Using brass rods in joinery

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Forum topic by Tedstor posted 06-06-2020 02:44 PM 357 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tedstor's profile


1690 posts in 3403 days

06-06-2020 02:44 PM

I want to make some rabbeted drawer boxes. I’ve made these in the past, using 1/4” wooden dowels to better improve the joint, and because I think it looks cool.

I was thinking about doing some more. I have some abnormally dark ash, and think brass dowels/rods would be a stunning contrast. Any reason I couldn’t use some epoxy?
Only pitfall I can think of, is getting the rods even with the wood might be tricky/painstaking.
Anything else?

8 replies so far

View Bob5103's profile


159 posts in 1604 days

#1 posted 06-06-2020 05:18 PM

Brass is soft and sands well. Cut it to length and gently sand. When I use brass I always use epoxy. It does contrast nicely.

View LesB's profile


2551 posts in 4213 days

#2 posted 06-06-2020 05:41 PM

Epoxy works well but you could avoid the hassle of mixing the two parts and having to work fast before it sets up by using Urethane glue (Gorilla glue is the most widely know). It is sticky so wear protective gloves and apply very thinly. Any squeeze out will foam up as it cures and is easy to scrape or sand off. Moisture triggers it so for fasting curing spritz the wood parts with a little water first.

You can use it for your rabbited joints as well.
For parts that are not firmly interlocked (like the dowels in a hole) it is a good idea to clamp them because the urethane does tend to expand slightly as it cures.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Tedstor's profile


1690 posts in 3403 days

#3 posted 06-06-2020 05:58 PM

Cool. Thanks for the replies. I figured it’d work, but it’s nice to have an affirmation, and some additional pointers.

View Madmark2's profile


1362 posts in 1358 days

#4 posted 06-06-2020 06:57 PM

Scuff the surface of the brass to give the epoxy some teeth. A groove or other notch like structure will allow a locking lump to form in the epoxy.

Brass looks very nice with the right wood. It has been used as an inlay since brass was invented (and it was copper before that).

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View SMP's profile


2104 posts in 676 days

#5 posted 06-06-2020 09:11 PM

If you have a dremel, thats a perfect tool to use to machine brass down without being too aggressive.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


1641 posts in 317 days

#6 posted 06-06-2020 09:21 PM

A fine mill file is what I use to get brass or copper or silver flush with the surface. It is rather easy to do, and as long as you keep the file level, it wont bite the wood. Sometimes I use epoxy, sometimes CA glue, no issues with either. You can buff the metal afterward with 0000 steelwool to take out any file marks. It is a good idea to clean brass with acetone just before gluing.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: Because cheese isnt a healthy source of cheese, I will use grated cucumber to top off this raw food vegan pizza.

View PBWilson1970's profile


87 posts in 164 days

#7 posted 06-06-2020 09:35 PM

+1 about using a file. I’ve made a few projects with aluminum rods inlaid and as pins. The first ones were a mess when I used a random orbit sander. It left the metal proud of the wood and more wood was taken away than I wanted.

Another time I used too fine sandpaper and too much pressure and it heated up the rods and discolored the wood and there was a micro crack around a couple. Arrrgh!

A file did the trick. No burning of the wood and they came out level.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Tony1212's profile


432 posts in 2505 days

#8 posted 06-08-2020 01:52 PM

Earlier this year I used 3/8” brass rod for a couple Morris chairs. I was going to use them as drawbores at the mortise and tenon joints, but that was too cost prohibitive, so I just used oak dowels, then drilled them out and stuck 1/4” brass slugs into the hole to cover the oak dowels. They look AMAZING!

My wife used a Dremel with a cutoff wheel cut up the brass rods into 1/4” slugs and I used 5 minute epoxy to glue them in. I just used a regular bastard file to bring them flush. It only took about 1 to 2 minutes per slug, depending on how close I hit the 1/4” depth with the drill.

Then I sanded both the wood and the brass to 220 grit and used Arm-R-Seal. The brass isn’t mirror shiny, but stands out wonderfully on the walnut. I had thought about making them shiny, but that would have been too much work for not enough bang. I would have used the polishing kit that Dremel sells.

Here’s a pic of the final project (forgot to do the stool mortise and tenons because they weren’t actually drawbored)

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

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