About: I enjoy simple DIY projects and enjoy sharing them with others. I'm 33 and I am a sheet metal worker by trade. I really enjoy remodeling and making things. I'm married and have two wonderful children.

Very quick and easy way to inscribe your name or initials, or really anything you want into metal.

Things you'll need

  • 2 Wires With Alligator Clips On Both Ends
  • 9V Battery
  • Piece of Steel
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Plastic Bowl With Water
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Paper Towel
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Peel and Stick Stencils

Step 1: Step 1: Clean Your Work Piece

Using some rubbing alcohol and a piece of paper towel or a soft cloth, wipe your work piece clean so that the stencil sticks to the metal. Then go ahead and apply the stencil to the metal. I'm using the letters A and F for my initials.

Step 2: Step 2: Mix Water and Acid

I roughly mixed the solution to 4 parts water and 1 part muriatic acid. ALWAYS add the acid to the water, not the other way around as it can cause a chemical reaction. Also it is a good idea to mix this in a well ventilated area and use gloves...I should have been wearing them but luckily I didn't spill any on my skin.

If you do spill acid on your skin, it will burn you so rinse the affected part with cold water.

Then I mixed the solution with a cotton swab and ended up soaking a bunch more in the solution.

Step 3: Step 3: Connect the Battery

Using two wires with alligator clips attached to both ends I connected the positive side of the battery to the work piece and the negative side to the soaked cotton part of the swab.

Step 4: Step 4: Start Etching

It doesn't take long for the electricity and acid to start etching the metal. Only about 5 seconds to get a good etch going. Your cotton swab will become contaminated so change it when it becomes discolored. I spent approximately 1 minute total etching the A and F until it was ready.

Step 5: Step 5: Clean

Dry the remaining solution with a paper towel and peel off the stencils. Then clean the piece with rubbing alcohol to make sure there is no acid left on the metal.

I've found that this works with steel, stainless steel and copper (that's what the last picture is). It will not work with aluminum. As far as galvanized, chrome or brass I have not tried this experiment yet. If anyone else has, please let me know if it works or not!

I have a more detailed video of this instructable, along with other DIY videos on my YouTube channel at

Thanks for looking!



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    5 Discussions


    2 years ago

    HI. Are you etching through the stencil material or are the alphabets cut through on them.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I crushed it at work and broke my thumb and then the thumbnail was removed by the dr.


    2 years ago

    Caustic soda instead of acid for etching aluminium.

    1 reply