Wire Inlay

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 01-10-2011 08:08 AM 3959 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Seems like it has been forever since I posted! I guess I have been busier doing things, instead of typing! I managed to complete refinishing an antique cabinet for my daughter, which freed up space in my shop, which led to cleaning up my shop and working on some jigs, in between trying out new tools recieved for Christmas. I am working on designs for a couple of possible commisions, which led to some experiments with wire inlay. I have did a little research regarding silver wire inlay. The established process involves cutting grooves and hammering flat strips of metal into the grooves. Water can be used to swell the grooves to tightly hold the strips, which are then filed/sanded flush to the surface of the wood. Brass, copper, and other metals can also be used. I played around a bit with some copper wire and liked the results, but being a lazy sort, I decided to try using my woodburning pen to make the grooves. I figured since I could control the heat, it would be somewhat easier to make the grooves, rather than carving them. And I also had a roll of steel wire that seemed about the right size. The process worked pretty good, but I decided to use CA glue to hold the wire in place after it was bent to the approximate shape. Hammering it in didn’t seem to work very well, even after heating the wire to remove the temper. The CA glue seemed to hold it though, and I burnished it with an old tack hammer unti it held, doing small sections at a time. I used a drum sander to bring it all flush and it turned out fairly well. I need to work on fitting the joints together better, but I like the way it looks. My thinking is this wire may not tarnish like real silver. What do you guys think? Any comments and advice are always welcomed!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

10 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18291 posts in 3703 days

#1 posted 01-10-2011 08:59 AM

Most of hte wire iinlay i have seen is a lot smaller. I was taught the basics, but that was a long long time ago. The wire, as i recall, was really a strip the was a bit wider than thick. After being inserted intothe groove, it was trimmed flush. No glue was used. It was for inlay on Kentucky style rifles. Looks like you are getting it going!!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4105 days

#2 posted 01-10-2011 09:28 AM

Looking good!
Another technique I’ve wanted to try although I always envisioned inlays on a flat surface!
On the round like this would definitely make it harder!
If that is the steel it definitely won’t tarnish like silver although it may “rust” some!
I would imagine that the groove would have to be fairly precise to hold the wire well especially on a round surface unless you could get the wire bent to match the curve closely.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3077 days

#3 posted 01-10-2011 09:48 AM

Nice attempt, but a I agree with Topamax, most I have seen are done with finer wire.
I tried this but with round/tubular wire and it was a real pain. I dont quite know where to get the flat wire here in Australia that I can just have a play with.
keep on going an playing you will get there.

-- Theresa,

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18291 posts in 3703 days

#4 posted 01-10-2011 11:23 AM

I don’t remember what we were practicing with, but I think it was brass plate cut into this strips. Cheap for beginners to play with :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3011 days

#5 posted 01-10-2011 04:06 PM

Just getting interested in doing inlay work myself. We all start somewhere learning to do something. You chose an interesting piece to practice with. Hopefully my first attempt will come out as good as yours did. I think using the finer wire will help with tighter looking joints also.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2866 days

#6 posted 01-10-2011 06:18 PM

An interesting post. I have never tried inlay, but I like your idea of using the woodburner to make the channels for the wire.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3077 days

#7 posted 01-11-2011 12:33 AM

Hey Topa thats a great idea. Might have to try it. thanks

-- Theresa,

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 2941 days

#8 posted 01-11-2011 01:59 AM

Mike. I love It! Thanks for the little blog.
I want to try this as an inlay on finger rings. I messed around a bit but was not sure, I think this will blog will give me the kick to try a bit harder on it! Thanks again, Great work!

Mike, I was thinking what about thin silver solder? Just a thought.

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3624 days

#9 posted 01-11-2011 05:41 AM

Wow lookin good Mike one day I will be that good

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Lochlainn1066's profile


138 posts in 2805 days

#10 posted 01-11-2011 07:37 AM

Seems like I recall you can get flat silver wire from a jeweler’s supply. Might try Rio Grande.

I’ve wanted to try this, I have some sheet silver to cut strips off of.

The reason it is usually copper, silver, tin, etc instead of steel is that those are usually more ductile, burnishing them fattens it in the groove easier than with steel.

-- Nate,

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