The daguerreotype process requires the use of dangerous chemicals--chemicals that need to be properly used and stored and not a part of your living environment. These chemicals are not only hazardous, but can be lethal. Beyond this, the chemicals are corrosives which means the slightest amount in the air will corrode metals within shouting distance of the fuming boxes. Therefore the chemicals should be used and stored in a fume hood.
A less risky and highly recommended way to start is using the Becquerel process. The main chemical is iodine. Iodine crystals are relatively easy to handle.
Before considering a daguerreian adventure, make sure you have the capability of handling these chemicals. Read and understand the information and precautions and safety gear required found in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) found in the Chemicals link. If you are unsure, or have not handled chemicals before, BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING! consult a chemist or teacher or professor.
The first hurdle
on the road to a daguerreotype is procurring plates and making a way of holding them. Size is the first decision
and that is pretty much based on the camera you have or intend to use. However, the best advice is to start
small--even 35mm. Large plates take a long time to prepare and one mistake (there are many possible) and you
have to start all over again.
Theis Plating in St Louis provides a silver plated plate. This saves some trouble but their base metal is trophy brass which is thinner than engravers copper. Engravers copper is about .050 thick and does not bend easily. Ground and polished engravers copper saves much time in preparation but may need additional polishing prior to plating. The copper may also have pits, dings, and other imperfections that are not worth using. The copper can be ordered to size. The silver should be plated to a minimum of 1/2 mil (.0005) of .999 pure silver.
Dropping a silver plate or allowing them to touch each other will cause fatal scratches. After they are polished, the polished surface cannot be touched. Plates must be held by the edges by hand or in holders of various types depending on the particular process. A box to hold 20 or so plates is a necessity and using this box to ship plates to the plater is a good idea.
Examples of plate holders