The scraps probably aren't all that necessary. The only real trick is making sure that you get the stencil taped onto the blade straight. If you want a deep etch, don't leave the wand on the blade for a long time. Do multiple etches of like 10-20 seconds. Just let it etch and then remove for a few seconds and do the next one. That in theory will make your stencils last longer. When you pull the wand away, you should see the etching liquid "fizzing" a little bit. if it doesn't, that means that you don't have a connection. I did that once and realize that I had forgotten to clamp the other lead to the blade. LOL. I put my blades in a Moran vise and clip the alligator clip to the tang so that there is no chance of any of the polished part of the blade getting marred or discolored.
A couple other tips:
I find scotch "magic" tape to work well, it's thin and bonds even. This is important. After taping, I take my fingernail and press the tape down at all the seams and all over, electrolyte can creep through a little tape seam that you didn't even see and etch a little line or pit where you did not want one. Also, a stencil taped down tight and flat will give a sharper and clearer etch.
10-20 second etches are a little long IMHO, I as well as others have burnt up stencils with too long of etches. I currently etch for 3 seconds on, 2 seconds off. 20 cycles of this on DC, then 20 cycles on AC. As well as the electrolyte looking a little fizzy, when etching you should hear a light "frying" sound, indicating action.
After etching, neutralize the blade thoroughly and well- I use Windex and let it soak on for 10 seconds or so.
Cleaning your stencils makes them cut clearly and last longer. Ernie's site has good tips on all of this stuff.
My personalizer plus does rock!
The scotch tape is a good idea. Electrical tape seals very well, but it is very gummy. Another piece of advice is to cut your individual stencils out large. Use all of the extra material on the sheet so that the stencil is bigger than the wand or, in the case of etching on the ricasso, so the edges of the stencil hand over the sides.. That and clamping the alligator clip to the tang instead of the blade will eliminate most, if not all staining and pitting issues. Also, don't soak the pad. Blot it on your hand before etching.
Originally Posted by Salem Straub