Nautilus Shell from 2x4

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Project by Lazyman posted 09-02-2015 08:08 PM 4800 views 33 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I stumbled upon Steve Garrison’s YouTube Channel and saw his video on making shells from wood. I got a copy of Steve’s ebook with more information on making them and made this small prototype shell just to try his technique. This was made out a short piece of pine 2×4 I had laying around and I really wasn’t planning on making it look nice but after glue up and some basic sanding it turned out nice enough to show off so I spent a little more time smoothing and sanding it and then made a stand. All of the exterior wood is basically end grain which is what makes this look so cool. There are definitely some rough spots and I actually broke off a piece of the wall while I was sanding it because I made the side walls too thin and was trying to sand them on a belt sander and had to glue the piece back back on. If you zoom in close enough you may be able to see the glue joint. I used 2 of the 4 remnant wedges to make the stand, again taking advantage of the end grain make it interesting. While the work spanned over several days, it took less than 2 hours to cut, about 30 minutes to glue it together and another couple of hours sanding and finishing. The finish is Minwax Wipe-On Poly.

You can find more information and videos at He was several other really interesting techniques that are also worth looking at.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

17 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


3655 posts in 2185 days

#1 posted 09-02-2015 08:34 PM

Absolutely beautiful… this is on my list of things to make

View alholstein's profile


222 posts in 4238 days

#2 posted 09-03-2015 01:45 AM

I have some scrap ends of 2×12 that I will have to try that one. Great idea to show off end grain.

-- Al Holstein "I wood do it"

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 3073 days

#3 posted 09-03-2015 10:12 AM

really nice, I can see giving that a try. Thanks for sharing.

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1099 posts in 3628 days

#4 posted 09-03-2015 12:16 PM

Great looking piece of art. Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View majuvla's profile


13330 posts in 3064 days

#5 posted 09-03-2015 12:58 PM

Beautiful shell! I saw ones the making proces and find it very complicated at first, but it’s worth of trying.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View drewpy's profile


821 posts in 1553 days

#6 posted 09-03-2015 02:42 PM

I have seen this before and am always intrigued. Thanks for sharing your fantastic shells and the additional information.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View horky's profile


250 posts in 3127 days

#7 posted 09-03-2015 03:20 PM

Lazyman, yep you have done it now. I have seen these and been to Steve’s website several times before. Now that you have posted this, a great project I might add, I will most definitely have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing and the prompt to try one.

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


19700 posts in 2871 days

#8 posted 09-03-2015 04:11 PM

Oh man….
Whydidja have to go showin’ this???
Now I’ve got another “havta try” project!!!

Great looking piece!
Thanks for sharing….
Both the project and the additional info!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View muesli's profile


392 posts in 1705 days

#9 posted 09-03-2015 04:31 PM

What a beauty!

-- Uwe from Germany.

View Ron Tocknell's profile

Ron Tocknell

42 posts in 1194 days

#10 posted 09-03-2015 05:43 PM

“Rough bits” or not, this is a beautiful job! Suddenly the scrapwood that was destined for the winter fuel supply is being upgraded. I gotta give this a go!

I like the stand too. It suits it well.

View htl's profile


4228 posts in 1356 days

#11 posted 09-04-2015 04:59 AM

This is just so cool!
Really nice project.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Sammo's profile


81 posts in 1867 days

#12 posted 09-06-2015 01:19 AM

Nice job. I also have Steve’s book. He just started a Facebook page for shells. I have a question, what width did you use for your wedges? Also, what were the height of your blocks? Keep up the good work!

View Lazyman's profile


2606 posts in 1584 days

#13 posted 09-06-2015 05:08 AM

Sammo, The wedge blanks were cut from a 2×4 so they are slightly smaller than 3 1/2” square. I first squared the corners of the 2×4 on the table saw and then resawed it corner to corner on the bandsaw with the table tilted so that the thin edge was about 1/8” thick before cross cutting to make them square. The lifts visible in the last picture to create the secondary angle are 1/2” plywood hot glued on. I used a dime to set the radius for the first piece. I only used 4 blank wedges which meant the sides were a little thin so next time I would use at least 6 and probably 8 blanks. Because this was started as an experiment, I only cut 28 wedges. I think that I could have gotten at least another 12-16 wedges from the 4 blanks. If I had used 6 or 8 blanks, the shell could have been at least twice as big.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Sammo's profile


81 posts in 1867 days

#14 posted 09-18-2015 02:50 AM

very cool. I used 4 blanks at 6” wide (2×4) to make a small shell. I started with an 15 degree oval. I was just running a test, but like you…..I should have used all 8 blocks.

View Lazyman's profile


2606 posts in 1584 days

#15 posted 09-20-2015 06:33 PM

Very nice Sammo. Be careful, I suspect that this could become an obsession. Now I want to try making a really small one and use different types of wood, though the 2×4 version sure turned out nice.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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