This article presents the first man-made material based on the structure of; nacre that successfully duplicates the mechanism of tablet sliding. This; material was made of millimeter size PMMA tablets arranged in columns and; held by fasteners. Strain hardening was provided by tablet waviness,; delaying localization and leading to strains at failure 3-5 times greater; than bulk PMMA. Analytical and finite element models successfully captured; the locking mechanisms, enabling a rigorous design and optimization of; similar composites based on different materials or at different length; scales. This work demonstrates how key features and mechanisms in natural; nacre can be successfully harnessed in engineering materials. Interestingly,; the development of this model material and of its associated models also; unveiled two new mechanisms, the effect of free surfaces and “unzipping”.; Both mechanisms may be relevant to natural materials such as nacre or; bone.