Super Solder Inlay for Your Woodworking Projects





Introduction: Super Solder Inlay for Your Woodworking Projects

About: Warren is owner of I create entertaining woodworking videos on YouTube | Self confessed Woodworking Nut | Me-Mo and may have an addiction to woodworking tools.

Learn how to make Solder Metal Inlay for your Woodworking Projects

In just a few easy steps you can create an great looking metal inlay using solder that can be purchased from any hardware store.

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Step 1: Carve the Pattern You Want

Carve the pattern for your solder inlay.

I used the X Carve CNC from Inventables to carve out a design to about 3mm deep. I carved out Superman's Logo

You can use any sort of carving or boring tool like a Dremel, Drill Press, Router Table, Table Saw, Chisel, Scroll Saw etc.

Even lots of dots from a drill press would look nice on the lid of a jewelry box.

Step 2: Melt the Solder for the Inlay

Melt the solder with a blowtorch

I used solid solder that is used in plumbing and using a blowtorch melted it over the carving, I found clumping it together worked better as each drip would merge with the one next to it, keep going until you fill the mould with solder.

Step 3: Sand the Solder Inlay Flush

Sand the solder inlay flush to the wood.

Using a belt sander to sand down the excess solder it did a pretty good job of quickly removing material, you can finish it off with a random orbit sander and some hand sanding to give it a bit of a polished look.

I did not fill a few spots enough and used a soldering iron and some more solder to fill the gaps.

WARNING: Some Solders contain lead so as with any potential hazardous material like fibreglass, MDF etc you should wear a mask and use dust extraction.

Step 4: Give It That Burnt Look

Burn that wood

I used a blowtorch to burn the wood around the Superman logo which looked pretty cool and gave it a nice contrast, you could also stain the wood if needed.

I then used Minwax wipe on poly to finish it off.

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92 Discussions

Ok that was cool in so many ways :)

Love it and starting to think of ideas, hmmm. lol

Thanks for this :)

Make sure not to use lead solder for this! Sanding or grinding would cause you to breathe things you don't wanna breathe

15 replies

Greg, I didn't even realize lead solder was still made because of the hazards associated with lead. The solder I have seen and used are all labeled lead free. I am surprised if it is still being sold.

A friend working with the armed forces told me that the military and the medical fields still use lead solder. That was a couple of years ago. The reasoning was that in both cases they wanted the highest level of long term between failures. The solder which is lead free has been know to grow whiskers and cause shorting whereas lead/tin solder isn't prone to do that. So if it can kill you or save you it's O/K apparently but nothing in between. PS, this is a nifty project. Too bad the lead free solder works at a higher temperature. I will have to look around for the alloy someone mentioned. By the way the chap who was asking what kind of solder whether radio rosin core solder or acid flux core solder - neither one. Just straight solder with no flux as in plumbers solder. Flux would contaminate the wood, oh yucky!

The only reason not to use lead is that it is not evironment-friendly. ROHS standard does not allow to sell lead-soldered consumer electric devices in the EU but otherwise the solder that contains lead is far better then the others. These solder joints less likely to crack and more easier to create concave cone shaped (this is how a good joint looks) solder joints with this old-type solder material. If I remember well they are still allowed where you can't afford the risk of broken joints like medical devices or vehicle industry. Been in the electrical manufacturing industry for 13 years, I can tell you all the technicians hated hand-working with lead-free because you can't do as good joints with it as you can with the Pb-Sn.

Thank you so much for your info Gabor. I DO appreciate all the info plus I learned something useful. Have a great day and stay safe !!

Lead solder is still used and in many ways is more dangerous to the environment than the solderer.

The exception is when you do tricky stuff like this, which is not the design application, and produce solder dust.

But when I solder PCB boards, I do not create dust, and lead has a high volatile temperature. The non-lead solders require more aggressive flux that has bad fumes. But, I mostly use non-lead solders. I still have some lead solder and don't mind using it, but agree that it's bad to be adding lead to products that we know at the end of the day will be in a landfill near you and me (or far away but near some creature.)

Leslie, it sure is still made! I often pick up the leader solder because it's slightly more forgiving to work with than most of the lead free stuff.

I make sure to use a fine extractor when I'm using that kind though, and I usually only use it for smaller jobs where the temperature/time it takes for the lead free stuff is an issue.

Thank you for your reply it is appreciated. I will make sure in the future to check that I don't pick up the wrong kind :)

It is very popular for circuit soldering. Of course having it in the water supply by soldering plumbing would be an issue, but it isn't too bad for circuits. I spoke to a specialist in the past who said for soldering circuitry, the hazard with lead soldering is not in the soldering process or use, but in end of life. Discarded products can 'leak' lead into the water supply from landfills. Luckily, lead solder for circuits is usually high gauge and could not be used for this project.

Yeah came here to say this. Lead is super super nasty. If you want to permanently lower the IQ of your children or your own IQ then lead is the way to go. Even touching the lead constantly would be bad.

In college our professor told us that the perceived dangers of merely touching lead were overplayed. But that was decades ago.

I'd very much like to see any modern research on led absorption through the skin for solid lead such as fishing weights. Do you have any references I can look at?

Sorry I don't know about that. But I figure the more likely path would be licking your fingers or touching food and then ingesting it. Especially with such a pretty metal inset you might play around with.

Anyways I switched to non lead solder now and didn't find it much harder. Biggest bummer is that it won't go shiny and you can't spot a cold solder joint as easily.

Lead is still used in circuits because of its lower melting point, its much more forgiving and less likely to damage components and the circuit board. For everything else lead free should be used, especially if you're melting with a torch you don't need to worry about not enough heat.

Great project idea. What if you were to use a dovetail bit around the edges to undercut and lock in whatever material you use to fill the cavity. Thanks for sharing.

1 reply

you could do that but might be a bit of overkill, i think you would just need to chisel out a couple of undercuts for it to hold tight.

I LUV IT nice!~