I am setting up an advertised gallery on Facebook where scroll saw shell makers can submit their work for sale. For more information, click here.
I have created a Facebook group for people interested in wood shells. Join the group whether you are a maker or an admirer. Click here.
In the early 1990’s I bought my first scroll saw and learned several techniques including inlay, stack cutting, compound cutting, intarsia, inlay, and “bowl from a board”. I liked the bowl from a board technique and wondered what would happen if I applied it to a board that had a tapered thickness instead of parallel faces. Starting in the center of the board I cut a series of rings at a bevel angle and stacked them together. Keeping all the rings oriented as they were before I cut them without turning them any, they stacked up to form a cone that was curved, it reminded me of a bull horn. Fascinated, I did more experimenting to see what else I could do. I found that the rings didn’t have to be round and using the ring I just cut out as a pattern for the next ring resulted in a smoother transition. It was through this kind of experimenting that I made my first “shell” that resembled some sort of seashell. I continued experimenting by making shells with wedge-shaped blanks of different angles. I realized that the cross section of these shells is a logarithmic spiral whose angle is controlled by the wedge angle and the bevel angle. That helped me to be able to design a shell with the shape that I wanted instead of trial and error.
I have written two eBooks about shells to teach others how to make them. The first one is now available through the Amazon.com Kindle store for $4.99. If you are looking for a fun project to do with a scroll saw, I would say that this is the most fun you’re going to find under $5. This eBook will teach you the basics about building a wood shell. The shell shown on the cover was made from a piece of pine 2x4 construction lumber! Other tools and supplies needed are pretty basic, I recommend a drill press with a 5” sanding disk attachment with a thick foam pad and a rotary carving/sanding tool to speed up the shaping and smoothing process. This eBook is my first one to try on Amazon, the rest of my eBooks are only available through my web site at this time.
Please click this button to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
The second eBook I have written about shells covers everything from the lite version plus it also describes a method to have more control of the resulting shell shape. Wood shells grow in two different ways as they are assembled; I call these directions axial and radial growth. The axial growth is the width of a shell along an axis that runs through the central hole through a shell or the width of the opening. Radial growth refers to the radius or diameter of a shell. As a shell made with the basic technique becomes larger, it grows at about the same rate in both axial and radial directions. So those kind of shells will end up being as wide as they are tall. Using methods described in the full version, we can make shells that are much narrower than their diameter.
I have made a few larger shells with another method that is completely different, but I haven’t written about it yet. It might become available in the future as I learn more about it. This newer technique produces shells that are shaped more like the fossil ammonites that are the inspiration for shells.