Introduction: DIY Brass Bullet Cufflinks

Picture of DIY Brass Bullet Cufflinks

Here's another cool Instructable where I show how you can reuse spent bullet casings and make an awesome pair of cufflinks, which make an excellent Groomsmen or Father's Day gift!

The great thing about this project is that it can be done with simple tools! Take a look at the video to see how I do it. :-)

NOTE: As with other bullet or metal projects, please use PPE (Proper Protective Equipment). You wouldn't want to risk cutting yourself or getting a piece of metal stuck in your eye! Safety first!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

Here are the materials and tools you'll need:

Materials

  • Two .45 caliber bullet casings
  • Two 12 mm cufflink blanks
  • E6000 glue

Tools

  • Tin Snips
  • 220 Grit Sandpaper
  • Rotary Tool
  • Sanding Drum
  • Vise or pliers (to grip casing)
  • Polishing wheel and compound (optional)

Step 2: Trimming the Bullet Casings

Picture of Trimming the Bullet Casings

This is a technique I came up with out of necessity because I don't have expensive equipment such as a metal lathe.

Start by cutting into the casing at an angle and keep working your way down as far as you can go to the base of the casing. See the pictures or video for a better visual.

Step 3: Sanding Off Excess

Picture of Sanding Off Excess

With the sanding drum, sand the casing wall that couldn't be trimmed with the tin snips. Go as far down until you reach the base of the casing.

NOTE: Try to keep the base as flat as possible, as this will ensure an even contact surface between the casing and the cufflink blank.

Step 4: Smooth Out Casing Base

Picture of Smooth Out Casing Base

Place a piece of 220 grit sanding paper on a flat surface and sand the base of the casing to ensure it's flat.

Step 5: Prep Cufflink Blank

Picture of Prep Cufflink Blank

Using the same technique as the previous step, roughen up the surface of the cufflink blank. This will help it make a better bond when the E6000 is applied.

Step 6: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

Add a couple drops of E6000 to each surface, wait two minutes (per manufacturer instructions), and then put them together. It's best to let them dry overnight to ensure a strong bond.

Step 7: Polish

Picture of Polish

This step is optional, but it makes the final product look so much better!

I used a polishing wheel and compound that came with a Dremel brand kit found on clearance at Lowes.

Step 8: Final Product!

Picture of Final Product!

With these steps, you'll be prepared to make your own bullet cufflinks! They're perfect for Father's Day, Weddings, or gun enthusiasts, or if you prefer to skip the DIY part, I have this and other bullet items for sale in my Etsy shop!

Etsy: MyWearableCreations

YouTube: DIYgiveaways

Facebook: DIYgiveaways

Instagram: @DIYgiveaways

Twitter: @DIY_giveaways

Comments

rav527 (author)2017-06-25

Hello

I need your help with my sculpture project and since you had worked with bullet casing in the past, i thought i message you for help.

I have attached a photo of the project i m trying to replicate for a centerpiece on display for my home coffee table. I am using swagelok stainless steel tubing bent in the shape of 8 for the skeleton. Have a tuff time, gluing spent bullet casing to it. Please point me in the right direction. Thanks a ton

DIYgiveaways (author)rav5272017-06-28

Oh, wow! That's awesome!

I don't have a lot of experience working with metals, but for something like that (trying to attach casings to a bent steel tube), I would try using some sort of epoxy to make sure it's affixed strongly. Best of luck an I hope you can share a picture after you're finished with your project! info@diygiveaways.com

kaullrich (author)2017-02-06

Where can i buy cufflink blanks?

JTurpin499 made it! (author)2015-12-05

Made a few pairs of these in .45 colt and a pair in .44 magnum. Living in the UK I had to buy some inert rounds to use, but they had dummy heads on them. I now have a load of dummy heads with a good length of brass tubing on them. They look quite nice but i have no real use for them.

Does anyone have any creative ideas on what i could use them for? (Seems a shame to just bin them!)

will.wolf.31 made it! (author)2015-09-13

Here are 5 sets that I made as presents for my groomsmen. I made 5 different calibers, .45 colt, .30-06 Springfield, .45ACP Federal, .44 Remington Mag, and .308 Winchester. Instead of glue I soldered them together and then sanded the excess from around the base. they turned out a little shinier then I wanted, but I think they will work just fine.

These look great!

What method of soldering did you use?

I tried three methods, butane soldering gun, propane torch, and a variable output soldering iron. I found that the best/easiest combination was to coat the blank and the cartridge with flux, then to heat the blank with the butane gun to get it tinned (standard rosin-core electrical solder) then using the iron, cranked to the highest setting, heat the cartridge in the center near inside of the expended primer until I could lightly coat the edges of the cartridge with solder. Since the solder flows towards the heat, I had less of it flow down the side/less of it to clean up later. Took me a few tries to get the solder to hold up structurally, and I have no idea if it will last permanently. Propane torch was fast, but burned the solder and rendered it useless. Tried to use the torch afterwards to color the brass back to a more worn/copper look, with varying degrees of success.

