This is a tool that can cut pearl and / or abalone blanks into strips. Most pearl blanks are somewhat small in size so it’s made to cut narrow strips. Some suppliers will also have available composite sheets of abalone that are larger in size, approximately 4’ by 6”, that allow longer strips to be cut, and the saw certainly does this job nicely, and quickly, especially if there are a lot of strips are to be cut.

If you want to build one yourself, it’s relatively easy to do. The main piece that’s hard to find is the steel bracket that looks something like a sideways “H”. The one in these photos was supplied by Dave Nichols in Malone New York. The electric Dremil like tool uses a diamond crusted wheel (a Dremil accessory) which spins at roughly 20,000 rpm. The wheel cuts through the steel table top fairly easily and has to protrude only enough to cut the relatively thin (.0145”) pearl or abalone slabs. The clamps are used to hold the wood guide in place, and is used in a similar way to that of a fence on a table saw.

If you’re looking to cut long strips of abalone to be used in decorative purfling (the band around the outer edge of the instrument body) this is the tool to do it. Beats the heck out of hand sawing it.

As can be seen by the photos, it can also be used to cut diamond markers out of pearl or abalone. A variety of geometric shapes can be cut – it’s all up to the imagination and some angled push sticks.

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