How to cut a seashell

Written by melissa mccormick | 13/05/2017
How to cut a seashell
Cut through seashells to create a necklace. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Collecting seashells on the beach is a popular pastime on vacations. In addition to freestanding decorations, seashells can be used for a variety of crafts, such as seashell bouquets, cameos, candles, wreaths and mirrors. One craft that uses seashells is jewellery, such as necklaces. This craft often requires that the shell be cut in order to place a chain or string through the shell. Seashells are very delicate and thus easily breakable, so the best method for cutting a seashell is to use a Dremel drill with specialised bits.

Select a shell you would like to cut. Grab a few extra shells in case you make a mistake during the process.

Place a diamond drill bit or a tungsten carbide drill bit on either a Dremel drill for small holes or a tungsten carbide cutter for larger holes or shape cuts.

Fill a bowl with cold water and dip the tip of the drill bit into the water. Do not get your drill or tungsten carbide cutter wet.

Secure the shell to a old table with the top of the shell facing you, using strong tape. Place the tape over the shell in the area where you plan to make a cut, so that you can drill through the tape. This will help prevent the shell from cracking.

Put on a mask and goggles to prevent any dust or particles of the shell from flying into your eyes or mouth.

Turn the drill on, hold the drill in a straight up and down position, and place the drill into the tape and shell firmly. When a small puddle of water begins to form in the hole, remove the drill from the shell. Repeat the drilling until you reach through the shell. Be careful not to drill through the table. Short, firm drills like this will help to keep the shell from splitting. If you are using a tungsten carbide cutter, also use in short, firm motions to form a larger hole or shape with each cut.


Practice first. Shells are very delicate and can crack or split during the cutting process.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice first. Shells are very delicate and can crack or split during the cutting process.

Things you need

  • Dremel drill or tungsten carbide cutter
  • Tungsten carbide or diamond drill bit
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • Heavy tape

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