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Inlaying Abalone

Advice on trimming and fitting mother of pearl to a void in wood veneer. March 13, 2009

This isn't exactly a veneer question but an inlay question. I'm building my first acoustic guitar, and my first attempt at inlaying abalone initials in the headstock didn't go to well. The method I used was to cut the letters out of the abalam, spot glue it in place on the surface, scribe around it with a razor knife, remove and then excavate between the lines. The cavity was too large to fill with epoxy and sawdust. Anybody got a better way?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor J:
I've done some mother of pearl by cutting the wood cavity first. I lay a sheet of heavy tracing paper over the hole, tape it in place, trim to the edge of the cavity with a sharp Xacto, then spray-tack the outer piece with the hole (not the small cut-out) on the shell and cut around the outside of the hole with a jeweler's saw. Trim the shell to fit with locksmith's files.

From contributor B:
Here is another way. It works just like to replace veneer loss or mop or abalone loss on furniture. Cut your hole in the piece. Then treat it like an area of loss. Take a piece of clear acetate like is used for transparencies and such. Lay it over the hole and tape one edge in place. Use a fine line marker and trace the outline of the hole. Take it off, put a piece of carbon paper under it and the abalone under that, retrace the outline with a ball point to transfer the line to the abalone. Cut it with a jewelers saw, maybe a #6 blade or finer. It should be a good fit. Glue it in with hot hide glue.