Its the laying in of wire along a horizontal line that has me
baffled. I want to add lines of silver, spirals etc into ebony and
can't make it work.
Carla, this shouldn’t be so hard. I suspect you’re overworking it,
making it more complex than it should be. Think of how you’d inlay
shapes cut from stone or glass into the wood, and you’ll be on the
Tho I was fond of the how to do it site that suggested I get my
silver liquid hot and pour it into the crevice I made in the wood.
That was a fun image.
Sounds like Brian Adam’s neat primative method of making ring shaped
ingots or even rings themselves. Very very low tech, kind of
exciting, something you can show beginners to get them interested in
metal, or something more advanced craftspeople can appreciate to get
them out of their usual mode of thinking…
When I pound the wire to seat it, the ebony splits, the wire bends
up-curves outta the hole.
So don’t pound. The wire used should be actually thin sheet, or
rectangle wire, not round, so it’s narrow dimension is what you see
at the surface, while it can extend vertically into the wood far
enough to be secure. That means you start by cutting your design as a
slot shaped opening in the wood. For straight lines, use a saw. For
curves, you’ll need to use a small cylinder shaped bur, using it much
like a router. Dremel makes a router attachment for their tools that
would make this even easier, maintaining a nice vertical cut. Wood
doesn’t like expansive pressure. As you’ve found, it splits. So the
slot needs to be the right size, not smaller. Slightly oversize
works, but doesn’t look as neat. The metal is shaped to simply
lightly press into the wood, no great effort or pounding, so the
metal doesn’t distort, and the wood isn’t stressed. You rely on the
glue to hold it, not the sort of inlay under pressure you’d use for
metal into metal inlay, where you DO hammer the inlay wire into a
prepared dovetailed shaped recess. Into wood is simply a different
process because the wood cannot take the same treatment as metal can.
I am using super glue not epoxy.
Poor choice. Brittle, and not so good on either porous stuff (wood)
or on filling gaps, which you’re likely to get. Remember too that
wood expands and contracts a bit with humidity and temp, so a
slightly flexible glue is preferable. Epoxies are the usual choice
for wood to metal joints, but a number of others are available, such
as gorilla glue, goop, etc, that would also work.
I think its the cutting of the hole I'm sorta off on. I'm trying to
use my hammer to force a slightly larger piece of fine silver into
a groove and the wood can't take the force. I think. So how deep,
how wide, how much force....and I'm working on small pieces of
ebony so a good whap with a metal hammer will break even that noble
You’ve already pretty much figured out the answers you need., The
hammer is the wrong tool, made necessary by the wrong (too tight)
fit. How deep is up to you, but a simple round wire into a shallow
groove in the wood probably won’t be strong enough all by itself
(though you could get fancy, soldering on a few pins that would
extend into drilled holes along the wire.) The rectangle wire is to
give the glue enough surface area, and it’s shape means the outer
visible surface of the metal fits the groove, whereas with a round
wire, at the surface you’d see a gap…
In short, once you’re at the point of inlaying the metal into the
wood, forget that it’s metal. You’ve shaped it like metal, of
course, but once it’s getting put into the wood, it should be inlaid
and treated the same as though it were another piece of wood, a piece
of gemstone or glass or plastic, or the like. None of these would
suggest the use of a hammer or anything else that would put any
stress or pressure on the wood. Think like this, and it will work
just fine. The main difficulty is the task of cutting a precisely
dimensioned opening for the wood, so that once inlaid, it’s a clean
neat fit. Get that part down (which is just plain careful
craftsmanship and the appropriate tools), and you’re home.