Shotgun Shell Torch




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

Make a mini torch out of a shotgun shell.

This is a pretty simple project which will only require a few tools and materials. The most obvious thing you will need are shotgun shells. I recently acquired a box full of used shells from my local gun range (for another project) and have been thinking what else I could use them for. I have a bunch of projects on the go at the moment which use the shells and this happens to be the first one done.

The LED I used is super bright and comes from an LED globe that no longer worked. You could use an everyday LED but you wouldn't get the same brightness. When testing the LED I was really amazed at how bright it is. It will light up a whole room when darkened.

The LED globe had 3 LED's on it and I decided to go with green. As they take 6v's to work, the green and red are the best to use. The blue is still a little dull and probably could go 7.5v.

So go shoot a few rounds, collect the shells and keep reading to find hoe to make your own.

Step 1: Bits to Harvest

1. Shotgun shells. They can be purchased on Etsy or scavenged from a gun range. If you do have a local one, give them a ring and see if you can grab a few. They won't mind as they just throw them away anyhow.

2. LED Globe. - Ebay

3. Micro switch. - I used one from an old circuit board but you can buy them on eBay

4. 12v battery holder - eBay

5. Batteries. You can either use 4 LR44 button batteries or a 6v PX28A battery (which is just 4 LR44's in one battery)

6. Thin wire


1. Pliers

2. Soldering iron

3. Small blow torch

4. Super glue

5. Hammer

6. Hole punch

7. Stanley knife

Step 2: Pulling Apart the LED Globe


1. Un-screw the bottom of the light bulb. The red and black wires sticking out are from the circuit board and should have broken off from the bottom of the globe once you un-screwed it. if not, just cut the wires

2. Use a screwdriver to pop open the top of the globe.

3. Un-screw the circuit board from the globe.

4. De-solder the 3 LED's on the circuit board.

Step 3: Removing a Cap From the Shell

So the first thing you’ll need to do is to remove the end from one of the shotgun shells. I’m sure that there are plenty of different ways to do this (check the net), but my way works just fine. The cap (the brass section) is held in place very tightly by some plastic. It is virtually impossible to remove all of the plastic without melting it out.


1. Use a Stanley knife (exacto knife) to cut away the plastic case.

2. Next put the brass cap into a vice. Don’t tighten too hard or you’ll distort the cap.

3. With a small blow torch, heat-up the inside of the cap until the plastic starts to melt.

4. Grab a pair of needle noes plyers and pinch out the melted plastic. You’ll probably have to melt the plastic again to remove the rest of it from the cap. Obviously be careful – the plastic will melt to your skin if it touches you.

Note: There is a simpler way to remove the cap from the body of the shell. All you need to do is put the body of the shell into a vice and heat up the cap. Once hot enough use a pair of pliers and pull on the cap. It should come off easily!

Step 4: Preparing the Shell and Caps

Next steps are to add the loop to the shell and remove the primer in the cap with no plastic.


Cutting the shell to size

1. You need to work out how big you want your torch. I decided to cut down the shell to the battery holder just fitted. You could make it longer - it's up to you.

2. Use a stanley knife to cut the shell to the size you want.

Making the Loop

1. with a pair of round tipped pliers, bend a circle in some copper. It's up to you how big you want to have the loop.

2. Cut the excess copper off so you only have the loop left.

3. Next add some flux and solder to the top of the cap as shown below.

4. Solder on the loop using a small blow torch.

Removing the Primer

1. Using a nail punch or something round with a flat end, carefully hammer out the primer. Make sure that the primer is hammered out from the inside of the cap. It won’t work the other way.

2. Turn the cap over and bend any copper down sticking up inside the hole.

Step 5: Adding the Switch


1. Make 2 small holes in the body of the shell. Make sure that they are below the empty cap.

2. Thread 2 wires through the hole as shown below

3. Solder on the switch to the 2 wires

4. Lastly, glue the switch into place. The micro switch I used only had 2 pins and I made sure that these were pushed into the holes and then I bent the legs out when inside the shell.

Step 6: Adding the Battery Case and LED


1. Remove the LED's from the globe by de-soldering them. You could probably just buy these LED's but I have no idea what they are called. I used these ones ass they are very bright.

2. Next trim one of the battery wires and solder it onto a switch wire. Add some heat-shrink to the bare wire.

3. Super glue the LED to the inside of the cap and solder-on the other wire from the battery and switch. The wires don't have to be long, just long enough to pull out the battery case.

Step 7: Finished

That's it!

You should now have a pretty damn cool torch. I was really surprised at how bright the light is! It can even turn you green like the hulk as my son pointed out!

I recently made another with the blue LED. Second time making one only took about 20 minutes to make.

Thanks for looking. If you make one and need a hand with any part, please let me know.

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18 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

nice instructables, i will make one and use it during hunting, my buddies will surely like it!

1 reply

4 years ago on Step 4

nice but a way better way in my opinion to remove the plastic from the shell is to hold the shell in front of an electric heater or similar for about 30 seconds to a minute and pull the two parts away from each other using pliers or those grabby things i cant remember what they are called :(

2 replies

4 years ago on Introduction

I like it but instead of a switch use a transistor NPN and a resistor and attach the base to one of the brass ends when you touch the brass that the base is connected to the led will turn on till you stop touching it

5 replies

Hey there,

Great idea! I have a few NPN transistors hanging around and will give this a shot. Still have the red LED left over...

hope you post it with a video I would love to do it but my current living situation I don't have any of my tools or parts anymore

would this be activated by other things (i.e. keys or keyring) touching it or only be affected by skin touching it? I really like the idea of a "touch" switch

its a capacitive switch the key ring or keys will not activate the switch unless you are holding the key the human body creates, stores, and conducts electricity the transistor can sense this causing the led to light. There are materials that can activate a capacitive sensor like a tablet pen for capacitive screens it is made of a conductive foam


Cheers dude.

On another note, I recently found a bunch of beautiful old sewing machines on the side of the road that someone had thrown away! I managed to pick-up 5 of them and they all worked! Only kept one (gave the others away). Such amazingly engineered machines.


Nice! Yes, they are amazing machines. And since there are so many around, there's no excuse for any creative-type not to have their own.