Does anyone know where I can buy brass or other metal dovetail keys?

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Forum topic by PhillipRCW posted 05-18-2016 08:47 PM 904 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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382 posts in 685 days

05-18-2016 08:47 PM

I’m interested in using some metal dovetail keys and I’m trying to find out if there is anywhere I can buy them premade. I’m doing some molten aluminum dovetail keys that are poured directly onto the wood too, but it gives a different look than I want on some of my nicer pieces.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

6 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile


3468 posts in 1686 days

#1 posted 05-19-2016 04:32 AM

That’s a real interesting idea you’ve got. Hope someone comes up with some info for you.

View Hammerthumb's profile


2513 posts in 1396 days

#2 posted 05-19-2016 03:33 PM

Can you have them waterjet cut?

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View PhillipRCW's profile


382 posts in 685 days

#3 posted 05-19-2016 03:53 PM

I’m honestly not sure. I could probably get them laser cut at my work, but it’s a hassle. I might just get some strips of aluminum or brass and do them myself on the band saw and smooth it out. I was just hoping to get lucky on it first. I included a picture of one I have seen before. I think it could work out really well having a contrasting metal key just slightly proud of the slab. I have quite a few gorgeous walnut slabs that would look great with something like this.

I have some oak slabs that I want to try to solid pour on. I’m going to block off one side of the slab and then prepare the area just like normal, but then pour over the molten aluminum to fill the crack and the key hole. It will leave a little bit of charred area, but I think that will add to it.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2182 days

#4 posted 05-19-2016 03:58 PM

As a long time metal worker (60 years) I can pretty much assure you that finding a triangular shaped strip of brass or any other metal for a dovetail key are nil. You are probably going to have to buy a strip of brass and file it to shape or use a belt sander. Lots of work I know, but unless you have access to a metal lathe or milling machine, those are your options.

The belt sander is your best option. for the brass, go here: or here:

Another thought. You may want to consider pewter. It has a relatively low melting point (446 °F +/- depending on the composition) that would pour into a joint. Looks very much like silver.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1446 days

#5 posted 05-21-2016 05:04 AM

How thick do the keys need to be? I slowed down an 18” bandsaw with step pulleys and a jack shaft, and used a bimetal blade to cut shapes out of a bronze water tank (interesting project, but not relevant here). It worked very well. The tank walls were at least 1/8” thick. If you have to go much thicker, it could be tough. One problem is there will be a lot of heat buildup.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View jbay's profile


702 posts in 320 days

#6 posted 05-21-2016 05:19 AM

Why don’t you make a mold and pour them yourself. Then cut the holes to match.
You could make it as tall as you need, to get as many as you need, then slice them to the thickness you want.

-- Many times my “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct.--

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