Introduction: How to Etch Copper (+DIY Etchant, Alternative to Ferric Chloride)

Picture of How to Etch Copper (+DIY Etchant, Alternative to Ferric Chloride)

In this tutorial, you will learn one technique to etch your own designs into copper. These designs can be printed from your laser printer onto Press-N-Peel paper, OR you can simply draw them onto the copper with a marker. I will also show you the Muriatic Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide etchant mixture I use as an alternative to Ferric Chloride.

Step 1: How to Etch Copper (+ DIY Etchant Mixture)

You will need the following tools and materials:

  • Copper sheet
  • Heat gun
  • Press-n-Peel Blue (Search eBay for "Press-n-Peel Blue")
  • ** OR, if you'd rather draw the design by hand, just us a black Sharpie marker.
  • Etchant (You can use Ferric Chloride, but I also show how to mix Muriatic Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide)
  • Acetone OR Fine Sand paper (400 grit or higher)
  • Plastic Cups
  • Paper Towels

Watch the video for detailed instructions.

Comments

Morgan63 (author)2017-03-26

Crafs Man, I love you! Thanks for a terrific video. I've been etching with Ferric Chloride for quite a few years. I've always used clear packing tape on the back of my pieces as a resist. Will this work in the home-made, non-ferric chl. solution? Without the backing tape doesn't the back of your piece get etched?

TheCrafsMan (author)Morgan632017-03-27

Thank you for watching! :D You can indeed use tape on the back of your copper pieces to prevent etching on the back. In practice, that's exactly what I do.

sharroned (author)2017-02-05

Thanks. Very good instructions. I am going to give this a gol.

Josehf Murchison (author)2017-02-02

Did you enter this in any contests?

Squash (author)2017-02-01

This is a really cool project I'd like to try sometime. Your comment about the worst shot cracked me up.

How long can you keep the acid bath to reuse?

Codswallop (author)2017-01-31

Can't wait to try this. As a follow up, what's your technique for getting a nice artificial green patina on the copper after you etch it? I've used ammonia and salt, but maybe you have some other tricks.

RichardM168 (author)Codswallop2017-01-31

I have a millenial type friend that asks me: "What's the word, man". I always reply :" The bird is the word".

He has no idea what I am talking about, I am not going to make it easy.

Codswallop (author)RichardM1682017-02-01

Tell him, "Repeat after me:

M-a mau ma-papa
Com-a ma mau papa com-a mau mau
Papa com-a mau mau"

If that doesn't work, just say,
"Don't you know about the word?
Everybody knows
That the word is the bird."

Beyond that, it's like the old saying, "If you have to ask, you'll never know."

BLASTFEMI (author)2017-02-01

I've been wanting to try this for so long and your instuctions are so simple to follow! Thank you!

SirCooksalot (author)2017-01-31

Soulja Boy Tell Em, Crafs Man! Thanks for the video, I've been wanting to do some etching, and this inspired me and schooled me all at once. Easy to follow and it's true- you do have a good voice! Thanks again

woodreaux (author)2017-01-31

BTW...Always Add Acid(to the other liquids)....AAA Always Add Acid was easy for me to remember

woodreaux (author)2017-01-31

super 'ible! thanks.

Spudweg (author)2017-01-31

Thank you Crafsman. Do you need to use a laser printer to print on the blue sheet or can you use an inkjet printer?

GWPoulos (author)2017-01-31

Great video. One thing to make clear is that you must ALWAYS add the muriatic acid to the peroxide and NOT the other way around (i.e. DO NOT ADD peroxide or water into a container of acid). If you add water to acid, you create a lot of heat. So much heat is released that the solution may boil very violently, splashing concentrated acid out of the container!

waterlovinguy (author)2017-01-31

That was awesome. Can't wait to try it.

SherpaDoug (author)2017-01-31

I love your style. It is clear yet reminds me of my southern belle mom.

A New England Yankee

zimitt (author)2017-01-31

I love this, the voice, the accent, the gloves, the video work, the project, the bird is the word, I love it all.

PARFITTANTHONY (author)2017-01-31

Great instructions, will try it ASAP - thanks !

ranhan55 (author)2017-01-31

Very clear and straightforward instructions. Thanks, I'll do this.

jrstudioboss (author)2017-01-31

Have you tried the blue paper resist with electrical etching? I use copper sulfate and a battery charger for my etching, but would like to try the blue paper if it works.

JanetsJewelry (author)2016-11-13

A great set of tutorials. Am looking forward to making these with my 4-H students.

DeeRilee (author)2016-11-13

I have some 12" X 12" X 1/8" aluminum....can aluminum be etched in the same, or similar, way?

BTW, I've enjoyed your Instructables.

weeder280 (author)2016-11-13

Yippppeeee! Can't wait to try this! Thanks you so much!

My husband does wood turning and I can't wait to try your wood transfers.

Thanks Crafsman!

SteveN97 (author)2016-11-13

Brilliant - these are great...

Izzypup (author)2016-04-26

Okay, now I gotta try this! I have so many ideas of ways to use your technique floating around in my head.
I really enjoyed your tutorial - and your voice! Soft, laid-back and easy - a good teaching voice.

TheCrafsMan (author)Izzypup2016-04-28

So glad you took the time to check out the video! Thank you for the kind words. I'm still learning how to do this, so your feedback is encouraging. :)

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