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Shell Veneer

Shell Veneer

I asked in our Facebook group what everyone wanted to know about shell veneer. 
By far the biggest response to the question I asked was that they had the shell veneer but were to scared to use it!  So this blog is to help you get over that fear and use this beautiful  Shell veneer!  
Shell Veneer is so fun and easy to work with. All it takes is a little practice to take your creations to the next level! 
Let’s start from the beginning!
Our shell veneer comes from a company called Lumea’ Ocean Shell in New Zealand!  
The shell is sustainable sourced from rocky coastlines, lagoons and pearl farms around the world.  
Lumea’s free divers and shell buyers are citizens of Pacific communities who depend on sustainable relationships with the ocean. They are professionals who respect the origin, growth and delicate nature of our shells. Harvesting practices are in line with their heritage and local laws. The shell is harvested by hand, cut into strips and flakes and assembled into sheets.  On some sheets, To make the shell less fragile a thin layer of paint on the back of the sheet.
Our Shell Veneer comes with an unattached sheet of 3M adhesive. You can use it or another adhesive that you like. Depending on the what i am applying it too, i have used 3M and super glue. If my design has very small fragile pieces I usually glue it into place instead of using the 3M because it is hard to peel the 3M off of tiny pieces.
To attach the 3M adhesive, lay the shell face down on a flat surface and attach the 3M adhesive by removing one side of the 3M adhesive masking and gently but firmly adhering it.  
If the veneer is flat and on a flat surface I will gently roll over the masking with a small roller. Once the 3M is attached you are ready to go! 
At this point you can either attach the shell to another material such as wood veneer, wood, acrylic or whatever you want, or you can cut it as is with your laser, blade or scissors.  To cut it with the laser
Lay the shell face up with the 3M backing down on your laser bed.  
Pin the shell down carefully with honeycomb pins to keep it in one place when you start cutting. Sometimes the air assist fan can blow it out of place if you don’t pin it down. 
Cut your design. We suggest Glowforge cut settings of 250 speed full power.  
It will cut at a faster speed but since everyone’s lasers seem to cut differently, this is a good setting to start at.  
You can score on the shell as well. The settings we use for this are 500 speed full power.  
Shell Veneer Cut Settings
You can engrave on the shell but that kind of defeats the purpose of showing off the shell. 
Once the cut is done, carefully remove the pieces from the laser bed. Carefully unpeeled the 3M masking from the back of the 3M/shell and apply to your prepared design. If any piece cracks it’s ok.  You can still inlay it and it will look like part of the design.
If you wish to attach your shell veneer to a material before cutting use slow down that materials cut settings by 5 to ensure that you cut fully through the piece.
If you are cutting the shell  in the laser you don’t need to mask it.  It cuts at a fast enough speed that it usually doesn’t leave any residue.  If there is some residue just wipe it off after you attach it to the material that you want it to be on or carefully lay it on a flat surface and wipe it off with a wet wipe or soft cloth.
You don’t need to finish the top of the veneer but you can put resin, polyurethane or types of things like that on it if you wish. 
Here are some examples of what we have made with Shell Veneer.
Abalone Shell Veneer JewelryAbalone Shell Veneer SnowflakeShell Veneer Moon Phase SignAbalone Earrings
And that is all there is to using the shell veneer!  It is simple, easy and not scary at all!
Click here to watch our Kris' Korner Tutorial on using Shell Veneer.
For information on preparing wood for inlaying, please see our tutorial on Engraving by following this link.
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