There are many ways to join pieces of wood, but I’d bet you haven’t used this one before. Brass pin joints used to be more common years ago, but they still offer a fabulous option that combines ease of installation with classic beauty. You can use the brass pin approach with any kind of wood, though it looks particularly striking against a dark species of hardwood. The wood it’s used in below is red oak. Not dark, but still nice. It’s part of a music stand I made for a friend.
Although brass pin joints look exotic, they’re easy to make. The metal itself is nothing more than an ordinary flathead brass screw with the head sanded flush to the surrounding wood after installation. Start by drilling a pilot hole in any kind of butt joint, such that the screw threads bite into the wood without anything more than moderate friction. Brass screws are softer than steel, and they’ll break if you stress them. I know because I’ve learned this the hard way. Trust me, you don’t want a broken screw messing up your project parts.
Are you working with softwood? In this case, there’s no need for anything other than ordinary pilot holes. If you’re working in hardwood, countersink the edges of the hole slightly for reasons that become obvious later.
With pilot holes drilled, install flathead brass wood screws – one screw every two or three inches, along with a little glue. You’ll find #8 or #10 x 1 1/2” brass screws work best. Tighten them as far as you can with a hand driver (as you can see below), then grab your belt sander and get ready to make things look pretty.
Carefully work the metal heads with an 80-grit belt until they’re flush with the wood, allowing the screws to cool after every five or ten seconds of sanding. Ignore this and heat build-up in the screws will char the surrounding wood. Sanding brass generates a lot of heat. Soft wood compresses enough to allow a small amount of the angled, countersunk screw head to pull down below the wood surface automatically while tightening, leaving behind a tiny lip that holds the joint together after the sanding is done. Hardwood doesn’t compress enough for this to happen without a slight countersinking before screw installation.