Picture of Brass Monkey
This monkey was made from two bullet shells and 20” of brass wire. It makes for a cool way to hang your keys.

The face is my design while the rest of the body is based off a monkey I bought from a home furnishings store.

UPDATE: Step 1. now shows how I used SketchBook Express to make this project.
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Step 1: SketchBook Express

Picture of SketchBook Express
 Here’s more to how I made this little brass monkey. These pictures were taken while making the project though, for the sake of being concise, I left them out. To get into the Make It Real Challenge I’ve included them.

I started by taking a picture with my Ipad and then opening it through Autodesk’s free app “SketchBook Express”.

I created a layer and sketched out what I wanted my monkey to look like. Once I was done I removed the original picture layer so all I saw was my sketch.

I printed out the sketch and used that “blue print” to make the project.

Step 2: Cut open a couple bullet shells

Picture of Cut open a couple bullet shells
Safety Note: Never use live ammunition for any kind of project. These bullet shells are expended meaning the have no primer or powder.

Use a pipe cutter to remove the primer end from the shell. Start cutting the shell from the business side with a pair of metal shears. As you cut, use a small hammer to tap the shell further into the shears. This makes it easier to move the cut along the length of the shell.

Open the shell up with pliers. Hammer it flat on a hard surface.
Bban1 month ago
That funky monkey
MonkiMan1 year ago
Hang it outside, then you can say its brass monkeys outside whatever the weather
Brass monkey... That funky monkey...
mcshawnboy2 years ago
I was reading a cookbook I picked up at Goodwill in Frederick,MD for USS Terrebonne (LST 1156) named after a Parrish of Louisiana. In it is a story of how on ships of "The Wooden Navy" that cannonballs could be stored close to the guns w/o rolling around by stacking in a 4 sided pyramid fastened to the deck with a brass plate (To prevent rusting) with indentations for the cannonballs stating the device was called a "Brass Monkey" & the indications in cold weather of the different metals. : ) Another good project!
I remember hearing about this once in from a Navy man. He said that they used to place cannonballs on the decks, but they would roll around and cause trouble, so devices known as "monkeys" were fashioned to hold the cannonballs. The "monkeys" were first made of iron which allowed rust to form, rendering the cannonballs useless, as they could not be fired. Later, the monkeys were made of brass, which would not rust. However, the brass would expand and contract at a different rate than the iron balls and in very cold conditions, the brass would shrink to such an extent that the balls could roll out if the ship listed. This is (apparently) the source of the term "cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey." However, this is apparently not true, as shot was usually kept below decks...
Thanks! I had no idea I was swindled by an urban legend! Shawn
handprints2 years ago
you never cease to amaze me.
mcshawnboy2 years ago
If you're searching for dapping/dopping punches to ball end tool used in this 'ible I got mine from Harbor Freight for about $40 with a wide range of punches & a block of matching dished shapes. Some folks in jewelry making blogs say the tools aren't quality, but they work for me! If you like paying more Rio Grande & Contenti also sell them.
Mrballeng (author)  mcshawnboy2 years ago
That's the exact set I have. Works just fine for me. Thanks for the info.
JasonTX2 years ago
Great photos, and you certainly have a skill at shaping brass. This gives me an idea for making embossed signs for our herb garden - Oregano, Sage, etc.
Mrballeng (author)  JasonTX2 years ago
Thanks and hooah!
bennettcrew2 years ago
You are "da Man!" I would say that now I have something I can do with the brass bones, after I cut all the ends off (for other projects). I'd sure like to give this a try. Tools: the rounded tool... is that a "dapping" tool (is that the name?)... I've seen some of these tools on Etsy (as I'm geographically limited on fancy hobby tool buying places, I have to buy online).
Speaking of "buying online".... if anyone else wants to try this project, but you don't have the brass... please feel free to private message me, or contact me at (put something in subject line to remind me)... I have brass (with and without the primer ends). I might even be convinced to cut and flatten them for you! Not only do I have the brass ones, but I also have some with a copper based alloy. Might be interesting for some projects requiring some varied color.
Thanks again Balleng, for such an awesome project! If you decide to sell one of these, please let me know where to find it... I've got 4 teenagers (19-13), 3 dogs, some thousand cats, and a wife... Throwing a monkey in the mix would be just the thing!
Mrballeng (author)  bennettcrew2 years ago
I think "dapping tool" is correct. It came in a set from harbor freight for $40. Don't forget to share some photos with what you make. Thanks!
Always amazed by your ingenuity. Nice work and thanks for the additional tricks.
Mrballeng (author)  Jeff-of-all-trades2 years ago
Eldrickg2 years ago
MAN!!! Your creativity and talent never fails to amaze me, Great, great, job! =D
ilpug2 years ago
Looks like it got really cold... Great project! I have a bunch of 30-06 shells, I might do this!
hjjusa2 years ago
Good one, Ive got some calibers I don't reload I'll have to try this Ingenious project.
shazni2 years ago
this is soo cute
Kryptonite2 years ago
Absolutely amazing, I could quite figure out how you got such precise shaping for the face, your method is plain genius.

Another great, keep it up!