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post #1 of 22 Old 08-11-2019, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Brass and Wood

Hey All,

I have two questions for you all for a project I am working on. I am making a wood ring for my wife and I wanted to sandwich 1 or 2 pieces of very thin sheet brass between hardwood so that I have a dark wood ring with a brass/gold thin band running the diameter of the ring. My two questions are:

1) What type of glue would work best for attaching the brass sheet to the wood?

2) The methods I was going to use to drill out the center of the ring was using forstner bits. I realized however that I was not sure if forstner bits are able to go through thin soft metal. Will using a forstner bit work or should I go another route?

Thanks for all your advice in advance :)
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-11-2019, 10:00 PM
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You would need to roughen the brass some and glue it to the wood with epoxy. A forstner bit would drill through the brass just as easy as wood. You wouldn't know you were cutting brass until bits of it were coming up.
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post #3 of 22 Old 08-12-2019, 04:30 AM
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Epoxy, hands down. I recommend West Systems G-Flex, best stuff ive found for sticking wood to metal. Holds like nothing else, and flexes with movement instead of cracking the joint. Use it on knives all the time, works a treat. May have to order it online though, not in a lot of stores.


Woodworking tools can go through brass just fine, you wont damage the bits. That said, youll want to run the drill slower than you would for wood, and for the love of god make sure that your workpiece is well secured. Brass can get kinda grabby, and believe me you do not want to catch the edge of a thin brass sheet in the finger. Its not a good time. Now, people are going to claim that with thin sheets the tool wont be able to grab the piece and blah blah blah, and im going to tell them to stuff it. Thin sheets like catching just as much as thick ones do, and again, you dont want a helicopter

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post #4 of 22 Old 08-12-2019, 10:49 AM
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Epoxy is a tried and tested solution, and I would not argue with the recommendations above.

If you are looking for something new and different, another choice might be Clear Gorilla Glue. It is a silane-based adhesive, which is different than any other glue I have ever seen. It is NOT the common polyurethane glue that Gorilla is known for. It does not foam. It dries very clear and strong, but has a slight rubbery feel, so I imagine it is good where a flexible glue is needed. It takes 24 hours to fully cure, but it is hard in a couple hours.

I have used it for gluing pen tubes (in this case, brass to acrylic), and also to glue wood pegs to the fiber back of hardboard, where it is still holding well after a few weeks. I know someone else who uses it for all his pens, where he glues brass pen tubes inside wood pen blanks with good results.

In my mind, I think of Clear Gorilla Glue as a "no-mix epoxy adhesive" or something like that. Unlike epoxy, you cannot use it to fill large gaps or holes. Storage is annoying. Keep it cool or room temperature, but it needs light exposure to stay clear.
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post #5 of 22 Old 08-12-2019, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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OK so epoxy seem to be the verdict so I will give that a go :) I realized last night however that the sheet brass I have is very thin and might not even show sandwiched between the wood. I might do a trial and see what comes of it but I am not sure it will work the way I want. Hopefully I am wrong!
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post #6 of 22 Old 08-12-2019, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by arvanlaar View Post
OK so epoxy seem to be the verdict so I will give that a go :) I realized last night however that the sheet brass I have is very thin and might not even show sandwiched between the wood. I might do a trial and see what comes of it but I am not sure it will work the way I want. Hopefully I am wrong!
There is no rule against using more than one layer of brass either together or separately. I have seen very thin material used in a multi-layer sandwich with other, contrasting materials. I like that look.

Regarding glueing wood to brass, I do it all the time, making pens. Pen kits come with brass tubes that must be glued into holes in the wood pen blanks before turning the pen. I have used epoxy on special pens for special reasons, and it will work fine for you. I prefer other glues because epoxy is expensive and I don't want to bother with mixing the two parts together.

