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There are probably different varieties of fiber, but when I used it on my  first fiddle, trying to carve the purfling with a gouge was like trying to cut frozen butter with a cold knife.  Probably some kind of plastic binder.  Since then, I have only used wood purfling.

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Aesthetics probably varies with different fiber purfling suppliers as well.  The fiber I had looked fine... black was black, and white was white... and still is (I just checked).  If the white is wood and not fiber, then you can get a bit of glitter effect, and you have to decide how much that's worth to you.  I think the center white is usually wood, though, even on fiber purfling.

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If purfling doesn’t bend easily, a little heat and steam makes it light work. In which case I don’t see the point in using fibre purfling. Perhaps there is a difference in tensile strength but I don’t know. 

I use fibre purfling, made of stained maple, where all the fibres are naturally aligned

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Never understood the fiber...paper...  purfling thing ...,probably best for production work,  did use it on my very first. Under a magnifying lens it,s incredibly boring, but from 40 feet ...does the trick. 

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10 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

What does “fiber” refer to?

It could be something in a wholesome breakfast, but here it means that the two thin black parts of the purfling are made from something close to paper or card. Wood fibres made into sheets, and dyed.
I think it is done because very thin wood is brittle and easily snapped, but the fibre is flexible and doesn't break. It's probably cheaper for manufacturers.

Historically, a type of fibre or paper for the purfling blacks was used by most of the Gagliano family.

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The glued together flat purfling strips fiber with fiber can be bent easily whereas strips made with wood only not. (you are getting your patience tested in the process of bending.)

If fiber purfling is glued into a very precisely cut channel it looks a bit 'machine made'. I guess that's in the end a matter of taste. I prefer a slightly irregular purfling with the taste of 'living lines'. 

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5 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

It could be something in a wholesome breakfast, but here it means that the two thin black parts of the purfling are made from something close to paper or card. Wood fibres made into sheets, and dyed.
I think it is done because very thin wood is brittle and easily snapped, but the fibre is flexible and doesn't break. It's probably cheaper for manufacturers.

Historically, a type of fibre or paper for the purfling blacks was used by most of the Gagliano family.

Thank you! Is it easy to identify?

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