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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 2344 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PhillipRCW

454 posts in 1045 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.


12 replies so far

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

4853 posts in 2046 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

Hammerthumb

2752 posts in 1756 days


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

Can you have them waterjet cut?

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View PhillipRCW's profile

PhillipRCW

454 posts in 1045 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

Planeman40

999 posts in 2542 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: http://www.speedymetals.com/default.aspx? or here: http://www.mcmaster.com/#copper/=12h9xbb

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.

Planeman

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

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2514 posts in 1806 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

jbay

1728 posts in 680 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.

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

View Manyspots's profile

Manyspots

1 post in 182 days


#7 posted 04-20-2017 12:02 PM

These guys are selling something. A bit pricey, but the right idea:

https://www.hairpinlegs.com/collections/brackets-fixtures/products/metal-key-bowties

View PhillipRCW's profile

PhillipRCW

454 posts in 1045 days


#8 posted 04-20-2017 12:43 PM



These guys are selling something. A bit pricey, but the right idea:

https://www.hairpinlegs.com/collections/brackets-fixtures/products/metal-key-bowties

- Manyspots


Thanks, this is awesome. Worth the price for me since I don’t have the proper tools right now.

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

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

751 posts in 1222 days


#9 posted 04-20-2017 06:37 PM

Looks like you got your answer, but have you considered a casting resin mixed with powdered brass?

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View papadan's profile

papadan

3584 posts in 3149 days


#10 posted 04-20-2017 06:56 PM

I just got a similar idea from that link. On the page side they showed some elongated S hooks. I think they would look good in the place of the bow tie for the same use. I always carve pieces out of wax and use plaster to make a mold for parts like this.

View PhillipRCW's profile

PhillipRCW

454 posts in 1045 days


#11 posted 04-20-2017 09:00 PM



Looks like you got your answer, but have you considered a casting resin mixed with powdered brass?

- jerryminer


No, I haven’t. I really wanted the solid metal. Chemically I do different things to it to alter the appearance and get what I’m wanting to do.

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

View JayCee123's profile

JayCee123

196 posts in 545 days


#12 posted 04-20-2017 10:04 PM

You can use a router and an inlay cutting set. Cut the desired shape of your key in a panel of masonite, this will be your template. Position the template on your wood slab where you desire the key to be located. Attach the rub collar to the router inlay guide. Cut the recess in the wood slab (say 1/4” deep). Take the same masonite template to your brass stock and without the rub collar, route the shape of you key (slightly deeper then 1/4”). Now take the brass stock with the outline of your key cut into the surface and resaw it on your bandsaw (blade was mentioned above). You’ll have a 1/4” thick brass butterfly key that fits the recess exactly. Add some epoxy to the recess in the slab, insert the butterfly, tap it down and sand flush if necessary.

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