Just like my very popular copper plating instructable, the aim of this is to do high quality, low cost, and safe electroplating.  We will also be making our own electrolyte from scratch instead of buying chemicals online.

If you've looked at my copper plating instructable, note that the process here is different. The nickel will not dissolve very well if at all in the vinegar without special help and adding hydrogen peroxide will destroy your electrolyte.

Nickel plating can be used for a variety of different things.
- It creates a corrosion resistant coating that will protect the base metal from oxidizing and rusting. It is frequently used in food processing to prevent contamination with iron.
- It can increase the hardness and thus the durability of mechanical parts and tools.
- It can allow you to solder to difficult metals.
- It can create a variety of beautiful decorative finishes that range from a chrome-like gleam, to brushed stainless steel color, to a metallic black. It just so happens that black nickel plating is used frequently in aerospace applications
- In thicker platings, it can make the object magnetic.

Note that to get different finishes and properties, you may need to add other chemicals and metals to your plating solution (see the Post Prep stage).  These chemicals will change the way the atoms arrange themselves and/or add other metals to your plating.  If you are looking for corrosion-resistance, do not add any other chemicals to your electrolyte as they may cause the end plating to stain or tarnish.

For a copper plated finish, be sure to check out my copper plating instructable :)

On another note, I LOVE your questions!  I have noticed that a few folks are asking the same questions, so I've added a "Common Questions" step/slide/section/whatchamacallit at the end of this instructable.  Take a look there to get quick answers to most of the questions you might have. If you have a new one, comment below and I'll be happy to answer it and add it to my step/slide/section/whatchamacallit :D

A quick disclaimer - nickel acetate, the chemical we will be making, is poisonous. The title "High Quality (and Safe) Nickel Plating" is referring more to the fact that you don't need to play with insanely powerful acids that will burn your skin or ask you to open batteries. In the concentrations we will be working with, the process is fairly safe.  However, do NOT drink the solution and be sure to wash your hands after plating and properly wipe down any surfaces that come near or into contact with your plating solution. Always supervise kids. That said, enjoy!

Step 1: Materials

Nearly all of the supplies can be found at your local supermarket.  Finding a pure source of nickel is a little trickier, but should not cost more than a couple dollars. To keep from draining your battery in later steps, I very highly suggest finding an AC/DC power supply around the house.

Materials you can find at your local supermarket:
>Distilled Vinegar - 5% acidity or higher  (grocery)
>Salt  (grocery)
>Mason jar (canning)
>6V Lantern Battery (camping)
>Alligator Leads (electrical)
>Nitrile gloves (pharmacy or DIY)
>Paper towels (paper products)
>Cameo Stainless Steel and Aluminum Cleaner (cleaning supplies)

Materials you will likely need to buy online, at a good hardware/welding supply store, or a music shop.
Pure Nickel - You can get this a few different ways. I bought my nickel in the form of two 4oz plates on eBay for ~$5.  A good hardware store should carry nickel welding rods. Most music shops will carry Ernie Ball "Pure Nickel" guitar strings.

You can also try to remove the nickel windings from old guitar strings if you are strapped for cash. It takes a bit of time, wire cutters, and pliers, but it can be done. Note that most nickel-wound strings contain a steel core that will pollute your electrolyte later on (Ernie Ball "Pure Nickel" strings should be pure nickel).

You can also try to use solid nickel door knobs and the like.  I would warn you to be careful when trying this because a good chunk of "nickel" decorative items are plated themselves.

Optional, but highly recommended materials (also at the supermarket or a local electronics store):
A higher voltage, DC power supply - I am using an old 13.5V laptop charger. You can use "wall warts" (the ugly black AC/DC power supplies that come with some consumer electronics) or an old ATX (computer) power supply. Just make sure that it does in fact output DC.
A fuse holder
A fuse that is rated slightly less than the max current rating on your power supply.

