PDA

View Full Version : Inlay advice needed



rickmorgan2003
08-26-2010, 01:04 PM
I've never done any work with shell inlays. First- pros and cons of using laminated shell vs abalone/MOP.
Second: Can one use a power scroll saw and if so any advice on blades? I plan to make a custom turtle inlay for the sound hole and would also like to use shell for the purfling and some details on the head stock. I have a lot of time on a scroll saw cutting thin wood inlays but I wasn't sure about the shell material.

Bradford
08-26-2010, 01:43 PM
Most people use a jewelers saw and blades to cut shell. It is very hard and brittle, which makes it difficult to cut with a scroll saw. Also watch the dust, not a good thing to be breathing. AbLam is cheaper than genuine shell, but some think it does not look as good.

Brad

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-26-2010, 02:43 PM
Abalam is a very thin veneer of shell laminated over solid shell of an inferior quality. Because of the thin layer, you don't have much room for error when it comes time to leveling the shell to the surrounding wood. Sand through and you're pretty much screwed. It is available in large sheets which may seem handy at first until you realize that you seldom have use for pieces that large. As Brad mentioned (and count me in that group) I think it has a fake look to it. I stay away from the stuff myself.
I've tried cutting shell with a scroll saw with dismal results. It just doesn't offer the absolute precision you can achieve with a jeweler's saw. Popular blade sizes run from 1/0 to 4/0.
If you've never cut pearl before, practice cutting up some old CDs before tackling shell.

rickmorgan2003
08-26-2010, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the advise. I agree that pure shell seams t look better. Thanks for the CD advice, I have plenty of those around. Guess I will get a jewelers saw- I am a firm believer that one should always take on a new project based on the opportunity to get new tools:)
Next question: they sell it by the oz, any idea how much I would need to do an area approximately twice the area of a typical rosette?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-26-2010, 05:43 PM
An oz of paua blanks will get you about 10 pieces each approximately the size of a postage stamp. The average rosette is about 10" around so you'll need at least an ounce. You'll need more than you think to allow for a good color match and for cutting all the angles you'll need. If you go with another type of shell they are available in bigger sizes. For shell blanks check out MOPSupplies (Australia). I find that Rescue Pearl often has better quality shell and ships much faster (California).
I'm not really sure what you're doing but I hope this helps.

loondoo
08-26-2010, 06:49 PM
Hey Chuck, great seeing you dispensing great pearl inlay advice--you are an absolute master of inlay! Just wondering, as I'm working on building my first tenor uke, and am trying to inlay the rosette with some paua pearl inlay--and am thinking of trying Luthier Kevin Ryan's new product, Zipflex- http://www.advancedshelltech.com/

Have you tried using it? Probably not, because you already are so amazing with standard pearl inlaying, but I got a strip of it, and it's really flexible and is actually very small sections of shell laminated between two super thin rubberized sheets that I hope will make the rosette inlaying process easier. I've tried the standard curved pieces of paua I got from Hana Lima'ia--my tenor top was purchased from them too--but I didn't have a jig for mitering the pieces properly, so I'm going for the Zipflex, as I'm not really tooled up for detailed inlay work...yet!

Sorry to hijack your thread, rickmorgan2003! But perhaps you might find the Zipflex useful for rosettes and/or binding. Good luck with your project!

dustartist
08-26-2010, 07:12 PM
All you need to do to get those curved pieces to mate exactly is rout a rosette channel in some scrap plywood and then chop it in half. Stick the pieces in the channel and let them hang over a bit, then sand them flat to the edge you just cut. It's pretty easy to do. There are some pics on my blog if you want to see what I use. http://malevolentmusings.blogspot.com/ Scroll down to the August 6th entry.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-27-2010, 07:06 AM
Yes, I've flex Zip-flex and it's a pretty cool product. I believe it too is a laminate but the color seems to go all the way through. It also has a "distinctive" look but it doesn't look quite as artificial as Abalam does. It makes doing side purflings a breeze. The product I really like is their micro purfling but apparently they are not offering that for sale as yet. It's probably just to cool to share with the public! It's biggest drawback is the cost. It's main advantage is the time saved in installing the shell. Still, I'll stick with solid shell. You do a few of them and it goes pretty quickly.
I do think using Zipflex in a rosette is a waste of money though. Nothing could be easier than laying up a pearl rosette especially since the radius is already cut for you. As Dustartist mentioned , trimming the ends is very simple. I just eyeball it with a disc sander.

loondoo
08-28-2010, 06:28 PM
Yes, I've flex Zip-flex and it's a pretty cool product. I believe it too is a laminate but the color seems to go all the way through. It also has a "distinctive" look but it doesn't look quite as artificial as Abalam does. It makes doing side purflings a breeze. The product I really like is their micro purfling but apparently they are not offering that for sale as yet. It's probably just to cool to share with the public! It's biggest drawback is the cost. It's main advantage is the time saved in installing the shell. Still, I'll stick with solid shell. You do a few of them and it goes pretty quickly.
I do think using Zipflex in a rosette is a waste of money though. Nothing could be easier than laying up a pearl rosette especially since the radius is already cut for you. As Dustartist mentioned , trimming the ends is very simple. I just eyeball it with a disc sander.

Thanks for the advice, Chuck and dustartist! I understand what you mean with the simplicity of laying up a pearl rosette Chuck, and I've tried it with relative ease previously, the reason I'm going with the Zipflex is because the width of the pre-cut rosette from Hanalima'ia is exactly the same size as the paua pearl rosette pieces I originally bought from them.

Don't get me wrong, the paua pearl pieces are beautiful, and I still may use them, but I'm not too fond of the straight Paua inlay and prefer a b/w/b inner and outer ring sandwiching the paua, which I feel seems to make the paua "pop" a bit more than paua alone.

To that end, I got some b/w/b from Stew Mac and I was able to find a Zip flex piece of the correct thickness such that I should be able to fit the b/w/b-Paua Zipflex-b/w/b into the rosette channel of my top.

I probably might have saved myself some trouble and expense if I simply widened the rosette channel, but unfortunately I'm not tooled up for that just yet, so I figured this way might be the best compromise. Hopefully it'll work!

Thanks for the suggestions again!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-29-2010, 07:21 AM
I understand. Be advised in the future that paua abalone strips are available in widths from .040" to .125" and everything in between.
Good luck.