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Plating lead came of stained glass

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Q. Help me please. I am interested in doing some electroplating on small things in my garage. I need know the procedure to do it. I don't know what I need. Can you help me?

Adriana Margarita


A. What kind of parts do you want to electroplate and do you know what you want to put onto the parts? Is this plating for decorative purposes, or is it for repair or dimensional restoration?

Derek Vanek
Independence, Ohio


Q. I am also looking to do metal plating in my garage. I do small stain glass crafting using lead came and would like to nickel plate the lead. Are there suppliers out there that market small plating kits for the hobbyist? I would be grateful for any leads of where to start.

Thanks in advance.

John Conway

A. Yes, there are kits, and there are suppliers who cater to small-lot customers. You will see them in the banner at the top of this page, and in our Chemicals Directory, or by googling 'hobby plating'. .

Hopefully your caming isn't real lead, though, because that requires activation in hydrofluoric acid, which is very dangerous and will ruin the glass (although as a stained glass artist you may already be familiar with that).

Either brush plating or tank plating are possible; as long as your don't need hydrofluoric acid, it is probably possible to tank plate without hurting the glass. Good luck!

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. I have personally brush plated two stained glass windows each approx. worth 50K$. We plated both sides of the window and the plating had to withstand an outside environment. The windows were each approx. 4 feet in diameter. To do both, it took a crew of two three days. The technique is very easy to do and can be easily learned in a few hours.

Tom Sivula


RFQ: I have a stained glass studio in Morris Plains, NJ. I have a customer who is looking for a chromed finish on the leaded window we will be making for her. The problem is this:

Lead (with a very small amount of tin & antimony) is used to hold the window together. 60/40 solder (tin/lead) is used to solder the leaded joints together. The lead, when we are finished, has either a dull gray or shiny black finish to it. This is unacceptable to her.

Because the window has to be made BEFORE it's plated, no one that I've spoken to can plate it. Please advise me of any suggestions you can make. I am also interested in brass plating at a later date.


Scott T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
stained glass studio


A. Dear Scott:

We have at least three shops that I know of in the Toronto area that plate fully assembled Tiffany lamps which is virtually the same as your application. There must be some shops in the New Jersey, New York City area that do similar work. Suggest you contact some of the local suppliers as they should be able to provide you with names. You will find some of the suppliers listed in's Vendor list.

Ken Lemke
Ken Lemke
Burlington, Ontario, Canada

July 2, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I make stained glass items and would like the lead and solder to have the "shiny" look of commercially made items. Does anyone know how to plate the lead with something silvery and shiny? What plating metal is used and what materials does one use?

John Curry
- Columbus, Ohio

November 17, 2008 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

A. Hi, John. We appended your posting to a thread which may already partially answer it for you. Nickel plating or nickel plating followed by gold plating will give you that shiny look. You may wish to see letter 46134 on pretty much the same subject. If you wish to learn about brush plating, see if your library can get you access to Rubinstein's "Electrochemical Metallizing". Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 13, 2010

Q. I am an Instructor of Stained Glass pieces, having had the finished pieces commercially plated when available. I now wish to Finish plate my pieces. The process would be to plate the Lead, which is approximately 10% Tin, 90% Lead to a finished product of Bright Chrome. Can this be done on a small quantity basis.

Ray R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Instructor of Stained Glass - Sanford, Colorado

April 14, 2010

A. Hi, Ray. Nothing is impossible. Please see our FAQ: "Introduction to Chrome Plating" to understand the issues. But prepping lead is very difficult since it can only be activated in fluoride-based acids, which are very hazardous. Chrome plating solutions are toxic and carcinogenic, but nickel plating may serve. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 17, 2010

A. Plating on stained glass is very doable. Construction of glass design is very important. You must consider the plating process aggressive since water pressure and tank agitation may cause damage. Also, a racking point (area where item will be making electro contact and supporting item through the plating process) must be considered. Many times stained glass clients need to reconstruct their projects. Send or email a picture or meet with a decorative metal plating shop and ask live what are key criteria for successful plating. We found that decorative chrome plating is harder to achieve full coverage (some nickel shadow) so many people choose nickel plating; however, with several trial runs, success is possible. Stained glass is art and fun. I took a college course on stainless and brass / chrome plated more than 300,000 pieces through my plating shop. Best to your colorful and shiny endeavors...

alicia moreno
Alicia Moreno
Escondido, San Diego No., California

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