This blog is updated in 2020
Recently, the warm glint of brass inlay has been showing up all over — on wooden dressers, cut into marble jewelry boxes, curving through intricate handmade tiles. And like any eye-catching trend, after spotting it at our favorite shops around town, our “Hey, we should try to make that!” attitude tempted us to try out the technique for ourselves. However, the process for inlaying brass into wood can be complicated (not to mention, expensive).
Inlay is the art of filling a cavity with a contrasting material (in this case, brass into wood), and creating the intricate designs often calls for specialized tools like a router or laser cutter. But to make the technique much easier, we developed a method that doesn’t require anything fancier than a power drill and some materials from the hardware store. Just start with a store-bought wooden serving board, or even grab the one already sitting on your kitchen counter. Then, get creative: Swap in a piece of brass tubing from the hardware store in place of a standard drill bit and use it to carve out the cavities in a celestial-inspired design. Fill each ring with a thin slice of brass tubing. A coating of food-safe resin secures the brass in place and makes the board suitable for serving cheese, snacks, and charcuterie. When the shiny celestial design catches the light, it’s sure to add some sparkle to get-togethers and parties. The full how-to is below. Enjoy! —Katie Holdefehr and Marla Christiansen from Mint Reign
- Wooden serving board
- Brass tubing, in a range of sizes (we used 5/32”, 9/32”, 11/32”, 13/32”)
- Tube cutter (such as this one: https://amzn.to/2uq8uc2)
- Food-safe resin (such as this FDA-approved one: https://bit.ly/2pKQFyO)
- Sandpaper (in 80-, 100-, and 220-grit)
- Sanding block
- Power drill
Measure and cut 1 inch of brass tubing.
Mark off ¼ inch on the brass tube. This will be your guide for how deep to drill the
Carefully position the tube in the drill (as if it were a drill bit) with the taped end
facing out. Squeeze the trigger to secure the “bit” in place.
Beginning with the largest size tube, drill down into the board until you reach the
taped line. Continue drilling rings in a random celestial-inspired pattern, until you
achieve the look you want.
Repeat steps 1 through 4 with the remaining tube sizes.
Using the leftover brass tube, cut enough ¼-inch- long pieces to fill all of the rings
drilled in the board.
Mix the epoxy according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Using a popsicle stick, apply a dot of epoxy to the cavity in the board. Then press
in a brass piece to fill the ring. Make sure the metal is covered with a layer of
epoxy. After all of the brass pieces are in place, allow the epoxy to fully cure.
Once dry, sand the board, starting with the coarse sandpaper and using finer
sandpaper as you progress. When you’re finished sanding, the board should feel
Finish with cutting board oil to make your inlay really shine!