Laboratory Cabinets

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Project by rodneyh posted 06-17-2013 06:13 PM 3221 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m in the process of building a lab in my basement for doing custom metal etch work. My plan is to make this my career (quit my day job) within about a year. When complete, the lab will consist of 3 parts – An etch resist application area, a prototype etch area (which is this post), and a manufacturing etch area.

I started down this road about 2 years ago when looking for a source of etched copper clock dials for mission style clocks I wanted to produce. The source did not exist, at least at anything resembling a good price. It was going to cost nearly $100 each to have them made in small quantities. I decided to make them myself, utilizing some technology for etch resist from my current employer (I’m an engineer at Xerox). Here’s an example of one of the early dials I produced.

It’s a reproduction of an early 1900’s dial used in a Stickley mantle clock.

Here’s some of the details for the proto etch lab:

-Cabinetry is all 3/4” baltic birch plywood with white oak face frames
-Countertop is 12’ x 30” with Formica top (this will be replaced when I can afford it with epoxy resin)
-Ventilation is twofold. 1st, there is an exhaust fan that is built into the top of one of the upper cabinets. 2nd, because the lab shares basement space with my wood shop, I provide positive pressure to the lab by blowing clean air in via a Jet AFS-1000B air filter.

Just for kicks, here’s a photo of the “lab” a few months ago,

and my son doing our first etching 2 weeks ago.

We’re using some fairly crude apparatus to dial in the etch process parameters, prior to switching over to our large etch tanks. That switch will be in just a couple weeks. In the mean time, I’m busily putting together the etch resist portion of the lab. That will take a couple months and lots of $$. I’ll post the woodworking portion of that in a couple weeks. Should be up and running (at least in small volume) by September.

Of interest to woodworkers, I’ll be producing clock dials, maker’s marks, and (hopefully) branding irons. Initially, I’ll be working with copper (flat and hammered), brass, and nickel silver. I haven’t set pricing yet, but they will be substantially lower than anything that currently exists on the market. I envision having a selection of stock items as well as the ability to do custom work in most any quantity.

6 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


6210 posts in 3689 days

#1 posted 06-17-2013 06:49 PM

Wow, that is a whole lot nicer than any chem lab I have been in!
Great cabinets, and I enjoyed the back story as well.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 4594 days

#2 posted 06-17-2013 07:27 PM

Looking forward to it, Rodney…

-- Have a blessed day!

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3066 days

#3 posted 06-17-2013 10:29 PM

very nice and i wish you the best on your new career choice.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2700 days

#4 posted 06-17-2013 11:06 PM

Very nice cabinets and bench area….well done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3052 days

#5 posted 06-20-2013 02:13 PM

That’s a great laboratory, you make beautiful cabinets. I think you may also have a career in woodworking. Great job!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3743 days

#6 posted 06-20-2013 02:19 PM

That lab is looking great. I wish you much success in your new venture.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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