I threw together this simple power supply for electroplating, anodizing,  or etching metal.

There’s really not much to it so I used a cheapie electrical box from Home Depot

A quick test with a vinyl stencil and a knife. I used vinyl self adhesive shelf paper and a knife from the dollar store.

Normally I would use painters tape to transfer the letters to the work but in this case I peeled off the stencil in one piece leaving behind the letters.

I’ll leave this side blank and just cover it with a piece of vinyl.

Dip it in the water with a pinch of salt to get the current flowing. Since I want to etch the knife its connected to the positive lead. the negative lead is connected to a scrap of #10 copper wire formed into a loop at the bottom of the jar. It only takes a couple of minutes.

I went back and built this bigger version with an amp meter so I can watch the current as I do pieces with a larger surface area. I used a 25 amp transformer and bridge even though I’ll never need more than 8 amps or so.

This one easily runs 3-5 amps without even getting warm.

This time I used both halves of the stencil to see which I like better.

Etching Aluminum is much dirtier than steel and you need to use a lower current or you’ll get some pretty bad gouging in the surface.

I sprayed it with some black paint then hit it with the belt sander to really bring out the detail. Some red auto paint would have been nicer.

The knives came out pretty good but the current was a bit high. On the smaller one I cut more than half way through the blade.

Using some copper sulfate instead of the table salt and reversing the polarity did a nice job of copper plating these 2 nickels…

The next one is going to be a round medallion for a necklace.

 

Simple Plating or Etching Power Supply