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How to plate Shakudo

I would like to plate shakudo (4%-6% gold in copper) onto a copper substrate for subsequent patination. Shakudo takes on a dark black/purple hue when properly patinated. Can a standard copper plating system & solution be used with a shakudo anode, or will the copper selectively plate out leaving the gold ... or vice versa? What brightener should I use to keep the plating uniform, smooth and bright with minimal oxygen inclusion?

Can the same process be used to plate on steel, aluminium or titanium?

Dan Fronefield
Handmade Knives - Peyton, Colorado, USA

Very interesting question. I think then you can use shakudo anode and cyanide copper solution but alloy plating is not so simple and easy control process, if you need it for industry application try to contact some reputable plating solutions producer. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Cerovski vrh Croatia


Never had heard of shakudo. Probably easier to plate copper and gold separately, then diffusion bake. Try plating some gold onto the copper and then heat until it darkens (Cu will diffuse to the surface and oxidize). The thermally formed oxide may be brittle; you can remove and then patinate.
For the other substrates, plate thick copper and thin gold films, then heat. Use a professional plater; it's somewhat difficult to plate onto Al & Ti.
To avoid softening the Al & Cu substrates, don't heat above 260 °F.
An improvement would be to plate many thin, alternating layers of Cu and Au to get a more uniform alloy with less heating.
Good luck. Let us know how things turn out.

Ken Vlach [deceased]
- Goleta, California

contributor of the year honored Ken for his countless carefully researched responses. He passed away May 14, 2015.
Rest in peace, Ken. Thank you for your hard work which the finishing world, and we at, continue to benefit from.

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