TheCarrotKing made it! (author)2015-07-14

Easy and fun, turned out great!

Those look great!

joecutolo (author)2015-07-20

I made a couple sets of these. .308, 9mm, .223, .40SW. The glue did not hold well for any of them. I ended up using JB weld. I used soft squeeze clamps, and let the epoxy cure while the clamp held it tight. Also, I found that using a pipe cutter and just taking my time, was way easier than the first ones I did as described in the instructions.

Raitis (author)2015-07-11

You have a Dremel, how was that bad for cutting instead? :)

I mean, clamp it in a drill, turn the drill on and cut with a Dremel where you want - name it a DIY lathe. A nice fine line which is straight. Less sanding and all that. You can even polish it beforehand.

Silver2107 (author)2015-06-18

I have a small tubing cutter that might be perfect for this.

buck2217 (author)Silver21072015-06-21

I originally tried cutting the ones I make with a tubing cutter, they are very difficult to turn as the bullet is quite small and distorts easily. I found putting them in a chuck and rotating (slowly) while holding a hacksaw against them worked far better. I was using live 9mm (gulp) and didn't kill myself - this also gave me 2 usable ends (a primer and a bullet end from each bullet

I'm sorry, but why would you use live rounds? Even if you manage to separate the two sections you now have a live primer that you want to hang on each wrist? Maybe I'm over reacting but please use spent rounds for this type of crafting.

I used live rounds as I wanted the "lead end" undamaged, and the chances of setting of a primer accidently are tiny ( though I discharge them with a nail and hammer post cutting in any case)

jmood (author)2015-06-18

I LOVE this. As a retired police officer, I have been looking for this sort of cufflink, now I can make them. THANK YOU!

Anyone needing spent brass let me know. I have plenty of .45 ACP (the type pictured) and the venerable 30.06 Springfield round as well. (.380 wouldn't hold a cuff on...) You can often get spent brass, matching types of course from local gun ranges for a song, or a few cents each

I'd suggest a fine bladed hacksaw drawn ever so slowly to shorten the cases, merely a suggestion. Your method should work quite well, as you showed.

Thanks again.

buck2217 (author)jmood2015-06-21

I make 9mm, .303, 7.62, 5.56 and on one memorable set 50cal (they are a bit big though!

DIYgiveaways (author)jmood2015-06-18

Thanks, jmood.

Hopefully you get a chance to make these soon! Father's Day is just around the corners! ;-)

jmood (author)DIYgiveaways2015-06-18

An ingenious use for a worn out or cracked casing, Once I'm done reloading it, I'll make these. Thanks again.

DIYgiveaways (author)jmood2015-06-18

Nice! If you do, share a picture!

GigiG1 (author)2015-06-19

I LOVE this project idea. Can anybody make this for sale? I don't know the first thing about bullets and I'd probably shoot my eye out trying, but I have a good friend who is a retired Army Lieutenant who has a birthday coming up. Would make a great gift. How many hours does this project take?

buck2217 (author)GigiG12015-06-21

Can probably arrange to send you some, if you are interested

buck2217 (author)GigiG12015-06-21

I make these in NZ really easy to make, check out my i'ble

www.instructables.com/id/bullet-jewelry/

buck2217 (author)buck22172015-06-21

And the other half

DIYgiveaways (author)GigiG12015-06-19

Hi GigiG1,
I actually have them for sale in my Etsy store. The link is in the final step description. Glad you like them!

GigiG1 (author)DIYgiveaways2015-06-20

I tried to but all I got was a link to a woman selling something else.

HELP! I want to see your work!

Kittie

buck2217 (author)2015-06-21

A really easy way to cut the bullets to size is to mount them in a drill chuck then rotate while holding a hacksaw blade against them, this works best in a pillar drill, but I have also done it with a hand drill

bgunville (author)2015-06-19

Neat but have no idea where I would ever wear these. I have a belt buckle made from shells but with multible Calibars

nplant (author)2015-06-18

Very cool. I see these for sale and I felt like it would be easy enough not to spend more than $10 on. Now I know! I think I'll use a hacksaw in the vice, and skip the snips. Have you tried that? Also, while the spent primer is a nice look, I wonder what else you could put in its place?

