How to Inlay Brass in Wood

You can achieve a custom look to any piece of wood by inlaying brass into it. It is a retro look you can achieve at home with a hand-held router. It’s easy and gives you the chance to get creative with a woodworking project.

Create brass inlays with a template and router.

You can buy brass appliques at the craft store or cut your own out of thin brass to give your woodworking project a personalized touch.

  1. Trace the brass object onto the masonite and draw a 1/8 inch perimeter of the size of the hole. Drill a hole through the masonite. Insert the tip of the jigsaw blade through the hole and cut to the line. File the hole smooth to create a template 1/8 inch larger than your brass.

  2. Fit the 3/8-inch cutter bit into the router. Place the 1/8-inch-bushing guide into the router base. Adjust the depth of cut to penetrate the wood 1/32 inch deeper than the thickness of the brass.

  3. Pin the masonite to the wood by hammering a 1/2-inch brad through two corners of the masonite.

  4. Turn on the router and gently ease the cutter bit down into the wood. Follow the template around with the router, cutting away the wood until the bottom of the pattern is smooth and flat.

  5. Pry the masonite loose from the wood with a screwdriver, leaving the brads in the masonite. Test fit the brass into the hole. If the brass does not fit perfectly into the hole, file the edges of the template where needed and adjust the depth of cut if necessary. Cut and test fit until the brass fits perfectly.

  6. Place the template onto the wood. Pin the template to the wood using the existing brads in the masonite.

  7. Turn on the router and cut out the wood.

  8. Lightly sand the inside of the receiving piece of wood with sandpaper, removing any burrs or rough edges inside the cut area.

  9. Coat the back of the brass piece and inside the receiving cut area with contact cement. Wait 15 minutes for the glue to dry and lay the brass into the opening. Tap the brass down with a small wood block.

  10. Tip

    You can get masonite at your local home improvement store, or you can use Plexiglas for the template as well. Putty and sand the holes from the brads if desired.