Learning gold wire inlay

Is there a good book or video someone can recommend for learning
wire inlay techniques? A internet search is turning up nothing. I’m
also not finding anything in way of instruction on Ganoksin (if I’ve
missed a source already posted here, please feel free to let me

Dear eccoland,

What are you inlaying into (grammar?)? Other precious metal? Steel?

Kay Taylor

Good old Metal Techniques for Craftsman has a big section on wire
inlay and related methods. Oppi Untracht,

Starting on pg. 134, w/ extensive photos…

What material are you inlaying into? What tools will you have
available? A simple hammer and chisel will get the job done.

There are also several very quick methods utilizing power assisted
engraving tools. One is based on removal of stock to form the border
or pocket, and the other is a combination of removal and

The removal and displacement method - provided that the wire inlay
runs in a straight line - can be done as fast as an inch a minute
with power assisted tools and properly ground tools.

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA

Though I have etched some larger pockets for animal figures to be
inlaid into steel, I’m not sure that you can get narrow line channels
to work - but then I’ve never tried etching in white gold - I’ve
always just engraved the channels.

Don’t try to use a “dull graver” to punch down your gold inlay. Make
yourself a brass punch and use it with a light weight chasing
hammer, you’ll do less damage to the adjacent surfaces

The larger pockets I mentioned still need quite a bit of work after
the initial etching when done in steel. We just use the etching to
remove the majority of the material - then go back and put in the
undercuts and locking crosshatch or “spikes”.

You would not be using these crosshatches or spikes on the white
gold base, because they would just mash flat when you hammer the
inlay into place. You will have to depend on a “dovetail” lock.

If you succeed in getting your lines to etch, I would probably
undercut the dovetail with a high speed rotary tool - one of the
electronic or air turbine tools - using.25mm cutters. A regular
flexshaft only goes 14,000 rpm max, and will tend to “walk” where you
don’t want it to.

You could also use a specially ground inlay tool in a power assisted
impact handpiece to displace the metal and form a “dovetail” to lock
the wire into place. I don’t have any images of this tool… we
usually make them in class and then demonstrate how to use them. One
of those things that’s much much easier to show someone than

24K gold - if kept completely grease free - will cold weld to itself
when hammered together. There is no need for solder if it is done

You can combine wire, rows of wire, and sheet pieces - allowing
enough extra material at the junctions to hammer your cold weld. Plan
ahead, and think about what is going to hold the inlay in place when
it gets wider…

Yes, I would put the inlay in slightly higher than the final surface
and sand down flush if that’s to be your final surface.

Be careful with your sanding, fine gold is soft and gummy and can be
dragged right out of your channel, leaving a depression. This can
also happen in your final polishing stages if you aren’t paying

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA

Hi Brian,

I will be etching out the path for the wire, adding “tooth” to the
channel with a flexshaft and then inlaying 24K gold wire into 14K
white gold. So far I have a slight concept what to do but just want
to be certain I am doing it correctly. I’v been told that if I put a
dull graver blank into my power assisted graver, I can use that to
punch down the gold more quickly.

Now the difficulty for me lies in the fact that the lines being
filled are not straight but fairly intricate and they also vary in
width. How do I get ends to match without a demarkation line? Is it
necessary to solder the wire in?

Also for wider areas would it actually be better using sheet gold?
And if so, is it best to have it be higher than the actually plane of
the piece so that I can sand it down to remove any marks made while
working it into the other metal?

Thanks so much.

Elkka Nland,

I am such a novas at this smithing stuff but I will share with
everyone my primitive way. If I am inlaying Gold fine lines in silver
for example maybe 20 gauge Au uniform tracks in 925 silver. I first
make the wanted pattern of another wire out of steel or metal
stitching wire or bailing wire that will match what channels desired.
I bend the metal wire according to what line or design I want and
scotch tape it down to the silver surface. I then very carefully with
a chasing hammer pound the wire imbedding it into the silver without
marring the surface then remove it. Later the gold wire is bend to
match the metal wires design channel. I drag the molten silver solder
down the channels with my soldering pic flame is applied undernieth
the sheet and then hold the gold into place with soldering twizzers
and fire it again the gold lays in just fine when the solder sweats
under it.

For wider lines its more difficult I also have used the edge of a
jewelers flat file and cut the channel in the silver and cut sheet
gold accordingly to fit. But in wide tracking I haven’t been able to
make curved lines. I am at this stage also…I am looking for some
type of bit and housing that would let me turn my flex shaft into a
router for tracking metal to inlay gold. That is my obstacle also. I
hope I was able to express myself ok! I am a self taught hobbyist
with no Formal smithing school.;o)


Devin, thank you for offering your advice. You did indeed express
your point well.

As always, thanks to all of you for your generosity. It is very much