Here are glues that I have used to glue brass tubes into wood pen blanks, all of them with wild success:

Polyurethane (not recommended for your ring):
I use Gorilla Glue because it is cheap, it foams, and it is flexible. I like the foaming action because it fills gaps. Not all brass tubes are a perfect fit in their holes. I like the flexibility because it is less likely to crack if the pen is dropped. This is what I use for most pens.

Epoxy (recommended for your ring):
I use this for special pens that have translucent plastic blanks where you might see the brass tube inside, so I paint the tube and use clear epoxy. There are many kinds of epoxy. Some are brittle, others flexible. Some cure fast, others take time. Some are clear, some are not. Some epoxies have multiple hardeners available. The choice of hardener affects the properties of the epoxy.

Silane-based Glue:
I use Clear Gorilla Glue in places where epoxy might be used as an adhesive. It is strong and cures clear, with some flexibility. I like it because you can use it straight from the bottle without mixing. Storage is a pain, because it needs light to stay clear.

CA (Cyanoacrylate, Super Glue):
I glue the brass tubes with flexible CA glue when I want to turn a pen without waiting. The other glues above all require curing time, but CA hardens quickly. I use activator on the ends to speed up curing and it seems to help prevent blow out. Like epoxy, CA glues come in various viscosities from thin to thick, and there are flexible varieties. Most people use medium CA glue for all their pens. I don't like it because it is brittle when dry, and a dropped pen may fail if it cracks inside.

CA Finishes:
The OP asked about finishes in another thread. I want to mention GluBoost Fill 'n' Finish products. I switched to GluBoost CA finish for pens.

Final thought: Whatever you do, test it on scrap first.
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post #7 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 12:07 PM Thread Starter
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I might give CA a try as well :)

When using these to finish the ring, am I getting the ring to the final size and then coating with epoxy/CA and then using fine sandpaper to bring it to the final shape?
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 02:29 PM
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I might give CA a try as well :)

When using these to finish the ring, am I getting the ring to the final size and then coating with epoxy/CA and then using fine sandpaper to bring it to the final shape?
I have not tried an epoxy finish, so I cannot answer that question.

PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING A CA FINISH TO A PEN OR RING:
My process is overkill, but it works reliably for me on pens. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it.) It will work equally well on your ring:

* First and foremost, be sure to practice on prototypes before you try it on the pen/ring itself. If you are using a lathe, you can apply a finish to the non-completed project, then turn it off or sand it off and do another. You can keep going with finish practice until you are forced to stop and must actually finish the pen/ring.

* Shape the pen/ring as close to final as you can. Use tools or sandpaper as appropriate. Expect that the finish will build up a tiny amount. The best woodturners don't need much sandpaper, if any. I am not there yet.

* Mount the pen/ring on a slowly rotating tool. It should be slow enough that the CA won't be pulled away by centrifugal force from the pen/ring, or worse yet, flung off (eek!). I use a lathe on medium speed, maybe around 200 RPM, about 3 rotations per second. You might try a drill press on its side if it runs slow enough, or get a friend to help you jig-up a hand drill on slow. The pen/ring should not wobble as it rotates.

* Gently sand the rotating pen/ring with the five grits in a typical sanding pack: 150, 240, 320, 400, 600. Stop the rotating pen/ring and also gently sand with the grain. While stopped, wipe the sawdust and coarser grit off the piece with a clean cloth before proceeding to the next grit.
Note: You can do some final shaping with the lower grits.
WARNING: Your ring may sand unevenly because of the different hardness of the materials. Be aware and be careful.
I use the Rockler sanding packs. I stock up when they are on sale for $9.99, as they are now:
https://www.rockler.com/woodturners-...l-sanding-pack

* Optional: Put on thin disposable gloves.

* Optional: If you are planning to apply stains, dyes, or oils directly to your pen/ring, do it now. Allow it to dry completely. I know some people who apply boiled linseed oil or tung oil or whatever first, but I don't bother. The CA finish can pop the grain without needing additional finishing products. I do not think it is necessary. (You can also dye your CA finish. GluBoost sells dyes for their CA finishes, and you can use other dyes, but I have no interest in trying them.)

