Seashells are often used to make attractive homemade jewelry, such as bracelets, necklaces and charms to pin on garments, and they come in a range of colors, shapes and sizes. Although collecting shells is easy, drilling sea shells can be difficult and can cause them to shatter if not done correctly.
Attach a diamond drill bit to a Dremel drill. Dremel drills operate at much higher speeds than normal drills, meaning they can penetrate the sea shell without too the shell breaking from the pressure. Use a tungsten carbide cutter for making bigger holes or for shaping a seashell.
Dip the tip of the drill into a container of water. Dampening the metal tip will help the drill ease through the shell. Make sure you only get the drill bit's tip wet. Getting water in the actual drill can result in electrical shock and damage the drill.
Tie a dust mask around your mouth and put on a pair of safety goggles. Cutting seashells releases dust and shell particles, which can aggravate the eyes and mouth.
Place the shell on a tabletop or other flat surface. Stick a layer of thick duct tape over the shell so it's covered and firmly secured to the table. The tape will prevent the shell from slipping during the drilling process and will also help strengthen the shell and stop it from cracking. Alternatively, place the shell in a vice to prevent movement.
Switch on your drill and hold it in a vertical position above the position of the shell. Ease the drill down toward the table so that it eases into the duct tape and the shell. Retract the drill and ease it toward the shell in the same motion. Use this stop-start motion as it prevents undue pressure on the shell.
Stop drilling after intervals of three or four minutes and dampen the drill bit in water. This will ensure that the drill bits don’t overheat.
Take off the duct tape and turn the shell over when you are nearly all the way through the shell. Secure the shell back in place with duct tape and start drilling from the other side in the same pattern. This will prevent chipping around the point of the hole.
Wilkie Collins started writing professionally in 2007. She has submitted work for organizations including Venue, an arts-and-culture website for Bristol and Bath (U.K.), and "Sound and Vision," a technology magazine. Collins holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and media studies from the University of Bristol.