Here are some of the more common questions and answers
I answer on a almost daily basis.
How do I contact you?
Easiest way is via e-mail:
Why do I need to pay more for postage if I live outside the New Zealand/ Australia area?
International postage is all done via a weight pricing system, thus the further away you are the more it costs.
What is Paua?
Paua is a species of Abalone: what separates Paua from other species of
Abalone found around the world is the array of colours found only in the waters
of New Zealand. The term "Paua" its self really refers to the actual Paua Animal
which is a large sea snail. Both the meat of this creature and the shells are a
well sort after item around the World.
What Beaches can I find Paua Shell on in New Zealand?
There are plenty of beaches around New Zealand that you can find Paua Shells on.
The far North
Lower East Coast
The entire base of the North Island
Most of the East Coast
Of course you can travel 100's of miles and never see any Paua Shell at all.
Most Paua base themselves on rocky out crops, a lot of people leave their shells on the beach.
The easiest way to find places is to inquire at your local
Ministry of Agriculture and fisheries office.
How do I grind off the lime (The white stuff) from the shell?
The easiest way to remove the lime outer part of the shell is to grind it
off with a large electric wet stone grinder.
This version is more of the domestic variety but suffices fairly well for removing the lime.
You can also use a heavy metal file and with a lot of elbow grease slowly remove the lime
You can also dip the shell into Hydrochloric acid (but only for 30 minutes) to help
Soften the lime but it isn't something I can recommend, the acid tends to eat through
More than just the lime: skin, clothing and anything else tends to be effected by this process.
Disposal of left over acid: you can use this to either kill weeds or clean your concrete.
Please note only the thickest of shells can have their outer lime surface removed.
Very fine shells will disintegrate with out their lime protector
With all these methods it is recommended you wear a dust mask
How do I drill holes into Paua Shell?
People in the past have had the illusion that the Paua Shell is a fairly hard substance to drill though.
Nothing could be further from the truth, you can drill through Paua Shell using any standard Drill bits.
If you are planning to do a lot of work with Paua Shell I would recommend purchasing a Drill Press
This will give you greater control over where you are drilling. However if you are on a budget a small
Hand powered drill will just suffice.
Purchase a selection of drill bit sizes so that you can cover a range of ideas.
Is the outer surface (lime) toxic?
Yes: the lime outer has the same quality's as asbestos, and is not the sort of item you want
in your lungs. When grinding the shell make sure you wear a sufficient face mask.
What do I use to make the shell shine?
Most whole Polished Paua Shells have been coated with
a marine grade varnish.
For small jobs clear fingernail polish does a wonderful job.
How do I tumble Paua Shell?
Tool: Tumbler Polisher
Accessory: Tumbling compounds
Safety: Safety cut off plug (RCD)
Consult your local lapidary store for supplies of/for this machine. The best brand being of course Lortone.
These instructions are for a 3lb tumbler only. If you have a larger tumbler just add one Tablespoon more per pound capacity.
Please note as you are going to be running an electrical device containing water it is best advised to have a Residual Current Device when you plug it in, this should prevent any damage to your power source.
3lb Tumbler, Paua, Tumbling powder 80 grit, 600 grit.
Polishing powder, Walnut shell, Water, Electricity, Patience, Surgical gloves, A large bucket or 2, An airtight container.
Place Paua shell pieces into the tumbler drum but only to the 1/2 to 3/4-way mark make sure you do not exceed the 3 pound weight capacity.
Cover the shells with water, and then add 3 level tablespoons of 80 grit tumbling powder.
Important note, do not fill your drum all the way up with water, just have the water covering the shells, this allows for a better tumbling action.
Seal tumbler as per manufacturers instructions.
Place on motor Drive system, turn on power and leave town for a week.... or just leave machine running for a week in a room that is away from where you sleep.
After the one-week of tumbling fill a large bucket 1/2 way with water. Stop the motor system, remove and uncap the drum, making sure you will not to loose any part. Put the drum and contents into the bucket of water.
Turn the drum upside down inside the bucket shaking loose the contents and washing the drum at the same time.
Wash the paua shell making sure none of the grinding powder is attached. Once you have the paua out of the bucket dispose of the remaining contents any place but a drain as it will solidify fast when dry.
Place your Paua Shell into the drum as per Step one. Cover with water again. This time add 3 tablespoons of the 600 grit powder. Tumble once more for a week.
Clean out your shells once again as in Step two. Place them into the clean drum once again with the same water level but this time place 2 tablespoons of Polishing powder and 2 tablespoons of Walnut shell (if you do not have walnut shell use another tablespoon of Polishing powder). Tumble this stage for 4 days.
At this stage your shells will be ready...do not throw away your polishing powder/walnut shell mix, you can reuse this time and time again. At this stage you might want to place on a pair of surgical gloves, as polishing powder tends to be very hard to remove from bare skin. Carefully remove the shells from the drum making sure you leave as much of the polishing compound behind as possible. If you have several drums you might have a backlog of shells to instantly place back in there. Just make sure you have covered them with water once again. The shells once removed must be buffed dry; a good cotton rag is the best for this.
Or for a fast method attach a cotton buffer to your bench grinder, this will give you a great finish.
To retrieve your polishing powder and walnut shell run them through an old pair of stockings then place what remains into an airtight container covered with some water.
Remember do not overload your tumbler. That is the reason they have load capacity’s (ie. 3lb, 4lb etc). Tumble a variety of sizes at once to help fill your machine with out compromising the weight problem.
Can I send or take Paua Shell Overseas?
Yes, we have been sending Paua Shells overseas for years with no problems,
if you are sending raw shells it is best to make sure there is no other growth on them.