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How do I make shells and coral smooth to be used as buttons? Answered

These buttons hang, so they are in motion against the fabric and can abrade the fabric. Is there something that can put on the shell to enhance the shine and cover the roughness? Does porcelain petal work?



10 years ago

I don't know anything about porcelain petal, but I have polished sea shells for the kids. It turned out to be easier than I thought. I experimented with different grits of sandpaper starting with 220 and finally finished with a buffing wheel, but in the end, all you really need is some steel wool (0000) grade, the fine stuff, some brasso and old towels. The sandpaper will help with any rough or sharp edges, but go lightly, shells really are pretty soft and it won't take much to smooth them out. Like anything else, practice first on one you're not going to use. Since these were shells we got at the beach, I cleaned them first in a soak of hot white vinegar. They only need to soak long enough to get the heavy stuff off - 5 or 10 minutes. Then dry them off and start smoothing any rough/sharp edges with your sandpaper - and by the way, 400 grit is all you really need. When you're satisfied with that, move on to the steel wool. You may notice as you polish with the steel wool, the shell becomes a bit discolored, don't worry most will rinse off, and if need be, you can clean it again with vinegar and a toothbrush. Once you're happy with that, take an old towel and get out the Brasso. Brasso says to leave it dry to a haze, but I didn't do that, I kept polishing until I got the sheen I was after. The whole process only took 5 to 10 minutes, not including the vinegar soak. Good Luck