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Recon Stone


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I was wondering a couple things about all this "recon stone" stuff being used since you can't really use real shell blanks and are forced to use that thin veneer shell alot.

My question was, if you're inlaying this stone material, and it's not level with your fingerboard... wil STONE sand down flush? IE: are the inlaying techniques the same for the stone as they are with shell, etc.?


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I'm not quite sure where you got the idea that you can't get real shell blanks thick enough for inlay. True, some species are in short supply and shell sizes are getting smaller but there's enough to go round for guitar uses. Recon (stituted) stone is stone that has been crushed to an almost powder consistancy then glued back together in an epoxy mix (i think under pressure) to give a usable medium. It's MOH is less than pearl and cuts and sands quite easily.

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I was talking with a guy from Inlay USA and he said they won't sell you shell blanks because they're hazardous and cause cancer and that the FEDs monitor that STUFF like crack cocaine!


PS: But good to know stone is no harder to work with :D

I'm hopefully going to be doing my first inlay soon.

Language Warning

Edited by Scott Rosenberger
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Hahahaha, no, I figured out what he was talking about. He can't sell me FULL UNLAMINATED SHELL BLANKS, without some federal liscence on my part. HOWEVER, he can sell me laminated shell blanks, I was just TOTALLY lost. So yeah, I can get laminated shell blanks, which is all I need. I think inlayusa.com calls their laminates "top-strat", and then they have little veneers (way too thin for me) called like microveneer or something.

But yeah... how dangerous is the laminated stuff? Even if I'm just cutting it with a knife to inlay? Do I really need a resperator? Where do I get one? How much? And I take it I shouldn't do this inside in my bedroom....?


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I don't think you understand. You can buy regular(Unlaminated) shell blanks. Just look at stewmac or mopsupplies.com or one of a whole lot of other sites. You can buy regular blanks; I've done it many times.


By the way, I can't tell you from experience if this is true or not, but I've heard if you sand a radius into laminated shell, like you would a normal blank, you can see the lines between the laminations and it looks bad. Like I said, I'm not 100% certain that's true, but honestly, it makes a lot of sense.

Edited by thegarehanman
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Wow. :D:D ^B)

This thread is about the most completely mis-informed thread I have ever read on this forum.

Please excuse my tone, it is out of frustration.

#1) -You can buy absolutely ANY real shell blank on the market today. I use over 15 species. It's all available, completely UNREGULATED (except for fisheries status), does NOT cause cancer, and for the most part actually if cut with the proper masks, etc.. is relatively HARMLESS. The Feds could care less about it, they ceertainly don't regulate it.

2) The only thing regarding any change in real shell blanks is sadly they are smaller then previously, due to fisheries again.

3) He can sell you full unlaminated shell blanks, he just doesn't. He rather sell thin shell lamination. That stuff is for overlay, NOT inlay.

Real laminated inlay materials are abalam. It's basically thin sheets glued to a thickness of around .05 or more, or less. it's your call. It's readily available, easy to work, and it's not cheap. Some types have seams, some don't. It's part of the material wether or not you sand it down or not, for most types. There are others that are seemless for the top .02", but it's not abalam. It's grav-lam, and it's harder to work.

4) Recon stone is typically a great material, and it works "like" shell, but it varies widely. I gave a mini-talk tutorial on it a few weeks ago, why no one references it is beyond me.

You guys either arent searching for the information, or are just being led around. I have not heard one good thing about inlay USA. Where they get their information from is unkown, and typically is incorrect. I work with every major shell distributor in the USA, I know their owners by name, and that company is simply not one of them.

Please use this site as it was intended. The informaton is all here regarding your questions. Please try to do better searches!

Yes I know the forum is for raising questions, and I agree, but there is a lot of info on these topics here. Why is no one lately finding any?


