Enclosure Painting

Edit: This is a work in progress and I wanted to put something up to get me started. A lot have asked me how I paint my enclosures after I do a reverse etch. I will attempt to explain my evolving process (I say evolving since its changing over time with trial and error).

Whats needed:

  • Etched enclosure (Use this tutorial if you need to know how I do reverse etches)
  • 1000 or 1500 grit wet sand paper.
  • Small square item to use as a sanding block. I use an iPhone/iPad charger… really, I do, not kidding here. Do not use the charger for charging any iDevice after using it as a sanding block.

I first paint the enclosure with a nice even coat of rattle can paint. As of right now I love using the Rust-oleum STOPS RUST Metallic products. It dries even and the darker metallic paints help the reverse etch to pop out visually.

I bake the enclosure in a over at 150 degrees for 15 minutes then let it cool. If done properly and you take your time you can get good results with 1 coat. Remember, the more coats you put on the thicker the paint becomes and can give you problems when wet sanding. You can literally paint back all the surface area that you etched away and and your etch will be ruined. Some times I put one nice coat on the surface of the enclosure where the etch is located and several coats on the sides of the enclosure.

One painted it will look something like this:

paint_2Taking your mini sanding block (iPad charger in my case) wrap a strip of 1000 or 1500 grit sand paper.


I found that the iPad charger worked well since it is made from hard plastic and retain a flat surface unlink rubber sanding blocks. Laugh all you want but it works.. lol

I do this near my kitchen sink so I can constantly wet the enclosure & sand paper and wash off the enclosure. I then wet the surface of the enclosure and wet the sanding block and begin lightly sanding the raised areas of the etch. Soon you will start seeing aluminum. Do NOT concentrate on one are to long since it may sand away your raised area completely.

NOTE: You may want to start with 1500 grit sand paper so the chances of sanding away an etched area is a bit slimmer but you will find that 1000 grit speeds up the sanding process. Its up to you.


This is not the best etch but it will work for this tutorials purposes…for now.

Take your time and try to stay away from all edges since the paint is a lot thinner over the edges and will sand away with little effort.

With a little patience and time you will have something like this.


You will see some areas of the paint that dulled a bit do to the sand paper rubbing against it. This freaked me out the first time and I thought I ruined it but, it all disappears when you place a coat of clear on the enclosure.

Make sure you wash your enclosure good and let it dry for 20-30 minutes before spraying your first coat of clear on.

Finished pedal:


I hope this helps some. As always you can contact me here by leaving comments or look for me (selfdestroyer) over at Madbean’s Forums.


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      • zedsnotdead

        Oh well…. first try… etching enclosure with press’n’peel paper…result: not so good. Think I need more time heating the damn thing.
        I’ll try again tomorrow.

          • zedsnotdead

            Yeah, just found out what was the problem. I can’t overheat it, or it starts to “melt”….
            It’s pretty easy and clean once you get the time right, no need to get it on water to dissolve any paper, just opeel right off. And results on a very precise transfer. You should try it!

        • hylandren

          Zedsnotdead, forget using the PNP blue papter. I did a bunch of etches usng it, with results I was only somewhat happy with. The very first time I tried HP presentation paper (as per Cody’s suggestion) the results were unbelievably better. It was overall cleaner and fine lens and small type ( I use Illustrator instead of PS) came through much better. I will never go back to PNP now.
          The presentation paper is also a helluva lot CHEAPER too.

      • zedsnotdead

        Hey!! Finally, I got it!

        Here’s a pic:

        It’s not even close to perfection (aka your pedals 😉 ), and i got some spots where the etchant got beneath the transfer and started to “eat” the enclosure… i dont know what happened, but I suppose that the enclosure got so hot that the transfer started to peel on those spots… even though I was dipping it on cold water this happened.
        So I’m not sure, but it’s a start 🙂

        BTW it’s a LSTR replica 😉

        • cdeschenes

          This is great! Love the artwork and it really stands out with the red paint. I have mad issues with my mask lifting also. Try shorter times in the etchant and then in a water bath. I was going to ask, was the LSTR a layout you made or a modified BMP layout? I tried to do one on a Mudbunny last year and was not successful.

          • cdeschenes

            Haha nice, I guess I need to revisit mine. I can’t remember at this point what the problem was. Ill get it out this week and take a look. Did you the BOM I put together with the Mudbunny parts list or did you just follow the schematic and roll your own?

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