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DIY Bullet Shell Casing Necklace

I finally made the DIY shell casing necklace that I’ve been wanting to make for months.  I’m thrilled with how this bullet necklace DIY turned out, because it looks so cool.

How to make a shell casing necklace

And for everyone who suggested I share more photos of myself on the blog, this project also features some slightly awkward, photos of yours truly, lol.

How to Make a Bullet Necklace DIYShell Casing and Crystal Spike Necklace DIY

Wondering what you can make out of shell casings?  Looking for things to make out of bullet casings?  Re-purpose bullet casings by making your own crystal spike and shell casing pendants!  I love the combination of the rugged shell casing (which has been fired), with the sparkly quartz.  Ready to make your own DIY shell casing necklace?  Let me show you a few different methods!

DIY Shell Casing Necklace

Supplies for DIY Casing Necklace:

unique DIY jewelry ideas

How Do You Make a Shell Casing Necklace?

Here’s how to make your own shell casing necklace with a crystal spike – keep reading for the detailed instructions for how to make a bullet necklace.

  1. Collect and clean shell casings (see below for cleaning tips)
  2. Find the correct size crystal spike
  3. Drill a hole at the end of the shell casing
  4. File the edges of the shell casing
  5. Wire wrap the crystal spike
  6. Thread the wire through the end of the shell casing
  7. Create a loop with the wire
  8. Thread onto chain

How to make a shell casing necklace

How to Make a Crystal Spike and Shell Casing Necklace:

diy bullet necklace

Clean the Shell Casing:

I collected a wide selection of fired shell casings on our last trip to the firing range.  I cleaned all the casings in the same vinegar bath & baking soda scrub I used to clean my penny for my penny ring project.  Although the gunk came off, the casings kept a nice patina which I was happy about.  Be sure to thoroughly rinse off all vinegar and baking soda.

How to clean brass shell casingsWhat to Make with Used Shell CasingsProjects using shell casings

Find the Right Size Crystal Spike:

Finding the right size crystals was tricky.  I brought one of each size shell casing to craft stores in search of the right stones.  I finally found a strand of crystal points at a local bead shop.  I’m happy I brought the shell casings because these stones are naturally irregular and only four or five fit well.  I suggest checking out your local shops first.  If ordering online, pay particular attention to the size of the beads.  Specifically ask the seller if the stones will fit in a tube the diameter of your casing.

Crystal point stick beads for shell casing necklaces
Rock Crystal Rough Point Stick Beads from Etsy

Drill a Hole in the Shell Casing:

With the crystals purchased and the shell casings cleaned, Hubby and I drilled a hole into the top of each casing (wearing eye protection, of course!)

How to drill a hole in a shell casingSaw the End off a Rifle Casing:

The handgun casings were ready to use, but the rifle casings needed to be sawed off.  A pipe cutter works really well but if you don’t have one, a jeweller’s saw or a plain old saw will work.  If using a saw, wrap a piece of paper towel around the casing so your vice grips, etc., don’t mar the surface (see third photo).

How to cut a shell casing shorterHow to make a shell casing necklaceHow to saw off a shell casing

One thing to note: although more uniform, the pipe cutter slightly curves the end of the casing inward.

Using a pipe cutter to trim shell casingSaw vs pipe cutterFile the Edges of the Casing:

We used a metal file to gently file the metal at the cut edges and also where the holes were drilled.  Work on a piece of paper towel to catch the filings and I recommend wearing gloves – the little metal bits are so itchy if they work their way into your skin.  Trust me.

File a cut shell casingHole drilled through shell casingMaking jewelry from shell casingsWire Wrap the Crystal Spike:

I grabbed one of my crystal spike points and strung about five inches of the wire through the bead.  I worked with one end, wrapping the wire tightly against itself.

Wire wrap a crystal point stick bead

Then I threaded the end of the wire up through the drilled hole.

Bullet jewellery tutorial

Using a pen, I wrapped the wire into a circle (the pen helped me keep the shape, but you can freehand it) and then wrapped the wire tightly around the base of the loop.

Making jewelry from spent shell casingsDIY shell casing pendant

Add Chain to your DIY Shell Casing Necklace!

Finally, I added chain from the craft store to complete my DIY shell casing necklace.  I made mine long enough to slip over my head, like with my DIY agate necklace, to avoid a clasp.  I simply opened one loop, attached it to the other end and, voila!  Now I have a fun new shell casing and crystal necklace!

