The Flintlock Shop
Tutorial on Silver Wire Inlay Part 3

Part three of the silver wire tutorial will attempt to show how to inlay small leafs, and to join them together, to create an elusion that everything was inlet in one piece.

If you look at a well executed complicated design it should look as though it is all one piece.  Of course this would be impossible , and to some it would be a reason to be discouraged to a point where they would not try to do it at all.  This is unfortunate because as you will see it is not that hard to do.

I would like to make it very clear that my technique is not the only way of doing this, and some may have other ways, which may or may not be a better way.  It is my intention to show you the way that I do it, and you can then incorporate your own ideas to suit your own style. I hope that others can experience the joy that it brings to me.

I am going to copy a design from a swivel breech rifle that I built for my son, and put it on another rifle that I am building  for him which will be a single barrel copy of his swivel breech rifle

The first photo shows the copying process, simply place a piece of clear tape over the design that you are copying, and trace it out with a pencil.

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Remove the tape and apply it to the area where the new design will go.
Once it is in the correct position place a piece of carbon paper under the tape and go over it with a ball point pen to transfer the design.

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This job will be done with German silver, but you could use sterling silver of brass or whatever you want to choose.  The important thing is whatever you use it should be thick enough so that it will hold itself in the wood without any glue.  I use metal that is .060 thick.  This I know will surprise you.  As we go on you will see the reason for the thickness of the metal.  There are a number of places that you can purchase the metal.  I use Muzzle Loaders Supply, they usually have just what I need in
stock and Suzzie Bionco is a pleasure to work with.

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Place a piece of clear tape over the design on your stock and again using a pencil draw the design on the tape
one leaf at a time.

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Now place the tape on to the piece of metal that
you are going to use.

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Cutting out such a small piece requires a vise with small jaws, thin and high.  I use a Versa Vise placed in my large vise, up at eye level.  Cut out some voids in the jaws to allow for better holding and cutting.

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A good quality jewelers saw with a coarse blade  is the tool needed to saw out the pieces.  I know that you would think that a fine blade would be the way to go but because of the thickness of the metal it would take way too long.  The course blade can also be used like a file when necessary.

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A file of different shapes can also be used to shape the pieces, but again use a course cut.

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Now you are ready to start cutting out inlays.  Leave the inlay attached to the large piece of metal as long a possible.  Place it in the vise in such a way that the most intricate part of the design is at the top so that you can do the final filing on it,  
if necessary, before removing it from the large piece.

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Make your release cut, put the inlay back in the vise, utilizing the cut outs in the vise jaws to your advantage and clean up the piece using various  jewelers files.  The first piece is cut.

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Lay the piece in place on your design, and tape in place so that it will not get lost or shuffled with other pieces.

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The next group of pictures are a bit repetitious but I think that they will help you to get a better idea of the technique of using the jaws, saw, and files to the best advantage.

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Silver Wire Part 3