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Old electric toothbrush becomes an etcher

Filed Under: household hacks, Tools

For a few years I have loyally used Oral-B's disposable Pulsar toothbrushes. But throwing them away when it is time for new bristles seemed extra wasteful. So with a few of them kicking around the bottom drawer of the bathroom to experiment with and a bit of spare time I made one of them into a vibratory etcher.

You'll need a few things to get started:

  • A dead disposable electric toothbrush
  • A new AAA battery (brands and models may differ)
  • Up to two pairs of pliers
  • A candle and matches
  • Wire cutters
  • A staple gun staple or push pin
Remove the head of the toothbrush and clean the handle well. (After seeing the toothpaste grime built up between the head and the handle maybe I'll shop around for a new toothbrush brand.) Now remove the battery compartment by unscrewing the base. This can be pretty tricky. Two out of the three that I did this with were glued so well that the pliers tore away part of the rubberized grip and gouged the plastic. Once the end cap is removed you can swap out the battery. Just bend the metal tab straight so you can remove the old battery, put the new one in place, and then use your pliers to bend the metal contact back in place. Put the cover back over the exposed battery.

Now use the wire cutters to cut off the point from a push pin or one barb from a stapling gun staple. Light the candle and use the pliers to heat the end that you just cut off. Warm that piece of metal until it is hot enough to be pushed into the tip of the toothbrush handle. Let it cool and if necessary heat the tip again to get a good bond between the metal tip and the surrounding plastic.

Now put your name in your valuables or the tools that you might loan out. It is not as powerful as a professional quality etcher but it will scratch into things quicker, deeper and easier than a non-vibrating instrument.

  • Daniel C. Boyer

    I have been using electric toothbrushes to paint with gouache for about six years and have even taught a class in it.

  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

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