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Working with nickel aka nickel silver aka german silver

Any good advice on finishing pieces in nickel? I’m now using tripoli
and a brush, then a ‘wet’ matte finish with a steel brush. ANy
advice or ideas on how to get the most pleasing surface on this
(rather grey) metal?


Hi Kathe:

I used to work a lot in Nickel and still use it for contrast. I
always finished it with a matt finish (or a soft lustrous finish,
whatever you want to call it). This was done by using my fingers and
rubbing the piece with a slurry of pumice and soap. Rinse and check
for how it looks, rub it some more if necessary. This produces a
lovely soft finish which lasts a long time and can at any time be
repolished using the same technique.

In fact I use this method often on sterling or whatever I’m working
with at the time (copper looks beautiful finished this way).

Try it on a scrap piece and see if it’s a finish you like.


I use nickel silver sometimes, but I don’t try to make it have the
polished look of silver. Nickel will develop a great patina of it’s
own if you let it. I torch a time or two, quench in water, then put
handy flux on it, and torch again and again until I like the patina.
Play around with it and see what it is capable of.


I used a ton of nickel when I was in grad school and also when I was
finally going on my own. Nickel is tough, durable, fabricates
easily, but oxides badly after brazing, so a lot of pickling, or
using preoxide pickle will efficiently clean off the nasty copper
staining. As for finishing, it takes a high polish very nice, but a
brush finish works good.

You need to wax it or lacquer it afterwards to retard the tarnish.
Nickel tarnishs quickly and it tends to look awful. I usually use
mass tumble finishing to finish my nickel flatware, but will polish
as needed. Renaissance Wax, or Butcher Floor wax works well after
doing a brush finish. Here’s an image of my Intermezzo purse that
was made out of nickel, with silverplated wire, nickel and bronze
woven detailing. I had to use Butcher floor wax to keep the nickel
from tarnishing.


Any good advice on finishing pieces in nickel? 

Kat, I use White Diamond, if I’m not satisfied with the finish I get
from tumble-polishing my nickel-silver jewelry.

I had an interesting experience with a customer who had bought one of
my nickel-silver bangles and was wearing it 24/7 on her wrist with
several sterling bangles. The nickel-silver bangle had kept up its
polished look by being worn this way and looked just like the silver
with which it was being worn. Of course, in other uses,
nickel-silver does not have the wonderful glow that sterling has. But
I love using it.

Judy Bjorkman