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How to Build a Butter Bean Sheller

Shellie Braeuner

A form of Lima beans, butter beans grow in pods that are unpalatable. Removing butter beans from their pods can be done in a variety of ways. Hand shelling involves sticking both thumbs into the seam between the two halves of the pod and pulling the halves apart.

Butter beans are a pale variety of Lima beans.

Industrial farms and canneries use a bean threshing device that agitates and beats the pods until they split and release their beans. These devices work well for large crops, but are bulky and unsuitable for a small home garden or shelling enough beans for a single meal.

  1. Square one end of the scrap 2-by-4 inch lumber. Measure 2 inches from the squared end and cut. You will have a 2-by-2-by-4 inch block of wood.

  2. Find the center point of one of the 2-by-4-inch sides with the ruler. Mark the point.

  3. Attach the 1-inch drill bit to the drill. Using the marked point as a guide, drill a 1-inch hole completely through the block of wood.

  4. Rotate the block. Mark the center of the next 2-by-4 inch side directly over the newly drilled hole. Flip the block over and mark the opposite side. These marks now designate the top and bottom of your bean sheller.

  5. Holding the X-acto blade with needle nose pliers, place the tip of the blade on the mark. Line up the blade so that it is aligned with the hole drilled through the block.

  6. Press the tip of the blade into the wood. Tap on the back of the blade with the hammer. Pound the blade into the wood until the tip of the blade emerges in the hole drilled through the block. Cut off the back portion of the blade left on top of the block. Sand any metal sticking out of the wood until the block is smooth. Flip the block over and repeat with the other side.

  7. Insert a bean pod through the hole and pull the end out the other side. The bean pod is slit along both sides and the beans fall free of their hull.

  8. Tip

    Hold the block of wood securely when inserting the X-acto blades. The wood can be held in a vise if needed.


    Use great care when inserting and cutting the X-acto blades. Dispose of the cut pieces properly, they are sharp.