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topic 59942

Surface finish of steel prior to brass plating

July 15, 2015

Q. What microinch finish is recommended on a steel part before brass plating?

I'd like to achieve a very smooth, polished finish after plating. The end product is a decorative candle holder. =>

Thanks for any help!

Thomas DeVore
Designer and manufacturer of home products - Cincinnati, Ohio USA

July 2015

A. Hi Thomas. It would be unusual to try to obtain a bright brass finish by buffing and then brass plating. Much more typical would be to plate the item with self-leveling bright nickel before the brass plating. I don't know the microinch finish you need to achieve, but you probably will only need polishing, not buffing, as long as you have the visible scratches out.

Another thing to note is that many "brass" finishes today are actually a tinted electrophoretic lacquer on top the nickel plating rather than actual brass electroplating. But for low volumes and custom work, brass plating is probably more available than the electrophoretic lacquering. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 16, 2015

A. Good day Thomas.

Your question about the micro finish is quite vague.
It is clear you require a mirror finish.
I would have the steel part polished/sanded with very fine grit.... leading up to 1200 grit abrasive.
Use acid copper plating to level any belt lines/pits.
Polish the item after copper plating, producing the mirror finish, and nickel plate to provide the barrier layer of plating to deposit the brass flash/plating you desire.
Hope this helps.

Eric Bogner
Lab Tech. - Whitby, On, Canada

July 2015

? Thanks Eric. But Thomas won't be able to do acid copper plating on a steel component with decent adhesion, will he?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 16, 2015

A. Good day.

Thomas will get EXCELLENT adhesion by using a cyanide copper strike/plate formulation on the steel item prior to acid copper.
This is a standard procedure for plating on steel, whether it is a rack or barrel application.
Hope this clears things up.


Eric Bogner
Lab Tech. - Whitby, On, Canada

August 17, 2015

A. Bright nickel plating should be the easiest path to a mirror finish. However, brass plating will tarnish, and eventually wear off. Faucet manufacturers start with solid brass, polish, bright nickel and trivalent chrome plate, then get back the brass finish by PVD coating. End result is a surface that does not tarnish as would the solid brass and is less susceptible to scratching. Steel parts can be processed in the same way. Nickel-chrome combo also provides good corrosion resistance.

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Jim Treglio - scwineryreview.com
PVD Consultant & Wine Lover - San Diego, California

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