Inlaying metal

How does one go about inlaying metal into wood. I'm talking about metals like alu, brass, gold and silver. I was thinking it would be as easy as simply melting the metal over a bunsen burner in a crucible and pouring it in carved channels on the wood. Would this work? What would the effect be on the wood itself? I would like method that would allow the metal to be flush with the wood when finished.
For gold and silver I thought of gilt but it doesn't produce the right finish for me.
Thanks for any help.
TR
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TrailRat wrote:

as
and
would
allow
right
One of _The Woodwright Shop_ episodes demonstrated this. You can probably order the tape from PBS.
Basicly small chisels and gouges are used to part the wood without removing wood. The fibers are crushed back away from the groove.
The inlay is made with a thin ribbon of metal. One edge of the metal is folded over so as to be double thick and that edge goes down in the groove. Then the wood is allowed to relax back into place. My guess would be that a little moisture would help, but I don't remember if they used any. Then the surface is scraped or sanded flat again.
I do not recall any tecnique for broad areas, just that thin line scrollworks sort of inlay.
Only low-melting point metals like pewter could be cast into the wood. Some alloys expand when they transition from liquid to solid, those would lock into the wood better, the trick would be to undercut the edges of the groove in the wood so the inlay doesn't just pop out.
Another possibility might be to use tempura paint pigments in epoxy to make a putty, maybe JB Weld would give you the effect you want.
I've beveled the edges on through dovetails and fingerjoints and then puttied them with a contrasting wood putty for a reasonably nice effect that helps to hide the slop in the fitting of the joint.
--

FF


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TrailRat wrote:

Ask your dentist. They're pretty good at inlaying metals. - GWE
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Grant Erwin wrote:

The way this works, I believe, is gold leaf, in one method. Noble metals self-weld. The area must be spotlessly clean and dry. These metals self-weld readily because the oxide layer is just not there; they don't react; they are noble. The dentist packs the gold leaf into the cavity, right?
Now, you'll need a lot of gold leaf to fill a cavity like a readable letter, but the principle is the same. Something thicker than leaf and a burnishing/planishing tool (a very smooth tool) might do it.
I've never done this, but planned a PATC brick for the cabin my aunt and her PATC friends built in the woods. Mill out the letters into a brick with a carbide bit, dovetail with carbide, and pour some alloy, low melting most likely. Then mill flush with the carbide face mill.
I wonder which method would take longer?
Yours,
Doug Goncz Replikon Research Seven Corners, VA 22044-0394
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Weeelllllll...
First off, I don't think that a bunsen burner is going to give you a hot enough flame for anything other than Tin, Lead and Solder, and while your tastes may be different, I don't think these metals would be my first choice for inlay.
If you got a welding torch or MAPP Gas torch, that would probably do the trick, for melting some ot the other metals ('cept aluminum) but then "pouring it in carved channels on the wood" might give trouble. I think the effect would be similar to a BBQ - I'm sure it would set the work on fire, or burn the wood severely.
Why not buy metal ribbon or wire and set that in a routed groove or rabbet, depending on your application. You should, with some skill, be able to rout or cut a groove that will set the material flush with the wood - set it in with epoxy and that should do the trick.
If you do opt to go with the Bunsen Burner/Torch/Pouring Cruicble method, PLEASE post pictures of the process in ABPW. If your method is successful, I'll certainly eat my words and will have learned something. If it isn't, we can all have a good laugh, providing you aren't injured.
John Moorhead

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ABPW????
TR
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translation: news:alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking.
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TrailRat wrote:

Melting point for gold is ~1950 F. Wonder what that <would> do for wood? :)
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Trust me on this. You don't want to try it. Not with any alloy of gold anyway.
Gold is difficult enough to melt and pour when you have the right equipment. I've played around with a few investment castings and discovered it's easier to pay somebody else to do it.
-Frank
--
fwarner1-at-franksknives-dot-com
Here's some of my work:
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Snip

routed groove is the only way to approach what you want to do. I've done this a number of times with steel bars up to 1" wide. My suggestion would be to choose a section of brass bar that is the width you want, route the right size groove, size the bar for length. Take the bars to your friendly electroplater and get the finish you want. Just caution the plater to not overplate the nickel and give you a dog bone on the end, had this happen too. You want to do the polishing or satin finishing yourself to keep the edges sharp and solder a 12" length of 18 ga. wire to the back side of the bar at each end, this will make the plater very happy. You can easily remove the wire after plating and get rid of the solder with a Dremel. While this process is involved, you'll get what you want with a lot lower cost than solid precious metal strips. BTW, medium super glue is great for holding the bars in place. Also, there are either carbide router bits in most sizes or end mills which will cut the groove.
Ed Angell
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Here is a method that does not require heat:
http://www.elvesofester.com/coldinlay.html
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The way it was done on old firearms, using brass or silver:
Groove was cut into the wood in the pattern desired. Flat narrow strips of metal (~1/32x1/8xlength) was tapped into groove, leaving the edge slightly proud of surface. First coat of finish, usually boiled linseed oil, was applied and allowed to cure. Metal was filed and sanded flush to the wood. Additional coats of finish were applied.
TrailRat wrote:

