Hi, Abalone shell is extremely toxic when ground, it can even cause
nausea when you grind it wet. Make sure you use plenty of water and
have a good air flow around you. If you start to feel a bit funny or
get a strange taste in your mouth, stop immediately and get fresh air
- some people are more sensitive to it then others. The same applies
to Pau Pau shell.
A diamond bit in a flex shaft will readily cut a hole in the shell,
wet dry silicon carbide paper will take the sharp edges off. There is
a whole article on working abalone shell on my web page -
www.islandnet.com/~islndgem - under the shop hints page. You can get
some really nice results - works well for earrings (light) and can be
made into triplets or doublets as well.
Enjoy your abalone - but please be careful!
Island Gem and Rock