How to make a shell casing necklaceDIY crystal and shell casing pendantsMake your own shell casing jewelry

DIY Shell Casing Necklace Method:

Alternatively, you can also drill two holes in the side of the casings (use a nail to make a dent first, so your drill bit doesn’t slip off) and run the chain through the casing.  With this method, you can even use a hunk of rock glued into the casing, instead of a bead, and string the chain through the holes.

Drill a hole in a bullet casing

Here’s an example of how that would look, from etsy seller Changes Jewelry (here’s another example):

How to Make a Bullet Necklace without Drilling:

Instead of drilling the top of a shell casing, you can push the primer out instead.  The one difference with this method, is that the hole is inset.  But it’s definitely possible to make a bullet necklace without drilling – and you only need two simple handheld tools.  We used a nail set and hammer to push the primer out:

Push the primer out of shell casingHow to make a shell casing necklace without drillingPunch a hold in a shell casing without a drill

Let me know if you have any questions about how to make your own DIY shell casing necklace!

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

Easy DIY Shell Casing Necklace Tutorial

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50 Comments

  1. nickarmadillo
    March 27, 2013 / 1:38 pm

    I really like this idea. It's too bad my girlfriend has an irrational fear of anything gun-related. Personally, I think this would be a win-win. I get some time at the range and she gets a nice necklace šŸ˜‰

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 27, 2013 / 1:52 pm

      It's too bad your girlfriend is afraid of guns. I liked going to the range before, but now there's the extra perk of finding good casings! A friend saw my necklace and wanted one, not even knowing it was a shell casing, so maybe you could still make one for your gf. It might subconsciously warm her up to the idea of guns, lol!

    • Kathleen
      June 5, 2017 / 2:57 pm

      I was timid about guns until my bf took me to the range and let me start with a 22 and work my way up. I saved a bunch of the casings and plan on making my own jewelry!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      June 10, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      A 22 is a great way to start! I started with a 9mm but the kick back was such a deterrent for learning to aim so I bought a 22 shortly after. I am so excited that you're saving casings for jewelry! I'd love to see what you make šŸ™‚ Tag me on social or shoot me an email – I always love seeing what other people are making!

  2. Pam
    March 28, 2013 / 11:47 pm

    I love this. Thank you for your wonderful instructions. I actually have some of my hubby's bullet casings I have been saving to make beads for jewelry. The second variation is really pretty as well… and the quartz coloring was perfect for the bulllet shells.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 29, 2013 / 12:43 am

      I'm so happy these instructions were helpful for you! If you make some of these necklaces, I'd love to see photos šŸ™‚

  3. Luca Gerda - from panka with love
    March 30, 2013 / 2:46 pm

    I really like this idea! Too bad that there is no bulletshell around here. (and me using a drill – oh, well, it's not a great thought) Thanks for sharing!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 31, 2013 / 5:27 pm

      You can find bullet shell casings on etsy. Happy you like the tutorial šŸ™‚

  4. Churl
    March 31, 2013 / 5:00 pm

    Very cool! My dad has plenty of bullet casings he'd be willing to give me. Also, you can buy brand new casings (if you prefer the shiny, non-fired look) at gun supply stores.Any idea what the best glue to use would be if you'd rather glue them in than use pre-drilled beads?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      March 31, 2013 / 5:31 pm

      Thanks! I'm so glad you've got access to casings. Do you know if you need a firearms license to buy new casings? You need one for buying ammunition in Canada, so I wasn't sure about the rules for just the casings . . . but that might be a great resource for people, so thanks! In terms of glue, I have used Lepage Gel Epoxy for so many projects, including an agate necklace (http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.hu/2012/08/diy-agate-necklace.html) and the hold is strong. I have also heard that E-6000 glue cannot be beat for DIY jewelry projects. I haven't used it myself, but plan to (http://www.michaels.com/E-6000%C2%AE/gc0181,default,pd.html)Hope that helps! I'd love to see photos if you do end up making some of these šŸ™‚

    • Anonymous
      February 2, 2018 / 7:08 pm

      Wow, Canada sounds truly awful. No, in most States in the US we don't need a license to buy ammunition OR firearms.

