fbpx bloglovinBloglovin iconCombined ShapeCreated with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. rssRSS iconsoundcloudSoundCloud iconFill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. SearchCreated with Lunacy Search iconCreated with Sketch.

DIY Brass Plating

diy brass plating

You may think that brass plating is something that you need to outsource, but believe it or not there are ways you can brass plate hardware right in your own home. It requires a couple simple tools and you can take steel hardware and add a thin layer of protective brass to the surface.

These DIY techniques don’t provide the same professional results as commercial brass plating, but they are not terribly difficult and can get you a very good result that resists corrosion.

What is Brass Plating?

Steel rusts. It’s a fact of life and there is really little you can do about it. I have tried clear coating it which provides some protection, but it’s usually not sufficient in the long run. Brass plating can take inexpensive steel hardware and coat it with a protective layer of brass to help beautify and cut down on the rusting.

Brass plating is typically done using chemicals and electricity to deposit a thin layer of brass onto the surface via positive and negative charging the brass anodes and the steel hardware. This can result in a fairly thick layer of brass which provides more protection, but there are also DIY versions of brass plating that I’ll show you below. There’s are two ways that I have successfully brass plated hardware to various extents.

Preparing the Hardware

You have to have perfectly clean hardware before you attempt to plate anything. These simple steps will get you where you need to be so you’re ready to try your hand at brass plating.

Step 1 Clean the Hardware

Clean off any layers of old paint by soaking the hardware in a crock pot for 4-6 hours with some dish soap and brush the softened paint off the surface with simple wire brush. I outline the process in detail in this post.

Step 2 Rough Polishing

Steel hardware cleaned and ready for brass plating

Then bring the paint free hardware over to a steel wire wheel on a bench grinder, these grinders can be purchased at most hardware store for under $100 or you can use a version that chucks right into your drill. Use the wire wheel to clean off any rust or tarnish from the surface. Make sure it is completely clean before you proceed to the next step.

Option #1 Wire Wheel

The simplest way to brass plate a piece of small hardware is by attaching a solid brass wire wheel to a bench grinder. Install the fine grade brass wire wheel on one side and a coarse steel wire wheel on the other and you are ready to go.

Polishing with brass wheel to apply plating

The same process you did with the steel wire wheel now needs to be repeated on the brass wire wheel. The brass is softer and finer and has a lower melting point than steel 1,710ºF for brass vs. 2,400ºF. The friction from the spinning wire wheel generates enough heat that a small amount of brass is deposited on the surface of the steel hardware.

I have found that the smaller handheld wire wheels that chuck into the drill do not generate enough speed and therefore heat to leave any brass residue so stick with the bench grinder which really works much more effectively.

Make sure you use a solid brass wire wheel like in the tools list above because many options are simply brass coated steel wheels. It must be solid brass.

After a couple minutes on the brass wheel the piece is coated in brass

When you’re finished you’ll be left with a brassier color to the steel. It’s not a full covering of brass, but the appearance is nicer and the corrosion resistance has been increased over bare steel in my experience.

Option #2 Propane Torch

For my fire loving friends there is a second way you can brass plate some hardware that doesn’t involve using a wire wheel. For this you’ll need a propane torch and a brass wire brush. The process involves carefully heating the hardware and brushing it with the brass brush at the same time. Similar to soldering, the heat from the torch softens the brush and allows you to deposit brass on the surface of the metal.

Avoid using a brush with a plastic handle or you’ll end up with a plastic plated piece of metal. I prefer the wood handle wire brushes like the one in the tool list above since there is no risk of melted plastic screwing up your work.

Once the hardware has cooled, you’re left with a brass plated piece of steel that will better resist corrosion and look pretty snazzy. Not too shabby.

Hopefully, this gives you some options for doing your own brass plating. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Subscribe Now For Your FREE eBook!

2 thoughts on “DIY Brass Plating

  1. Hi,

    I have a brooch I want to be a “gold” color, and so I want to coat it.

    I am not sure what metal the brooch is – this type of article is usually called “pewter” or “white metal”.

    I understand that today’s “pewter” is lead free, but that practice is relatively modern, dating to somewhere between 1970 and 1994.

    There is a Dalriada clan badge that is stamped “made in Gt. Britain” on the back, but I have no idea when it was produced.

    The brooch is 5 cm x 3.8 cm.

    Do you think I can use the torch and brush technique to apply brass to the brooch, or is the torch likely to destroy the brooch?

    Thanks for your time,

    Mike Sonntag

  2. What do you recommend for revitalizing spotted brass fixtures such as stair rods? I don’t want them to look too new – so perhaps just a polish?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.