* Apply standard GluBoost Fill 'n' Finish to the rotating pen/ring. I use 12x9 thin white craft foam sheets that I buy at Walmart for 88 cents apiece. Other people use paper towels (which absorb CA and sometimes smoke!), tiny plastic bags, or the fingertips from gloves to apply it. I cut a small piece and put two drops of CA on it. The CA will rest on the foam but not soak in. You may want to try one drop at a time for a ring. Use the craft foam to smooth the ripples and waves out of the finish. Your goal is a smooth coating. You have a little time. Be patient.
https://www.rockler.com/glu-boost-fill-n-finish

* Back away and gently spray GluBoost accelerator on the rotating pen/ring.

* Repeat the standard GluBoost Fill 'n' Finish coat. At this point, you will have applied two coats. Spray the accelerator again.

* Apply two or three coats of GluBoost Fill 'n' Finish Thin. Spray the accelerator between each coat.

* Polish with the nine Micro-mesh grits using the padded Micro-mesh, wet with water. I just toss 'em in a cup of water and pull them out one-by-one. Here are the grits: 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3500, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000. Don't press hard and be brief on each step, or you can remove the finish. After each grit, stop the rotating pen/ring and also gently polish "with the grain" to soften/remove circular scratches. While stopped, wipe the white swarf and coarser grit off the piece with a clean cloth before proceeding to the next grit.
https://www.rockler.com/micro-mesh-cushioned-abrasives

At this point, you can call it done.

* Optional: Final polish with Hut Ultra Gloss Plastic Polish. I found it at Woodcraft:
https://www.woodcraft.com/products/h...plastic-polish

At this point, you will have a very hard, very durable, high gloss finish. I use GluBoost finish because I like the clear, sparkly look and ease of application. I also like that it is flexible and less likely to chip. You can achieve good finishes from other brands of CA.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

* Satiny, More "Natural" Finish:
If you don't want a high gloss finish, you can stop at a courser grit of the Micro-mesh to get a more satiny, natural look. As I said above, practice on scrap until you find the look you like.

* Sanding a CA Finish:
Sometimes a CA finish doesn't work out. It may have ripples or bulges or whatever. Be sure your rotating tool is not turning too fast when you apply the CA. If you do get finish problems, you can sand it down and try again. Don't worry about the white scratches in the CA that hide your beautiful work. They will disappear when you apply a new CA finish.

* TIGHT BUDGET:
Yeah, it is a lot of money for finishing one ring. You can use the materials to finish future projects, of course. CA glues last six months to a year if kept in a cool dry place. If you must economize:
+ Use less fancy sandpaper, but try to find a similar combination of grits.
+ Use a different CA for a finish. Any brand of CA glue will work and you will get different opinions about good and bad. You might get away with one bottle of flexible CA (preferred to avoid chipping), or medium CA. If you are patient, you can skip the accelerator/activator and let the CA cure on its own. It still takes only a few minutes for each coat.
+ Don't skip the Micro-mesh. I have not found anything else quite like it. There may be other less expensive competitors.

I hope this level of detail helps you and others. I need to find a way to better organize these tomes, besides leaving them as simple posts in forums. :-(
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Wow what a write up that is amazing! You should put that in a Google doc so that you can link people to it :)

For the micro mesh pads, instead of using those, can I use wet sand paper at super fine grits? I have that on hand and money is an issue for me (5 years married, two kids, house not much money to go around!).

