View Full Version : Glue for shell rosette?

06-15-2010, 02:03 PM
Hi guys quick question...

Going to be gluing in an abalone rosette in this week and am curious what type of glue I should use? I am going back and forth between epoxy and CA glue...

If I go CA glue, is there a brand from a local place like Home Depot that works well, or should I order the #10 Thin Super Glue from Stew-Mac? Is there a big difference between Stew-Mac's and HD brands?

Also, if I go the CA route, should I inlay the rosette first and then wick in the CA glue? Do I need to put any into the channel first?

Sorry to sound like a noob...but I am :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-15-2010, 03:34 PM
I use Starbond CA. Both the thin and medium viscocities. I think it only comes in pints or gallons. Unless you are real messy that's probably more than you'll need. Hobby stores carry quality CA glues in smaller quantities of different types (there are many to choose from). Personally I'd stay away from the hardware store and dime store products. Who knows what they are? And who knows where to find a "dime store" anymore?
Here's what I do.
Make sure the rosette channel is clean and sand to remove any burrs left by the cutter. If you're inlaying into a soft top such as spruce, cedar, redwood, etc, spray or brush the area in and around the channel to prevent bleed through of the glue.
Trim the ends of your shell purfling for a tight fit. Lay out all the pieces in a circle and make sure the color transition between the pieces is pleasing. Starting at the 12 o'clock position, lay the shell into the channel and and any border purfling if you like. If there's any gap when you're done it'll be at 12 o'clock where you can it with the fret board if desired. The shell should be flush with, or just a hair above the surrounding wood. Make sure there are no gaps between the pieces and that all the materials bottom out in the channel.
When everything is in place, I apply thin CA on top of the rosette. I use thin at first because it wicks into every crevice, even the bottom. After 10 minutes or so I will fill all the edges and seams with medium CA. I use the medium because it builds better and shrinks much less than the thin does. After that sets (maybe an hour) I may go back and give it another shot of medium CA to make sure everything is filled and level. It looks a bit of a mess at this point. When it is totally dry (couple of hours) I run it through my thickness sander to level it. I imagine it can be done by hand (never tried it) but be careful in doing so. The surrounding wood is much softer than the shell and glue and you'll be sanding the wood lower than the rosette if you don't watch it.
One more note. Resist the urge to speed up the curing of the glue with accelerant, especially when the glue is freshly applied. Most accelerants (zappers, kickers) will make the glue foam up or turn white. It can leave a nasty mark behind which must be dug out. It seems to be OK once the glue has set up a bit. The only accelerant I've found that will not react this way is "Fastcap 2P-10" found at Woodcraft. It's just best to be patient with CA glues.
BTW, I set all my inlays in the same manner I've outlined above.
Good luck.

Steve vanPelt
06-15-2010, 03:49 PM
So Chuck, do you leave your top pretty thick at this point, or since you make your own do you use thinner inlay? Whenever I leave too much abalone sticking up it changes color drastically when sanded. The store bought shell I've been getting is like 1.3 mm thick.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-15-2010, 04:44 PM
And that's why I like to leave the shell as flush as possible with the surrounding surface. I also leave the soundboard a bit thicker, maybe .090" or so, than my final thickness. I'd rather it be a bit proud than a bit too deep, especially on the soundboard where you risk losing a perfect bookmatch. Sanding through paua and often reveal dark or otherwise ugly parts of the shell.
Black pearl is amongst the worst at changing on you and you often have to "read" deeper into the shell to know what the final surface will be like. The attached pics are of a couple of inlays that prove this point. The first one is a manta ray that I inlaid today. All of the pieces came from the same Tahitian black pearl blank. Individual pieces were sanded through to show different graduations of color. The white area on the wing tips is black on the back. So if I sanded a little too deeply I wouldn't have gotten that lovely transition from light to dark. The other pic is of a tsunami inlay I did a couple of months ago. I had to sand at just the right depth to get the "snow" effect on the mountain. If I sanded any deeper it would've been all white.
This is a little off topic, but when I'm doing a large, complex inlay I will glue all the pieces together upside down so that the top surfaces are all level. Since not all inlay materials are the same thickness, I then run the glued up inlay through the drum sander to level the back. That betters the chances of getting the colors I want.

06-15-2010, 08:02 PM
Thanks for the reply and tips Chuck! You're inlays are amazing...blows me away everytime I see your work

Steve vanPelt
06-16-2010, 09:44 AM
Sheesh you got some mad skills. Those inlays are outta this world. Light and shadow through selective sanding...wow.

I asked because I did a segmented rosette with paua instead of BWB, 99.9% beautiful with one little black spot about the size of a sesame seed. It won't show in pictures, but it is there. Never even occurred to me to 'read deeper into the shell.' I'll start looking more closely now. Guessing that's one of those things that just come naturally.....after a few decades of practice.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-16-2010, 10:34 AM
We're working with natural materials. You need to understand that, the customer needs to understand that. There will be slight variations and inclusions in all the natural materials we use.
A sesame sized spot? Live with it. Embrace it! Celebrate it! Get over it!

Steve vanPelt
06-17-2010, 11:14 AM
I looked at all the pics of it and none of them show the spot. It's all lacquered up now and has been hanging a few weeks. I guess the lacquer adds some refraction because now I can't even find it. It is there, though from certain lighting angles.

And then, LOL! OK I get it. I will revel in its' uniqueness. I've been trying to decide if I should celebrate it with my cat, or party with my peeps. Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I had to go out and pick up some more spanish cedar.


Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-17-2010, 11:56 AM
I thought maybe you were out getting your new saw delivered.

(BTW, this is one reason no one should have a computer in their shop!)