Well, I love chrome. Especially the
really thick old school chrome that you get to really
dig into with a buffing wheel and bring it up bright
mirror hot!! Unfortunately much of the new stuff is
micro thin and most of the old stuff is worn. There
isn't much way to restore chrome at home.
You can buy small plating equipment outfits from one
or two companies. But the procedure is long and expensive. It
takes up a lot of room too with the several tanks and multiple
plating to get chrome. You have to plate copper, and then nickel,
and finally chrome.
Professional plating shops don't want to know you
for a 2 dollar pair of pliers. I mean they'd be glad to have the job
but unless you can bribe your way in with cases of beer or
something, it won't be cheap to restore old tools. Otherwise
everybody would do it.
So for the practical cheapskate, an oxide finish is
what it comes down to. Real gun blue is another of those things you
can't really do casually at home. It takes several tanks and
temperature control and cyanide and saltpeter and time.
But there are a few cold oxidize chemicals sold
everywhere. Glass shops sell patina and every gun and sporting goods
sells cold blue. I secretly think they are all the same myself.
Neither does true blue or true black.
Dark gray is what its known as. Here are today's candidates. Worn and pitted and
generally ruined for pretty. But still great tools, just haggard
Well first you have to get the remains of the old
plating off and prep the surface by grinding out the worst of the
I mean, if this is a fine flintlock pistol you are going to
want to hand rub every bit out to 2000 grit but hey these are garage
tools. A decent surface its good enough and probably smoother than
inexpensive plating jobs anyway. Namely satin plating, which
just means, "we didn't polish the tool before plating. A quick sand
blast was good enough." I use different sanding techniques depending on the project. A belt
sander is essential.
Plus my other favorite, a sanding mop. These are killer but they do
cost money. But one time I got a score of some industrial belts
1/2 mile long.
Its weird but super long belts sometimes come around
cheaper than anything anyone at home has a machine for.
So I cut them up and make my own mops. Not as good
as Klingspor mops,
but then they are free so beat that!
I also use small rubber backing disks and sanding disks a lot. But
everyone knows what a sanding disk looks like, no need for pictures.
favorite are the vintage soft natural rubber pads.
The modern vinyl
totally worthless if you ask me. A hand drill turning at 3000 is
but use the speed control a lot too. You have to slow down for the
curves! When you get them clean, put on your rubber gloves. You don't want
finger oil to mess with you!!