Shotgun Shell Pendant Keepsake




Introduction: Shotgun Shell Pendant Keepsake

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.

Make a locket out of a couple of shotgun brass heads.

I had a bunch of empty shotgun shells from some previous projects and decided to see what else to could make with them. The other 'ibles (here, here and here) used the whole shell, but this project only uses the brass heads.

Getting the brass heads off is pretty simple and I go through how to do this in the 'ible. Putting the locket together however has taken me a few goes to get things right. Luckily I've gone through the pain of messing a few up so you don't have to.

There are a few fiddly bits but as long as you take your time you won't have any issues with building your own.

The locket has a little hand-made hinge which allows it to open up. I haven't put anything inside yet but you could easily add some photos, keepsakes, or maybe even some fur from your first kill (if your that way inclined!)

On the last step I have also added some photos of a different style locket. It's easier to make, so if you are interested in this one as well, let me know and I'll write-up an 'ible on how to make one.

Step 1: Things to Gather


1. Shotgun shells. You get these on Etsy or if you live near a shooters club you can pick them up for free.

2. 1mm brass rod - Try a hobby shop

3. 1.5mm brass tube - Try a hobby shop

4. Leather or chain to make the necklace

5. rare earth magnet - I used these ones, but I think these would work better


1. Small blow torch

2. solder

3. Needle nose pliers

4. large pliers

5. Vice

6. Solder paste

7. Small cutting wheel

8. Small grinding wheel

9. Tube cutter - eBay

Step 2: Cutting the Shotgun Heads


1. Grab a couple of shells that are the same. This will ensure that the heads are also the same size.

2. Place one in the copper pipe cutter and carefully turn the shell while tightening the cutter. It helps if you put something solid down the shell like a socket. This will ensure that the shell stays true and pressure is added evenly.

3. Once the head is cut through, it's then time to remove it

Step 3: Removing the Head


1. Clamp the shell in a vice.

2. Heat the end up with a small blow torch. I usually heat them up for about 5-7 seconds and then leave for about another 5 seconds.

3. Carefully remove by grabbing the end with a pair of pliers and pulling.

4. Next remove the cap in the end of the head with a nail punch or something similar

Step 4: Preparing the Shotgun Shell Head


1. Once you remove the cap there will be a little bit of plastic still stuck to the head. Pull this off with some pliers.

2. Once the plastic is removed you will find that there are some spiky pieces of brass on th inside of the head. These hold the cap into place. You will want to remove these so the inside is flush.

3. To remove the spiky bits, you will need to grind these off. I used a small stone grinding wheel but I'm sure that there are better ways to go about this. Keep on grinding until the spiky bits are gone.

Step 5: Moding and Attaching the Cap

Hopefully you didn't throw the primers away as you will need to put these back into the shotgun cap.


1. Grab hold of the primer with a pair of needle nose pliers

2. Set-up the dremel or drill so it has a small cutting wheel attached like the below image. My Dremel died so I have had to rig up my drill to do the cutting.

3. Carefully run the primer around the wheel. You don't want to cut it flush with the top of the cap. The image below of the cut primer shows that I kept just a little of the body of the primer intact.

4. File down any sharp edges

5. Push the primer back into the hole in the cap . The cool thing about this is it should lock into place. This is why you want to keep a little of the body on the primer. Initially I soldered these into place but the solder just leaked everywhere. By not cutting the primer flush, means there is enough left for it to lock in the hole. You might need to push the primer into place with a screwdriver as the fit can be tight.

Step 6: The Hinge


1. Cut a small piece of the brass tube, about 3-4mm

2. Next cut a piece of the brass wire, about 50mm. You won't use all of this but it is better to be safe then sorry.

3. Make a 90 degree bend in the wire and push the tube onto the wire

4. Bend the other end of the wire 90 degrees. make sure that the tube doesn't have much wriggle room. You want it so it turns on the wire but doesn't move up and down.

5. Ben the ends as shown below. These bits will be soldered onto one of the heads. Slightly bend them inwards to that they will sit flush with the head.

