Zen and the Art of Expanded Shell Repair

By Jim Krenz - Thursday, October 24, 2019

Miracles are manifested with machined money.

Expanded shells have a special place in my heart. My father was very difficult to fool. But when I did coins through the table using a shot glass and an expanded shell, all of a sudden, I had his respect.

For me, they are worth every penny.

You have invested a sizable sum of funds into an ingenious gimmick known as an expanded shell.

You start working with it, amazed at the magnificently machined marvel in your hands, when OOPS! — it falls to the floor!

You rush to pick it up, and much to your horror, it no longer nests neatly on top of your coin. The pain is real.

What to do?

Fear not, miracle maker. I have a technique that I have used for decades, that may bring your shell back to service. Would you be willing to try it? At you own rock, of course.

Place the coin on the table. Lay a thin, yet strong, silk on top of it. Place the shell on top of the silk, over the coin.

Repairing shell coin

Gently press the shell down, sandwiching the silk between the shell and the coin.

Continue to press gently, until the shell and coin are nested well.

Repairing shell coin

Take two opposite sides of the silk and stretch it out firmly, but gently. The shell and coin should separate. Doing this over a table would be wise.

Repairing shell coin

Check the shell and coin, and see if they still stick when nested. If not, then congratulations, you have repaired your shell!

If they still stick, repeat the above again, and if necessary, use a slightly thicker silk.

One point: depending on the quality of the silk, you may leave a circular impression in it, or tiny rips. So you may wish to use an older silk.

I hope that helps! May your shell serve you and your audiences well for many years to come!

Reader comments:


Friday, 25 October 2019 12:18 PM - Reply to this comment

Here's another idea: use a Bic lighter!


Saved my shell a couple years ago.



Friday, 03 January 2020 23:12 PM - Reply to this comment

Or try a dollar bill. :)


Wednesday, 01 September 2021 12:24 PM - Reply to this comment

Yes! This worked perfectly. The first time nothing. I folded the silk in half, creating two layers, and it got better. But still not right. It finally took folding the silk into quarters and pulling with a fair amount of force to get results. Yippee! It worked. My shell and I are besties again! Thanks for sharing this tip. I'm sure I'll be using it again (and again, and again).


Tuesday, 18 January 2022 16:09 PM - Reply to this comment

Is there someone who knows a way to separate coin and shells (triad coins) ?
Mine do not separate although I didn't let them fall ..
I bought it, tried it a little bit, and let it sleep for a long time in it's box.
When I decided to play with them, I found it impossible to separate them any more.
I have been told to try and put the trick in a glass with a rounded bottom and move it gently, but with no result at all.
Another magician in my group experiment the same impossibility with his triad coins : he can't separate them too !
We need some help !!


Sunday, 02 April 2023 17:40 PM

Hello Marie,
I'm not sure if you got it figured out and everything unstuck so to speak.... But if the triad coins are stuck in the future. Or dinged in anyway.... This has worked for me.... With the set completely assembled.... Hold the coin on it's edge.... now on a over hard surface.. ..Using your thumb, index and middle finger. Thumb on tails side index and middle on heads side. Late the coin on it's edge apply pressure down, towards the table. so that any gaps between the coins/shells are closed ... Begin Rollin the edge of the coin back and forth apply downward pressure...then rotate the coin a little bit...and do the same thing....and keep doing that until you've done it to the then entire outer edge of the coin....people suggest lighters or other objects because they are round etc....whats more round and more of a match than the coin that goes inside the set right? Try to use enough pressure to make sure you are actually causing the coins edge to reshape. The hard table combined with the perfectly round coin, your pressure and Rollin it back and forth on every part of edge. Will eventually make your She**ls be reshaped into perfect circles. The reason this works is because there shouldn't be a ton of space between the coin and the Sh*** so no matter how big the ding. This will bring it back to the proper shape. And make it a perfect circle and it will fit perfectly over the coin.... And with triad coins the pressure and the rolling should dislodge the coins..... UNLESS somehow either a piece of lint or debris is is wedged between the coin and the Sh**** or a little bit of moisture was trapped in the sh*** and created either suction or rust. Thus making them stick.... But if that's the case ..... Try this.... Think of the concept of a bang ring. Find a soda/juice/water bottle cap that is slightly bigger than the coin. It should be big enough to let u set it. Mouth up.... And when u put the coin on it.... The bottom edges of the bottle cap only make contact with the rim of the sh***... Then put your index finger on top of the coin... Fingers and thumb on the edge of the bottle cap.... Hold it tight. Gently slam it down to see if that will dislodge the coin... Keep trying a little hard until it falls out ..... And finally if you can't find a cap to do that with..... With your fingers and thumb. Hold the coin by the edges. Make sure hour fingers and thumb are only making contact with the edge of the sh**** and not with the coin... Take an exacto knife. With the thinnest blade you can find ... While holding the coin by the edges ... Take your other hand with the exacto.... And gently push the tip(not the whole blade, just the very tip)of the exacto knife in between the edge of the coin and the sh***.then angle the exact upward while holding the coin still. That should shovel the coin out ...If it doesn't come out... Try sticking the tip in and gently tap the edge of the coin and the sh*** on a hard table .... That will bend the edge slightly and create space... Which will get the coin out easier .... Then if their is a ding or a bend in the shell after getting it out .... Make sure you clean the inside of the shell out really good ... Deep in the corners and make sure it's completely dry ... So nothing can get wedged in the future.... Place it back in the sh***... And do the rolling technique I mentioned above..... Hopefully these tips help you or anyone. They have served me very very well ... I have an explosion set. From dean dill...... Lots of sh***s I've had to adjust and deal with over the last 20 years lol..... Anyway, good luck! Lemme know if you got your triad set fixed.... And if you have any questions.


Thursday, 06 October 2022 07:44 AM - Reply to this comment

This was extremely helpful. Thanks!!


Tuesday, 11 April 2023 19:26 PM - Reply to this comment

Great ideas, Nathan. As to using a lid or something to act as a bang ring for a sh***, I have used an Okito box to great success. Most that I have used are perfectly sized for the coins they hold. A sh*** is just a hair larger and will not fit into the box. Try putting the coin and stuck sh*** into the box and the rim of the Okito box can force the stuck sh*** off the coin.

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