I am in the process of making the mother of pearl (MOP) palm trees for the head stock. The MOP was glued to a thin piece of basswood with white elmer's glue. This adds strength to the MOP and the elmers will release later with water.
This is my set up for cutting the pearl. The forked piece of cherry acts as the cutting support and the saw has a "medium" pearl saw blade in it (in the top photo the blade and pearl are held off to the side to show the fork). Many jigs for cutting pearl have a blower to keep the pearl clean from dust but I use a vacuum instead to spare my lungs from inhaling the fine silicon dust that sawing pearl generates (like talcum powder).
Here is the bending jig with cauls to hold the mahogany in place while it dries. The mahogany was soaked for an hour or so and then heated in an oven to 250 F with water soaked towels around it and aluminum foil around the towels. This softened up the wood enough to make it easily conform to the jig. You can also bend the wood without heating it but there is less chance of getting a crack if the wood is further softened by heating.
Next, 1000 W halogen lamps were used to dry and set the wood in the desired shape. When released from the jig, the side had just a little spring back to it but it will easily be able to fit into the building jig for the glue up. The jig is exactly the size of the uke with the thickness of the side pieces in place. I trimmed the side pieces while they were on the jig so they are flush with the jig and parallel to the center line.
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