And that makes sense for the vertical axis. I do have a bench top drill press but is that not bad to flip it on its side? I guess I could try it but I am assuming the motor is not made to be anyway but up?
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post #10 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 06:03 PM
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And that makes sense for the vertical axis. I do have a bench top drill press but is that not bad to flip it on its side? I guess I could try it but I am assuming the motor is not made to be anyway but up?
Can comment on the rest, but motors in general dont care what way they happen to be facing. Upside-down, rightside up, sideways, slantways, dont turn them inside out and youll probably be fine. Ive used a drill press on its side for lathe work before, works alright
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post #11 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 08:41 PM
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Wow what a write up that is amazing! You should put that in a Google doc so that you can link people to it :)

For the micro mesh pads, instead of using those, can I use wet sand paper at super fine grits? I have that on hand and money is an issue for me (5 years married, two kids, house not much money to go around!).

And that makes sense for the vertical axis. I do have a bench top drill press but is that not bad to flip it on its side? I guess I could try it but I am assuming the motor is not made to be anyway but up?
Thank you. I don't see a Google doc in the near future. Maybe someday.

I have always used Micro-mesh, but you can try your super-fine sandpaper on scrap to see how it does. If you want a high gloss, that happens mostly at the 8000 and 12000 grit levels. I think of Micro-mesh more as "polishing" rather than "sanding", but the Micro-mesh and super-fine sandpaper won't know or care what you call it.

You can buy Micro-mesh in thin cloth (paper?) form. I wonder whether your super-fine sandpaper is actually Micro-mesh. The Micro-mesh I use has thin foam pads behind the material. You might want to back your super-fine sandpaper with a soft foam pad or a sponge or something like that, not your fingers alone.

Micro-mesh pads last a long time. I flush the pads one-by-one under the sink every few times I use them, which washes off the white CA swarf that accumulates on them. I still use the original set I started with and they are going strong. (Actually, I think I may have left that set behind at a recent demo. Oh well. I bought the larger 3x4 inch pads and cut them in thirds, so I have two more new sets left.)

It won't harm your drill press to run it on its side as long as you avoid bending handles or breaking off parts. See my "DANGER" warning below. You had mentioned the benchtop drill press earlier, and it might work, but it might run too fast for finishing. My cheap, crappy, benchtop drill press' slowest speed is 600 RPM. Having a lathe, I never tried using it for finishing. My gut says it is too fast. Try it on scrap first.

DANGER:
Watch for safety issues with a drill press on its side. Don't let anyone with long hair or loose clothing get near it. Be careful! Bad things can happen fast. Those warnings apply to tools in general.
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post #12 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 09:37 PM
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OK so epoxy seem to be the verdict so I will give that a go :) I realized last night however that the sheet brass I have is very thin and might not even show sandwiched between the wood. I might do a trial and see what comes of it but I am not sure it will work the way I want. Hopefully I am wrong!
If you want some thicker brass check out your local thrift stores for small trays etc, that can be had for a reasonable price.

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post #13 of 22 Old 08-13-2019, 11:23 PM
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Just to throw another wrinkle in this...

When I needed to glue a metal inlay into wood, I discovered Jewelers Epoxy. Perhaps I was sucked in by the description that said it was suitable for glueing wood to metal, but it’s held so far. Oh by the way, it’s dead clear.
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post #14 of 22 Old 08-14-2019, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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OK so tonight I went out, got some CA and tried applying it to the ring... to absolute miserable results. I tried to have the ring attached to my drill press and apply the CA but the ring got stuck on the axis (I was using a drill bit wrapped in many layers of tape so that it would fit on snug). Basically there was some spill of the CA from the wood to the tape and they fused together and when I finally managed to take it off, the finish was terrible on the inner edge of the ring.

Then I tried to apply the CA by hand and that was a horror show to say the least. Finger marks everywhere, more glue on my hand then the ring, uneven finish. Just a terrible experience.

How in the world is one supposed to apply a non spray finish to a ring? I watched a video on how to apply a CA finish to a pen and it makes sense since the inside of the pen never has a finish applied to it, you can have it attached there. But a ring is sooooo small and the outside AND inside need to be finished that I am not sure how to accomplish this.

