Drilling Holes of Seashells – Making of Seashell Jewelry

Seashell Jewelry Making

This article will describe some tips and advices how to drill holes of seashells in making of seashells jewelry. Drilling holes of seashells is quite difficult and shall be done very carefully. Seashells are often quite fragile. Be very careful drilling holes in them and also try to pick shells that are not chipping or flaking at the edges. There are a few precautions that we should know and take in order to prevent the seashells from crack and damage.

1 – Drilling bits

Use A Dremel. A Dremel tool works well also because it’s higher speed than your regular drill. Especially good for delicate shells; use a very small bit. It wasn’t possible to use a very fast speed because the hardness of the shell made the drill bit slip and mark the surface. Once the hole was started, continue with slow because even then the drill would overheat from the effort. We had to stop every 5 minutes and allow the drill to cool down for about 20 minutes to half an hour. Also suggested to use diamond points to drill.

2 – Water

When you drill with diamond points, always use water to cool the points or they will fail quickly. This also keeps the dust down, but wear a good quality filter mask or use a vacuum to catch any dust/spray. Seashell dust is toxic, and I don’t mean a little bit toxic. You can really hurt yourself if you breath it in, or get it into your eyes, a cut or sore, or ingest it. Sometimes the particulates are so small you don’t realize they’re in the air around you. When you breathe this dust in, it gets embedded in your lungs and it won’t come out. It will literally be there forever, and it’s toxic. Obviously, don’t put your drill in the water, just the tip of the bit doing the drilling.

3 – Start Drilling

Make sure the drill bit is sharp, and that you are using a high speed drill. Use the smallest drill bit that will accommodate the chain or whatever you’re putting through the shell. Secure the shell firmly in a vise or other arrangement to make sure it cannot move during the drilling.If the shell is thin, I would suggest putting tape over the spot where you are drilling to help prevent the shell from splintering or cracking.Lay the shell with the top up so that if spintering does occur as the bit reaches the other side, any splintering will be on the bottom (back) of the shell.

If you’re not comfortable using a drill, practice first on some scrap shells before drilling in those you want to use.

Now when you start to drill, you’re going to do it like this: hold the drill in a straight up and down position so that the hole will be straight. Hold the drill firmly so that the bit won’t go skidding across the surface of the stone. (Now you know why you need practice pieces.) You’re going to touch the drill bit down semi-firmly, like you mean it, but then lift the drill bit out of the hole so water can pool inside it. Repeat. You can do it pretty quickly, too. Touch down, lift, touch down, lift, etc. When you’re almost all the way though, Stop. Flip your stone over and begin to drill from the other side. This will prevent a “blow out” or chipping the stone or glass where the hole should be. It takes practice to do this, so don’t be hard on yourself. Glass and stone will pretty much drill the same. Anything else may be unpredictable, so a practice piece is necessary.

Seashell Jewelry Making