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Slog  - thank you I will have a look - however with all things GPM I expect the PP to Australia will be extortionate!


Wefalck - the scale is 1/150 and the opening size, I would estimate, is a shade under 2mm - I plan to use them on the Revell Gorch Foch





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Tiny portholes are easily made by winding appropriate size wire on a mandrel of the correct size. Then cut off the tiny circles made and flatten them . Apply them to the side of your ship paint the ship,then paint black inside the circles, and put a tiny drop of CA in to simulate glazing. Eyebrows can be made in a similar way.

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There is a way anyone can make photo-etched parts. You will need cheap newspaper advertisements the kind with the plastic coating, Ferrick Chloride, thin sheet brass, enamel paint, access to a laser printer, printing paper, clothing iron, 2 Plastic tubs, gloves, eye protection, plastic apron, and a well-ventilated area.


1. Design what you need using any program you want.

2. Using the laser printer, print the design on the cheap ad paper. The toner will melt onto the plastic which is what we want.

3. Clean the brass with wet 1500 grit sandpaper. Rinse with plenty of water and let dry.

4. When the brass is dry place the printed design face down so the black toner is in contact with the brass.

5. Place copy paper on top of the design.

6. Use a clothing iron on its high setting  (NO STEAM) and go over the design. This is a slow steady process. Check the transfer of the toner to the brass by carefully lifting a corner.

7. Let the brass cool.


8. Soak the brass with the paper still attached in room temp tap water. The water will weaken the paper part and cause it to fall off. A gently rub with the fingertips helps some. This is another time-consuming process

8. When the paper is totally gone you can see your design now on the brass. The toner acts as a resist to the Ferric Chloride.

9. Dry the brass and turn it over. Now use enamel paint orf Plasti-Dip to coat the back of the brass. This will stop the Ferric Chloride from eating everything.

10. When the enamel is fully dried you are ready to etch your parts.

11. Heat a pan of water. When just below boiling remove the pan from the heat.

12. Place the bottle of Ferric Chloride into the water and allow it to heat the chemical.

13. Fill one of your 2 plastic tubs with clean cool water.

14. Set both tubs next to each other.

15. When warm, and you have on your gloves, eye protection,  plastic apron, and in a very ventilated area Pour the Ferric Chloride into the empty plastic tub just enough that it will cover your brass.

16. Place the brass into the chemical facing up.

17. Start rocking the tub back and forth. You will notice the brass dissolving from around your soon to be made parts.

18. When the waste brass is dissolved place the parts in the fresh water tub. Swirl them around to stop the chemical reaction. Change water and continue to swirl the parts.

19. If you used enamel paint, the parts are all loose unless you included a fret in your design. If you used Plasti-Dip they are embedded in the plastic.

20. Remove the parts and let them dry.

Have a ball, my friends!!


Here is a block and some lances and Harpoons I use



Deadeyes Morgan 2.png


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One needs to be aware that this method only gives very simple parts and works really only with thin brass. Due to overetching, the parts will not have a square cross-section, but become smaller towards the back. The method also does not fully exploit the possibilities of the technique, namely to produce surface-etched parts. If you just want to cut out simple, not too small parts, the method should be fine.


One thing that puzzled me on the above images was that they are negative. Like this you would be etching holes. Shouldn’t the desired parts be printed in black, so that the toner protects the brass ? 

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6 hours ago, torpedochief said:

13. Fill one of your 2 plastic tubs with clean cool water.

14. Set both tubs next to each other.

Hi torpedochief, nice explanation. Just a further point for anyone looking at this process: make sure the tub for the etchant is ABSOLUTELY DRY before pouring in the ferric chloride, with no splashed drops of water at all. The acid and the water don't socialize well.


Since this process is for etching thin brass from one side you can seal the back with a good coat of any spray auto paint or primer. Test first if in doubt.




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Ferric chloride solution is not such a concentrated acid, so there is no risk of it attracting the first water drops, as would happen with concentrated hydrochloric or even sulfuric acid. However, one should cover a wooden workbench in plastic or work in a shallow tray, as any splashes leave nasty stains on wood. Similarly, all metal tools should be out of reach, as even the fumes can lead to slight corrosion. Beware also of corrosion of metal parts in your sink, when you clean your equipment. Always rinse with large quantities of water.


Spent ferric chloride solution is basically inert, when neutralised with a base and could be discarded into the sink after considerable dilution. It is better, however, to collect it and take it to your local dangerous substances collection point, clearly labelling what it is.


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The paper needed is the annoying advertisement paper that comes with the newspaper. The flyers inside. Magazine paper also works. Wefalck these are reversed from where I was using another method.  He is correct you need to have them like this.


As for the size of parts I have been able to do 1/700 scale railing for the EDMUND FITZGERALD, Flood grates on My Submodels in various scales and Awards for my German tank crews in 35 scale. 


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That sound encouraging, as I have some really challenging parts in the pipe-line.


What thickness of brass have you been using ?


I have quite a bit of experience in experimenting with home etching and found that getting a sufficiently uniform blackening is the challenge. However, I have been working with brass sheets covered in photoresist and transparent masks. I can imagine that the heat-transfer of the toner lets the lines from the printer melt together better.


Not sure what the European equivalent to your paper would be (doesn't the printing ink interfer ?), but could imagine that other papers that have a coating that prevents the toner from penetrating too deeply should work.


I should experiment with double-sided toner transfer: if one includes register marks and carefully makes a sandwich with spacers, it should be possible to transfer the toner onto both sides of a brass-sheet for double-sided and surface etching. Would be worth a try - I almost gave up the home etching due to the blackening problem.

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  • 2 months later...

In the mean-time I had a go at it and experimented with various papers. While it is easy to get the toner to stick to the brass, getting the paper off is another matter.


We don't seem to have here in Paris the kind of advertising papers, so I experimented with other other types of papers from my stock. I tried a heavily sized paper that took on the toner well and resulted in crisp print-outs, but desintegrated poorly, so that I could not get off the paper. I then tried very thin silk paper (as used, for instance, for wrapping china for removal packaging) that seemed to disintegrate better, but found that it still sticks heavily to the areas with the toner and does not come off cleanly.


Did you actually use parts of your advertising paper that was printed on or only clean parts ?

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