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What you need:
Gold, copper, or other plating solutions*
Wall transformer with power leads*
Metal wands for plating*
Philips 0 screwdriver
*Available as a brush-on plating kit from Caswell Plating or other sources.
iPods look good, but they all look alike. Make your working iPod stand out with a new metal backing. Just permanently cover the original stainless steel by electroplating a new layer on top. Choose from gold, copper, nickel, tin, chrome, bronze, or other finishes.
We tried gold- and copper-plating kits from Caswell Plating, for flashy and retro results. Be warned that gold can be difficult to apply, while copper is comparatively easy. We’ll explain the process for either metal.
Chrome is boring
Step 1: Split the iPod case
We’re working with a fourth-generation iPod. (Any stainless steel iPod should be similar, but the electroplating process won’t easily work on an aluminum Mini.) Carefully insert a hobby knife blade into the seam between the metal backing and plastic front. Aim for a point next to the fast-forward or rewind buttons. Point the knife down, flush against the metal backing, making a tiny opening. Insert a guitar pick in the small gap, and remove the knife. Work the guitar pick around the case, popping open the plastic tabs until the two sides release.
Be very careful removing the fiberglass plug
Step 2: Open the iPod
Open the sides slightly, identifying a fragile ribbon cable in the corner. Lift that cable out of its socket by its fiberglass plug; do not pull on the cable itself. Set the plastic front side away until reassembly.
Remove the three screws circled in red
Step 3: Remove the headphone jack
Use a tiny screwdriver—Phillips 0 or smaller—to remove the three screws holding the headphone circuit into the metal case. Leave the torx screws intact. Set this part aside.
Clean the iPod back thoroughly
Step 4: Clean the metal backing
Go over the iPod backing with some Soft Scrub to clean off any oils or grime. You’ll have the best plating results with a clear surface.
Step 5: Stay safe
Put on some vinyl gloves to keep the plating chemicals off your skin. If you have latex gloves on-hand, those should work, too, although they might redistribute contaminated plating chemicals more easily. Wear eye protection.