Test Batch Photos
So! I'm pretty stoked about the chemical etching process. As you can see in the first photo, the details are fantastic. It's very precise. I had one miscut toward the bottom right corner of the sheet, but the person helping me out warned me of that possibility, so it only affected the back of a spare handle.
The second photo is just of the handles. Moving forward the handles will all be on their own sheet as they'll be cut from a different type of metal.
The third is what I'm most excited about. The fidelity of the etch is enough that I can cut two pick's border in one cut. This is what I was hoping we'd get back from the test. All it really means is that I can stack a good number of picks on a single sheet of metal, nothing more groundbreaking than that, but still, that's pretty good!
I have played with each pick type and I'm satisfied that they are what I want. This is literally the first time I've seen these picks in any tangle form in almost a year. I'm pretty happy right now. Here's what comes next:
1: Develop a final plate layout. This should be pretty straightforward now that I've seen the test plate, but I'm running it past the cutter before I commit so there may be a little back and forth, but still, it's straightforward so that part should go quick. As I said I'll post an updated plate layout on here as well.
2: Metal choice. I have a metal I like, the 1095 spring steel, but the last time I cut picks from it they turned out to be too brittle. That's an old problem though and one that I believe is solved at this point. The big thing is going to be sourcing small bulk metal stock affordably, (the test plate was just cut on some not-super-cheap steel from McMaster) but I have help in that department so I'm sweating it.
3: Tumbler. The picks come off pretty rough, so I'm going to have to tumble/vibrate-finish them. That's not a big deal, also a solved problem, I just need to pick up a machine and find the right polishing medium. Being that I'll be doing small batches at a time I don't need anything crazy industrial and a friend is interested in splitting the cost as he wants to do some tumbling for his own work, so getting the equipment should be pretty low impact.
Those are the big ones. I have a spot welder already, which I use to assemble the handles of the picks. I think there is some screen printing on the cases that may still need to be done, but I'll have to call my Mother about that. They are all made, but I know she had been a little gun shy about using her screen printing equipment, so I may have to head up to VT to see my parents and bang out the printing, but I'd say it's a 50/50 shot that's already been done and simple as dirt to do if it hasn't.
Anyway, I'll update again when I have the finalized etching plate patterns. Enjoy the photos!