Etching Tutorial

For this project you will need...

The following are sold all together within our etching kit (except laser printer, stazon ink pad and rubber stamp)...Needed

-Etching Solution (ferric chloride solution)
-Copper sheet or blanks (min of 24 gauge, 20 gauge if you wish to etch double sided) *brass may be used as a alternative*
-Resistant ...Sharpie marker, laser printer (and transfer sheet to print on) or stazon ink pad (and rubber stamp)
-Brown packing tape
-Lock tight plastic container large enough to fit your project in (NO METAL BOWLS!) *glass or plastic container may be used as a alternative*

Extra's that can be brought seperately...Optional

-patina ... liver of sulphur or swellegent etc
-warm water
-green scrubby pad
-0000 grade steel wool

For protection... Essential

-Rubber Gloves
-Safety goggles


I recommend that you.. 1. read through the tutorial fully 2. read the basic safety rules and basic steps to avoid problems below before attempting this project.  


The basic SAFETY rules for working with chemicals are...

1.Keep pets and children out of the area.

2.Avoid direct contact with skin or in eyes. Wash any splashes off immediately.

3.Be careful about heating any chemical.

4.Get plenty of fresh air.

5.Don’t breathe in fumes or dust. Clean any etched metal under water.

6.Use disposable scrubbies or steel wool to clean your etched metal.

7.Soak up any spills with bicarbonate of soda and/or cat litter.


The Basic steps to take to avoid any problems are...

1.Rubber gloves (latex or nitrile).

2.Safety goggles.

3.Apron (To avoid stains).

4.Good ventilation (open a window). Never etch in a small enclosed space due to fumes (Etch outdoors if possible).

5.Only use plastic or glass containers.

6.Bicarbonate of soda to neutralize the acid.

7.Secure plastic container to dispose of used solution.


If you have thoroughly read through all of this tutorial you may start...

once you have all the necessary supplies your ready to start with metal etching! Simply follow our simple step-by-step tutorial...


1. Choose your metal.

Ferric chloride works on copper and brass.

It will not work on actual silver (fine or sterling). DO NOT USE ferric chloride on aluminum.

Metal as thin as 24 gauge can be etched, just leave it in for less time and check more frequent. If you would like to etch both sides or etch really deep, use at least 20gauge.

2. Clean metal with Penny Brite or an abrasive cleaner and scrubbie.

After cleaning the metal, the water must sheet off the surface and not pool up.

Also make sure after the surface is clean, you DO NOT touch the surface with fingers as the oils from your fingers will also act as a resist.

The metal must be very clean before using.

3. Apply resist to your blank or sheet.

Stazon ink pad, Sharpie pen or laser printer are recommended but there are many options! Depending on what image or design your wishing to create.

Stazon ink padto be used with a rubber stamp - Evenly ink up your stamp and stamp your blank/sheet carefully and leave to dry.

Sharpie permant marker pen to be used freehand - The first thing you’ll need to do is use your sharpie markers to draw a design on the copper sheet. It can be anything you’d like. Here is a picture of my design drawn on the copper sheet.

Laser printer to be used with special transfer paper - Remember to reverse any relevant image or text before you print out. To print place transfer paper in printer (making sure you print onto the shiny side) and print off your chosen design, making sure its to your desired size to fit on your blank/sheet. Cut out your design and place it face down onto the blank. Place a piece of paper over the top and iron the image onto the blank/sheet on a high setting. Allow the metal to cool and carefully remove the paper, leaving the image on the blank. If there are any areas that have missed you can fill them in with a black sharpie pen.

 4. Cover all areas that should not be etched with ink or tape.

This includes the back, sides and inside any holes. It’s okay if the tape dips below the surface of the etchant as long as you have taken precautions by adding a resist to the back and sides of your piece.

5. Pour 1/4-1/2″ of etchant into your container (glass or plastic only).

If you are etching more than one type of metal, use a separate container for each. For example copper in one tub and brass in another.

Max depth =  1/2" in of solution around 10 to 13mm.

6. Attach your piece to your tape and place it in the etchant

Use the tape to suspend your project face down in your etching liquid. Do this by putting the tape across the back of your design. You need to either be sure that there are no bubble or runs in the tape or cover the back of your piece thoroughly with resist.

Suspending the metal into the bath make sure the metal is submerged but isn’t touching the bottom of the container. If you have more than 1 blank to be etched, then you can add a lollypop stick to the back of them to make sure they sit flat.

7. Allow to float for 30-90 minutes, depending on depth of etch desired.

Remember your looking at the depth of the etched area, the longer you leave it the deeper the etching. We highly recommend after the first 30minutes you check on the piece and then again every 5-10 minutes until its right for you.

It helps if you swirl the mixture occassionally by swishing it around.

8. Scrub metal clean in a tub of water.

When ready extract your copper from the solution and sprinkle a little bicarbonate of soda over the surface of the blank to neutralise the acid. when all the fizzing has finished it is safe to wash the blanks clean in a bowl of warm soapy water. You will need to use steel wool or a wire brush to remove the resist from the blank.

If possible rinse it outside with a garden hose if you can or rinse in a plastic bowl. Ensure you rinse it thoroughly and inspect it carefully making sure all solution is off. 

Cleaning all the etchant off is important, as it will stain if not washed off properly.


Etching solution (Ferric chloride) can be reused several times, between uses keep solution stored in a plastic lock tight container (provided with kit) that will prevent spillages (ensure you label container appropiately)

Once the solution is exhausted (typically after about 3 uses or once solution is blackened), , you can add some bicarbonate of soda to it to neutralise it before disposing of it in the proper manner...never empty out down a household sink or drain. 





You’ll probably want to patina the metal with liver of sulfur or another oxidizer to really bring out the definition in your design.

or alternatively use a swellegent patina to add more colour or detail to your piece.

To patina with liver of sulphur patina (LOS Patina)

1. Using a different container, heat some water in your microwave (one to two minutes)

2. Add a pea sized chunk of liver of sulfur to your warm water and add your copper piece.

3. Remove the copper piece from the LOS once it is fully oxidized. Dont panic if it’s good and black this is fine.

4. Now use 0000 grade steel wool to buff off the LOS patina.