Craig Lavin


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I don't find them usually because the forum search engine, if you put in more than one word it only finds results where those two words are NEXT to each other. Therefore if I wanted to find out about working stone, it'd only find subjects that have "working stone" right next to each other, so you lose alot of search flexebility. Secondly, I AM being led around, I'm gunna leave names out of this, but this is the response I got, and the reason I said what I did:

Email Quote:


The reason that there is no way to buy nature shell blanks directly off

our website is because these products (Solid Blanks) can only, by

Federal law, be sold to OSHA certified inlay shops (due to the danger of

the dust produced during processing). Currently we don't see "Chris

Verhoeven" on OSHA list of approved buyers and would not be able to sell

you blanks until you were approved. Once you provide us with a OSHA

Nacre/Asbestos Certification Number we will be able to get you access to

these material directly online.

I'm an old school inlay artist too who likes real blanks and I'm sure

you will find some guys, overseas that will sell you blanks all day

long. InlayUSA is too high profile with OSHA and we are being court

ordered to provide them with a complete list of all solid Shell "blank"

buyers ever quarter! We also have to account for the "Blanks" like it

was morphine! If you are new to inlaying or haven't done it a lot you

might not realize just how dangerous the shell (nacre) dust really is.

It products a similar form of cancer that asbestos produces. It takes 20

or more years for it to show up and is almost always fatal if not

discovered early. If you have been exposed to any nacre dust go get a

chest x-ray right away. Do not tell your doctor about shell dust unless

you have a positive x-ray because he is required to notify OSHA (who

tears you shop/home apart looking for the dust.) Seriously, guys in moon

suits show up at you shop or home and you get the bill! The million

dollar bill! I use the veneers now, not only is it ten times cheaper

then blanks without any lose of the shell natural beauty but it 10 times

safer to work with and doesn't require an OSHA license! I would like to

send you some samples of the shell laminates that we stock. Please email

us with your mailing address and we will get some sample out to you.

Thank you for your interest in our products and please email anytime

with your questions."

Now can some PLEASE tell me what is going on!?!?!


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PS: Then why not list some of these distributors on the site's "Suppliers" List? ALL the ones on it either sell that THIN THIN THIN veneer stuff or stone, I couldn't for the LIFE of me find buyable REAL or LAMINATED blanks. The closest I got was that top-strat stuff which was microveneer with a substrate backing.

You're frustrated? I've spent HOURS trying to find what I need and people are sending me in circles and telling me RANDOM stuff.


(PS: I use caps to highlight words, not to convey yelling)

Edited by verhoevenc
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Yes the dust can cause silicosis over 40 or so years, but everything else he states is just pure comedy! You need to breath a lot of it in! I really don't understand this company! Stew-mac sells pearl, Luthier's mercantile sells pearl, Rescue pearl, Duke of pearl, Luthiersupply, and the list goes on!

None have ever asked me for anything more than my credit card number!

I do know that inlay USA was either threatened, or actually sued by PRS for false statements and had a public apology on the inlay USA site for many months a long time ago.

Chris I got your e-mail. I'll write you back later.

For now keep cool, help is on the way..


Don't buy ANYTHING yet!!!!!

For the love of pearl! Sheesh!

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Whoa, what the heck is going on here? Seriously?

Anyway, Craig's right on all counts here. Few names out there, other than LMI, StewMac: DePaule Supply, Rescue Pearl. Both US-based, the former only sells solid pearl products (I believe), the latter has both solid pearl and a boatload of laminates (not thin sheet overlay, proper laminates).

As for the pearl dust health risk, someone on another forum (a doctor, IIRC) did a medline search for documented cases of silicosis in pearl workers, and came up with...nothing. I would agree that the risk *is* there, but it's certainly nowhere near the same level of dangerous as Asbestos (which is a completely different compound), and a simply little dust mask, a vacuum cleaner with some pantyhose over it near your workpiece, and you're safe as houses.

