Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grinding or Cutting?

Good Morning,

I wanted to share with you a little "behind the scenes" information, that I've never really explained before.  I'm sure many, if not all of you have asked yourself at one point or another, why are the sticks priced as they are?  For example, we currently have a holly purple paua bordered with abalone, listed for $150.  Erin will be posting a similar stick shortly, made from ebony, natural paua with an abalone / purple Biwa mix for the border, and it will be listed at $125.  There are other reasons why some are pricier than others, but this is probably one of the biggest drivers.

... So what's the difference?  The answer, grinding or cutting.

For those of you that might be interested, 98% of the time, I work with a tool called a bedan, 3/8's of an inch to be exact.  I always work with an extremely sharp edge, razor sharpness.  Whenever and whatever I inlay, the inlay material (gemstone) is always initially piled up well above the band or design on the stick, trying to fill every pore of the cavity that I'm inlaying.  Once I'm finished inlaying the gemstone, I can use the bedan to cut through most inlays, cutting to the exact surface of the stick (something that has taken me years to accomplish, cutting to within 1,000th of an inch).  Now, this works with most inlay materials, but there are those it won't work with.  Lapis for one, this stone is incredibly hard, and all I do is dull the bedan's cutting edge.  Another example where it won't work is with any large chunk inlays like abalone or Biwa pearls.   If I try to cut these large pieces, the inlay invariably explodes, because these large pieces are glued to a very small surface initially. The only alternative in these examples is to grind, and it's a nasty, time consuming job, thus the reason for the price difference.

So there's a little "behind the scenes" explanation on this dreary Wednesday morning in Kansas City.  Also, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Erin discovered yesterday that international shipping went up by $3.  We've been charging $13, but now with this increase we need to raise the shipping price a little to offset the increase. We've raised international to an even $15, sorry about that.

Have a great day!


  1. That is fascinating! It gives me a new appreciation for my TTs, especially my favorite holly and lapis. Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Loved reading your article! Sure I always wondered how you " cut" those biwa pearls to look like eyes :) and about lapis, well.... That doesn't make me love it less.... Still a most beuatiful blue....
    Your work is amazing, and I wish I could afford an endless collection. :)
    Booooo about the international shipping.... ( but of course I know it's not your fault)

  3. I always like to hear more about the "behind the scenes" of making a TT!