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Thread: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

  1. #1
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    I'm doing this with hand tools and patience (I only hope I have enough).

    I have an inlay shape I've cut from a sheet of soft copper. I've filed it to it's final form and hammered it reasonably flat.

    I want to temporarily glue it where it's gonna go so I can scribe around it with an X-acto knife, and then carefully separate it from the wood to excavate the negative space where it will go. The wood is cherry. And yes, it's to hide a boo-boo, but if I can pull it off it'll be way cooler than if I never made the boo-boo.

    What type of glue to use for temporary attachment? Spray adhesive, or something else?

    And assuming I get this far, what glue to use for the final attachment in the fancy hole? Superglue or epoxy?
    Clark Beavans

  2. #2
    Registered User bpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    I use Duco cement to temporarily hold down pearl inlay while tracing the edges with an x-acto. I can then squirt some acetone on it, it soaks under and loosens the inlay after a bit. It doesn't raise the grain like titebond and water would. I've never used copper with Duco, so I can't say how well it will work. Epoxy? for the final glue?

  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    Nearly anything will hold it in place enough to scribe around it. In fact, I don't glue inlays down to scribe but instead just hold them in place with one scriber while scribing with another scriber. (I don't use a knife blade, just a scriber.)
    In the case of copper, I might use a spot of hot-melt glue. After scribing just heat the copper with a heat gun and it will fall right off.

    Either CA or epoxy should work to install the inlay. If you need to fill much epoxy might be easier.

  4. #4

    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    Double sided tape?

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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    Thanks - I think I'll start with the hot-melt glue. I like the idea of releasing it with heat, that seems like a low-impact way to remove the soft bendy copper without damaging it in the process.

    I looked up what a scriber is, but this copper is really soft and I think I'd likely make a mark in it like the one I'm trying to hide with the inlay! Plus I'm anticipating needing both hands to operate the knife . . .

    I plan to use a knife blade to cut the sides of the hole because the copper is just over 1/32" thick. I'll use chisels to excavate the space; hopefully if I do a good job, I can lay the copper in place and carefully tap with my smallest ball peen to spread the copper and maybe fill any gaps.
    Clark Beavans

  6. #6

    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    To keep the excavated part at the right depth, make a gauge from something like a popsicle stick with a small piece of your copper glued on. This will easily find the too-shallow parts. With something very soft, it’s important to have the recess very uniform, or it will get lumpy, even from finger pressure. If there’s a lot of area, you can also take a small chisel and glue it to a stick to make a router, the stick being wider than the pattern and just the desired depth of blade exposed. Then you can scrape accurately and quickly. Ideally, you’d go shallow, glue it in then sand it level with the wood, but you might not want to try this for risk of damaging the wood, so maybe just go for accurate depth.
    The idea of peening the edges to spread them should work. If the copper is finished shiny, though, it’s going to show, which could be a decoration.

  7. #7
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    I like the gauge idea.

    I've got a handy little Stanley No 271 mini router plane that should make the main part of the inlay excavation go fairly smoothly. The narrow and irregular bits will be a challenge I'm sure, but at least there's not a ton of that.

    The copper itself I removed from an old utility pole that was replaced in my neighborhood a few years ago: it's old and very weathered. I've had an initial go at it with steel wool but it still has loads of patina and character, so it already has a slightly textured surface, which in this application is acceptable. It's not a headstock inlay, it's a small table top.
    Clark Beavans

  8. #8
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    +1 for Duco. Then flood it with acetone to release it.

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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    Nearly any glue will release with heat, especially on copper. Copper heats easily and evenly. Thin any glue, hide, titebond, whatever and heat will even more easily release it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  10. #10

    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    rubber cement

  11. #11
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    Thanks for the responses.

    My first attempt with hot-melt glue resulted in a do-over, but it was an easy do-over. The little dab of glue I used proved too thick for me to press the inlay all the way down to the surface of the wood before it cooled and hardened. Dead easy to separate with heat, though.

    Not having any Duco on hand, I thinned a bit of white Elmer's glue 1:1 with water, in a plastic spoon. That held the inlay plenty tight for me to scribe around, and proved relatively easy to release with heat. I don't have a heat gun but I do have a cheap wood-burning pen, which worked pretty well with the copper - I made sure to keep it moving around the entire inlay.

    The one thing I changed between idea and execution was the surface of the inlay - originally I thought it would look nice with the old weathered surface, but I didn't excavate quite deep enough (I realized after I had epoxied it in place), so the inlay was just a teensy bit proud of the finished surface. I ended up scraping and sanding the copper to the form it's in now. Anyway, not terrible results for my first try at inlaying.

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    Clark Beavans

  12. #12
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: glue for temporary attachment of copper inlay

    Nice project there, Clark! I have a couple of furniture projects in mind that I need to get going on... maybe this winter when outdoor work slows down.

    BTW, once the piece is glued with hot melt, you can heat the piece and press it down to flatten the blob of glue, hold until cool and there you have it.

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