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A modification of the common electrochemical etching setup is presented. The described method reproducibly yields sharp tungsten tips for usage in the scanning tunneling microscope and tuning fork atomic force microscope. In situ treatment under ultrahigh vacuum (p ⩽10-10 mbar) conditions for cleaning and fine sharpening with minimal blunting is described. The structure of the microscopic apex of these tips is atomically resolved with field ion microscopy and cross checked with field emission.