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PS: Then why not list some of these distributors on the site's "Suppliers" List? ALL the ones on it either sell that THIN THIN THIN veneer stuff or stone, I couldn't for the LIFE of me find buyable REAL or LAMINATED blanks. The closest I got was that top-strat stuff which was microveneer with a substrate backing.

You're frustrated? I've spent HOURS trying to find what I need and people are sending me in circles and telling me RANDOM stuff.


(PS: I use caps to highlight words, not to convey yelling)

Errrr....what were you looking at, all of 'em sell shell blanks. 1mm > 1.5mm is the standard, it don't come much thicker unless you're after stuff for knive handles.

Oh, and i'd just like to second the fact that shell does not cause cancer. Not that i'm a doctor or a chemist or something but i'm pretty sure shell is calcium carbonate which is pretty well what your teeth are made out of ! It is, like so many other things, just plain nasty in very much the same way that coal dust is. If inhaled it sticks to the insides of the lungs and it doesn't go away so if you were working with it 24/7 with no extraction or mask after a number of years it wouldn't do you any favours !

Jem. :D

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Re: dust, cancer, etc: all dust is dangerous, and the finer the dust, the more dangerous it is to your lungs. It can and ultimately will cause mechanical damage and may lead to a condition similar to silicosis of the lung, which is similar to an asbestos lung. Wood dust = bad. Woodworkers have a significantly higher rate of nose, mouth, and pharynx cancer than non-woodworkers, f'r example. Don't risk your body, you only have the one, and it doesn't always repair itself as well as you'd like.

You like your life? Buy a good respirator. I don't even trust most disposable masks. Better yet, avoid sanding where possible. Planes and scrapers are goood.

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Ok, this thread is just plain silly. I don't know, but it sounds like usainlay.com must be owned by Ed Roman :D

I'm not on the OSHA list either and I have 100's of pieces of REAL shell blanks in my shop all the time. We go through this material by the pound. I purchase my shell from the largest supplier of the pearl in the US who only sells in bulk. There are supplies all over the country that will sell you small amounts of shell without any permits, acts of congress, and any other such BS. We also use alot of abalam and recon stone. The recon stone is actually the stuff that produces the most pain in the neck dust. That dust is heavy and smells bad. However their is a simple way to deal with it (I'll talk about that below).

If you want some shell, write me and I'll sell you all you want. This is NOT a plug however because you can also get it from www.RescuePearl.com (highly recommended), Stewmac, masecraft (highly recommended for recon stone), with a simple call and a credit card. I personally don't even advertise raw shell, because I sell the cut pieces instead. And if you check out my site www.SharkInlay.com, I think you'll get the idea I know what I'm talking about.

Now, about the dust. Shell dust is very fine and can cause respetory problems. If you breath it in for a while you will be coughing that night. I have heard, but I have no proof of, that the stuff can reform in your lungs and cause grief over time. There is the "simple" solution, go the the tool store and buy a good, portable, dust collector. When you are cutting, mount the hose to the back or side of the cutting surface and suck up all the airborn particles. This will elimiate 90% of the problem. Be sure to suck up the dust that collects on the cutting surface and your hand every couple of pieces. If you use a breather mask along with this, there is no problem. Everything you need can be purchased for $200 or less. The last tip, is when you sand the shell, like with a dremel or something, sand toward the dust collector so the dust will no right into the moving airstream.

Recon stone sands and files great. It is easy to work with except that it cracks when it gets thin. You are better off working with thicker pieces and filing them down once they are inlaid. Use 0-0-0-0 steel wool to final polish it.

As far as the Abalam "rippling" when it is sanded in a radius, yes that can happen, but for the most part it look really cool when it does. That's what happened to wings on this piece.


But doesn't that look cool? Some abalam materials are better than others. The Pauas (call colors), green ripple, and the heart all work great and even if they ripple no one will care because they will look great.

Any other question? I'll be glad to answer them.

Edited by cSuttle
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