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Rex Burkheimer
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Well thanks, I like the look of that resin stuff. Just wonder if we have anything like that on this side of the pond. Shall be checking my squires catalogue.
TR
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For instance:
http://www.trackofthewolf.com/categories/partDetail.aspx?catId &subId&styleId(0&partNumA-411
David Merrill

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This is great discription of the process for 'plain' inlays such as initials and fine lines, larger, pre-decorated inlays were set in flush with the stock surface with pins, or screws. Some fittings were cast brass and silver and worked after installing.

My .02 worth...and I'm stickin' to it....;0) granpaw
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wrote:

Lots of ways. Depends on the method and the materials. Your main problem is to hold metal into the surface of the wood.
You may form the inlay beforehand, or form it in situ, depending on how you're doing the adhesion.
Mechanical pegs or fasteners.
Usually only used for inlaying (strictly insetting) large plaques into a flat surface.
Adhesive.
Form your inlay, glue it into place. Works well with twisted brass wire, as is commonly seen on Indian import work.
Adhesive (powder cold casting)
Use a finely powdered metal mixed with an adhesive. Very easy, and there's a wide range of metal powders available from fibreglass suppliers.
Mechanical deformation.
Usually done with a soft wire, sometimes gold or silver (not sterling). Form a narrow purfling (groove) in the wwood, ideally with a slight dovetailed undercut and less shallow than the wire. Then place the wire into the groove and hammer it into place, expanding the wire sideways and locking it into place. Can also be done with freshly annealed copper wire and a harder wood.
Mechanical locking can also be done with a narrow strip, folded into a V.
Hot casting
Rarely used, as the wood chars from the heat of the molten metal. Can be done easily with Woods metal or Cerrobend (lead-based low melting point alloys that melt in boiling water), but these are generally grey and unattractive. It's possibly workable in some timbers with a lead solder, marginally so with a lead free pewter (this stays shinier longer). Other metals are pretty much impractical. Sulphur inlay works well though - an old 18th century technique. http://www.codesmiths.com/shed/workshop/techniques/sulphur_inlay.htm
Green timber.
Inlay into wet timber and use drying shrinkage to hold it. Needs a good understanding of shrinkage, and a timber that shrinks "square" without warping.
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TrailRat wrote:

Forget melting and pouring silver or gold. Their melting points are in the 1500 to 2000 degree F range, depending on the alloy. A bunsen burner just won't do it. And pouring molten silver or gold into a thin groove in wood a) will char it badly so forget about clean edges or the metal staying in the groove and b) is an exercise in frustration if not futility. Molten gold or silver is like mercury. Try pouring mercury an a narrow, shallow groove and you'll understand the problem. (I made jewelry and taught lost wax casting for a decade plus so I'm familiar with molten gold and silver)
Forget molten metal and go with silver or gold wire. Wire typically comes work hardened so you'll need to anneal (sp?) it first. For that you'll need some borax, some alcohol, a "pickling" solution a dry brick or charcoal block and a torch that can get your wire red hot. Mix some borax in alcohol and either dip your coiled wire in the suspension or brush the suspension onto your wire. The borax will act as a "flux", melting before the wire being heated can begin absorbing oxygen and "oxidizing", thus protecting the metal. When the metal begins to glow red dunk it in the "pickling" solution (DO NOT USE IRON OR IRON ALLOY TONGS ETC. OR YOU'LL PUT A NICE IRON OXIDE LAYER ON THE SURFACE OF YOUR WIRE.) to remove the borax flux layer now on the wire's surface. The quick quenching will leave the metal "soft".
Place the annealed wire on a steel plate, preferably polished, and peen it with a smooth faced hammer, also preferably polished, to flatten the wire some and get it close to the thickness you need. The hammering may work harden the now semi- rectangular wire so you may have to go through the flux, heat, pickle process again in preparation for the fine thicknessing to fit your groove step that you'll get to later.
Now to cutting the groove(s) for the inlay. You could use a trim router but there is a much easier, less mistake prone method to cut grooves. You'll need a cabinet scraper the thickness of the groove you want to make, a small knife edge or triangular file, a flat mill file and a round file.
Here's the cabinet scraper grooving tool and how to use it.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/Inlaying1.html
And here's a "thicknesser" you can make, again using a cabinet scraper.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/Inlaying3.html
When you've scraped the flattened wire to the thickness you need mix up a little epoxy and epoxy the "wire" into your groove. File then scrape off the excess epoxy and any high metal.
Done! And thanks to Michael Fortune for demonstrating how to do fine line inlaying - this is his method, not mine.
charlie b
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