I must again lean on all your better ideas and hope you can save me :) I already have another ring made (I am actually getting really good at making the rings now lol. This is my third!) so I can attempt another finish attempt tomorrow after the kiddos are off to bed :)
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post #15 of 22 Old 08-15-2019, 05:30 AM
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OK so tonight I went out, got some CA and tried applying it to the ring... to absolute miserable results. I tried to have the ring attached to my drill press and apply the CA but the ring got stuck on the axis (I was using a drill bit wrapped in many layers of tape so that it would fit on snug). Basically there was some spill of the CA from the wood to the tape and they fused together and when I finally managed to take it off, the finish was terrible on the inner edge of the ring.

Then I tried to apply the CA by hand and that was a horror show to say the least. Finger marks everywhere, more glue on my hand then the ring, uneven finish. Just a terrible experience.

How in the world is one supposed to apply a non spray finish to a ring? I watched a video on how to apply a CA finish to a pen and it makes sense since the inside of the pen never has a finish applied to it, you can have it attached there. But a ring is sooooo small and the outside AND inside need to be finished that I am not sure how to accomplish this.

I must again lean on all your better ideas and hope you can save me :) I already have another ring made (I am actually getting really good at making the rings now lol. This is my third!) so I can attempt another finish attempt tomorrow after the kiddos are off to bed :)
Wax your mandrel (the thingy the ring is stuck on to spin). Get it nice and waxed and the glue wont stick, and if youve got a tight friction fit it wont spin free either. Basically you just need a way to keep the glue from adhering to the mandrel, and wax is the simplest way

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post #16 of 22 Old 08-15-2019, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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I never thought of that :) Is there a particular kind I should use? Can I use paste wax what I use on my table saw or even candle wax?
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post #17 of 22 Old 08-15-2019, 05:21 PM
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I never thought of that :) Is there a particular kind I should use? Can I use paste wax what I use on my table saw or even candle wax?
Any will work, paste wax will be the easiest to apply though

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post #18 of 22 Old 08-15-2019, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Perfect :) Also, how would I do the inside?
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post #19 of 22 Old 08-16-2019, 04:53 AM
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Perfect :) Also, how would I do the inside?
Hmm... good question. First thing that id try would be a collet of sorts. Bear in mind that ive not actually done this before, im just running off of half-recalled techniques, so make of them what you will and remember that the advice is only worth what you pay for it!

Anyways, take yourself a dowel larger than your ring, then drill out the center of it to a size thats snug on the OD of the ring. You want to push it in and not have it fall out if you turn it upside down, but you shouldnt have to really jam it in there. Reason for this is you dont want to bugger up the finish on the outside by forcing it. Anyways, once youve got the hole in the center, take a saw and cut some slits lengthways into the dowel, dividing the dowel into either quarters, sixths or eighths, about 1/2" deeper than the ring would sit. These slots are gonna allow the center hole to collapse a bit, this is whats going to actually provide the grip. Once youve got those slits in, some heavy rubber bands on the outside should collapse your collet enough to firmly grip your ring. Wax the inside well and finish the inside as you would.

Sorry if the description is a little wonky, basically what youre going for is something kinda like this:


Should work alright, though it might take some fiddling to get things working perfect. Im sure that someone whos done this before can recommend a better way. Maybe something like a jam chuck, though truth be told im not a fan of those.

Last thing worth mentioning, but id not want to use a CA finish on a ring thats going to be worn. In my experience, CA glues dont handle moisture well, they tend to go white and crack. Ive had it happen to a few of my pens that see more frequent use. Id rather go for an epoxy, they seem to hold up a lot better to moisture. That, or use either a stabilized wood or dense, oily exotic wood that doesnt require a finish. That all said though, i dont make a lot of pens, and i will happily bow to superior experience when it comes to recommend finishes

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post #20 of 22 Old 08-16-2019, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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That is a great idea and I might give that a go :) Another idea I have was a Q tip but that will not be as smooth a finish of course and may leave behind fibres. I will test it on the ring I recently messed up and see what becomes of it.
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