Inlay: copper and/or silver — finishing the surface

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  • #551114
    Igor Kerstges

    Dear woodworkingmasterclassers,

    I’m currently brainstorming some ideas on creating some curved inlays of copper and/or silver. I would be working in a flat spruce surface, so the wood is quite soft compared to the inlays. Not sure if I will really get to it, but I’m wondering about the finishing once the inlays are in place..

    My idea is to use a cabinet scraper in combination with a scraper blade, but I can already imagine how the burr will be destroyed once it meets the metal inlay. So I’m wondering if it would be possible to prepare a nice scraper blade with a perfect burr and then harden the steel to a real brittle state.

    Is this ever done or tried? Would such hardening still allow enough spring to the blade for proper surface scraping?

    Any thoughts on this? Thanks!

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  • #551115


    you’ll need to use a flat file to file the metal flush with the wood surface once glued in place, do not attempt plane or scrape it, I inlayed some brass into some redwood pine recently and used a 10 inch bastard file to level it down to the surface, it worked well. I would pre finish the wood first then carefully glue the inlays in with epoxy glue, you don’t need a lot of glue. If it’s still slightly proud you can file it down flush and carefully finish around it with an artists brush.

    Igor Kerstges


    Thanks Ben!

    Yes, I understand it is usually done by taking the inlay down to the wood surface. However, as I’m considering working with silver, I’d try to avoid silver dust as much as I can; I’m thinking of some longer lines of silver embedded in the wood.

    I was just wondering of the pro’s and cons of using hardened scrapers; probably will give it a go to find out by my own experience.

    Cheers, Igor



    Hi Igor
    I would only file the silver if there was an issue. I would cut the groves for the inlay perfectly after the surface has been finalised. You can cut then place the hard inlay into the groove without gluing it, and cut the groves deeper if it sticks out. Only glue when everything sits perfectly. Your tooling is suited to wood so I would work the wood not the metal. Look at the way Paul places an inlay in the winding sticks video.
    Good luck.


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