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Thread: I've electroplated something!

  1. #1
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    I've electroplated something!

    After much work, I've managed to electroplate something!

    It looks sufficently awful that I'm not posting pictures, but I've managed to successfully plate an old steel screwdriver with a heavy coat of nickel. I used a rather crude mixture of roach killer (60% boric acid, 40%...something else?) and nickel sulfate which I will hopefully refine in the future. The plating anode was a piece of stainless steel from the hardware store.

    (NOTE: Nickel sulfate is cheap stuff - about $8 a pound if you buy from the right place. However, many places won't sell to residential addresses.)

    Next up is finding some higher-quality boric acid (can anyone recommend a source that will sell to residential addresses?) and finish my current-regulated power supply.

  2. #2
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    It could be worse You could be on fire.
    Stupid hurts.

  3. #3
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    I've looked through the Rio Grande catalog. While most of their stuff gives better results than anything I can make, I really don't need it - ten minutes on the buffing wheel and the lack of brighteners is a moot point. However, I have ordered some of their prep supplies and hope to use their electroforming solution.

  4. #4
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    Congrats
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  5. #5
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    I have address and #'s back at the shop for chemicals all over the country and will post what your looking for in the morning when I am back at work.

    I am very interisted in your process I have a few europian mounts I would like to do the skulls.
    I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious.
    ::: Andrew Wyeth :::
    colonialrestorationstudio.com

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hawksford View Post
    I have address and #'s back at the shop for chemicals all over the country and will post what your looking for in the morning when I am back at work.

    I am very interisted in your process I have a few europian mounts I would like to do the skulls.
    I'll PM you with my AIM username so we can chat. To be honest, I wasn't sure the recipe would work - I fished it out of a student guide somewhere. It's not perfect - for starters, it can't get nickel from the anode, so you'll need to replenish it pretty frequently - but it does seem to be pretty effective. About half the finishing.com mailing list told me it wouldn't, but that nickel seems to be stuck on the screwdriver pretty darn well.

    The process was very simple: Add nickel sulfate to a few ounces of water 'till it stops dissolving. Then, add boric acid until it, too, stops dissolving. Apply voltage to screwdriver (cathode) and strip of stainless steel from the hardware store (anode.) The current wasn't even regulated - next time, I'll have a current-limiting PSU prepared, which might give better results.

    For those not familiar with electroplating, there's generally three steps: A thin layer in a special bath that adheres to everything, a thick layer of something easy to plate, and then a finish layer of something resistant to the elements (generally chrome.) Copper is fairly easy to plate - all you really need is root killer (copper sulfate) and drain cleaner (sulfuric acid) - but it won't stick to a variety of metals, notably steel unless you use a fairly unusual plating solution (often alkaline instead of acidic) or first plate the steel with another metal - in this case, nickel.

    One additive I've read might help is saccharine - the artificial sweetener. I'm a bit fuzzy as to why, but it's supposed to help give a more even deposition of the metal. Anyone know where I can get some?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Shaul View Post
    After much work, I've managed to electroplate something!

    It looks sufficently awful that I'm not posting pictures, but I've managed to successfully plate an old steel screwdriver with a heavy coat of nickel. I used a rather crude mixture of roach killer (60% boric acid, 40%...something else?) and nickel sulfate which I will hopefully refine in the future. The plating anode was a piece of stainless steel from the hardware store.

    (NOTE: Nickel sulfate is cheap stuff - about $8 a pound if you buy from the right place. However, many places won't sell to residential addresses.)

    Next up is finding some higher-quality boric acid (can anyone recommend a source that will sell to residential addresses?) and finish my current-regulated power supply.
    Joesph
    Might not be as cheap as you want but the source for small plating supplies is
    http://www.caswellplating.com/

    Garry

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Foster View Post
    Joesph
    Might not be as cheap as you want but the source for small plating supplies is
    http://www.caswellplating.com/

    Garry
    I've been warned against using their stuff, and it's very, very expensive.

    Incidentally, you can build a copperplating kit on the cheap by buying your own bucket and weed killer (copper sulfate) and buying just the brighteners from them. You save over $100!

  9. #9
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    Oct 2009
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    Bradford, Vermont
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    Ask and...

    http://www.amazon.com/Boric-acid-pow...4829567&sr=8-1

    Of all places.

    C'mon, Joseph! Give with the pics. Even if it ain't pretty, it's a VICTORY, right? Lead by inspiration!
    -- Tim --

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Madison, WI
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    Well, you've been warned.



    Not a lot of plating, but it was a crude effort, and I didn't clean it very well first. I'll get some boric acid from Wallgreens (apparently I need to special order it) and get cracking.

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