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Copper Plating Stainless Steel


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I am trying to copper plate small pieces of stainless steel. Why stainless you ask? Because it is what I had in the correct size laying around. On that note: Anyone know where I could get copper sheet in about 0.02 inch (0.5mm) thickness or alloy steel (e.g. spring steel) that would be easier to plate, at that thickness?

Anyway, in a glass mason jar I used a saturated solution of baking soda and in that I put the copper donor hooked up as the cathode (positive) and the piece to be plated as the anode (negative). Both hanging on copper wire.

After about 15 minutes there was a noticeable amount of copper being deposited on the piece. I took it out of the solution, which was turning green, after about an hour. The copper did not get a very even coating, I think due to me not cleaning it off well enough, but it is sticking and not flaking off. The layer is not quite thick enough for my needs though. I don;t need it too thick just enough so that the steel does not come into contact with anything and it is not likely to wear through quickly.

Would the copper layer get thicker if I left it in for longer or is it at its maximum?

Would a nickel strike be a good thing to do before the copper plating?

Would adding adding copper sulfate to the solution help?

For my own edification: What is the solution now? The green means it is copper something. Is it just copper in solution or maybe copper carbonate?

If you think I need to do a Wood's Nickel Strike is there a good step by step some one can give me or point me to, including where to get the chemicals?

Thanks very, very much!

Edited by TheGreenMan
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I believe copper roof flashing is a bit too thick. I'll have to look at it again to make sure though.

I am making a little....thing, that will hold the bolt head out when putting the bolt back in the action of a M95. When the extractors on these get worn (most of them are) the bolt head will not stay extended and so it is a pain (or almost impossible) to put the bolt back in the action. You can do a trick with a dime but I was looking for something a little more purpose made and less likely to go shooting out if bumped.

The copper is so it does not scratch the finish on the bolt.

Would you look at that: McMaster-Carr - copper sheeting 0.02'' thick. Thanks.

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Visit your hobby shop. That size is used for scale models, and if you are plating in a mason's jar, you can get reasonable quantities. Might not be as cheap for the area as you want though.

Copper can peel off of stainless (relatively) easily and is used in certain refining processes for that reason. Copper will plate on itself indefinitely, also used in the refining process.


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Yeah the M95 strait pull. Many of the Bulgarian reworks out there now have worn extractor tails so when the bolt is removed the bolt head is either retracts very easily or snaps back on it own with out any assistance or bumps, etc. I only have one that will not stay open at all. But most of the other Bulgarian reworks I have are touchy to one degree or another. But all of the old imports/bring backs I have that did not go through Bulgaria are fine.

I stopped off at Hobby Lobby and picked up some copper. I think that my plating is just...I forget what they call it but just spontaneously coming out of solution and only giving a thin inconsistent layer that is not bonded well. I will need to do a Wood's nickel strike if I want a good plating. But I'll try to use copper sheeting instead of stainless steel. If that works out (or maybe brass) I'll just go that rout.

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