Shucking clams and other bivalves individually takes a lot of time and a little elbow grease. If you have some time in advance, you can just stick them in the freezer instead.
Photo by Michael Dorausch.
In the book Maximum Flavour, Aki Kamozawa and Alexander H. Talbot suggest you use your freezer to get those tasty shut-ins to open up. Wash your batch of clams thoroughly, lay them out on a baking sheet, and stick them in the freezer for about six hours. Then stick the frozen clams in a bowl and place it in the refrigerator for another six to eight hours.
When you freeze and thaw clams, they open on their own, making it easy to shuck them with a spoon. This process also tenderizes the clams so they resist becoming chewy when you cook them.
This method works for oysters and mussels as well, and dishes like clam chowder or other seafood soups and stews will be easier to prepare. The downside, of course, is that you have to remember to put them in the freezer followed by the fridge way ahead of time.