.45 Earbuds




Introduction: .45 Earbuds

I recently found a bunch of old bullet shells out in the woods.

I really like music, and therefore I have random pairs of ear buds around.

I also like making things.

Blend these three things together, add a dash of ingenuity, place in a well greased pan and cook for an hour.

The result is my .45 earbuds: basically, ear buds that have spent bullet casings stuck on them with Sugru. For those of you who are super-gifted, then that mildly sarcastic sentence should tell you how to make them. You no longer need any direction.

For the rest of us, I have provided these simple directions, for which I managed to take enough pictures to rob my bandwidth for an hour, despite the glaring simplicity of this build.


Step 1: Materials

The bits-n-pieces:
  • A pair of earbuds of some kind. Since they vary so much in size and design, your earbuds will probably be different than mine. No big deal, because this is just a surface modification. I used some huge silver off-brand ones I found in my sock drawer.
  • Sugru. I used one little black packet. It is amazing stuff, and if you don't know what it is, or where to get it, Google it.
  • .45mm auto pistol shells. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED! Discharged means they don't have a bullet in them, and the primer on the bottom is indented. You can get bullet shells from a shooting range, the internet, a friend with a gun, or you could just have mad skills like me and come across a shooting range in the forest that is carpeted with them. Keep in mind that .45 is only one kind of caliber, you can use another size if you want.
  • Paint. I used silver model paint, Testors brand. This was a horrible idea, because it wears off and looks bad. If at all possible, avoid painting your earbuds.

Step 2: Tools

I used:
  • Dremel rotary tool, using the cutting wheel, polishing wheel, sanding drum, and metal brush. If you don't have a Dremel, you need one, or something like it. make sure you have super-tough cutting disks, those little shells are TOUGH.
  • Paint supplies.
  • A Bench Vise or clamps- holding those little shells while cutting is dangerous and really really really difficult.
  • craft knife.

Step 3: Prepare the Earbuds

My earbuds were huge to start out with, having these gray cushions on them that look like balloon tires. Obviously there was a scaling error on the design of these. Anyway, I pulled these huge rubber donuts off the buds and set them aside because "Golly, that could come in handy someday."

Several hours later I was busy kicking ass at Halo Reach and looked over and saw them on my desk. I stretched them over the sticks on my controller, making it a lot more comfortable and grippy.

On the pair of earbuds there was also one of those in-line volume adjuster dials. This looked like a good place to put more bullet shell, so I sanded down a little nubbin of plastic on it that was in my way.

Step 4: Hack a Shell in Half

I wanted to cut all of the body of a shell off, leaving just the small round base with the primer and stamped writing, to put on the little volume control piece. I thought this was easy, but it turned out that because bullet shells are designed to effectively BLOW UP while retaining their shape, they are very tough. I only learned this after wasting two cut off wheels and forgetting to take pictures of the cutting process. Anyway, cut all of the casing off until you have just the bottom part, like in the picture.

Step 5: Cut More Shells, Waste More Cutting Disks

Now it is time to cut two more shells to fit your earbuds. At this point, you may have to cut your shell differently than I did, depending on how you want your finished buds to look and how you want the shell to fit.

My method will work on these kind of earbuds though.

First, cut your remaining two .45 shells in half, sorta. One ended up shorter that the other, for me, but it really isn't noticeable.

Then, mark and cut a notch in the side of each half-shell. The slot kind of varies depending on the type of earbuds you are using. Start small and work your way up.

Step 6: Trim Your Buds

Now the next step really varies on the type of earbuds. You may need to sand or grind down a few spots on your buds to fit the shells. I leave this step up to you. As before, start with small cuts, then get bigger until your shells fit well.

Step 7: Apply Sugru-wherever Useful!

Now, sugru the shells to the earbuds. Don't be afraid to use a bit much, we will trim it off later. Also use some sugru to attach the shell base to the volume control case that we sanded earlier.

The remaining Sugru can be used for an unrelated project, or:
  • Reinforce around the audio jack
  • Reinforce around the volume control
  • Make new ear cushions
I did all of the above.

Step 8: Trim, Polish, and Paint

Once the Sugru cures after about 15 hours, use a razor knife to trim off whatever you think is excess.

Then, if you want, or if your shells are dirty and tarnished like mine, polish them! I used a wire brush and a buffing wheel in my Dremel tool.

Finally, if you want, put some paint on them. I used Testors Silver.

Voila! Done!

Step 9: Later Versions, Advice, Roll Credits.

The pair that I show the making of turned out like crap.
  • The paint never cured and it faded
  • The earbuds were still too big
  • I use too large of shells along with large buds, making them amazingly heavy
  • They were just generally sloppy and not well made.

I made a better and much sexier version for my friend afterward.
They came out MUCH BETTER.

The improvements:
  • Use 9mm shells instead of .45 shells, they are smaller, lighter, easier to cut.
  • Sheath the cord in paracord to prevent tangling and just general protection.
  • Encase the jack in another shell.
  • Protect the split in the cord with another shell.
The earbuds themselves were smaller, better audio, black so they needed no painting, and just generally proved more conducive to shell attachment.

Therefore, due to their better appearance, usability, and general amount of bullet shell, I present to you what these are SUPPOSED to look like.

There you go, take the design, run with it, if you make a pair, show me in the comments, and if they aren't utterly horrible, I will add them to this page. Any input is valued!


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    13 Discussions


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The ones shown here work fine. If you made a pair and they don't work, then you must have messed up the build. Check all the wires.

    Hear are some that i bought before i saw this ible



    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Ultimately I want to make a pair that looks just like that. These ones are pretty ugly.

    Those are ludicrously expensive...


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice and cost less then the ones they sell .....you may look for blazer empties they are made of aluminum and would maybe cut better / easier ....now to go and find some .50 AE or BMG brass


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I will look up blazer ammo. The "Munitio" brand of earbuds these are meant to replace are ridiculously expensive.


    Really well done Instructable. I think the mark of a great maker is that they understand how to teach what they do as well, the way an instructable should be. Keep up the good work!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I have a question. Do they not feel a bit heavy when you put them in your ear?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The big ones do, but the second pair I made felt fine. I recommend using smaller shells than .45


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yours are pretty cool too.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Ha, genius. You should keep a small record about some of the comments you get: anything unique gets some interesting quotes though this would certainly get some interesting reviews!