Medals for Insomnia 46 TF2 Highlander

Posted on: Jul 25th 2012 by Ruskeydoo

Hello friends, I’m Ruskeydoo. I make virtual medals for various TF2 events. What is less known in the TF2 context is that I make lots of other stuff too. Anyhow, a while back I idly suggested that it might be fun to make some real life medals for the Insomnia 46 Highlander competition. Most of the ideas I have remain just that as there are only so many hours in the day. However a month later Comedian droppedby on his way back home from Bosnia (European airlines have some funny ideas about connections). As I’m crap at small talk the conversation inevitably hit the “What shall we do?” stage then Comedian remembered the medals…

How to acid etch yourself some medals!

What you will need:

  • Brass sheet (go have a look round your local scrapyard)
  • Materials for cutting brass sheet
  • Sticky backed plastic (it just got a bit Blue Peter round here)
  • A printer
  • A sharp craft knife with some spare blades
  • Spray mount
  • Ferric chloride crystals (stuff used to etch PCBs, very easy to get hold of)
  • Acetone
  • Latex gloves

What to do

***IMPORTANT*** Before you start, read thoroughly around the processes involved. There are loads of guides for this kind of thing and you should always read a few as there’s lots of different ways of doing stuff. Most importantly make sure you are comfortable with the health and safety precautions of each step. Sharp things cut you and even mild acid in your eyes is very bad. In essence don’t be a chump.

  • First thing you have to do is cut out the medal shapes, in this case circles. Here is where the really thick brass you chose to make chunky, satisfying medals is regretted.
  • Once you have the shapes, clean them up to get rid of any sharp edges.
  • Sand, buff and acetone clean the side you’re going to etch.
  • Being careful not to trap air, cover the front and back of the medal making an airtight package with the sticky backed plastic (this is going to be our acid resist).
  • Print out the design you want for the medal onto paper. Cut that out and use the spray mount to fix it to the plastic on the prepared side of your medal.
  • Using the printout as a guide, cut out the paper and the plastic to expose the parts of the design you would like the acid to etch away.
  • Mix up a batch of ferric chloride and pour it into your acid bath. A plastic food container works fine but test it first. Also this stuff stains horribly, so think about where you do it. Wear the gloves, though it wont kill you, this stuff is not the kind of thing you want on your hands
  • Drop the plastic coated medal into the acid. You can leave the paper on, makes no difference.
  • Every so often (depends on heat, concentration, agitation and a load of factors) check on the medals to see how deep the acid has etched. Wipe away any residue on the etching areas
  • When the etch is deep enough for you, clean the medal in water and remove the plastic coating. Dry then clean with acetone to remove any stickiness left over.
  • Once it’s clean, buff it to get a nice finish.

To finish the job we brazed some picture fittings onto the back to take the ribbon (looked neater than just drilling a hole). Oh and right before etching we had also stamped “Insomnia 46 Highlander” onto the back.

More work in progress shots for this project can be found here.

Now it turns out that Comedian is getting a VanillaTF2 Highlander team together. If you’re going to I46 maybe you’re thinking you should try and take home the goods yourself?  Myself and the rest of the KritzKast: Distinguished Ducks will of course have something to say about that. See you in the field of combat!


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