Do-It-Yourself Silver Plating

    CRAFTS CLASSES
    TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY
    by Sarah Tidwell

    About the Author

    Sarah Tidwell is a freelance writer based in Florida. She contributes to several online publications and works as an online college instructor. Tidwell completed a master's degree in adult education and training/e-learning.

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    Silver plating kits provide you with all the materials needed to complete the plating process. Most silver plating kits provide the best results when the silver covers another metal such as brass, sterling silver, nickel, gold or copper. Silver plating is ideal for jewelry making, antique restoration and other do-it-yourself metal crafting projects.

    Preparation

    Wipe the surface of the metal object to remove debris and dust. If you silver plate over grime or dirt, they can show through the plating and disrupt the aesthetics of your item. Use a clean cloth dampened with water to swab the entire object. Avoid using cleaning solutions that contain chemicals because they can interact with the base metal or silver plating and ruin your piece. Let the object air dry because drying agents like towels and paper towels leave behind cotton particles that also can corrupt the surface.
    Prepare the finish of your item before plating. The finish of the object prior to plating will determine the surface following the process. To achieve a shiny silver exterior, buff the item and polish it until it’s reflective. Create a matte surface using a Britex wheel or other rough buffing tool.

    Plating

    Most do-it-yourself silver plating kits use brush plating or an electroform technique for administering the metal. Brush plating works well on jewelry and items that need metal repair. This technique helps the user concentrate on small areas. Although brush plating can be used to cover large areas, electroform is more suitable. Electroform applies a thin layer of metal to any size objects. First-time users may have a hard time using the electroform technique on small items because the metal is distributed in a larger amount in comparison to the brush technique.

    Finishing

    Some silver plating kits use a heat source for heating the metal to a liquid state for applying it to an item. In this case, the silver-plated object may need to cool or be dipped into a solution after being plated. When the silver plated surface has set, consider using a buffer cloth to further enhance the exterior. At this time, you can additional layers of silver to produce a greater thickness. If the original object has raised detail, the details will become fainter with the addition of silver coatings. Therefore, one thin coat is best for items with ornate finishes.

    Safety

    Silver plating involves chemicals and heat. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, using the appropriate tools and protective eye-wear and clothing. Keep all silver-smithing products out of the reach of children and work only on secure, stable surfaces in well-ventilated areas.

    References