Wire inlay is easy and fun!

I just did a wee test with some scavenged resources to try out wire inlay and I’m pretty happy with how it came out!

I scored the channels into this handle using the laser. I was able to just use my beam thickness, I originally tried it with a bit of an offset but it was too loose.

I hammered some copper wire flat, and then hammered it into the channels.

Then sanded the wire down flush, and then sanded the whole handle smooth. I added some boiled linseed oil as I sanded the final grit (600), so it filled in any gaps in the wood grain, and brought it the wood’s colour.

Then I waxed it with some soft wax made from 2 parts boiled linseed oil, 2 parts melted bees wax and 1 part eucalyptus oil (people usually use mineral spirits instead of the eucalyptus, I just prefer the smell of eucalyptus).

The wire thickness varied a lot, because it was hand hammered, but I have some proper flat wire heading my direction, and I’m keen to try more complex designs with that.

Overall this was a really easy little project, and I feel like it would be a really lovely way of labelling one’s tools; instead of writing your name on it you do a little carved inlay.

It would also be an easy way to elevate a little wooden box from a craft store.


That looks awesome Billie!!

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Thank you, lovely one! :smiling_face:

What a cool idea! :smiley: kudos!

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Thanks! :smiling_face:

Love it! I had purchased some brass wire in different thicknesses to put into the guitar stands I built. This just gives me the incentive to go all the way with the next ones built!
Thanks for the inspiration.


Looks great and I like the technique you used!

For thin lines you can get copper “tape” and sheet stock which would work well with your technique. Even brass and silver sheet would look great, especially in walnut.

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I have some copper tape but it’s much too thin and flexible to be hammered in. Have you used it yourself before? If so I’d love to know how.

The wire I have coming is brass :smiling_face:

And silver is traditionally what was used.

Some further thoughts;

I’m going to try making a mini rolling mill for flattening the wire; How to make a drawing with metal on wood | Make Mini Rolling Mill Machine | metal inlay in wood - YouTube

A friend on my discord suggested using this method for low power circuits boards. :scream: And now I want to try that, with translucent inlays over LEDs.

I would love to see your results!

Yes, I’ve used 30 gauge tape in a laser kerf. The kerf had to be sized “close” so the tape could be inserted without a lot of force (just light tapping)

Definitely not going to put up with much force before folding :slightly_smiling_face:

This produced fine lines, you knife handle inserts look a lot thicker but copper is available in a large range of thicknesses. Just thinking it could save a lot of effort versus hammering out of wire.

I must have a different kind of tape, mine is like tin foil. :smiling_face:

Definitely it would! I’m going to try making a little roller, I reckon.


Looks great.

I have a hunch that the hammered uneven look will be more pleasing to the eye, at least if an organic hand made look is the goal.
Would be, and is for me anyway :wink: .

OTOH, flat wire will produce more industrial -or mass produced- look, obviously nothing wrong with that either if that’s the goal.


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I just finished making a jig that flattens the wire evenly, so I’ll report back with results! :smiling_face:

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Nice work, I’ll have to give it a try myself. :+1:

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Brilliant !

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Maybe a dumb question but why hammer the wire flat before inserting? My first thought is to make the grove such a depth that about 3/4 of the diameter of the round wire is in the grouve with about 1/4 of the diameter protruding above the surface. Put a little CA glue in the bottom of the grove (just in case), put the wire in and hammer it flat. Copper is fair soft so if the wood piece is not too delicate it should handle it. The cooper expands out to grip the sides of the grove. Sand everything flush.

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That is a great idea if the item can take the beating. I do inlay with twisted copper wire is a similar fashion but I fill the gaps with colored epoxy then sand away about 1/4 of the wire diameter.
This is after the cutting down, before the sanding


Oooh that’s beautiful!! :star_struck:

Copper oxidises rapidly so it doesn’t stick well to glue and it’s hard to hammer it in when round; as you try to get the next bit in it deforms the wire, popping the bits you already have in back out. I also don’t like the look of glue, it’s always very obvious where it’s sunk into the grain of the wood.

But if you do it and you like the method and effect it brings, then I’m all for you using it! To each their own, I reckon. :smiling_face: