How to cut a nautilus shell?


Old 03-22-10, 05:05 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pickens
Posts: 33
How to cut a nautilus shell?

I have a beautiful pearl nautilus shell that was broken along one edge when it was knocked off its stand. I'd like to cut it in half to show off the spiral, but am not sure what tool to use. My hubby is a woodworker and has all sorts of tools, so I imagine we've got what we need.

I'd appreciate any direction! Thanks!

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Old 03-22-10, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 10,029
The tool of choice would be a band saw. If hubby does not have one or one with a large enough opening, you might have to resort to a fine tooth hand saw. In either case, the trick is holding the object while you cut it. Round or irregular shapes can roll and break if not held securely.

Just a quick suggestion to consider would be to build a wood box, wrap the shell in plastic, place the shell in the box and fill it with expanding foam. Then cut the box in half. Of course you would have positioned the shell and planned for the cut to be where you wanted it, but that process would hold it steady and hopefully keep the insides in tact.

There is a slower method that might be safer for the shell, and that is a coping saw. If the opening in the saw is large enough and you use the finest toothed saw blades you can find, it might work. It will be slow, but it might help the insides stay together.

If there were something that you could fill the shell with that could be easily removed later, that would help as well, maybe butter, melt and pour, cool in the frig, warm to remove, clean up with detergent, that type of thing.

Old 03-23-10, 05:25 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,960
Use an extrememly fine toothed blade with light pressure. You do not want a tooth to catch and crack the shell.
Old 03-23-10, 08:06 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Pickens
Posts: 33
Thanks, folks. Doug does have a band saw with a fairly large opening and a coping saw (and maybe I'm finally getting the hang of which tools are used for what, because a band saw was the first thing that came to my mind when I posted this question!), so I'll see if we can't rig something up. He's going on a golfing outing this weekend, so it'll be later on... but I'll let you know how it turns out!

I really appreciate your help!


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