Introduction: How to Polish Sea Shell

I was wandering the craft store yesterday when I came across this abalone shell. It was a gamble but I was real happy with how well it turned out. What you see in the picture is actually the back side of the shell with the brown outer shell polished off. The shell cost me $7.00 though I'll be able to make several pendants from it. I think I'll make a Maori fish hook with it next.

Step 1: Cut a Piece Off

Safety first. Make sure to wear eye protection and a quality dust mask. Grinding sea shell creates a lot of dust so protect those eyes and lungs.

Use a scroll saw or coping saw to cut out a piece of shell.  I have my saw on the fastest setting. Just make sure you have down ward pressure on the shell while it's cut to avoid it from jumping around.

Step 2: Grind

Use a grinding wheel to remove the brown outer part of the shell. Then switch to a sanding attachment to even out the surface. You can use either attachment to fine tune your desired shape.

Step 3: Polish

Now that you have the shape you want you’ll want to change out the sanding wheel for a scouring pad. You can find both these in any auto parts section.

Scour the surface of the shell until you no longer see the scratch marks left behind from the sanding pad. This will get hot so keep a cup of water near by to cool off the shell.

New method I learned! You can buy buffing compound in what looks like a clay brick. How you use it is you chuck a buffing wheel into your drill press. While the wheel is turning you “load” the wheel by rubbing the compound against it. Now you just buff what your making like normal. The red brick is more abrasive while the while brick is less. I bought two wheels and two bricks in a $7.00 set at Harbor Freight Tools.

Like mentioned above buff the shell out until they’re shiny without any scratch marks.



Step 4: Drill and Jump Ring

Turn your drill press right side up again and change it to it’s lowest setting. Drill a small hole using gentle pressure. Don’t worry too much the shell is surprisingly strong.

Use a paper clip to make a jump ring and polish it on the buffing wheel.

Comments

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The-Abalone-Nomad (author)2016-01-03

Nice project. I am curious if the polishing compound may oxidize. What are your thoughts?

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TasiT (author)2015-01-14

What size or grit is the flap disc? I will be making a purchase and want to get the one used here. Much appreciated.

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Mrballeng (author)TasiT2015-01-14

I think kit was 120. It's been a long time.I've never been able to find them again. Online might be the place to look.

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Mudslag (author)2012-04-05

What attachment is this? Iv seen it in a few of your projects just wasnt sure what one it was. Thanks

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Mrballeng (author)Mudslag2012-04-05
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instruct39 (author)2011-10-04

i like the rectangle one the most

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mslaynie (author)2011-09-19

Do I even have to say it? Man, you blow me away! This is just... I mean, I knew that's how pendants were made, but it never occurred to me to do this! These are phenomenal... absolutely gorgeous!

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Mrballeng (author)mslaynie2011-09-19

Thanks mslaynie.

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facklere (author)2011-09-16

As a teenage male, I wouldn't wear most of the things you create, and I don't have anyone to give them to, but I still read every one of your Instructables. They are so well written, and your results are always so amazing. I have dabbled around in some of the things you make, I made some mobius hoops and am currently working on the paint pallet necklace. But as iPodGuy said, "Please never stop making stuff."

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mslaynie (author)facklere2011-09-19

I absolutely agree with this. The good thing is that even things you have no intention of making can still give you understanding and concepts that you can apply to other projects. Knowledge is awesome!

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snoopindaweb (author)2011-09-15

cOOl..YUP.!

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bandonloren (author)2011-09-14

If I remember correctly the dust from abalone shell causes
silicosis. It would be much safer to keep the shell wet while
cutting or drilling it.

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Rowen27 (author)bandonloren2011-09-15

I also seem to remember that the dust from those shells can be particularly problematic. I second the suggestion above.

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iPodGuy (author)2011-09-15

Please never stop making stuff....

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nanosec12 (author)2011-09-14

Once again, another fine instructible. 5 of 5 stars.

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Mrballeng (author)nanosec122011-09-15

Thanks.

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Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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