How to Drill a Hole in a Shell

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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You can safely drill a hole in a shell without causing it to crack or break. Shells are prized for their beauty and power to evoke memories of the ocean. Empty shells are used in a variety of crafts to add a natural accent. Aquatic-themed jewellery makers often drill tiny holes in a variety of small shells to attach them to a necklace or bracelet. Larger shells can be drilled to allow a hose to pass through in a water feature.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Hot water
  • Non-abrasive sponge
  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Rubber-tip spring clamp or craft vice
  • Work station table mount (optional)
  • Drill or rotary tool and bit set (such as a Dremel)
  • Diamond-point tip (optional)

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  1. 1

    Clean the shell in hot water with a non-abrasive sponge to remove sand, barnacles and any other debris from its surface.

  2. 2

    Draw a circle on the shell with permanent marker in the correct diameter and location for the hole. The hole should be at least 1/4 inch in from the edge of the shell.

  3. 3

    Clamp the shell in place with a rubber-tip spring clamp or craft vice. Line up a clear path for the bit to pass through the shell without hitting anything else.

  4. 4

    Load the drill or rotary tool with a small steel bit or one specialised for stone drilling. Work-station table mounts hold the drill or rotary tool in a steady position and are a helpful option for large drilling projects.

  5. 5

    Rev the drill bit to near full speed before it makes contact with the surface of the shell for the first time. Bit tips are often wedge-shaped and will crack a shell if they are not spinning rapidly.

  6. 6

    Change to progressively larger drill bits until the diameter of the hole is the correct size. Diamond-tip bits are more expensive than standard bits but work well to shave away the sides of an existing hole in a shell.

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