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Straight Shell strips are .050" (1.27mm) thick, are random lengths, and do not have squared ends. Ends of strips can be fitted or squared with a file or nipped off with a sharp wire cutter.
Shell strips are sold by the linear inch. Each strip measures approximately an inch so the amount you order won't necessarily equal the number of pieces you receive.
It usually takes about 70" to do one edge on a guitar body, about 290" to do a complete D-45-style guitar; soundholes use about 15". Order extra, if you wish to be able to more closely color-match your sets. If care is taken to color-match adjoining ends, joints between pieces will be almost invisible. Another effect is to gradually "fade" from one color to another, or even set up a "pulsing" rhythm by going from light to dark to light. On soft curves, around a guitar body for instance, straight pieces are laid into a glue-filled channel and then forced to break into several pieces to conform to the curve. The breaks will be all but invisible in abalone.
The traditional method to install shell purfling has been to install a Teflon strip along with the purfling elements and then, when all is dry and set-up, the Teflon is removed, leaving an open channel into which shell strips are inlaid.
As with all items being inlaid, wait to rout until your item arrives.
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