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Project Information

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.

Gallery

Comments

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6,662 Posts
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.
 

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1,212 Posts
Looking forward to it, Rodney…
 

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4,150 Posts
very nice and i wish you the best on your new career choice.
 

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3,117 Posts
Very nice cabinets and bench area….well done.
 

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11,362 Posts
That's a great laboratory, you make beautiful cabinets. I think you may also have a career in woodworking. Great job!
 
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