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  #1  
Old 12-28-2004, 09:59 AM
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SVanderkolff SVanderkolff is offline
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flattening mother of pearl

I have found a supplier of mother of pearl shells at a good price and was wondering how you go about flattening the shell to make it usable for knife slabs?
I tried the search but couldn't find anything although I am sure this has been discussed.
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Steve


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Old 12-28-2004, 10:37 AM
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Chris_Crawford Chris_Crawford is offline
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I believe the only thing you can do is grind it flat. Try to find an area where you can cut out the flattest piece and grind it down from there. -chirs


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Old 12-28-2004, 12:29 PM
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Ray Rogers Ray Rogers is offline
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A fellow I know in Australia supplied MOP commercially for many years. He once described to me how he built is equipment to flatten the shells and it sounded a lot like a Blanchard system. So, what Chris said must be right. If there was any other way to flatten the shell besides grinding this fellow would have known about it I would think.

This would explain why we only see MOP and abalone slabs offered in small, thin sizes...


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Old 12-29-2004, 12:57 AM
Jason Cutter Jason Cutter is offline
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A hobbyist jeweller trained in the Middle East kindly showed me how he selects portion of pearl shell to cut into strips or slabs (like on knife handles). He makes a template slightly larger than the desired size for the slabs, eg.- 1.25x3.5inches for 1x3inch pearl slabs, and fashions that from a simple piece of pine from the hardware store. He leaves it about 1inch tall and makes sure the top and bottom faces are flat.

He sits it on a flat surface like a table and places the pearl shell onto the piece of wood. He then moves the shell around, constantly adjusting it and eyeballs the top surface of the shell. He says that this helps him select the flattest pieces, depending on how well the portions sit on the template. He also suggests bevelling the corners of the template so tha shell can sit a bit lower. He selects the portions that sit the LOWEST on the template. He then marks out the pieces with a permanent marker and bandsaws the pieces.

The concaved underside of the shell can be partially filled with epoxy or ground back so it is flat on both sides. This will take some of the dimensions off the sides, which is why he marks / cuts them a little bigger to start with. It obviously still takes a bit of skill and experience to do it right, but he says it takes some of the stress out of the process.

NB.- I have never done it myself, so I am just passing on the info. Hope this makes sense. Jason.


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Old 01-03-2005, 08:12 PM
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Gary Mulkey Gary Mulkey is offline
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Steve,

If the shells are large enough, you will be able to look at them and see where the scales should be cut. (Pick out the flattest points extending from the center out) I have done this a few times but prefer buying precut scales since it often turns into quite a project cutting your own. If you don't mind the headaches though, you can save some money in making your own scales. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Gary
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Old 01-04-2005, 08:14 AM
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SVanderkolff SVanderkolff is offline
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Thanks All
I will let you know how it turns out once I get the shell. I have a feeling that it may be more trouble than it is worth. But always fun to learn something.
Steve


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