Make It - Gold / Glass Vial Holder





This summer I was lucky enough to get some gold mining lessons in British Columbia (thanks Josh and crew!) My family and I spent the day on the river panning and we have a small vial of gold to show for the work. I wanted to build a housing that would protect the vial but also make it easy to admire the gold. This is what I came up with.

I urge you to check out the build video to see the whole thing come together. Links to all the products I used in this build can be found in the video description.

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Step 1: Cutting a Base and a Top

This is really basic build. The top and bottoms are identical pieces of wood cut down from a scrap piece of walnut I had. I taped them together in preparation for the next step.

Step 2: Drill Some Holes

I drilled through both pieces at the same time in the four corners with a 1/4" forstner bit on the drill press. Drilling through both at the same time ensures the hole placement is identical. I then drilled a 5/8" hole in the centre of each block. One of the 5/8" holes was 1/8" deep and the other side was just deep enough to hide the plastic lid of the vial.

Step 3: Cutting the Brass

I sandwiched the vial of gold between the base and top to determine the length the rod and spacers needed. The rod is 1/4" solid brass and the spacers are 5/16" brass tubing with a 1/4" ID. The brass rod should protrude an 1/8" top and bottom. I assembled the holder and made my way over to the anvil.

Step 4: STOP!, Hammer Time!

Nothing really to say about this step other than it will take a lot longer than you'd think. I worked on one pin at a time, slowly mushrooming the brass rod to pin the vial in place. The spacers keep the pressure off the vial so as not to break it.

Step 5: Finishing

I used Briwax to protect the wood and wax and this project is done.

I urge you to check out the build video to see the whole thing come together. Links to all the products I used in this build can be found in the video description.

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I would suggest a coat of clear over the cleaned brass because if you dont you will have a regular messy polishing job on your hands . Clear cote or varnish stops that for a fair while

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I am fully expecting and patiently wait for a beautiful patine to develop! Good advise though if you want to preserve the shine. That's what they do to brass accents in the home like light switch covers.


    Reply 3 years ago

    switch to bronze rods, for that aged statue feel you are probably after.

    or, hit it with 5 parts salt dissolved in 4 parts ammonia, for a cool purple patina. LIGHT washes with a plastic paint brush. Extra layers will develop it into a green color. A bit of paste wax, when it reaches the desired color should retard or stop further oxidation.


    Reply 3 years ago

    You can give brass and copper a patina using ammonia also. Copper develops a beautiful blue colour if you get it just right!