I remember seeing a demonstration of a seemingly magic process at an engineering open house decades ago, in which a soft metal bit carved detailed shapes into far harder metals. It's called electrochemical machining (ECM), and it's so simple in principle that you can do it at home with a drill press, a battery charger and a pump for a garden fountain.
ECM is basically electroplating in reverse. In electroplating, you start with a solution of dissolved metal ions and run an electric current through the liquid between a positive electrode and the object you want to plate (the negative side). The ions deposit themselves as solid metal onto the surface of the object.
This process is used industrially to create extremely delicate, detailed shapes in very hard metals. Since there is zero force exerted on the part being machined, it's possible to make fine shapes that would break if you tried to cut them with a milling machine.
Without the precise current control of those commercial systems, my home setup produced a disappointingly blurry copy of the earring's shape. But it's still amazing that in a contest between a tin earring and hardened steel, the earring won.
Achtung! When your hands are wet with saltwater, even 12 volts is potentially dangerous. Wear rubber gloves.
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