plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Gunsmith wants to do hard chrome and nickel boron plating
October 17, 2012
Q. Hello ladies and gentlemen, I'm a part time gunsmith and there has been lot of interest in coating different guns with different types of coatings. I would like to do this on a somewhat small scale -- meaning being able to coat an entire rifle using electroless plating. What I would need is a DVD or videos or a book that's easy to follow telling how to do this. The coatings I'm interested in are nickel boron primarily and hard chrome. There is a company that supplies a kit; it's quite pricey; I would like to assemble a somewhat small plating shop without spending a ton of money on a kit. DYI as much as I can safely etc. Seems if I get a few things coated commercially I'm looking at 1000 dollars.
gunsmith - El Paso, Texas, USA
A. Hi Daniel.
I knew a guy who didn't finish 6th-grade who ran a large plating shop with pretty good success. Plating is certainly not beyond your ability to learn nor anyone else's ability to learn. But the idea that you'll be able to learn it and practice it commercially as a small part of an already part-time job and without investing in hobby level equipment, let alone professional grade plating equipment, is totally unrealistic. Most NiB plating and most Hard Chrome Plating is done in plating lines that cost $200K to $1M, maybe slightly less, sometimes a lot more.
Please take learning about it as an intellectual exercise for at least a few months before investing any money at all (except perhaps for an inexpensive book like the Metal Finishing Guidebook). Do not buy any chemicals yet because you will be responsible forever for the waste products regardless of how much you pay someone to dispose of them. (This was the EPA's solution to the problem of 'midnight dumpers'.) Chrome plating solution (chromic acid / hexavalent chromium) is a toxic carcinogen (see Erin Brockovich [affil. link to Amazon]) that the world is working feverishly to eliminate; hard chrome plating is not for a neophyte. Please see our FAQ "Introduction to Chrome Plating". Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey