How to Engrave or Etch Silver Rounds

Written by heather montgomery
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How to Engrave or Etch Silver Rounds
Use a chemical solution to etch silver. (Silver Heart image by Vanessa van Rensburg from

Etching is a way to create beautiful and detailed designs on silver rounds. The etching solution will eat away the silver in uncovered areas. You will apply a resist in areas you do not want the silver to etch; this can be done with floor polish, permanent marker, tape, nail polish or waterproof paint. To get the most detail from your etching use a Blue Film resist. You will be able to print the image onto the blue film, then apply it to the silver to cover the areas you do not want etched.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Silver round
  • Metal file
  • Chemical resistant rubber gloves
  • Abrasive sponge
  • Chlorinated cleanser
  • Cotton ball
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • PnP Blue Film
  • Copyright free image printed in black and white
  • Xerox machine
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Scrap wood
  • Household iron
  • Contact paper
  • Thin wire
  • Ferric nitrate
  • Distilled water
  • Glass container large enough to hold the silver round
  • Plastic spoon
  • Toothbrush
  • Baking soda

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  1. 1

    File any burrs or uneven areas of the silver round down with a metal file.

  2. 2

    Put on chemical resistant rubber gloves and clean the round with a chlorinated cleanser using an abrasive sponge. Rinse the round with warm water.

  3. 3

    Use a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol to clean the round further. Allow the round to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Place the PnP Blue Film into your copy machine facing in the way that the dull side of the film will be printed onto.

  5. 5

    Place the copyright free image onto the copy machine and copy the image onto the PnP Blue Film. Make sure the machine is set to the darkest setting.

  6. 6

    Place the metal round onto the PnP Blue Film and outline the round with a pen. Cut the outline out with scissors.

  7. 7

    Tape the back of the silver round to a piece of wood. Turn your iron to high and allow the iron to heat up. Wipe the silver with alcohol one more time to remove any residue.

  8. 8

    Place the dull side of the film face down in contact with the metal. Iron the film onto the edges first, then iron the rest of the film to the round. Do it in quick circular motion for 3 to 5 minutes or until the image comes through the paper as black. Allow the round to cool completely.

  9. 9

    Peel the film away from the round slowly to reveal the image. Cut two pieces of contact paper to the size of the round. Adhere one piece of contact paper on the back of the round. Then place a thin piece of wire long enough to be attached to the sides of the container along the back of the round. Place the second piece of contact paper over the wire to secure it as well as protect the back of the round from being etched.

  10. 10

    Cover the edges of the round with tape; take care not to cover any of the black images on the front of the round.

  11. 11

    Pour 400 millilitres of distilled water into a glass container. Add 300 grams of ferric nitrate to the water and stir with a plastic spoon.

  12. 12

    Suspend the round in the solution; do not allow the round to touch the bottom of the container. Tape the wire to the side of the container to keep the item suspended during the etching process.

  13. 13

    Leave the silver in the solution until the desired depth has been achieved. Typically, this takes 2 to 4 hours. Agitate the liquid frequently by tapping the side of the container.

  14. 14

    Remove the silver round and rinse with warm water. Remove contact paper and tape.

  15. 15

    Use a toothbrush and baking soda to scrub the round to stop the etching. Rinse the baking soda off and set aside to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Perform the task in a well ventilated area.

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