Customize a Keyhole with an Inlaid EscutcheonComments (0)
When I receive a
commission to build a spice box like the one featured in this issue (see p. 49),
I always plan to include a custom-made escutcheon for the door’s keyhole. Many
escutcheons are designed to be surface mounted, but an inlaid version adds an
extra measure of craftsmanship. The escutcheon shown here consists of a brass
keyhole insert surrounded by diamond-shaped synthetic ivory. This embellishment
can be found on many antique case pieces and on new furniture too. The benefits
of an escutcheon are practical as well as aesthetic. Without the protection of
a brass insert, the wood that surrounds a keyhole will become worn and
unsightly as the key is used over time.
Install the keyhole insert first
I start with a brass
keyhole insert and a 1/8"-thick piece of synthetic ivory (Elforyn) that’s
about twice as large as my planned inlay. Before tracing the insert’s outline,
scuff its outside surface with a small file to improve the adhesion of the
epoxy. If the insert is thicker than the ivory, plan on filing the brass flush
with the ivory surface.
Brass into ivory.
1. Working over a centerpoint on the synthetic ivory blank, trace the outline of the keyhole insert using a sharp pencil.
2. Remove material inside your layout lines. Start by drilling, then use a chisel and files to creep up on the finished opening. Elforyn is brittle, not flexible like wood. To avoid cracking the material, take tiny parings with your chisel. Test-fit the insert, and keep refining the opening until you get a fit that’s snug but not forced.
3. Epoxy the insert in place, then (if necessary) file it flush with the ivory.
Cut, scribe, excavate, and epoxy
The diamond shape of my inlay is traditional, but other shapes are also possible. Although synthetic ivory can be cut by hand with a fine tooth hobby saw, I prefer to cut the shape on my tablesaw. My technique depends on double-stick carpet tape and a sharp, finish-cutting blade.
Fine work for a perfect fit.
1. A plywood sled cut flush with the blade provides a cutting platform and a reference edge to align each cut. Adhere double-stick tape to the sled, then press the blank firmly in position before cutting.
2. Double-stick tape holds the inlay in place on the door frame as I scribe its outline. Make sure the inlay is positioned to center the lockset’s pin (where the key will fit) in the round portion of the keyhole.
3. Match the mortise depth to the insert’s thickness. After removing most of the waste with a trim router and a 1⁄8" straight bit, I finish the mortise with chisels.4. When the fit is right, spread epoxy in the mortise, and tap the inlay in place. Place waxed paper over the inlay, and clamp. When the glue dries, sand the inlay flush with the surrounding wood.
Wood Carving Chisels
Item 05E16Model 1/10E
Item 05E71Model D 1S/12
Item 05A16Model 1/5E
Item 05R09Model L1S/8
Files & Rasps
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