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Plating prep and the fledgling smith


#1

Hey, All!

I’ve been making jewelry commercially for about 5 years now, working
primarily in enameling, sterling… and some nu-gold and copper. I’m
interested in plating small areas or sterling or fine silver with
gold.

I have a Midas pen plating system, and just reviewed the wonderful
Ganoksin Archives. However, I find myself more confused than ever
regarding cleaning prior to plating. I Get that the surface has to be
pristinely clean, it’s just not completely clear to me what the
best/reasonable method is… and if I can avoid buying More Solvents
to keep and store, that would be good. Besides, Rio was out of one of
them, which prompted my searching in the first place!

Specific questions:

  1. Rio’s catalog says that you have to use their "electrocleaning"
    and acid solutions. I saw the comments on using lye (and the
    difficulty in obtaining lye) in the archives. Can I use a solution of
    washing soda (sodium carbonate, not sodium hydroxide) instead? It’s
    pH is 11 (very very basic) vs that of lye which is 13 (even more
    basic). It’s a log scale, so that’s a pretty big difference. On the
    other hand, washing soda is still easy to get? Maybe a longer soak?

  2. Likewise could I use vinegar as an acid rinse? Again, it’s a very
    weak acetic acid, but it might work? I read a caveat somewhere that
    one has to be careful to not get vinegar close to the cyanide based
    plating solutions, since it releases the cyanide into the air (is
    this true???), but it seems that as long as you rinse well with
    distilled water first, it might be ok?

  3. A couple of the sources suggested a good soak in alcohol and/or a
    short cleaning in the ultrasonic. No base/acid blahblah. Will this
    really work? Seems like it would save me a lot of trouble, but I want
    the sturdiest possibly plate on these puppies.

Thanks for your help and indulgence…

Barbara Louise
Barbara Louise Bowling
Louise’s Leap Studios
2700 Harmony Street
Boise, Idaho 83706
www.LouisesLeap.com


#2

This is a question that many people agonize over, unnecessarily. We
do light, occasional plating, probably like Barbara is looking to do.
Clean is clean. You don’t need to put it in a nuclear reactor and us
hydrazine to clean. We use ultrasonic and steam, and that’s all, and
get good results. The biggest issue you have is to get rid of greases
from polishing, and the usual things are best - soap, ammonia,
scrubbing, soaking, a good rinse. It is true the the better your
system the better your results, and the cleaner your system the
longer your solutions will last, but then again, you don’t need to
agonize over it - clean is clean. Clean your work as best you can and
try plating it. If it works, you’re done. If it gives spotty results
then take it a step farther and try it again. And yes cyanide + any
acid, even vinegar = death. It is how the gas chamber works. Industry
regulations ban even storing them in the same cabinet, and preferably
even in separate rooms. Also the cyanide solutions are incredibly
poisonous - use chem-lab procedures (again, don’t agonize - you don’t
need a toxic waste suit). Don’t lick your fingers or touch your face,
don’t work with open wounds, don’t smoke, don’t mix food and chemical
utensils - I write “No Food” on a pitcher or something I’ll use, and
destroy it before I put it in the garbage (break it), on and on.
Strong cyanide solution will also blind you if it hits your eye. A
pen plater uses a tiny quantity at a time, but you still need to use
proper procedures. I’m pretty casual about safety when it comes to
dusts and safer chemicals like fluxes. Cyanide is the real thing,
though.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#3

This is a question that many people agonize over, unnecessarily. We
do light, occasional plating, probably like Barbara is looking to do.
Clean is clean. You don’t need to put it in a nuclear reactor and us
hydrazine to clean. We use ultrasonic and steam, and that’s all, and
get good results. The biggest issue you have is to get rid of greases
from polishing, and the usual things are best - soap, ammonia,
scrubbing, soaking, a good rinse. It is true the the better your
system the better your results, and the cleaner your system the
longer your solutions will last, but then again, you don’t need to
agonize over it - clean is clean. Clean your work as best you can and
try plating it. If it works, you’re done. If it gives spotty results
then take it a step farther and try it again. And yes cyanide + any
acid, even vinegar = death. It is how the gas chamber works. Industry
regulations ban even storing them in the same cabinet, and preferably
even in separate rooms. Also the cyanide solutions are incredibly
poisonous - use chem-lab procedures (again, don’t agonize - you don’t
need a toxic waste suit). Don’t lick your fingers or touch your face,
don’t work with open wounds, don’t smoke, don’t mix food and chemical
utensils - I write “No Food” on a pitcher or something I’ll use, and
destroy it before I put it in the garbage (break it), on and on.
Strong cyanide solution will also blind you if it hits your eye. A
pen plater uses a tiny quantity at a time, but you still need to use
proper procedures. I’m pretty casual about safety when it comes to
dusts and safer chemicals like fluxes. Cyanide is the real thing,
though.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com