series. Inside it had DVD sleeves and was lined in felt. Outside the corners were nipped off just like all the books on the show. The front cover, back and spine were etched with logos and pictures from the series, it looked much rougher but felt and looked almost alien ancient once complete. This used a different chemical for the etch, Stump killer “copper sulfate” mixed with salt, baking soda and water. Etching aluminum however requires a different solution to maintain fine detail. This mix will work with brass, steel and even copper to a degree. It will also happily etch you as well! So some safety gear is required! Check the list below