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mother of pearl or alabone inlays (anything but wood)

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  • mother of pearl or alabone inlays (anything but wood)

    Anyone on here tried cutting alabone or mother of pearl (like used on guitar / instrument inlays.) I was wondering what kind of success has been made with these types of materials.

    What is really hard to work with etc.

    for example (obviously not even a good comparison) but it'd be so much easier to cut something out of pine or oak, as opposed to snakewood. I was wondering what kinda of expierences anyone has had with what materials... any materials except wood (i know i didn't do the best at staying away from the wood topic. but anyways.)

    What's your advice on materials other than wood?

    just doing some research before i get into a project where im totally lost.

    Thanks for your help,
    'smile it makes people wonder what your up to, and brightens anothers day.'

  • #2
    Tim __ I think it would be so pretty cutting something out of alabaster or mother of Pearl.It doesn't have to be wood to be scrolled just the type of cutting that is involved- Heck as far as that goes you could cut a brick and it would still be scrolling.
    I would like to see something done so if you do it be sure and post a picture so we can see it.


    • #3
      Well, I have cut some of the softest of softwoods, to some of the hardest of hardwoods, and yes, I even cut some snakewood on the scrollsaw.I would much rather cut harder, than softer woods. seems better control, and clean crisp cuts.Not only is careful blade selection a must, but equally so it saw speed,feed rate, and overall technique. Blade selection help is easy to come by, one call can work miracles, but the rest is mostly gained from practice and more practice.What works for one doesnt always work for the next guy. for me, purpleheart is a PITA to cut if 3/4" or thicker, moreso than cutting 1 1/2 inch thick cherry with a #5 and not getting burns.I also have a bunch of Brazillian cherry 2 by 4 drops about 16 inches long, and judging by the weirght of the pieces, it will be harder to cut than the purpleheart. wenge cuts easier than i thought, but it splinters very easily.
      Corian cuts decent, but again, with the wrong blade its a disaster.If some people on here wouldnt point fingers accusing me of promoting one blade brand over another, I could recommend specific blades which work better for different things. Thats where a friendly dealer comes in handy,always an email or a phone call away. Acrylics are much like cutting corian, I have had good luck with acrylics as well, although I will admit, I havent stack sawn acrylic over 3/8th inch thick, I am not that daring . I know moose antler cuts good, but dusty, and, be ready for the most foul smell, especially if your drilling with a dull drillbit. Simple things like sheet styrofoam even cuts good. Some have cut metals, many cut copper. I havent, and I am reluctant to do so thinking about that fine metal dust and how abrasive it can be. My wife got some fiberglass 3/8 inch diameter dowels for a project, and needed them trimmed a little, so I tackled them with the scrollsaw, and it was like trying to cut through 3/8th inch drillbit. And yes.... sometimes you can take those burned cookies your SWMBO tries to feed you, and with their density, cut ornaments out of them!!! Dale

      OOPs, I forgot to add, Kiwi T cuts something like the mother of pearl, I think its from a Paua shell, hopefully she can offer advice on cutting that for you.
      Dale w/ yella saws


      • #4
        OOPs, I forgot to add, Kiwi T cuts something like the mother of pearl, I think its from a Paua shell, hopefully she can offer advice on cutting that for you.
        Ok Dale. Tim, paua shell is one of the 130 spieces of abalone and found in our NZ waters. It's a big seller in the tourist trade as it is very much an icon of NZ. The paua inside is quite tough to eat and has a very strong taste. Mostly it is minced up and made into patties - great onthe BBQ! An aquired taste. The shell itself is very highly couloured in blues, greens and purples and can come in many shades. One of the products freely available in NZ is shell that has be finally sliced and made into sheets. It cuts extremly easy and needs to be treated very carefully. Can be cut with very sharp scissors. If wanting to cut it on the scroll saw sandwich it between two layers of mdf or even better perspex or something like that. (I know there are various names for this acrylic plastic stuff) Tape the layers together, don't nail them as to avoid damaging it. If youcan sandwch it between two layers of perspex you pattern can also be sanwiched and you can then plan your cutting better to save on the paua sheet wastage as it's not that cheap. I use bits of the shell itself on various pieces and my husband makes lots and lots of product (woodturning) for another contact who inlays paua shell pieces into the rims of these products - as I say, big sellers.

        If you go to the finished quilt, sorry haven't got time to find the thread (I should be in bed!!!) and look at the tile on the sixth row, third tile down you might be able to pick up the lettering that my friend cut out of paua sheeting for his tile.

        Cheers for now, Kiwi T.
        Cheers. Teresa .


        • #5
          good stuff kiwi, any suggestions on how i would sandwich the pieces together? shipping tape them?

          when i'm sutting wood i cover the face with that blue painters tape, spray some of that contact adheasive onto it (painters tape keeps the glue off the wood) then i place the patern on the glue carefully and then cover that with shipping tape... should i just sandwich the alabone between the acrylics and shipping tape them?

          also, any suggestions on where i'd find the best deal on this stuff (i'd beat myself up if i payed twice what i could of paid somewhere else for the same stuff...)

          thanks for your help...
          ~Tim Bonner
          'smile it makes people wonder what your up to, and brightens anothers day.'


          • #6
            Tim, I checked up with Allan as to to extra queries - I have to admit that I myself haven't cut it on the scrollsaw. He backed the paua piece with doublesided tape, leaving the bottom cover in tact, placed it on a piece of 3mm MDF, laid the pattern on top of it, then put stuck some double sided tape on the each side of the paua, peeled off the top layer from that tape and then laid some polycarbonate acrylic (not perspex) on top of the whole thing. That way he could see just where he has placed the pattern to lessen the wastage of the paua. The pattern couldn't lift at all. When finished he peeled the layers apart, took the backing of the tape off the backof the cutout letters and pressed them on to his tile. Of course if you use polycarbonate instead of perspex you could nail the layers togather as an alternative method as it doesn't shatter like perspex. One site where I have purchased the sheeting from is but I notice that they don't have the sheeting advertised on the site. Another good place is Trev has dealt with ocean shell before and found them very helpful. I see that on their site they have some agencies overseas but I can't see why they wouldn't deal with you direct. Let me know howyou get on or if I can help further.
            Kiwi T.
            Cheers. Teresa .


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