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Re-plating a water pitcher


#1

hey all, need some help… I was wanting to re-plate a silverplated
water pitcher. Roughly it is about 10inches high with a 7inch
diameter and a handle. the guy i talked to online told me it would
cost anywhere between $150. and $300 to replate and i thought that
was outrageous as i can buy a good eloctroplater and all the stuff i
need to do it myself for about $300 to $400. I have read all the
posts about the dangers of electroplating so it is not something i
terribly want to get in to at the moment, but it is something i am
sure i will venture into someday. I am looking for someone who could
possibly replate it for me as it is a very beautiful pitcher and i
would like to use it but it is not possible in the condition it is
in. If there is someone willing to do it for a reasonable price i
would greatly appreciate it! thanks, mike in michigan

@Mical_Leeth


#2
    I was wanting to re-plate a silverplated water pitcher. Roughly
it is about 10inches high with a 7inch diameter and a handle. the
guy i talked to online told me it would cost anywhere between $150.
and $300 to replate and i thought that was outrageous as i can buy
a good eloctroplater and all the stuff i need to do it myself for
about $300 to $400 mike in michigan 

Hi Mike; Sorry to inform you of this, but those prices are probably
the best you’ll get. Re-plating these things and getting it to look
like what your customer expects is not easy without the right
equipment and training. The old plating has to be removed. Part of
this process is electrochemical, and part is plain old hand work.
The plating equipment is quite sophisticated, not the kind you can
get from a jewelry supply catalog, as it plates for a while, strips a
while, then plates a while, to keep the plating from building up
faster along edges. Temperatures are tightly controlled. Cleanliness
is very thourough. Cyanide is involved, so the ventilation is
critical. There are often strike coats of copper involved. Yes, I
agree, the price is discouraging. Your best bet is to find out the
price of a new article of similar size and quality. Then let your
customer decide if it’s worth it. Most of the plating companies
offer very attractive guarantees for the customer. They do a great
job. Don’t take on this project unless:

A. your customer doesn’t want to spend the money and will let you
"experiment" on the piece. . . they agree to take what they get,
even if it’s a mess.

B. you’re interested in taking up an entirely new career and can lay
out the cash for the equipment and training (and get the customer to
wait till your ready for your first work.

Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time and some money and get some
pretty dismal results. Now if I turn out to be wrong and you find a
way to make it work, you can string me up for a public flogging.
Best of luck.

David L. Huffman


#3

Hi David: You must have owned or worked in the plating field to have
all that knowledge of it.

You are correct in every aspect that you described (cyanide,
cleaning, stripping, etc.) Your even right about the cost. Average
water pitcher $150.00 to $300.00 depending on the base metal and
condition of the pieces (dents, repairs, etc.).

My name is Raymond Cutuli owner
Trio Silversmiths
www.triosilversmiths.com


#4
      Otherwise, you'll spend a lot of time and some money and get
some pretty dismal results.  Now if I turn out to be wrong and you
find a way to make it work, you can string me up for a public
flogging. 

David, I’ll second your fine posting. Perhaps it will help to
further mention that perhaps the confusion is in just what sort of
plating is required. People reading a jewelry tools catalog will see
plating machines and solutions. These types of plating are generally
geared to jewelry scale work, and jewelry needs. Most often, it’s
rhodium over gold or platinum, and only a thin coloring coating is
required. When one wants to put rhodium plate over sterling,
though, several preplating steps are needed to isolate the silver
from the plating solution, which it would contaminate, and which
could damage the silver surface as well, so then that type of rhodium
plating, which otherwise is very simple to do on gold or platinum,
becomes an order of magnitude more difficult.

