This was my entry for the 2023 Box Swap. It's a saltwater metal etcher, buried in a two compartment Sapele box. Embarrassingly, I took plenty of build photos, but forgot to get final "glamor shots" of the box as we were leaving out of town! So, I stole them from Larry's post in the swap thread. Hope you don't mind Larry!
I got the idea from another post here on Craftisian. It's not a complicated piece of equipment. Essentially, there's a plug for incoming 120v power. That power is split to an AC reducer (120v -> 12V) and a 12v DC inverter. By flipping a switch, the user can select the AC current or DC current. A pair of working leads, red and black, are inserted into banana plugs to carry the current out to the project. One lead is placed on the project itself, the other lead is hooked to a wooden 'wand'. The 'wand' has a copper conduction plate on the bottom and a length of conducting wire running up through it to an attachment point for the other lead. A piece of cotton batting is dipped in a salt water mixture (which enhances conductivity) and then wrapped around the conduction plate on the 'wand'. The appropriate current is selected and the 'wand' pressed against the work piece...and it sizzles away! A logo, marker's mark, whatever, is cut from vinyl masking and applied to the work piece. When the current is conducted to the piece through the 'wand' the unmasked portion is etched (using DC current) or darkened via accelerated oxidation (using the stepped down AC current). It's a fast an easy way to custom mark metal projects of many types.
I built the box of Sapele, lock mitered, with a grain wrapped pattern. The two lids both use hidden hinges and magnets carefully aligned to help them stay closed. All the components of the etcher nest inside the box cleanly such that there is really nothing showing of the tool on the outside of the box when closed up.
My intention was to create a technical, working 'tool' nested inside a simple, very clean, elegant box, with minimal construction features. Something that could, in theory, reside on a table inside a house and not look out of place, but also live in a shop and be useful. I did a fair amount of inlay/engraving work on the outside, including Larry's initials and some other decorative pieces. Inside the lid, there are engraved and backfilled notes so the user doesn't need to search too much for how to use the tool! I also laser etched indications for the three position switch. Backfill on the engraving is with TimberMate maple and I think provides a nice, classic contrast to the Sapele.
I pore filled the Sapele exterior with CrystaLac, then sprayed several coats of lacquer. Finished off with Renaissance wax for a baby smooth touch.
I learned quite a bit from the project, not the least of which was how to layout the electronics in such a way that they fit neatly in the small-ish box, weren't obtrusive and, most importantly, worked! Lots of fitting and re-fitting. Hopefully Larry will find a place in his shop and the etcher will enhance some of his projects in the future.
Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".