Step 7: Soldering the Hinge

Ok so this is probably the most difficult part. I messed a couple up before I worked out the best way to attach the hinge.


1. Clamp the 2 shotgun heads together in a vice.

2. Add some solder flux to the tube and the 2 ends of the wire and place on top of the shells. Don't add too much flux or the solder will spread

3. Next I added some flattened solder to the tube section. Use a pair of pliers to flatten and place it between the tube and the shell. Yes this is fiddly, but take your time and make sure everything is where you want it before you start to solder.

4. Get the mini blow torch cranking and carefully heat up the shells and hinge. Once you see the flattened solder melt you know that it should be at temperature and ready for the rest of the soldering. Also the flux will bubble which is also an indication that it is ready to add solder.

5. Carefully touch the ends of the hinge with some solder and continue to add heat. Once the solder starts to flow remove the heat and leave to cool.

You only get one chance so make sure you plan and prepare before you start to solder

Step 8: Making a Hanging Ring


1. Grab the brass wire and wrap around something to make a small look. I used a pair or round pliers but you could use a screwdriver or anything else.

2. Cut the ring and make any adjustments necessary.

3. Place the locket into the vice and secure the ring in a helping hand.

4. Add some flux and solder onto the locket

Step 9: Magnetic Clasp and Polishing

It took me awhile to work out how I was going to keep the locket closed. I experimented with little soldered pins and a few other ideas but none worked. In the end I went with a magnet which worked perfectly.


1. The magnets that I used were a little large so if this is the same for you then just cut them with a pair of pliers

2. Add a little super glue and glue to the inside of one of the brass heads.

3. Lastly, polish the locket with some metal polish.


Step 10: Done

Hopefully everything went to plan and you have your very own shotgun shell locket. If not it's not that big of an issue, just try again until you get the finish you want. It's not like the shells cost a lot!

Step 11: What Next?

I also played around with a slightly different style of locket which is easier to make and doesn't have a hinge. The top actually fits inside the body of the locket. I might make in 'ible on how to do these ones too sometime, but in the meantime - check out the images of it below.



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    26 Discussions

    I saved a few rounds from when my husband was teaching my boys how to shoot. Maybe I will make a charm bracelet.

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    Goodonyamite! I love "fiddly" things, especially ones like this made of metal. I really need to get back into some of that. Thanks for the inspiration.

    P.S. I wonder if silver solder has a melting point high enough to damage the brass plating? Guess I'll experiment and find out. I think I'll also try fluxing with borax (contains no acid).

    Great project !!

    This is a great idea! I recently went shooting for the first time and kept a few spent rounds, this would be a good thing to do with them. I love the idea of a hinge, but it looks very difficult for my unsteady hands to make. Do you think that just using two magnets instead would be enough to keep it closed?

    This is very cool! Looks like I really need to get my soldering skills up! ('Cause I want one! )

    if you turn on your imagination, you can do a lot of beautiful things of the bullets, for example


    forged from rusty grenades, bullets, shells, fragments of artillery shells and missiles, etc. this is only a small part of it created by people of our city.


    In your second design, that has a push in end and no hinge, you could attach the ring by drilling the shotgun brass end, push the ring ends through and bend them over then solder inside so no solder showing on the outside.


    2 years ago

    I think this is really cute but I don't have a lot of time for projects such as these, so my question is are you selling them? If so, how would I go about purchasing one?

    Ok I loved the hinge, I did not know the end caps were electroplated steel. If you didn't solder the firing caps in try some locktite. For consumer products, I think the red one is the real strong one, very hard to get undone, if I am wrong then it is the blue one. The Green one may be even stronger and wicks, that is, it will be drawn into a joint by capillary action.

    I did enjoy the construction if not the function.

    get the right size rounds for say elephant guns, and you can make condom holders, a love gift with a point jest in time for Mothers Day!


    Show some you care about them by hacking together spent ammunition, excellent.

    Its amazing to see how you creatively transform these shells into something so beautiful and unique my dear friend. You rock always.

    1 reply

    This is super cool, dude! Great idea, really well executed!

    1 reply

    I love this, it's awesome!