Thanks for posting,,, for those persons looking for low cost power supply's the "wall wart" ( love that term) transformers are readily available at virtually all second hand stores, usually in a balled up mess, the phone chargers have a pretty clean current and it's well regulated.
One note to this - the larger the voltage (to a degree), the faster you can dissolve your nickel. I would recommend somewhere between 10 and 15 volts. The output voltage should be listed on the power supply (ie wall wart). <br> <br>If you want to use your DC power supply for plating, look for lower voltages (the phone chargers would work great for this).
<p>From an experienced plater, the higher the voltage the faster it will plate yes but the adhesion will be weaker. If you are looking for a fast plating job the high voltage works but it may flake off in time. If you want something that is durable or needs wear resistance the half a volt should be used over a longer period of time. </p><p>A good way to test the adhesion is to use a strong masking tape after it is dry. Press the tape on to the plating the pull it off quickly and the look at the tape, if you see plating on the tape it didn't adhere properly. </p><p>Now you know:-D</p>
<p>Great ! @lstdrgn</p>
<p>Is the low voltage needed for optimum adhesion during the whole plating process, or could you increase the voltage to speed things up once an initial layer has been applied?</p>
<p>Is there an amperage we should shoot for? Or is that not an issue?</p>
I'm not entirely sure how this comment made its way here....I usually respond to comments using the comments tab on my &quot;You&quot; page....
ok ppeople 4 those who want thier metals try this company out. http://www.mcmaster.com/# . they should have every thing u may want / need . or dont want / need
I like the &quot;For Science!&quot; label on the vinegar :-D
<p>I'm going to be doing a bunch of carburator linkages, they are mild steel.<br>Does the nickel bond better if I copper plate first?</p>
<p>Defacing American or Canadian coinage is a Federal offence. Why are you promoting this?</p>
<p>Not correct at all. Do a little research before posting next time.</p>
No one cares about the crown anymore. Get over it
<p>incorrect: </p><p>Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal <br>penalties for anyone who &ldquo;fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates <br>impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins <br>coined at the Mints of the United States.&rdquo; This statute means that you <br>may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and <br>fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. <br>As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating <br>or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such <br>activity absent fraudulent intent. </p><p><br>Can I make jewelry from U.S. coins?Yes, but your business should be careful not to imply any <br>endorsement by or association with the United States Mint in its <br>advertising and marketing materials.</p><p>https://www.usmint.gov/consumer/?action=FAQ</p>
<p>For the same reason those who don't know what they're talking about give legal advice: The internet!</p>
Crime of the Century!
<p>Why are you worried?</p>
<p>That's not quite right. Defacing US currency for the purposes of defrauding another is against the law. The Canadian Currency Act makes no mention of defacing coinage, only melting it down, as being against the law.</p><p>Please stop repeating these myths, in the hopes that one day they'll die out.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/221870151008" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/221870151008</a></p><p>While this do with 19 V laptop power supply and a normal 1.2 V AA battery for the plating process?</p>
Just wanted to say tattoo power supplies are a great cheap source for dc power with a digital output.
<p>I'm not sure what is happening I have checked voltage with meter (7.5 to 8.5) label on wall converter says 6 volts DC, so not too bad I guess. Vinegar and pinch of salt, only nickel objects in bath.</p><p>Positive side is bubbling and producing black crystalline appearing mass that falls off settles to bottom of plastic container. Negative side not too many bubbles but forms a white crusty coating and quite a bit of material below on the bottom of container.</p><p>Nickel source is an old English made horse bit it is stamped nickel and made in England and is at least 70 years old. The bath has a nice green colour. I tried plating a copper penny but it just turned black with same deposit on it.</p><p>Should I just get a better Nickel source? local Metals Supermarket is wanting $150 for 4 inch square 2mm Nickel sheet. That is about the same price as commercial plating bath.</p><p>Not sure where one should go with this, comments much appreciated.</p>
<p>Thank you for this instructable. I'm planning on using it for a project and I wonder if there is a way to mask something during plating? For instance if you had a pipe that you wanted to nickel plate but you didn't want the inside of the pipe to be plated? I can imagine trying to seal it up pretty well but what if electrolyte gets in?</p>
<p>if i use an high conductive plastic resin, i still can plating ? i can make a gear with resin, using electrical high conductive resin, and plate the entire plastic using nickel ?</p>
<p>i dont see why not, but i cant say. the real question is wether the nickel will bind to the resin. by all right sit should be attracted to it and TRY to plate. </p><p>i've wanted to try this myself..... </p>
<p>I was wondering if coating a non conductive object in something like polyureathane, and then before it dries, apply a fine metal powder to create a conductive surface that can be plated on might work.</p>
<p>Im pretty sure you have to plate it with copper first, just like doing anything in bronze plating</p>
<p>Do you use vinegar because it's easily accessible and relitively safe, or for chemical reasons? Would any %5 acid solution (such as HLC) work for your method?</p>
<p>You want to make nickel acetate, for that you need acetic acid - vinegar.</p>
<p>Thank you! This will be very useful for restoring old pianos. Damper pedals are often nickle-plated, but the plate wears off with time &amp; use, so it's nice to know I can re-plate them myself.</p>
