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Etching Pewter?

Anyone done this, or know anyone who might have What
did you use? Acids, electro-etch? Formulas, proportions, temperature,
masking liquid or material, time frame?

I have a large high-relief engraving job to do on a high priced
piece of pewter - modern day work, tin alloy. Perhaps this might be
the way to remove the larger areas of background and save me some
time doing it by hand?

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA

I’ve never tried to use it for an etch, but strong acetic acid and
hydrogen peroxide (3 to 1 ratio) will slowly dissolve tin alloys
(I’ve used it to remove soft solder), I’m not sure how well it would
work as an etching mordant.

I pulled that formula from Complete Metalsmith which also suggests
a fluroboric acid, hydrogen peroxide and water solution for the same
purpose, but I decided that the first formula sounded a little more

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR

why not contact the masters at Wendal August Forge in PA

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry


I have not done this in Pewter but I have in plastic and glass: Air
abrasion or sandblasting. Mask off the areas to be left alone and
carefully sweep the abrasive over the surface. Hard to get an exact
depth, but can be done to look even. Option 2: mill it out.

Charles Friedman DDS
Ventura by the Sea

Hello Brian,

I have etched peweter before with Ferric Chloride. You can get this
at Radio Shack, or any chemical supplier, this also etches copper,
brass, and others. You can mask your design if it is flat, with PNP
transfer paper, just photo copy it onto the paper, and iron it onto
the pewter. If you are not working with sheet you could paint the
object with asphaltum and scratch your design in. You could also use
tape, permanent marker, or paint pen to mask. When you etch make
sure the entire object is submerged, and make sure to agitate the
bath. Pewter etches really fast, check after 5 minutes. Hope this
will maybe help you.

Jill Baker Gower

I realize my response is a full dozen years after these other posts, but I’m going to add my two cents’ worth to Jill’s reply.

The Ferric Chloride is indeed the ticket, but the addition of Citric Acid (Yes, EDINBURGH ETCH!) will help dissolve the sediment/particulate stuff as it etches, giving a much higher quality image.

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