Abalone sheets

Several people have asked us recently about the process we use for our abalone inlay earrings, and I decided to sit down and share our secrets with the world. The abalone we use is called MicroFlex Abalone Shell Inlay Strips, they are flexible sheets of colored abalone with an adhesive backing, and they are made for the fishing industry, for building fishing rods I think. We discovered these sheets one day, and after some trial and error, figured out that we can cut them in the laser machine. So we engrave a shape in our Koa earrings, then cut the same shape out of an abalone sheet (offset just a hair so it’s a bit smaller than the engraving). Then we peel the backing off, heat the abalone piece with a heat gun (the adhesive sticks better if it’s hot), stick it in, and we’re done. The abalone sheets can be found at www.mudhole.com (search microflex) or www,getbitoutdoors.com (search abalone). And if anyone is interested, we have a couple extra boxes of 1/8th inch milled Hawaiian Koa available right now; e-mail us at freedformhawaii@gmail.com for more info on that.


It’s very generous of you to share the details of how you’ve made those earrings with the GF community, and the public. Many would keep their sources private as a trade secret, and with how difficult and expensive sourcing and testing materials can be, I don’t blame them. So, while I don’t make earrings, thank you very much anyway! I will bookmark this in case I ever need to help source laserable abalone for someone else.


We’re pretty tucked away here in our sleepy little Big Island town, so I tend not to worry too much about creating competition, or sharing my secrets with the community. We are a community, after all, and I’ve certainly learned my fair share of tricks from others here over the years. And I imagine that some others here will come up with some uses for the abalone that I never thought to try, which may benefit me in the long run. Now my wife is a different story (this is Chris typing, not Amanda)… she’d probably put me in the doghouse if she knew I was sharing our abalone process to the whole world. So don’t tell her.


Beautiful work!

Thanks for sharing your sources too!


The wood choices and the abalone is a great combination. Beautiful work.


Such a cool discovery! I’m definitely bookmarking this for ideas :slight_smile:

I still have some pieces left from the koa I picked up from Amanda and Chris when I visited the Big Island a few years back. The stuff is gorgeous. Easy to work with (it cuts with the PG medium walnut hardwood setting reliably) and has so much life. I heartily recommend it.

I just made this for my SO yesterday out of it!


Thank you for sharing. Your pieces are gorgeous. I have had a sheet of abalone for years sadly waiting for me to cut it. Maybe this will spur me on!


If anyone can share cut settings in BTM, that would be awesome.

Abalone is one of my favorite looks but I have yet to actually use any… I gotta order some.


They have been shared a while back:

I love the look of this also. I really need to play around with some, I have been meaning to for a while…


Thank you so much for sharing the info. Your earrings are beautiful.


Koa is such a beautiful wood. The abalone inlay really matches well.


Wow! That would make nice inlays for knife scales. Could you PM me the laser settings? I’m in the process of making some knife handles and I’d love to try it. How thick is this stuff? I imagine not very.

1 Like

Truly beautiful and thank you for sharing your sources!


Wow so kind of you to share, your pieces are beautiful!


They are absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.


These are BEAUTIFUL!!! It’s also nice to have a glowforge buddy connection out here in Hawaii!!!

Thanks for sharing your source. Craft Closet has a nice selection of abalone inlay too. Really fun to work with. I’ve never adjusted size and it fits perfectly. Always good to have more sources!


Thanks for the share. It has the one in stock that I want. The others didnt

1 Like

These are absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

1 Like

Those are absolutely beautiful!! I don’t do earrings, but I have been using Koa wood for several projects. But those are absolutely gorgeous!!