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I recently collected some interesting oyster shells that I wanted to cut into organic-like shapes. They reflect light so beautifully when their layers are exposed. Ultimately I want to shine them and wrap with silver wire to wear as a pendent. Does anybody know what kind of tool I could use to cut a shape out of the shell? My specimens are thick and are very white. Thanks.
By Carolyn from Columbus, OH
You can use a high speed Dremel tool, but be very careful. When working with Oyster shells or abalone shells it is very important to have a lot of ventilation. The dust that is created is poisonous to your lungs. If you breath it in it can kill you. Work outside with a fan blowing away from you. That will take care of the problem. Have fun.
Wear a mask and goggles. How about a simple fish shape? Have fun!
I don't want to get on you for it, since I'm a bit of a hypocrite in this already. Please put the oyster shells back on the beach. Young oysters develop on the shells of older oysters.
I have many shells that I would like to make into necklaces but I don't know how to drill a hole in them?
Lynette from Michigan
Do you have any ideas for drilling holes in sea shells? Post them below.
How do you cut sea shells?
When drilling seashells it can be difficult to hold the shell in place. I use a lump of my son's plastacine. It's cheap, simple to use and very effective at holding the shell steady while you drill.
Where can you find a dremel tool?
Editor's Note: Dremels should be available at any large hardware or home improvement section. They would be located with the drills and sanders.
Follow the good advice in the other postings. I used diamond points to drill. You can find cheap diamond points, both in price and of fair quality from Harborfreight.com. They offer both 1/8 inch (Drimmel size) sets on their own and a set of 3/16 inch (dental lathe size) as part of a little 12VDC small hand "dremmel" type tool. Buy the set with the 3/16inch diamond tip points and toss the cheap little tool they come with if you have a 3/16" (dental) lathe / tool or 3/16" adapter for a real Drimmel tool.
When you drill with diamomd points, ALWAYS use water to cool the points or they will fail quickly. This also keeps the dust down, but wear a good quality filter mask or use a vacuume to catch any dust/spray. A small wax or plastic modeling clay dam around your drilling area helps to hold the water. As stated before, be cool, let the tool do the work, Luke.
REMEMBER, with 110 Volt tools. You do not want to mix water and the tool~~~~ZAP!
Hi Linn. Thanks for the how to on how to make shell jewelry. I haven't cracked that nut yet, but I have made some oyster shell Christma's ornaments. I used a Drexel tool and a diamond bit. I drilled approximately 100 before the bit wore down so much that it wasn't functional.
I made a small mistake early on...for about fifteen minutes I drilled without mouth and nose protection. It dawned in me that the fine particulates would be irritating to my asthematic lungs, so I found a suitable barrier (a bandana).
I hadn't heard that oyster shell dust was poisonous until reading your article. After a call to poison control, it was determined that any exposure to calcium silicate dust can be irritating to some, but it is not poisonous in the drop dead sense (I'm very happy to report this-haha!). But a dose of prevention...we'll you know the old saying.
Your tutorial is motivating me to take the next step to jewelry designing. In the meanwhile, I'll post Instagram pics at @paintedshovel with the hash tag #oystershellornaments, if you'd like a visual of today's craft project. Thanks again!
What do I need to do to the oyster shells in order to make it into jewelry? Do I need to put anything on it?
Usually they are run through a rock tumbler to polish them up.
How do I carve shells or make into cameos without breaking them? How do I put a hole into them for pendants and what is the best way to make them shiny or polished?
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I had fun creating this necklace set made with shell beads and tiny glass accent beads.