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'welding' Tortoiseshell?


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Hi everyone,


i was just wondering if anyone on here had ever had any success at getting a really good bond when trying to laminate layers of tortoiseshell together, and if so, whether you could share any tips or help on how to do it?


I've been doing some minor experiments using some hawksbill turtle scutes i bought at auction some time ago and thus far have had no breakthroughs getting a flawless weld.


My method has been thus - scrape two pieces of tortoiseshell to a flat and clean bevelled edge, boil the tortoiseshell until soft and pliable in salted water, transfer the soft tortoiseshell to hot fresh water (in an attempt to wash off any major salt traces that might spoil the join), place the tortoiseshell with the bevelled edges of the two pieces overlapping each other between two 3mm thick pieces of softwood or ply (as is shown in all of the japanese examples of the technique), then clamp the package between two heated 5mm thick steel plates using a g clamp over the point to be fused and tighten as much as possible.


Following what the historical guides (written in english) say about the technique, i've been heating the steel plates up until they're hot enough to brown paper but not burn it.

I've only been trying to achieve fairly thin joins, up to a thickness of 2mm or so, using two or three pieces of shell, but as yet have only succeeded in creating laminations and joins with visible seams, along which the pieces can still be pried apart with a knife quite easily.


Is there something i'm missing? Not enough steam?

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Part II


Part I


Or Google 鼈甲 and Translate





Is immersed in water, sandwiched in a plate of willow


As the material trimmed, resulting in uniform thickness, temporarily fixed by winding a thread superimposed few pieces for each part.

Subsequently, sandwiching a plate of willow by immersion in water. Glue components contained in the tortoiseshell is, but to adhere the plate each other


Was sandwiched between gold plate, compression in the vise


Remove the thread tacking, was sandwiched between gold plate was heated to a suitable temperature to fit the material is laminated and compressed by applying a force in a vise.

Then, I steam the whole again

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Thanks for the fast response,


I'm aware of the basics of the technique, and have managed to achieve several laminations, however none of them have been truly perfect - i.e. - i can still seperate them fairly easily by passing a sharp knife through the seam of the weld.


I think i'm probably not using enough pressure and that my steel plates are too thin (at 5mm thick) to retain enough heat for long enough to achieve an ideal bond


I'm mostly after some advice on the temperature ranges that the metal plates need to be heated to in order to obtain a proper fusion.

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  • 4 weeks later...


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