TESTED: Metal dovetail keys

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Review and photos: Raf Nathan

Using dovetail keys across wood splits was showcased by George Nakashima many years ago. It is a very popular technique today used particularly across splits and defects in slabs used for tabletops.

Many makers use contrasting coloured woods for this and it works well. A Melbourne based woodwork supply company does however have available brass or copper ‘butterfly bowties’ as they call them, which are laser cut and 3.5mm thick. These come in three sizes up to 75mm long and sell for $15 to $19.


After marking out, a thick wood key was inset and the brass key glued over the top as a feature.

At 3.5mm thick they may not be enough to restrain some larger or wider splits. What I did on a 45mm thick Huon pine tabletop was to inlay a large wood dovetail key for strength and then cover that with a brass key. To avoid any issues I used epoxy to glue the brass to the Huon pine. These inlays are a great option for adding a little sparkle to your work.

Available from www.timberrevival.com.au

Raf Nathan is a Brisbane-based wood designer maker.


Above: Brass and wood always make a good combination.

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