Metal Inlay Powders - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-22-2015, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Metal Inlay Powders

Hello all,
Started a project which requires metal inlay. I am using inlay powder technique as this is the easiest for this project. I went out and bought Ted Sokolowski's dvd on meal inlay, good info btw . . . however, he is turning his inlay and I am doing it on a flat surface.
At the moment I am running into issues due to the fact that in sanding the newly hardened metal, the powder-dust produced is staining the wood. seems I am sanding the dust into the surrounding wood surface.

I tried hand sanding initially to try and control the process but the hand sanding began to discolour the wood. My next step was to move to an orbital sander with dust collection and still the metal-dust ended up colouring the wood, not as much as the hand sanding but enough to make me think I am going about this all wrong.

In my last attempt I tried to treat the area with a coating of a 3 lbs cut of shellac but once the shellac was sanded away the discolouring happened again . . .
Anyone of you fine folks ever try this technique, and do you have any ideas . .
Thanks in advance . .
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-22-2015, 10:07 PM
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I want to try it--so I'll be following this---I was surprised the shellac didn't work---
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-23-2015, 11:48 AM
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I've done it as eyes in wood carvings. For 6 weeks, I cleaned the brass dust out of the key-cutting machine in the local hardware store. Got maybe a cup or a litle more.

Repeatedly filled the eye sockets with glue and packed with brass dust. Waited a week. Cut back the lump with various rifflers with curved surfaces. Wrapped them with fine sand papers. Not as dramatic as I had hoped but I didn't smear brass dust out onto the carved face.
Other than solid metals, I can't think of another clean way to do the finishing.
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post #4 of 13 Old 10-23-2015, 01:30 PM Thread Starter
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I want to try it--so I'll be following this---I was surprised the shellac didn't work---
The shellac worked but I think I expected too much from it . . .

Ok so I put my thinking cap on last night and I thought about the processes Ted spoke of in his dvd. Since he was "Turning" the excess hardened metal away I needed to produce the same method. The orbital sanders aren't the same, they basically "swirled" the particles in an area only picking up a small % for dust collection, the rest was being mashed back into the wood fibers . .

I did a test run this morning on already polished metal. Since the area was already tarnished with bronze dust, I sanded the surface back to 120 grit. This I noticed cleaned up the wood totally, it did rough the surface of the metal again, but the surrounding wood was clean.
I figured if I could use this as a starting point I would go to step 2.
So I applied a clean layer of 3 lbs Shellac to the area.
my thinking is since the metal is level and somewhat polished I could protect the wood again and sand to higher grits without sanding away the shellac . . . guess what . . it worked . . I did get some smudging of dust in the wood but no where near the amount I was getting before.
I made 2 passes with the sander in one direction trying to simulate the action of "Turning" and after the passes I wiped the surface clean and went to a higher grit. . .this sounds like it could work . .

the only problem now is staining the wood to cherry, I am using Birch and was planing on sealing the wood with a 1 lbs cut of shellac as a pre sealer against blotching, but now I have a 3 lb cut on the surface . . .

I will try the test again and use a 1 lb cut to sand to higher grits this way even if I have to apply shellac after every pass of a higher grit, at the end of sanding I will be left with a 1 lb cut to add my gel stain over . . .

Last edited by MCSdesigner; 10-23-2015 at 01:35 PM.
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-24-2015, 02:00 AM
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This sounds like a fascinating technique. Post some pics.
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-25-2015, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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This sounds like a fascinating technique. Post some pics.
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No problems John . . when I get to a point where i develop a solid technique I will post images of what I am doing . .

So my previous attempts to avoid metal dust have failed . . what I did accomplish was to keep the smear of dust in the wood down to a minimal . . obviously the goal is to get it to zero.

a new approach now is to "Stain" the wood. The final product for me will be in Cherry wood, therefore the wood will be dark or "Colored" to begin with. Even the wood Ted uses in his video is coloured hardwood so I am going along this route now. I stripped the wood back to basic clean pine and rough metal. I added a coat of 1 lb cut shellac and applied a cherry gel stain to the wood (2 coats ) . . I will let this dry and tomorrow I will start the hand sanding progression hoping the darkness of the wood will mask the small about of discolouration caused by the metal dust . . wish me luck.
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-26-2015, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Failed big time . . .I have no idea of how to stop the metal dust from ruining the wood surface.
The only other thought I am getting is to sand the metal to a shine then try to use a wood treatment to clean the wood after . . . this sounds a bit ghetto but I can't see any other way around the discolouration.

Thoughts:
Maybe this technique is not suited for Pine??
Maybe I have a bad patch of Metal Powder??
Maybe I should just go back to flipping burgers??
just kidding . . . .

I emailed Ted to see if he had any suggestions, I wish there were more people doing this technique, this way I could bounce ideas off them . .
I am going to try this now on a piece of cherry wood to see if there is a difference . . .
Will keep you all informed.
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-27-2015, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Got an email from Ted yesterday . . .
He suggested after sanding the metal to a flat surface, : "It's a simple matter of hand sanding with the last grit only on the wood . Avoid touching the inlay as much as possible with the sandpaper. Sand with the grain."

So basically I use 120 to get to base metal, then jump straight to 1200 and hand sand delicately. Also he says when doing my clean up pass use a clean sheet of paper and use same grit.
Now he doesn't say use 1200 grit . . that is what I am using so I am guessing you can go as high as you want.

I will do a test in a few days and come back to give y'all the results . .
may the force be with me . . .
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-27-2015, 12:50 PM
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I've tried sanding wood carvings with the fine automotive finishing sandpapers. I believe that the fine dark grit comes off and stains the wood. I quit doing that.

Instead, I'll sand the brass inlay then texture the wood surface with a smallish #5 gouge.
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-28-2015, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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I believe that the fine dark grit comes off and stains the wood. I quit doing that.
I was thinking that could be part of the problem as well . . . I do have some higher grit paper for my festool which isn't black . . . . going to use this to hand sand.
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post #11 of 13 Old 10-28-2015, 03:32 PM
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I wonder if you couldn't make the argument for finishing the whole thing, rough metal and all. Then go back into it to do the metal. The wood finish could be wiped clean with a damp rag. Maybe mask the wood with masking tape as well.

I installed a lot of recoil pads on both rifles and shotguns. 2 wraps of masking tape on the stock and go to it with 80 grit in a belt sander. Nick the tape = done. Not a speck ever on any finished stock.
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post #12 of 13 Old 10-30-2015, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Ok . . we have a winner folks . . .
So I stepped away from Pine and used a piece of Birch. I re-carved
a design and filed it with the Bronze powder as described. I sanded the hardened powder down to a smooth clean shine using 120 grit. Then hand sanded (lightly) with 1200 grit paper and the smudging has gone away 99.99%. will never get rid of all of it . . chalking that up to = (life)
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post #13 of 13 Old 11-16-2015, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Ok . . so I have been trying a few techniques here and I found out something which is working for me now.
What I have changed now is sanding the wood and the metal powder with the same grit.
what I mean by that is . . . Before I would sand the wood and metal powder up to 120, then hit the metal at 400 grit or 1200 . . but what I realized was, I was making finer metal powder particles than the wood around it.
So I was thinking the metal dust was settling into the (wider) poor of the wood . . don't know if that makes sense to you but that was my idea . . anyway it worked. I began to sand the wood and metal up through the grits evenly and stopping at 400, which resulted in zero smearing of powder into the wood or so small of a percentage you couldn't notice . .
At 400, the metal shines and the wood surface is . . well it's at 400 grit smooth.
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