DIY Stainless Steel Etching

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Hey There!

I hope that everyone’s Christmases were wonderful!

We managed to get all of our Christmas presents finished and wrapped in time. The Fellow helped me out so much this year. I really couldn’t have gotten it all done without him!

He was so confused when it came time to wrap gifts because I bought a 4-pack of wrapping paper and insisted that we color code the gifts by family. It made me chuckle, so I posted about it on social media and there were a ton of women who commented saying they do the same. A girl’s gotta have her systems, right?

I was so pleased with our DIY gifts and how easy they were to make that I wanted to share the process with you. You’re going to need something metal to etch (like a double-walled insulated cup), a 9-volt battery, alligator lead clips, Q-tips, and a glass of salt water.

The biggest part of this project is making a stencil. Fortunately for me, The Fellow has a Silhouette. The silhouette program can be a bit tricky to learn, but thankfully, he’s pretty skilled in it so getting the names and words printed was easy enough. If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can always use stickers or cut out a design using painter’s tape.Just keep in mind thicker lines work best. The design below is a bit thin.

Once you’ve got a stencil, adhere it to whatever metal item you’re going to etch.

You wouldn’t think that something as mundane as salt water and a 9-volt battery could etch stainless steel, but it can!

To set things up to begin etching you will first need to clip the red positive cable to the positive terminal on the battery, then the black negative cable to the negative terminal. Next clip the positive cable to the item you’re working on, and then grab a sea salt-soaked Q-tip with the negative clip. (Other tutorials I read say you should soak the Q-tips in the water, but I found it was too much and you ended up flooding the stickers off. You do want it to be thoroughly moistened though- not dry.)

Carefully dab the exposed spaces of metal in your stencil with the Q-tip. As you move the Q-tip, you’ll see the end become discolored. If you listen carefully enough you can hear a little sizzle and you’ll see the metal go cloudy. The more you hold the Q-tip onto the metal, the deeper the etching. You really don’t need much to make your design clear.

After you’re done etching, remove your stencil, give it a quick rinse, and it’s ready to use! Isn’t it amazing?! I want to personalize everything now!

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