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.