Shotgun Shell Wreath




Using live shotgun shells in decorations is a bad idea.  Even worse is attaching a lighter filled with butane.  In this instructable we'll do just that to make a festive Christmas wreath.

You will need:

1.  Wire frame wreath, craft stores have these.
2.  Shotgun shells in red and green.  I got these at a man's sports warehouse, they don't like it when you open the boxes to find out the color of the shells, so bring a friend to distract them or just act crazy. (I used more than are pictured, I had to go back for more)
3.  Green wire, or really any color wire, green seemed like a good choice.
4.  Shotgun shaped lighter, again at a man's sports warehouse.
5.  Needle nose pliers.  I also have some tin snips because my needle nose pliers weren't cutting it.
6.  A wreath door hanger.  You could just use some sturdy wire if that works for you instead.
7.  Bow is optional.  My attempts at making a bow were laughable, so I bought one.  It's too big, find a smaller one.

Step 1: Attaching the Lighter

Line up the lighter where you want it placed on the wire frame and cut off a length of wire.  Figuring out how best to position the wire for a secure fit is a bit tricky.

I attached the barrel at a joint which allows for more places to wrap the wire around.  Once you have the barrel where you want it and wired up, twist the wires together to secure.  I use the pliers to get a really tight twist for the last few twists after doing it by hand.

For the stock there was a convenient hole that I ran the wire through.

Step 2: Wire Up the Shells

Cut a long length of wire, I was using about 16" lengths which was a bit longer than I needed, it doesn't need to be exact.

Twist the middle of the wire around where the plastic meets the metal on the shell.  Use the pliers for the last few twists as you want this to be really tight.

Next do the same near the end of the shell.

Now do like 30 more shells.

Finish off the almonds while you're at it.

Step 3: Attach the Shells to the Wreath Frame

The pictures explain better than I can.

Basically place the shell on the frame facing inward.  Wrap the wire around the frame, use the pliers to pull it tight.

Next, twist the left and right loose wires together and point the excess wire to the outside of the wreath.

Position the shells where you like them.

Step 4: Positioning and Securing the Shells

Take the excess lengths of wire and work around the wreath laying them down and twisting them around the excess wire from the next shell.

Cut the remaining wires once everything is secured and twist the wire ends out of the way within the wire mess you've made.

Step 5: Finished Wreath

You're done, unless you want a bow, then either buy or make one and attach with some wire.

Hang it up and enjoy.

Keep away from children and fire.



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    24 Discussions

    Gnome face

    1 year ago

    Why use live ammunition?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi all,

    Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but I want to restate what Scorpman said above. If you go to a gun store (not a "sporting goods store" but a gun shop or even Amazon) you can buy empty shotgun hulls which would be a lot more safe.

    Dude, kudos for imagination but if you drop this thing when you're taking down Christmas and a primer takes a blow, or store it in a hot or wet environment (attic, basement) and then someone handles it wrongly . . . . I've owned five guns in the last ten years, I'm an ex Boy Scout and hunter who grew up with firearms. This is really dangerous. That's my opinion, but it's up to you.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    There is nothing any more dangerous about this than there is in hanging a shotgun shell bandolier on your gun rack. Sure, all live ammunition is potentially dangerous in the wrong hands, but those people shouldn't have live ammunition in the first place.

    This thing is awesome. I would go with the spent shells myself, though. Not because of any safety concerns but because the shells would be lighter and more easily attached. On the other hand, live ammo makes this a survival kit, something every Boy Scout should be able to appreciate!


    2 years ago

    very nice, I'm making one for Christmas, but I will use empty shells.

    Hylian Mom

    3 years ago

    Love it! l would save my cartridges after shooting them though. Not so much for safety as because l think they wouldn't fall off too easily if they were light. Going to get more ammo soon.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is so cool, I really want to give this a try and give it to a family I know that loves to hunt. I for one am glad it's live amo, lol that way if the zombie apocalypse comes at xmas you are always ready! ;-) Great instructable!


    its looke good how the gun is in the middle and the shot gun shells are around the gun to capture the view if u know wat i mean


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Cute idea.
    Nothing says merry xmas and peace on earth better then guns -n- ammo :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Another idea to stay away from using live ammo is if you know anyone who reloads shotgun shells. Have them load empty red and green shells with just a wad and shot in them. Get some silicon and fill in the primer well (or even use that spot for some LED lights perhaps?) I reload quite often and make rounds like these for practice loading the shotgun (I do alot of cowboy action shooting) and the silicon holds up well over time.

    Great Idea tho! I might have to make up a couple of these myself :)

    2 replies

    oh, and if you do use reloads like I suggested, you could possibly even hot glue the shells to the wire frame then, eliminating the tie wraps.

    IT’S… LIVE... AMMO.... Using caution goes without saying… In addition, if one needs to be cautioned when handling live ammunitions, then there is a bigger problem at hand, and being "the buzz kill" is not going to protect them from the real danger, them selves. Too many people get so bent out of shape about other people’s safety.

    This is a wonderful idea, would make an amazing gift for a hunter, or gun enthusiast… (Or to scare the crap out of the boy coming to pick the daughter up for her first date.. good one DrHoppe!!!)

    If you feel the need to provide a safety comment, that is your right and please do, all I am saying is instead of just taking away from an amazing project like this and many others by leaving the comment then walking away feeling all special because you did your good deed for the week, make your safe version and post it. It’s easy to sit back and say do it this way or that, but to put it bluntly, put your Ible's where your keyboards are... Has a great day!!!


    7 years ago on Step 5

    ....guess what my brother and son are getting for Christmas next year? :)

    I might say that this is way cool, If I were to do this I would first have to fire all the shells as I hate to see good shells go to well waste. Using live loads is safe in my book as I have had shells rolling around in the trunk for years I also frequent gun shows and buy any 12 gauge shells that are for sale and I have gotten some old ones. For a shell to go off would be really freakish, still a spent shell is lighter and looks just as good.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'll be sure to check out the Darwin awards next year...


    7 years ago on Introduction

    And you know? Nothing says Christmas like red and green shotgun shells and a bow. I vote for spent shells, but what the hey. Congrats on being Featured.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I think I need this and similar decorations for when my daughter is old enough to date. Thank goodness she is only 10 months old right now.