Similar is the case of silver plating, The quart bottles of silver
plating solution usually sold in the catalogs are designed for thin
coatings, most often over an already silver item, like sterling
silver. Intended then usually to hide solder seams or fire scale,
this type of plating is relatively simple. But a coffee pot is a
whole other animal. For one thing, it’s a LOT larger. Even with the
simple setups, one would need a rather high capacity power supply,
perhaps in the 50 to 100 amp capacity, to handle this properly.
And, one will need multiple anodes, all fine silver. Now, if the
item was previously silver plated, then as David says, plating just
over that will make a messy looking surface, so it first has to be
refinished to remove at least most of the old plating. Then for any
decent durability, it needs a MUCH thicker silver plate coating than
the normal decorative coating. To get that to work well, one needs
considerably more complex baths, usually with proper brighteners.
These aren’t one time additions to a bath, but need to be
periodically replenished if they are to work. Without them, the
deposits become rougher and rougher, leading to the sort of nodular
growth seen on uncontrolled electroforming. Silver is far more prone
to this behavior than are gold plating solutions. The simple silver
plating solutions found in the catalogs are not brightened at all,
intended just for thin color coatings, and producing a dull, matte
white surface much like freshly pickeled soldered work. On a thin
deposit, it’s only a little dull, and can be brightened with a bit of
baking soda or a rouge cloth. but for the thick deposits needed
here, such a matte finish wouldn’t be easy to brighten at all, at
least not without again removing much of it. All in all, this is
simply not, as David points out, as easy to do properly as it might
seem.

However, you may wish to look beyond the internet for quotes. Try
the yellow pages for electroplating shops. The same shops that will
put new chrome on your car bumper often also run small tanks of
precious metals like gold or silver, and some of them will be
equipped to replate something like your coffee pot. Or, if you like,
here in Seattle I know of at least one firm that specializes in
silver plating of this sort. If asked, I can look up the name and
phone number.

Peter Rowe


#5

No, I don’t think you can buy all the equipment to plate something
that large for that price. I have found that plating in the small
shop is a bit of a black art, as well, and unless you know what you
are doing with the right size equipment, it won’t come out well nor will
it last well.


#6
    Hi David: You must have owned or worked in the plating field
to have all that knowledge of it. My name is Raymond Cutuli  owner
Trio Silversmiths www.triosilversmiths.com 

Hi Raymond; You’re pretty close. I once worked for a company who
took in silver plate and sub-contracted it out to a plating company.
It was the main source of income for the firm, and we had a room full
of the stuff most of the time. We also did a lot of the repair and
prep work ourselves. The real sterling stuff we repaired ourselves,
removing the bezel on the bottom and melting out the pitch to repair
cracks and holes. We used a “snarling iron” to remove dents. Most
people don’t know that the hefty feel of a silver candelabra is
mostly due to the pitch or plaster it is filled with and that the
metal is really paper thin. They twist the candles to tighten them
in resulting in the candle cups getting all twisted and cracked at
their bases. Personally, I have done a lot of raising the old way,
forging, sinking, raising it in courses, planishing, thickening the
rim or forging/rolling it over a wire, etc. I used to use the
reflection of the flourescent light tubes on the ceiling to guage the
eveness of a raising through the many courses it took to bring it up
and close it in. Anyone that can get ahold of and view a film called
"The Silversmith of Colonial Williamsburg" will appreciate what goes
into the making something in this manner. Now I think most folks
would prefer to use hydraulic deep draw methods, but I still long
sometimes for the sound of a raising room.
Thud-thud-thud-thud-CLICK!

David L. Huffman


#7
Now I think most folks would prefer to use hydraulic deep draw
methods, but I still long sometimes for the sound of a raising
room. 

And besides, the hydraulic press can only give you shapes and sizes
for which you’ve got specific tooling. A few raising stakes and
hammers give you much more unlimited potential products, once you’re
willing to spend the time.

Peter


#8
    And besides, the hydraulic press can only give you shapes and
sizes for which you've got specific tooling.  A few raising stakes
and hammers give you much more unlimited potential products, once
you're willing to spend the time. 

Hi Peter;

I agree, and being sort of a purist, I guess I just like being with
the forming process the whole way. But you could do a good bit of
the work with the press, at least on a lot of shapes, bringing up the
form, and then neck in and contour it over stakes. Feels like
cheating to me. And I figured you’d be one of those here on Orchid
who had probably done his share of raising. Did you ever see that
set of raising stakes Richard Thomas designed? Huge! And also, for
those interested, check out this site . . http://www.ecobre.com
These guys do some serious raising.

David L. Huffman


#9

Concerning the website,yeah there is some serious raising going on
but it looks like a machine is doing most of it. When they say
quanities limited you know then that they are mass produced.
Probably used texturized copper (from a machine) and then run
through the hydraulic presses. Import junk. warren


#10

David, I had the opportunity as a student of Richard Thomas at
Cranbrook, to see and use some of the raising stakes that he
designed. His book, “Metalsmithing for the Artist-Craftsman” shows
many of these stakes and illustrates techniques.

