View Full Version : Intricate designs?

10-29-2009, 03:44 AM

Such as on that Uke. They have them on the Moore Bettah's too, I'm talking about the outlines and symbols etc. that look like they're made from colourful marble.

Can anyone tell me what material it is, and how it's possible to cut like that? :O


Matt Clara
10-29-2009, 05:29 AM
It's generally referred to as inlay, or inlay work, often made of abalone and pearl/mother of pearl, and then the thin strips around the edges are generally referred to as purfling.


dave g
10-29-2009, 05:34 AM
... and it's possible to do it because the builders who do it (I'm not one of them) have great skill and lots of patience :)

10-29-2009, 07:48 AM
One day, huh... :D

Is it a hard material? If so... how is it bent around a guitar/uke body?

If it's the same material as on my guitar it feels like hard plastic...

10-29-2009, 10:45 AM
Much of the abalone shell used today is called AbLam. It is a laminate of abalone and epoxy that comes in sheets. You use a jewelers saw to cut the shell, and something like a Dremel to route the channels in the wood. It is time consuming, exacting work. The shell, for the most part, does not bend, the pieces need to be cut to the exact shape. With AbLam, it is possible to insert straight pieces into a curved purfling channel and break them into shape and then glue the pieces in with superglue.


10-29-2009, 11:04 AM
I cheat and use a laser to cut my pockets and inlay. I use MOP or abalone that is veneered onto plastic. I also have some faux abalone binding that bends with heat like any other binding but it doesn't have that luminescence that real abalone exhibits.

10-29-2009, 06:41 PM
Inlay artwork can be done with almost anything solid, even MOTS (mother of toilet seat - inside joke). I like ablam for doing purfling and rosettes, but only if i can't get real shell (which I can).

There are many different types of shell as well. This has Gold MOP, White MOP, Ebony, Paua Abalone as well as different Recon Stone (which I love to use lately). Engraving is another story (which this has as well).


10-30-2009, 01:05 AM
Where can one find some step by step instructions for this kind of work. I'm the type that is willing to try anything and believes they can do a good job as long as I take it VERY slow and be patient. I'm sure with this I will be greatly humbled. Is there anyone that has put together something like a tutorial online?

Dave Higham
10-30-2009, 05:41 AM
This tutorial is pretty good.


There's also other information here.


If you want to see some really top-class stuff, have a look at Craig Lavin's website. Or, of course, William 'Grit' Laskin's. Mind boggling stuff!