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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 11:03 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:50 pm
Posts: 32
This is a metal nameplate that I made myself by electroplating copper onto a piece of steel:


To make a nameplate like this one you will need:

A piece of steel for the nameplate itself (I got mine from an old keyboard)

A few small pieces of scrap copper

A power source with alligator clips attached (I used an old 3.7V 1000Mah phone charger)

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

A large jar made of something other than metal

Rubbing alcohol

Metal polish (optional)

Cheap letter stickers as masks (found a set for $0.97 at Walmart)

Some water


Fill your jar most of the way with water, and add a fair amount of baking soda. This will act as the electrolyte and make the solution more conductive. (Do NOT use table salt as the electrolyte as it will produce chlorine gas) You want to add enough baking soda that the water is completely saturated and there is about half an inch of undissolved baking soda at the bottom of the jar.

Then attach the alligator clip from your power source to the pieces of copper and dip them into the solution. (don't put in in so far that the alligator clips are under the surface, especially the positive one) Once they are in, you should see tiny bubbles of hydrogen gas being liberated from the solution. This is not really enough hydrogen to be a fire hazard, but it's not a bad idea to have a small fan blow it away. Leave this electrolytic cell running for a few hours, or however long it takes for the solution to turn a nice blue color.

At this point, your electrolytic cell is complete and ready for use.

To prepare your piece of steel for electroplating you will need to remove any and all oils and grease from it. This is what you use your rubbing alcohol for. After this step you must be careful to only handle the piece with gloves on, or just be very careful to only touch the edges.

Once the steel is clean, stick the letter stickers on to spell whatever it is you want the nameplate to say.

Next, attach the negative alligator clip to the piece of steel, and the positive one to a piece of copper. It is extremely important that you have them hooked up correctly.

Once they are attached, submerge both into the solution, and plug in the power source, After about a minute, remove the soon-to-be-nameplate from the solution and move the alligator clip to a different place on the piece of metal. If you don't do this, you will end up with a funny looking spot where the clip was. Put it back into the solution, and wait another minute or so. Take it out of the solution and inspect it. If you see any spots that aren't coated, put it back in. If you are happy with the look, it's just about done!

Now remove the stickers from the piece of metal, and polish the nameplate until it is shiny. Don't over-polish as the copper coating is very thin and you could wear through it completely.

And now it's done! You can experiment with different pieces of steel to get a more weathered look like I did on mine.

You can use this solution as many times as you like.

This can also be used to plate coins and confuse people how you have a copper quarter. :big_grin:

If you ever do decide to get rid of your solution, do NOT pour it down the drain, as this could cause serious damage to the water treatment plant.

Have fun! :wave_1:

Completed models:
1/350 USS Texas:

1/700 USS Massachusetts:

Working on:
1/700 IJN Musashi

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