Joel Schwalb
@Joel_Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#11
And I figured you'd be one of those here on Orchid who had probably
done his share of raising.  Did you ever see that set of raising
stakes Richard Thomas designed?  Huge! 

I studied at Cranbrook for several semesters in the mid '70s with
Richard, though I left after only three semesters… At one point, he
placed orders for the rough castings for those stakes for students,
who’d then finish them out themselves. For reasons I’m still not
sure of, I never did actually order a set before I left, and later,
when I thought to enquire, Richard had discontinued having them made,
or so goes my recollection… I think it was perhaps that I didn’t
right away have the money. Sigh. Compared to what they’re
actually worth, the two or three hundred bucks he was getting the
sets for is dirt cheap. Whatever the reason, I’ve been kicking myself
ever since. Though those stakes were huge, they worked beautifully
for even small stuff. Their size gave them a rigidity that made work
on them a LOT more efficient than working with smaller stakes that
can move or vibrate with the hammer blows, thus wasting energy. And
though they were large, the dimensions of the things nevertheless
are just fine for small work too. It’s just too bad they’re not
still being made. Or are they? Somewhere, I’m sure, those patterns
must still exist. And I know there are still foundries who can sand
cast things like that if you bring them the patterns…

Peter


#12

Hello Peter, and Joel;

I didn’t know Richard Thomas well, but I’d met him on several
occaissions and was familiar with his work. I knew about the stakes
and how the students got the rough castings and finished them
themselves. If you’ve ever seen a copy of “Anvil’s Ring”, the
publication put out by ABANA (Artists Blacksmiths Association of
North America) you’d see that there are now many small foundries in
this country and abroad producing cast steel anvils. Used to be, the
only anvils around were quite old except for the small farrier’s
anvils. You can also now find swedge blocks and large tapered cone
mandrels, all cast steel. I would think that if someone really
needed a set of these kinds of stakes, they could have them made and
I doubt it would cost all that much either. You’d need to make
models, after Richard’s, if he didn’t have them patented, but I’d bet
Cranbrook still has the originals. I doubt it would be too
difficult to design one’s own set if one knew what was needed.
Mahogany used to be the material of choice for the forms, but I
suspect they are using synthetic materials now. A band saw, a wood
rasp, and a belt sander would be all the tools you’d need. I think
Buffy is still around, although I know she retired from Center for
Creative Studies. If you called CCS, you could probably find her
and I’d bet she’d know of their whereabouts. Just a though.

David L. Huffman


#13

I don’t know if these are the same stakes or not but the company
making them has been around a very long time selling to school
shops. I bought a set several years ago. Can’t quickly find my old
sales flier but here is from the archive:

The best deal on stakes I know is:

    Casting Specialties, W 51 N 545 Struck Lane, Cedarburg, WIS 
53012, (414-377-4361): Cast semi steel hammer set; unfinished
(94.00), also set of T stakes, 8 for $130 and vertical set at $102.
 Can be hard to get hold of but I have a set and so do others. The
price is right even if the service may be a little loose. 
    You have to finish them yourself, a sweaty day and a half with
an angle grinder. My suggestion is to trade with a high school
shop, you give them a one day workshop on jewelry, they finish your
stakes for you... 

This is a family business – slow can be the operative word.
Jesse


#14
   Concerning the website,yeah there is some serious raising going
on but it looks like a machine is doing most of it.' 

Hi Warren;

I looked at it, and you may be right. I think I may have confused
the Cobre folks with a group who where known as the “Angel Brothers”.
They made huge, beautiful raisings. Actually, they were sort of
forged from the inside (they were that large). Anyone heard of the
Angel Brothers? I think I may be able to find an article on them in
a back issue of Metalsmith.

David L. Huffman


#15

All he serious stuff in Santa Clara at least is done by HAND . see
for an example of a workshop:

http://www.silversun-sf.com/copper/New_Folder/copper_sb.htm

James Metcalf, an American, helped the the local people redevelop
their old skills similar to the work of Spratling in Taxco.

search “Santa Clara De Cobre” for more

They recover copper scrap in a wood fired pit forming an round
ingot in a depression in the bottom of the pit that is removed when
cool. this is then forged into the final shapes.

A book you may find at a Borders bookstore “Great Masters of Mexican
Folk Art” shows some of the great craftsmen in this and other
fields.

Jesse