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topic 10118

Copper plating nails


Like many children I once watched a demonstration in which a nail was dropped into a solution with copper pennies, and magically became plated with silver. I would like to duplicate this effect on a drawer pull that I have. (I like the detail of the pull, but not the finish!)

At first I just submerged the pull in vinegar and threw in a couple of pennies. However, that did not work so I decided to look it up on the internet and found your site. After reading I decided to add a little salt to the solution. But that is not quite working either. So, please help. After reading through some of the postings I discovered that the type of metal of my drawer pull might affect the outcome. So FYI I think it is aluminum. I have some other pieces that resemble it and they have labels that say they are aluminum. It seems like the simplest and least dangerous of all plating projects.

I hope you can help me. I appreciate you taking the time to read my letter.

Callye Tavarez
- Norfolk, Virginia


Unlike many children, I never saw that demonstration. I'm having a hard time figuring out what it might have been about. Maybe there was silver nitrate in the solution, rather than vinegar, and it immersion deposited on the pennies and the nail?

Even if that was it, your pull is probably heavily oxidized and won't pass the current for immersion plating. To remove the oxidation you would need to use lye or oven cleaner, and I would hardly regard that as safe; in fact, I'd say it was downright dangerous. Hopefully I'm wrong about something here and somebody who saw such a demonstration will instruct us both.

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

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