Instructables
This pen makes a great unique gift. It’s made by using two 30-06 rifle shell casings to replace the body of a click pen. It’s a fun project, which will take you about an hour to complete. What you won’t see here or in the video is how many shell casings and hours it took to figure out the process to get this pen exactly right. So if you try your hand at this don’t be discouraged if it takes a couple tries.


 
 
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Step 1: Drill out the primer side

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What you’re trying to do here is replace the body of a regular click pen with a couple shell casings. Keep mind I figured out this process by trial and error. If you do the steps out of order you may ruin the shells and have to start over.

You’ll have to drill out the primer ends of both shell casings. I used a mini metal lathe with an 11/32 drill bit chucked into the tail quill. You could use a regular drill but the tricky part is finding a way to hold the shell without distorting it. Once you have both shells drilled out, you’ll have to expand the necks. Before can do this you need some measurements.

Step 2: Get your measurements

There are two measurements that are crucial to making this pen work. Having a digital caliper is very helpful. One is the outer diameter of the plastic insert you cut from the donor pen. The other is the length of the original pen body. If the clearances are off the pen may bind up, not allowing it to click properly, or the ink tube will end up being too long or too short.

With my specific pen the outer diameter of the plastic piece for the metal writing tip is 8.2mm.  Before you can get this measurement you have to remove the rubberized coating from the pen. But before you can do that you have to take the pen apart. The metal writing tip simply unscrews but to get the upper mechanism out you need to pry. I used a knife to separate it. Just be careful.

Use a heat gun to soften the rubberized coating. A paper towel will wipe it right off. The other measurement is simple to get by just measuring the length of the original pen tube. Now that you have your measurements, cut the end of the pen body off so you have the threaded portion for your new pen. Place this small piece in the lathe and machine it square.

Step 3: Expand the necks

I modified a bearing punch to fit in my lathe. This allows me to use the tapered shaft to expand the shell neck squarely and evenly. You’ll want to expand the neck of one shell until it will accept the plastic insert for the writing tip.

The other shell will also be expanded just not as much. You’ll want that just slightly bigger than the hole on the other shell. Use a doming block to round over the edges to the mouth of the top shell. That way when you meet them together you can fit them snuggly.

To make sure the shells are square to each other, chuck the body into the lathe and turn it at a low revolution. Bringing a live center up to the end of the shells will true them right up.

Step 4: Solder

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Double check to make sure the shell body is the same measurement of the original pen tube. In this case it’s just under 119mm. Set the shells up and apply soldering paste as needed. Cut a couple small strips of solder and place them on either side of the joint. A little heat from a torch and you’ll have a solid pen body.

Step 5: Polish

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Place the pen back in the lathe and sand it bright with 1000-grit paper. After you’ve done both sides use a buffing wheel with polishing compound to buff it.

Step 6: Glue up

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It’s important to warm up the shell with a heat gun. Since hot glue it just that “hot glue” if you let it touch cold brass it will solidify before you want it to.

Thread the plastic inset onto the metal writing tip. Apply hot glue to it and press it into the lower shell opening. Do the same to the other side using all the components from when you took the original pen apart. After the glue is cold, clean off any excess that protruded out from the joints.

Step 7: Assemble

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It’s important to warm up the shell with a heat gun. Since hot glue it just that “hot glue” if you let it touch cold brass it will solidify before you want it to.

Thread the plastic inset onto the metal writing tip. Apply hot glue to it and press it into the lower shell opening. Do the same to the other side using all the components from when you took the original pen apart. After the glue is cold, clean off any excess that protruded out from the joints.
TheFamski made it!9 days ago

GREAT INSTRUCTABLE ! ! This is my first pen. It didn't come out perfectly but thats why I'm keeping it. It writes and balances great in the hand. I don't have a metal lathe or a doming block so I had to mod the process a bit but it came out great. I need to polish a bit more in the future and perfect my soldering but other than that I'm stoked with how it came out. I need to make 15 more for Christmas presents for all they guys in the family. Thanks for putting this up. AWESOME!

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Mrballeng (author)  TheFamski9 days ago
Fantastic! Thanks for sharing. They'll love it.
TheFamski13 days ago

I have been looking for something to do with all my 30-06 brass since I don't reload and I don't shoot enough to sell it or reload it. Hoping someday I'll reload but for now I think this is the best idea I've seen. Plus they'll make a few great christmas presents!

This is extremely awsome!!! ive seen many like it but this method has to be the best in my opinion! Thanks!
can you make one of these pens with a .22 calibre bullet shell?
Mrballeng (author)  shadow wave rider2 years ago
The diameter of a 22 shell is too small for the pen parts. You could make a stick pen though.
Ya..!
Schmidty162 years ago
hi
Hoopajoo2 years ago
You, sir, are the reason I invested in a HF 7X10 metal lathe! I LOVE this idea (I've always collected pens) and have made a few for myself (I can't seem to keep one when co-workers keep asking for one or 'accidentally' pilfering them). This pen had a very nice weight and feel to it. Definitely a great ice breaker and conversation starter!
I looked for awhile and think I found the donor pen you used. Was it the Papermate Ink Joy?

Thank you for sharing this and for reigniting the desire to pursue a hobby in metal machining.
Mrballeng (author)  Hoopajoo2 years ago
Great! Looking forward to see what you come up with. You've got the right pen.
black hole2 years ago
This is a REAL ballistic pen. = ) Great job!
PS: You've got my vote.
Mrballeng (author)  black hole2 years ago
Thanks! Fingers crossed.
bond8152 years ago
Great project, thanks for sharing your technique. I can't wait to try it.
I have a few questions...

I don't have a doming block. Is there any reason why filing a taper on the end of the casing wouldn't work?

Did you consider using an actual bullet for the tip?

Do you find the brass keeps its sheen over time?

Mrballeng (author)  bond8152 years ago
You can file a taper and that should work fine. You could also use a spoon to roll the edge over by tapping it like a hammer. Over time the pen will oxidize like brass does but it's eaisily cleaned right up.
Extremely well planned, executed, and documented, you do fine work sir! You make me want to move 'lathe' up a couple of priorities on my workshop shopping list
mikeasaurus2 years ago
I love this! I had to do a double-take when I first saw it.

(Also, the shopping list is hilarious)
Mrballeng (author)  mikeasaurus2 years ago
Glad you like it. Took a long time to figure out.
ilpug2 years ago
Awesome job!
monsterlego2 years ago
That is very cool!