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 25 Etching and engraving utility belt buckle (Read 3259 times)
BrianWard
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Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
05/26/11 at 2:48pm
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Hello I'm a newcomer from the UK. I found this site when looking for ideas to make my own utility belt. Thanks to everyone for a wonderful, useful forum.

Nobody seems to have tried chemically etching the buckle as used to make printed circuit boards. Theoretically this is easy since a negative version of the template can be printed onto special paper which can then be ironed on to the brass as an etching mask then just dunk it in the chemical bath.

Sounds good, so I tested this on a bit of brass. I was hoping to get a sandpaper-like finish, but found etching left it almost perfectly smooth. So although it might produce something similar to the early pilot buckle it was dissappointing (in fact I suspect this was how the first buckles were made, but later engraved to enhance the design).

Although sandblasting looks impressive, you don't seem to be able to buy cheap DIY sandblasters in the UK and I also wanted something closer to the original. So I decided to go down the engraving route....

I've done a test and found it fairly easy to create the overall finsish, but was unable to get a clean, sharp edge.

There are some superb engraved buckles on this site and I wondered how it was done. I guess you need a template so you can just zip round the boundary with a fine engraving bit, but doesn't this rip into the template? Presumably it needs to be quite tough. What did other people use?

I guess the oblong border must be even harder since it's all edges! Was this done with a brass template, a straight steel edge or what?

Lastly, can anyone tell me what is the correct bend for the buckle?

Many thanks fellow bat fans.
  
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BrianWard
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #1 - 05/27/11 at 10:46am
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I think I might have answered my own question.

If chemical etching doesn't produce the desired finish on the buckle, perhaps I can use etching to create a template stencil for engraving....

The etched template would have to be much thinner brass (to be able to etch all the way through), but if it works and is easy to make, who cares if engraving rips up the template - so long as the engraving works. If I want to make another buckle, I can just etch a new template... An easy to make accurate template would also be useful to the sandblasters.

I'll let you know how I get on.

I would still appreciate other people's comments and the answer to how deep is the correct bend for the buckle.
  
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batsy99
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #2 - 05/28/11 at 7:58pm
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With regards to the bend of the buckle, the measurement should be 4-7/8" with curve from about a 5" flat piece. Hope this helps
  
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Chuck Williams
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #3 - 05/30/11 at 10:47pm
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This is what you want....

Your template can even be the milky white mylar plastic stencil you get from any craft place.
That's what mine was.

It is not a deeply engraved design. Just break the surface of the metal and you have it.

The 4 7/8" measurement from a flat 5" piece above is correct. You can see a nice close up with the measurements in the Bat Resources area in the belt image above this thread.

If you take a look at the buckles on the show, they have different degrees of curve to them so don't get hung up on that number. They were bent by hand.

Good luck!!!
Chuck...
  

dremmil_engraver.jpg ( 53 KB | Downloads )
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utilitybeltcomp.jpg ( 389 KB | Downloads )
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BrianWard
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #4 - 05/31/11 at 6:12pm
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Thanks for the advice. I did have success etching a template. It took all day to etch, but did produce a near perfect brass template.



I spray-mounted this onto may belt blank and successfully engraved it using a Dremmel 106 bit. I didn't quite get the effect I was expecting, but I was pleased with the finish.



Chuck, I notice a satin finish in your superb buckle - which is authentic and would love to achieve. I'm guess the original had a satin finish to avoid the inevitable reflection of the camera crew in a highly polished buckle! I also had some thoughts about the West buckle that has a slight difference to the left wing. I did this by accident myself on a test piece - it occurs if you change direction during engraving ie engrave from the left bottom to top versus from the right top bottom. I think I might have to make another that does this deliberatley!

If anyone is interested in etching a template, here is the modified flipped and inverted image that can be "printed" as an etch mask.

  
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Chuck Williams
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #5 - 05/31/11 at 11:03pm
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Nicely done!!!

Congratulations!

Chuck...
  
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #6 - 06/01/11 at 11:07pm
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where do you find the brass , Michael's ,  Lowes, ??
  
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BrianWard
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #7 - 06/02/11 at 8:46am
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I found some 2mm brass at a local engineering workshop in the UK. A "one off" lucky find. It made a nice hefty buckle that could stop bullets. No chance of bending it by accident!

I went back to get some thinner brass for the buckle belt hook and the owner said half-seriously, "you're pushing your luck" (probably thought I was a time-waster). So I showed him what I'd made so far. I think he was impressed, because we're all 'engineering mates' now and he gave me the extra bits free!

The brass for the etching template was a sheet of 10 thou I bought at Hobbycraft.
  
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #8 - 06/02/11 at 6:10pm
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That Looks Nice! gives me a couple of ideas.
  
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #9 - 06/03/11 at 8:12pm
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Nice to see some more Bat-Craft here in the UK! That buckle turned out great!
  
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #10 - 06/04/11 at 4:59am
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I found brass plates exactly double the correct size in one of those old mom and pop hardware stores. They weren't quite as thick as the original but sturdy and easy to cut, round the edges, and bend. Turned out decently. The pic is a blow up from a larger over all, so, not the best image, but...
  

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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #11 - 06/04/11 at 5:37am
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Looks great!  Thanks for sharing!
  

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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #12 - 06/04/11 at 4:58pm
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That is great work and a great idea on the etching process. Have you considered making a Joker Utility belt buckle? This was featured in the first Joker episode in week 3 or 4. I just saw it on Hula. If you can make a screen grab, you have a good base for it. There is one scene, in part 2, where they have a brief close-up after Batman removes the belt from the Joker
Here's a series of links:
http://www.66batman.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=search2
http://www.66batman.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1274782920/25#25
http://www.66batman.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1177252619/13#13
http://www.66batman.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1210214888/12#12
There's a few others too. I have most of the pictures saved from these threads and would love to get one to display.
Now that you've mastered the Batman version, you can create the companion piece...
  
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darren nemeth
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #13 - 06/15/11 at 2:50am
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If using a dremel tool do the etching in up and down lines. Not swirls or random directions.

You'll see why. 
  

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BrianWard
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Re: Etching and engraving utility belt buckle
Reply #14 - 06/15/11 at 2:46pm
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All I meant was you don't hold the dremmel upright like a pencil. You lay it down and go vertically against the direction of spin. It's not obvious in the picture, but the engraving is strictly up/down. If you reverse the direction you engrave, you naturally change the side you're doing it from and it's that I believe that caused the effect seen where the left bat wing joins the body on the real buckle. At least that's the effect I got on a test piece.

I also found it useful to draw vertical guide lines with a felt tip to keep the engraving straight. The lines soon dissappear as you go over them.

Has anyone tried a bat communicator buckle? Once I get my normal belt finished, I've got to have a go at that! I guess you just have to make two identical buckles, bend them to the same curve then solder/weld on two hinges and a catch, drill a hole and mount the knob. Easy!!  Lips Sealed

In Series 1 "Better Luck Next Time" the hinges seemed a bit too ornate - probably whatever they had at the bottom of their toolbox at the time. Interesting to see the 2" parts of the belt were visible - indicating a standard belt fitted with a communicator buckle which needed a wider spacing on the belt attachments to fit in the knob.

Has anyone tried it? I know CY have one in progress.
  
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