DIYgiveaways (author)nplant2015-06-19

Hey nplant,
You could add a crystal with E6000. I have done this to the bullet casing earrings I've made. I have them for sale in my Etsy store, and the link is in the final step description of this I'ble. :-)

acoleman3 (author)nplant2015-06-18

ooooo nice idea. if you drill it out and countersank the hole where the primer was, you could epoxy a faux (or real if you fancy) jewel into it and turn into some serious "bling" like.

diy_bloke (author)2015-06-18

looks great. well done. I have a friend who will love this
I am happily surprised there are no complaints yet about 'glorifying' guns and ammo :-)

acoleman3 (author)diy_bloke2015-06-18

good point, like. i mean, what can anyone logically say against it...it's art! really not any different than weaving a tie from maille, which was originally used as armour.

diy_bloke (author)acoleman32015-06-19

logically nothing... but you know, people. not everybody uses logic :-)

acoleman3 (author)diy_bloke2015-06-19

lol oh how true. shame on me for using that word.

zacker (author)diy_bloke2015-06-19

If someone's going to complain about re using bullets or maybe even old gun parts in DIY then all I can say is, God bless them, they have a lot bigger problems than they think...lol

diy_bloke (author)zacker2015-06-19

hear hear!! :-)

DIYgiveaways (author)diy_bloke2015-06-18

Haha! True. We're all part of this community because we like to make things ourselves, share our creations, and admire others', so there really shouldn't be any bashing. I don't even own a gun, but I thought using bullet casings as a medium would be cool!

diy_bloke (author)DIYgiveaways2015-06-18

indeed :-)

IsaacV1 (author)2015-06-18

Holy smokes, man, those came out looking awesome. I'm going to have to snag a couple spent cases off the ground at the range next time I'm there. Sadly, 7.62 would probably make some comically oversized cufflinks.

nplant (author)IsaacV12015-06-19

Most 7.62mm rounds have very close case head dimensions to the .45ACP depicted in this Instructable. For example, the .30-06 (technically, 7.62mm projectile) has the exact same case head dimensions. The .308 (aka 7.62x51 NATO) was developed by shortening the .30-06, so it, too has the same case head dimensions. The Russian 7.62x39, probably the round most commonly referred to as just "Seven-six-two" has a roughly 0.45" case head diameter, so very, very close to the others as well. For cufflinks, they should all do fine.

Now, if you want comedy, try using a shotshell head!

DIYgiveaways (author)IsaacV12015-06-18

Thanks! They are pretty cool looking.

GigiG1 (author)2015-06-19

I LOVE this idea! Can anybody out there make a pair for sale? I don't know the first thing about bullets, and I'd probably shoot my eye out trying, but a good friend of mine is a retired Army Lieutenant who has a birthday coming up! Would make a very cool gift. How many hours does this project take anyway?

hohum (author)2015-06-19

NICE!!!!

zacker (author)2015-06-19

I bet a dremel with a metal cutting disc would go through the casings in a couple seconds. I have to try this. Ill look for some empty casings at the range. theres usually tons of them on the floor...(I think I do more sweeping there than the employees do...)

acoleman3 (author)2015-06-18

unlike what nanny state fearmongers say, removing the bullet from a live round is NOT as hazardous as something like shaking a bottle of blasting oil. gun powder only detonates with a source of ignition or by hitting it with a hammer. it will not detonate unless the primer is struck (which is why the primer is there in the first place). by securing the brass in a vice (preferably with wood soft jaw inserts) and carefully rocking the bullet back and forth with a pair of pliers, you can disassemble it without fear. just be sure to keep any source of ignition at a distance of at least 6 feet. powder is very flammable.

CobraTester (author)acoleman32015-06-18

I don't think I'd want to do all the snipping, grinding and sanding on a casing that still has a live primer in it though.

Plus I think the struck primer adds authenticity to the cufflink. (And sometimes the signature of the firing pin shape can tell a little about the type of weapon you used, if you know what to look for.)

acoleman3 (author)CobraTester2015-06-18

i'm not gonna repeat myself so i'll just say.....read below. this issue has already been covered. you would have known that if you had actually taken the time to read the other two comments before adding your two pence.

DIYgiveaways (author)acoleman32015-06-18

Good to know! Only spent casings are used in my projects though. Just in case some people are wondering.

acoleman3 (author)DIYgiveaways2015-06-18

oh i believe it and it's understandable. i'd rather use spent brass myself just because it's easier to work with. after all, even after you remove the bullet and powder, you still have the primer cap to deal with and that's kind of a pain in the arse to disarm. it can be done with an acceptable measure of safety by rotating it in the vice until the mouth of the brass is down and tapping on it with a nail and hammer. KEEP YOUR FACE AND HANDS OUT OF THE WAY! just in case. it's a rather loud and obnoxious crack though and can be a bit disconcerting if you have neighbors.

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