Etching Sterling

Dave , You can buy Ferric Chloride at the local Radio Shack. A pint size
plastic container for a few bucks. I have never used it for sterling just
copper, It is the standard etchant for making printed circuit boards in
industry. The BOOK, the Complete Metalsmith, by Tim McCreight covers this

Bill in Vista

I recently bought ferric chloride at a Radio Shack but they had to order it
for me. I tried three Radio Shacks in two different cities before I gave up
and ordered it from my home town Radio Shack. The young man who waited on
me had trouble finding it in the catalog. The price was very reasonable but
it comes in small quantities.

Marilyn Smith

Just to let you know, ferric chloride will not etch sterling. Only copper
and brass. Ferric nitrate will etch silver, but very slowly. You can
speed the process by running a current through the bath. Nitric acid will
also work, but be very careful. It’s fast, fast, fast.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801

Current Artwork:

while we’re on this subject- does anyone remember the discussion sometime
back about etching with a bath, and electrodes?? Sometimes it’s hard to
follow the thread in the archives, and I can’t remember exactly how it
worked. Do I remember correctly that you can use non-corrosive chemicals
as the bath? Anne

Hi everybody,

I’ve got to etch some insignias and numbers on a small (absolutely
exquisite!!) cannon barrel. The barrel, about a foot long, is cast in

Does anybody have any tips on how I might accomplish this? I fear I may
end up having to engrave the thing…

Jeff Booth

Dear Jeff- I assume by etch, you have a sand blaster of some sort. Here
is a site to check out. You can send
them the art work, monogram, whatever and they will make you a stencil mask
of it. Position the stencil on the peice and etch away. Thy’re a really
great group of folks and will gladly answer any questions. Don’t be put
off when you see that it’s mainly glass that they talk about etching in
their site. I’ve used there masks to cut soft stone, bone, ceramic beads.
They can even make exceptional stencils of halftones (photos) too. Good
Luck, Leslie

Leslie - tried to find the site that you recommended to no avail. Is
there something left out of the URL? You listed

Thanks, Ron Stephens

Hi Leslie…

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my plea for help. Yours is the
second and, like the first, I will follow up on it. I had originally
thought to chemically etch the piece – and will certainly try. The first
respondent to my plea suggested three issues of Lapidary Journal, which I
managed to track down last night in a reference library about 30 miles
away. It’s just a matter of time until I get to have a look at the
relevant articles in the magazines.

I will have a look at the site that you
suggest. As it turns out, I do have a sandblaster, and have had it for
nearly 20 years. I wouldn’t be without it. It’s a heckuva versatile piece
of equipment, from etching metal to blasting designs in glass panels and
even cleaning up parts of my family’s aging cars.

So, thanks again for taking the time to respond. Your help is appreciated
and I only hope that some day I can respond in kind.

Jeff Booth
Oakville, Ontario, Canada