Spiral/Wood Nautilus shell

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Project by PflugervilleSteve posted 03-22-2010 06:36 AM 11557 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Nautilus shells are one Nature’s more perfect examples of the logarithmic spiral. This is my first attempt and proof of concept in plain ‘ole (CHEAP!) pine. Turned out pretty nice. This little guy only has about a 3 inch diameter, but as a proof of concept, I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m planning on making some larger spirals in maple and mesquite. I suspect the final shaping and sanding is going to take just a TAD more time for those…

The stand is a bit of pear tree crotch-wood off-cut. I’ve been milling some pear that split off a neighbors tree and after flatenning the base, I was struck by how “coral reef” like this bit looked. I didn’t have to do a thing to the top to get the shell to sit stably. Thank you Mother Nature!

I ran across Steve Garrison’s page a while back. He’s got some great pictures of spirals he’s built and has an ebook “Wood Shells – A New Art Form”. I finally had some time, so I bought a copy and after reading through it and playing with some concepts in sketchup, voila!

I thought I had seen Steven’s site mentioned on this site in the past (maybe as a prize donor?), but maybe not, since I’m not finding any references with a quick search. Since I’m not 100% linking to his site is allowed, I’ll wait for comments before adding it.

If you’re curious, has a couple of his spirals/shells. Exploring his site is worthwhile. He has some very cool stuff.

4 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24903 posts in 5166 days

#1 posted 03-22-2010 06:46 AM

Nice job!! There are lots of links to other sites posted on here.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TJ65's profile


1446 posts in 4540 days

#2 posted 03-22-2010 09:53 AM

They are sooooo cool! I’m off to check out the site now

-- Theresa,

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 5048 days

#3 posted 03-22-2010 04:05 PM

That’s really cool looking! As a sailor, I love nautical decor, especially from wood. As an engineer, I always love seeing mathematics in nature. Although the nautilus shell can be described as constant angles from the tangent to the radii, I prefer the fibonacci version, where the spiral is tangent to a radius described by the sum of the previous two radii taken in 90 degree increments:

^(bottom right radius = 5 units, top right radius = 8 units, top left radius = 13 units, etc.)

BTW, if that’s Pflugerville, TX, we moved from Austin to San Francisco 2 years ago. We go back often to visit.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View SawTooth1953's profile


349 posts in 4796 days

#4 posted 06-27-2010 07:16 PM

I ran across Steve Garrisons shells online. I thought they were amazing and beautiful and I paid $30 for his 43-page e-book because he said he is sharing the techniques that work for him. I got as far as you did with ‘proof of concept’ shells, but were you able to decipher anything else beyond that?

I printed it out and read and re-read that thing at least 8 times, making notes, drawings, etc. and I just don’t comprehend much beyond the basic shell. Where a picture is worth a thousand words, he prefers the words (and only uses a hundred or so when a thousand were needed). The pages aren’t numbered (I had to do it myself), pictures aren’t numbered, most pictures don’t have captions, he uses 2-D Cad drawings and doesn’t say what view it is and I honestly can’t tell on most if they are end or top views or front views or cross-sections. He brings in new concepts and writes like a stream of consciousness book. He shows too little to teach the book reader how to do what he does, except for what he admits is just the ‘basic shell’. The e-book is more about his progression in spiral shell making. It is NOT a how-to-book, in spite of what he says he is selling.

I’ve learned quite a lot about woodworking and scroll sawing, etc. through books… few if any cost $30 and ALL of them were written for the reader to learn from… except this one. IMHO he needs an editor and he needs to make a version 2.0 of that book if he’s honestly willing to share the techniques that work for him. I feel I wasted $20 of the $30 I spent.

-- Spence in Skokie, IL

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