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Determining Base Metal on Old Parts

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  • Determining Base Metal on Old Parts

    I have some old kitchen utensils (jar opener, for example) that are at least 50 years old. How do I determine the base metal? I'm thinking they must be iron or steel, or stainless steel. A magnet will stick to them and they are/were rusty, so I am leaning toward believing they are iron or steel. Is there any way to be more certain?

    Once I've cleaned all the rust off, I'd like to restore them, or at least pretty them up a bit. I don't want to buff or polish too much that it risks rubbing off the embossed (inset) lettering on them. My thought was that a nickel plating might be the way to go.

    Can the plating be done thin enough that it would not obscure the embossed lettering, but still offer protection against rust?

    Should I only plate the functional parts, or is the plating durable enough to be put on parts that would get more wear and tear? (Though, these utensils would probably not be used often.)

    Is nickel the best plating to use? My reasoning for nickel was that it would offer a reflective surface, but not as flashy as chrome. (And copper or gold would be the wrong color.)

    This would be my first attempt at plating something, so any suggestions would be appreciated. My interest would mainly be in old, small items, like tools, kitchen helpers, etc.

  • #2
    Re: Determining Base Metal on Old Parts

    I just saw the tin kit--that looks to be the better option for plating a kitchen utensil.

    With the Plug N' Plate tin kit, do I still need the distilled water and battery acid mentioned on the tin plating page?


    • #3
      Re: Determining Base Metal on Old Parts

      Hey dcr,
      I pretty much stink at remembering which test to use where. Maybe one of the old timers could compile a list of tests or point us to site which has a list of tests

      You can get plastic laminating paper at your local office supply store that is really handy for laminating frequently used 'cheat sheets'. I take a few weeks experimenting with a process until I find out what works for me. Then I write up a cheat sheet and laminate it. Then you can take quick notes with a non-permanent marker right on top of the laminate as you further improve you process. The key point to remember for us newbies is take lots of pictures and notes to learn what works best and of course prep, prep, and more prep.

      I am in the process or recharging all of my plating tanks with deionized water wich is pretty close to distilled water. I have found enough of an improvement that pure water is worth the costs.

      Last edited by dfarning; 03-24-2006, 10:30 AM.


      • #4
        Re: Determining Base Metal on Old Parts

        Hi Dave,

        Thanks for the info.

        I've decided against replating the jar opener I have. I've found that it's at least 70 years old. Other versions I have found have a patent number on them, and it dates to about 70 years ago, but the one I have has "Patent Pending". I've not seen another "Patent Pending" one anywhere (yet). So, rather than risking de-valueing it by doing anything to it, I am going to leave it alone, on the chance that maybe it might have some value.

        But I do have other things I'd like to plate, so...

        I'm glad I found this site. Previously, I had found a web site that had a similar device to the Plug 'N' Plate system, but only did gold and silver. (It could probably do others, but they only had supplies for gold and silver.) For half the price of what they wanted for their system (which included supplies), I can get the workshop Plug 'N' Plate kit, plus the tin plating supplies, plus polishing and buffing pads/wheels and polish. So, yay!