My grandfather passed away about two years ago and he hasn’t had a headstone. Until now!
So, I wanted to etch a brass plate and embed into a stone from the place he spent most of his time. This is the story of how I did it.
Marking out the plate from a large piece of 5 mm brass.
Cut out the plate and painted it black to prep it for laser paint removal.
This is how the laser burns the paint. I made the sign in Illustrator and exported it as a picture which could be imported into my software for the laser.
This is how it looked after the two passes, needs a little bit of clean up but it looks ok!
I also printed a line so I had something to machine after.
Put some tape on the back and sides to ensure the etching acid didn’t attack the backside.
The container I will use for the etching.
I used a combination of hydrocloric acid and hydrogen peroxide, worked a treat!
The reaction sorta took off as the solution heated up due to the heat the reaction accelerated even more. I had to take out of the container and let it cool down a couple of times to slow it down.
After only 15 minutes of etching the acid had eaten away about 1.5-2 mm.
After cleaning up the excess paint with some aceton the etch is more clear.
I made a tool to index the mill to the line, just a sharp 10 mm rod.
I used the tool to center the mill on the line and zeroed the DRO.
Offset the Y-axis 5 mm for my 10 mm end mill and we’re golden!
It could have fixed it better but I took light cuts so it worked fine!
Machined to the line! I will finish it up with some hand filing later.
This is the stone I will be using. I want to recess the plate into the stone so there’s some cutting to be done.
Stone dust is bad stuff, remember your PPE kids!
After just 10 minutes of grinding with a diamond wheell there’s already some progress.
While resting from the stone grinding I filled in the letters with black paint.
I used a smaller grinder to get more into the corners.
The get the corners perfect I used a hammer drill with only the hammer, no rotation. Worked a treat!
After some trial and error I got a fit I was happy with. It’s kinda levelish and 2 mm from the edge to make room for epoxy.
Time to sand of the paint and polish the sign!
I timelapsed the sanding with my iPad, the satisfying part is towards the end.
I sanded away the paint and sanded up to 1200 grit wet sandpaper.
This is the stone in my kitchen prior to pouring the epoxy. Tried to make it as level as possible.
To get rid the air bubbles in this epoxy you are supposed to use a torch. It worked really well!
This how the epoxy looks after the pour. Starts to look like a headstone! Really happy with the transparency.
After 72 hours the epoxy had set and my brother helped me set the stone in place (it weighs about 120 kg I think). Feels good to make a stone for my grandfather in his final resting place.
That’s it, thanks for reading! If you’re wondering about the quote it’s from something he used to say. Like he would say “it’s always a struggle against matter” when we were building stuff or when thing wouldn’t go according to plan. The text says “Well, it seemed like matter beat me after all”. I think he would have liked it.