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topic 5560

Help Brass Plating Chess Pieces



I'm at the moment making chess sets out of sintered metal powder and resin and finding this a very expensive hobby. I have over the past month made some successful metal castings from my pieces and am now in the process of finishing them. I have tried painting them but can't get the aged brass metal finish I require. I was told at one of the craft shows I sell at that electroplating or anodising was the answer. My searching brought me here I have read quite a lot of the FAQ but none help.

I do understand your concerns for the environment and if the only way to get the finish I want is dangerous then I don't need it that bad. I only turn out one set about every two months and only sell sets to pay for my hobby so having the pieces plated professionally is out of the question.

I have gathered a lot of information and seem to have a little understanding of electroplating. All I need to know is, is there a easy safe way to plate a chess piece made from a low melt alloy with a brass finish even a bright brass finish will do because I can age it with spirit dyes similar to the sintered metal. If there is, what chemicals do I need, learning the method by trial and error I would find enjoyable but the chemicals I have no idea about. Any help would be appreciated. Yours.

Tony Gaunt
- Staffordshire, England


As you read, some of us feel that plating is almost always a poor hobby, and some are far less pessimistic. However, brass plating a sintered metal item is really tough.

First off, all practical brass plating baths are cyanide-based, which automatically put them completely out of the hobbiest category. Secondly, plating sintered metal is exceptionally difficult even for professionals due to the porosity and the fact that your resin filler is non-conductive.

If you insist on doing it yourself, I would suggest nickel plating the pieces, and lacquering them with a brass-tone lacquer.

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


Thanks for taking the time to reply to my letter, but you seem to have the wrong end of the stick. I used to make chess pieces using resin & sintered metal now I use a low melt metal alloy (tin/lead alloy). My problem being, I would like to finish the chess pieces to look like aged brass. My thinking was if I could plate the pieces with brass then age them from there or if there was a way of plating to look like nickel-brass that can be easily stained to give it an aged patina. If plating is out of my league then your idea of afflacquering them with a brass-tone lacquer may be the way to go, but a real metal finish would be more desirable and saleable.

Thanks again for your time


Tony Gaunt
- Staffordshire, England

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