How to Drill a Hole in a Seashell

    by Ryn Gargulinski

    About the Author

    Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.


    You had a field day at your last trip to the beach, gathering a fine collection of gorgeous shells that would make for some awesome pendants. Some of the shells may already have holes in them, through which you can thread a chain or cord, but for others, you may need to drill one. You can drill a hole in a seashell with patience, precision and a few simple tools.

    Things You'll Need

    • Vice or clamp
    • Rotary tool
    • Series of ceramic drill bits
    • Nail file (optional)

    Prepare your shell. Smell the shell to make sure no dead things are hanging out inside. Soak the shell, then rinse well and allow it to dry. Figure out where you want the hole and draw a small dot on the shell's surface where you are going to drill.

    Set up your shell. Clamp your shell in an adjustable vise or clip so it stays stationery as you drill it.

    Prepare the rotary tool. Insert the smallest ceramic drill bit into the front of the tool. Turn on the tool and very gently bring the tip of the bit to the dot you drew on the shell.

    Increase the width. To make your hole wider, slowly increase the bit size. Drill the hole all the way through with the smallest bit and repeat with each larger bit until you achieve the desired diameter.

    • You can get a rotary tool and drill bits from home and hardware stores, craft shops or art supply stores.
    • The enamel coating the shell may cause the bit to slip or stop it from penetrating. If that is the case, very carefully chip off the enamel where you drew the hole using the tip of a nail file or other sharp object.
    • If you do smell a malodorous odor in the shell, soak the shell in rubbing alcohol and poke and scoop it out with a nail.
    • Always wear safety goggles when drilling and keep the rotary tool away from children.


    • Shell Chic: The Ultimate Guide to Decorating Your Home with Seashells; Marlene Hurley Marshall, et al.


    • Jewelry Making Handbook; Sharon McSwiney, et al.