View Full Version : Mother Of Pearl Help

06-01-2015, 02:11 PM
I have been asked to make a small sub-hilt and the customer has given me some MOP he wants me to use for the handle. I have never worked with this material and I am hoping for some pointers. Such as does it drill, cut and grind like other materials or do I need special drill bits etc.? It is only about 1/8" thick so I am assuming just leaving it flat, no contours is acceptable? Can I use liner material with MOP? I would think so but doesn't hurt to ask. Also I plan on using Corby bolts so I need to counterbore for these, any problems there? Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

06-01-2015, 07:23 PM
Some ideas. Use them all, or whatever you like. I'm sure there are others out there.
Use brand new drills and counterbores, or at least "very sharp" ones. Carbide are best. Bathe it in paint thinner with a solder brush. Back up the "off side" when drilling to help stop "popping out" when the drill reached through. A friend super glues thick liner material on the other side and it stope the popping through. Don't get it too hot when shaping, or the bolts too hot, though it can take more heat than, say, horn and woods, maybe...... You can contour if you have enough material, but 1/8" is pretty thin. Depends on the size of the handles, I guess. Put super glue in any "checks" before sawing, use a 16-18 tooth saw blade, the finer blade won't chip it like a coarse one will. I bought a 1/4" and a 5/16" carbide counterbore for each size corby bolt. Much sharper for much longer, but they are like $100.00! Liners are fine.

06-02-2015, 11:14 AM
Thank you, I appreciate the help. Paint thinner as a cutting lubricant, I would never have thought of that!

06-03-2015, 08:18 AM
A lubricant - and a coolant. It helps cut without making that little "circle" around the edge of the hole. Anything to make the drill and c'bore cut clean. But remember: If the tool isn't dead sharp the chance of problems increases dramatically, no matter how much lubricant, or whatever is applied.

06-03-2015, 01:17 PM
I will take your advise and get some new bits and use the fine tooth saw blade. Thanks again.

11-12-2015, 08:34 AM
Took all of your advice on the pearl. Jim Cooper took this great photo.

Don Robinson
11-12-2015, 08:51 AM

11-12-2015, 02:44 PM
What a beautiful job, Tim. It looks perfect!

11-12-2015, 04:03 PM
Thank you both very much. I gave it my best that is for sure. You know Mr. Cooper taking the pictures is a big plus. I took all of your advice. I even glued liner material to the back of the pearl before drilling. I did not get the carbide drills, but I will. I now see how hard the material would be on tools. Here is another pic from Jim.

11-12-2015, 05:44 PM
Very beautiful job, Tim. Killer of a solder job! Cool spacer with no-screw attachment.
You'll enjoy the carbide, well worth the expense, considering the frustration they save, but I'd still use paint thinner.

11-13-2015, 09:00 AM
Thanks again. Its not skill that gets my solder job done, it is patience. And I'm running out of that. I of course have your video, who doesn't? I see how easy it is for you but for me...I solder then scrape, then sand then buff. Pain in the butt, I tell you. Each time though I think I learn a little bit more so it will get faster.

11-14-2015, 11:56 PM
You are on the exact track of learning how to solder a guard onto a knife. Keep plugging!

11-14-2016, 04:18 PM
Earlier in this post you suggested I get carbide counterbores Steve. Where do I buy them?

11-14-2016, 08:50 PM
I do not not know where to get carbide counterbores. May have to to use a combination of carbide drill bit and end-mill. I have looked at two of the biggest supply places. If they exist they will be single drill and end-mills at a specialty shop.

11-16-2016, 08:44 AM
MSC has them, and if you watch they'll put them on sale occasionally.

Like Steve said they are not cheap.

11-16-2016, 04:09 PM
MSC had them? I missed them then. Graingers may have them too, but their website is hard to navigate. Like you have to write Jobber length carbide tipped drill bits or screw machine drill bits, real picky navigation. Sometimes I just call them. It's like looking for zippers under Z and finding them under I instead for Interlocking slide fasteners. I've seen screws under fasteners too, that was the

11-16-2016, 05:52 PM
Yep I found them at MSC. It was not cheap. I think the pilot and the counterbore together was $130. I only bought the one for quarter-inch Corby bolts since that's the only size I use. I'm sure it will be worth it though, I bought a new step drill for the last pearl handle I worked with and I wouldn't use that same step drill on another piece of pearl. That step drill was $24.

11-18-2016, 04:07 PM
I have "Big Book" that I forgot I even had. It is much easier for me to thumb through paper unless like you say you know the exact term or part number. If I remember correctly, I just went online and requested a catalog and one was sent to me. It might have cost $5. I don't remember. The great thing about MSC, they ship in one day. I ordered on Monday and got the counterbore on Wednesday.

04-03-2018, 01:04 AM
Thank you, MSC is one very handy book and, as youmention, give great service!