<p>Some (hopefully) constructive criticism - I can't help it, I trained to be a teacher!</p><p>1. On the setup for adapting &quot;wall warts&quot;, could you state more clearly which wire (as in, positive or negative) attaches to the fuse holder? I had to read through a few times to work out that the fuse holder needs to be attached to the NEGATIVE wire. Maybe a simple diagram to make it obvious?</p><p>2. When you say the fuse should be &quot;rated slightly less&quot; than the DC output, could you give some examples? I have a converter that outputs 600mA, and I'm assuming that a 500mA fuse is appropriate.</p><p>At any rate, I'm giving this a shot this weekend, and I look forward to making things shiny!</p>
<p>For folks that has Old pennies that you can't read, try Texas Pete, cleans them right up. YEP Old School</p>
<p>Hello sir, I am wanting to plate something kind of unusual, I want to nickle plate some Rifle Brass, id be using some that have never been fired and am trying to think how could i do it far them, i cant figure out how to hook them up for the process, any advice? or could you help me figure out and plan say a larger setup with a battery warmer? i have one that has a 2 Amp and another higher setting and a engine 75 Amp setting</p>
<p>Did you ever get your hulls plated? If you haven't tried it and still want to it can be done, but just like converting one brass hull size to another you are thickening the wall. That shouldn't be a problem if you re size the cases in your die and then trim them. If necessary us a chamfering tool or reamer to re size the neck of the case. You will need a good set of calipers to measure the I.D and O.D to tell you how far out of spec they are. After firing them you will need to recheck the case length and trim as necessary for several cycles untill the fire forming has stabilzed.</p>
<p>What you are asking is not unusual since high quality ammo like Hornady TAP has a black nickel coating on each cartridge. And honestly, I would be vary careful plating brass cartridges that you plan to use because the added thickness could cause the weapon to jam or possibly fire out of battery if a round is not able to fully seat in the chamber. If this happens and the round doesn't fully seat, a portion of the cartridge will not be fully supported on all sides and could possibly blow out the side near the extractor groove is. Glock handguns have been known to do this with cheap reloads, and it's commonly referred to as a &quot;KB&quot; short for KABOOM, where the gun literally blows the slide off, completely ruining the gun. Shooters have been severely hurt due to this as well.</p><p>My advice... go buy some Hornady TAP. It's available in 9mm, .223/5.56, and .308.</p>
<p>This is great, I was pretty sure it was possible but didn't know how. so setup the solution. I restore old sewing machines. I bought a brush on caswel kit for plating but am not satisfied with the plating. Takes a long time and the results are so-so. I built an electrolysis power supply for about 40 bucks from radio shack to clean the rust from parts, Never thought about a computer power supply. I will dig out an old phone charger for the plating.</p>
<p>I have made a couple of batches of nickel acetate that start off green however after a short period they change to a black/green shade! I think that I have found the cause; my nickel anodes &amp; cathodes are suspended on stainless steel wire and the stainless steel wire is in the vinegar &amp; salt mixture which is attacking the stainless steel wire, so much so that after a couple of hours at say 10VDC &amp; &gt;2amps the wire gives way at the surface of the liquid and the nickel anodes fall in. Funny thing is I can still nickel plate with the brew although the surface is a little dull but comes up fair with a polish. When do you actually decide that the nickel acetate is ready or green enough to stop the process?</p>
<p>I had similar problems and found that by suspending the nickel so that it is the only metal touching the vinegar fixed it. It makes for a slower process because less surface area is exposed, but it works and produced superior surface finish for me. </p>
is nickel plating is toxic ?<br>if I plating it on my copper bracelet will it harms me
<p>My understanding is that it's not exactly toxic, but people can develop nickel allergies if they are repeatedly exposed to direct skin contact for long periods. It can then cause rashes and itchiness that can last for days or weeks after contact. Also, once you develop this alergy, it is life-long. So I don't suggest nickel plating jewelry that comes in direct contact with skin, such as a bracelet. </p>
<p>Just a heads up: from what I have read, even &quot;Pure Nickel&quot; guitar strings are not really pure nickel. That only refers to the wrapping wire, not the core. As I understand it, the core is always steel, although the steel is sometimes plated with another metal before the nickel winding. </p>
<p>That is correct about the guitar strings. They are nickle wrapped.</p>
<p>What should be the current while plating and while making the nickel plating solution? </p><p>Also, why didn't you use Ammonium Sulfate? Did you find that NaCL salt works better?</p>
What do I need to make a solution for black nickel plating?<br><br>I have some antique wood stoves that I think this black nickel finish would look incredible on!
<p>I would also like to know how to do a black Nickel finish. </p>
<p>This is pretty cool. Good job.</p>
<p>you say that a lower voltage for the battery helps make it better. but what of overal current? supose i use a computer power supply and hook it up to one of the 3 volt sources? (.... i'm prettys ure there's a 3.... i kn ow t here's a 5 volt at least...)</p><p>would it still be better to use a battery because the current is lower?</p>
<p>This looks great! I'm going to try and use it for some parts required for my motorcycle. They were rusted to death so I have sand blasted them. I'll get them cleaned up and put them in. </p><p>Is there any chance that you can list some specific quantities for optimal results?</p>
<p>sizin ananızı sikeyim. anıma kodumun &ccedil;ocukları....</p>
<p>make my own electrolyte for free? wow this is great! </p><p>whats a good amount of voltage to use for the electrolyte making process? </p><p>can electrolyte be made this way for fine silver too?</p><p>thanks for the great info ;)</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an Electrical Engineer who dabbles in just about everything. By trade, I'm a controls engineer and design machines for the largest manufacturing ... More »
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