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Brass dowels before or after finishing

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Forum topic by tryingToBuildThings posted 05-05-2021 04:22 PM 551 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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tryingToBuildThings

4 posts in 46 days


05-05-2021 04:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: brass dowel

I’m building a shelf with walnut trim/edging. The trim pieces are going to have mitered corners and I want to use two brass dowels in each corner to “pin” the joint. From what I’ve seen online, I like the look of the brass pins in the wood. I am going to stain and polyurethane the shelf. Should complete all of the finishing first and then insert the brass dowels? I’m worried I will damage the finished wood gluing & inserting the dowels and trying to get them flush.
Or should I insert the brass and then finish the shelf. Will I have to worry about trying to get wood stain off of the brass before polyurethaning? Is there an easy way to do that without damaging the surrounding stained wood?
Thanks in advance for any help!


20 replies so far

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Madmark2

2844 posts in 1708 days


#1 posted 05-05-2021 06:00 PM

Insert first. Finish won’t stick to brass.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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tryingToBuildThings

4 posts in 46 days


#2 posted 06-10-2021 08:59 PM

So I finished the shelves and thought I’d share something I learned the hard way. When using brass dowels, make sure you use a good sharp hacksaw blade and leave them a little proud of the wood when you epoxy them in. Unfortunately, I used an old blade and did a poor job of cutting a flat surface at the end of my brass dowels. This would have been fine if I glued them in proud of the wood because then I could sand them down flat. Instead, I tapped them in flush, which meant the highest tip of the cut end was flush and any marks/gouges in the dowels were now below the wood surface. I could have aggressively sanded the wood down, but I didn’t want to risk rounding over the edges of my trim so I decided to live with the mistake. The gouges also made it harder to clean all of the stain off the brass. Oh well.. see pics below where one shelf is fine and another isn’t.

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BlueRidgeDog

837 posts in 900 days


#3 posted 06-10-2021 09:11 PM

Not much good for you this go-round, but when working with metal, as in wood, an “off the saw” finish need prep before being used. For metal, I use emery paper and a buffing wheel.

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LittleShaver

758 posts in 1740 days


#4 posted 06-10-2021 09:52 PM

Learning has occurred.

-- Sawdust Maker

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DevinT

1181 posts in 87 days


#5 posted 06-10-2021 09:56 PM

I just cut some brass dowels today, in-fact. Hacksaw blade is terribly dull, or I’m just terribly weak because it took me an hour to cut through a 1/4” brass dowel. I cut about 1/8” proud of where I needed it to be and plan to take the dowel to the bench sander to get it perfect. Unfortunately, I can’t sand the dowel after I epoxy it into place because the surface its going into has been planed “smooth as glass” and sandpaper would just rough-it-up and make it worse. So I’m just going to sneak up on a flush fit. Wish me luck!

-- Devin, SF, CA

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splintergroup

5294 posts in 2343 days


#6 posted 06-10-2021 10:22 PM

Good luck! 8^)

I use my disc sander to square and clean up the tips, but when making my clock faces with 3/8” and 1/4” copper rod for the hour marks, I run the face through my drum sander (very light cut) to flush it all up before using the ROS with 320 and 400 to get that polish.

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DevinT

1181 posts in 87 days


#7 posted 06-10-2021 10:40 PM

Thanks! Just finished. It looks amazing. Wasn’t as hard as I thought. Just had to be careful to not sand too much off. I probably could have stopped a little proud and switched the belt on the sander to something higher than 220 grit, but I’m happy with the look of 220 on the end of the dowel. I’m afraid going higher would remove too much material and make it not flush anymore.

-- Devin, SF, CA

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DevinT

1181 posts in 87 days


#8 posted 06-10-2021 10:44 PM

Here it is

-- Devin, SF, CA

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splintergroup

5294 posts in 2343 days


#9 posted 06-10-2021 11:09 PM

Brass & walnut, who can argue with that!

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Madmark2

2844 posts in 1708 days


#10 posted 06-10-2021 11:09 PM

Call it “good” and leave well enough alone.

Nice work.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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DevinT

1181 posts in 87 days


#11 posted 06-10-2021 11:54 PM

Thanks! I just got the epoxy set and cleaned up. 91% isopropyl alcohol does an amazing job of cleaning up JB Kwik Weld from metal and wood. I really like the look of the brass in Walnut. I was originally going to do this project in Bubinga, but I have a much greater love of Walnut now after this project (building a hand plane for 2021 plane swap)

-- Devin, SF, CA

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tryingToBuildThings

4 posts in 46 days


#12 posted 06-11-2021 01:13 AM

Wow, that looks so much better than mine.. good job!
Thanks to everyone else for the tips to use the ROS and clean-up the dowels prior to glue up. Whenever I make a mistake I just remind myself that every project is an opportunity to learn and improve.

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

1848 posts in 847 days


#13 posted 06-11-2021 01:17 AM


Whenever I make a mistake I just remind myself that every project is an opportunity to learn and improve.

- tryingToBuildThings


That is the best path to success.
Next time try a practice piece first. ;)

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Madmark2

2844 posts in 1708 days


#14 posted 06-11-2021 02:17 AM

Fred Brooks in ”The Mythical Man-Month: essays on software engineering” states you should always: “Plan to throw one away.”

Prototypes make excellent gifts as recipients aren’t eager to find faults.

When I buy special items I tend to buy pairs. That way I’m not hosed if I damage something (which happens more often than I like to admit) or if I dissect one to see what makes it tick.

If I like what I make for the first one I’ll usually make a 2nd incorporating “lessons learned” and other refinements.

Admittedly this isn’t practical (for costs) in all cases, but if the shipping is the same, why not?


First unit is a little clunky and the finished colors didn’t contrast as I expected.
Second attempt is slimmer and brighter.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View squazo's profile

squazo

240 posts in 2765 days


#15 posted 06-11-2021 11:08 AM



I just cut some brass dowels today, in-fact. Hacksaw blade is terribly dull, or I m just terribly weak because it took me an hour to cut through a 1/4” brass dowel. I cut about 1/8” proud of where I needed it to be and plan to take the dowel to the bench sander to get it perfect. Unfortunately, I can t sand the dowel after I epoxy it into place because the surface its going into has been planed “smooth as glass” and sandpaper would just rough-it-up and make it worse. So I m just going to sneak up on a flush fit. Wish me luck!

- DevinT

Should have been a 5 second cut. Try a new blade.

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