  5. Bromeliad
    April 1, 2013 / 3:04 pm

    Love your thorough tutorial. Will be featuring it this week.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 1, 2013 / 5:27 pm

      Thanks so much! Please send me a link so I can link back šŸ™‚

  6. Anonymous
    April 3, 2013 / 7:46 pm

    Can't wait to have some money so I can order some crystals, good thing I have some shell casings laying around.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 3, 2013 / 10:20 pm

      That's fabulous you have some spare casings! Some folks turn to Etsy to buy them. I hope you're able to find some quartz. The strand I found was from a smaller shop and worked out to be a dollar per stone (or $2.00 because some weren't usable for this). But I found a shop in Toronto that sells them individually for about 75 cents a piece so I'll be able to get a good fit for each casing. I recommend emailing a few local stores in your area for the best deal. If you come up empty, then there are lots of Etsy but they sell by the strand and, yup, they are a bit expensive. Good luck!! And I'd love to see a photo if you do make some of these necklaces šŸ™‚

    • Anonymous
      August 25, 2013 / 12:58 am

      what is the store in toronto called? i've been looking for a store that sells crystals

  7. Anonymous
    November 23, 2013 / 10:36 pm

    What kind of stone did you use in the last photo? I love it! Thanks!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      November 24, 2013 / 11:58 pm

      That's a photo from an etsy seller's shop – she used a different method than me, and I wanted to show an example of it. I think it's quartz also? The shop is linked to above the photo.

  8. ASI
    December 28, 2013 / 6:32 am

    hi , i just wanna know if we can buy these Necklace please I really need it <3

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      December 28, 2013 / 4:23 pm

      Hi, I had planned on making some for sale in my Etsy shop but never found the time. I could make some for sale, but it would have to wait until January. If you're interested, drop me an email and we can chat:[email protected]

  9. Neely Phelan
    January 1, 2014 / 2:36 am

    Did you just use a regular pipe cutter? Didn't know if there were different ones šŸ™‚

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 1, 2014 / 7:25 am

      I'm no pro šŸ™‚ but it's what we use for plumbing. So, regular enough to be in our toolbox. Hope that helps!

  10. sam cahill
    April 23, 2014 / 2:11 am

    hello! im also from thunder bay and was wondering the jewelry store you ended up finding the stone at! love this tutorial šŸ™‚

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 23, 2014 / 4:23 am

      Hi Sam, small world!! I found the stones at Unique Family Crafts, 145 Prospect Ave. It was the last strand, but it was awhile ago so maybe the gals who own it have brought in some more. Hope you find some šŸ™‚

  11. Anonymous
    April 24, 2014 / 2:34 am

    Hi love the idea. Bought a pipe cutter from Home Depot but it does not cut through casing. Really frustrated. Wonder if I need a different kind. Really want to do some creating but cant cut through my casings UGHH!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 24, 2014 / 2:35 pm

      That's so frustrating! I suggest you bring your casing and the pipe cutter to Home Depot and get their recommendation. They should be able to recommend a good quality cutter for the job.

  12. Heather
    September 16, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    So thankful I found these DIY tips! I have a shell casing from my dads funeral I can finally wear, close to my heart. God bless.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 16, 2014 / 6:40 pm

      Hi Heather, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for leaving this comment. To hear how you'll be using a deeply personal and sentimental shell casing really moved me.

    • Whitney
      April 12, 2022 / 11:09 pm

      This is what I am wanting to do also, how did yours turn out?

  13. Anonymous
    October 15, 2014 / 11:47 pm

    thanks for the great info

  14. Leatrice Gulbransen
    December 3, 2014 / 3:35 am

    I have been looking everywhere for detailed instructions on how to cut, pierce, get the primer out, etc. Thank you so much for sharing ! I got a half gallon container of spent .38 specials at a yard sale for a dollar. Now I can get busy making Christmas presents ! Again, many thanks~~~

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      December 3, 2014 / 4:45 am

      What a great yard sale score!! I'm so happy you found this post helpful. It was so nice of you to leave a comment! I'd love to see your finished necklaces, if you feel like sharing šŸ™‚ (@danslelakehouse on IG or [email protected]) but no pressure, because it sounds like you'll be busy…

  15. Anonymous
    June 6, 2015 / 1:57 pm

    These look amazing, I can't wait to try! I'm from Thunder Bay – can you tell me which local store you found the crystals from? Thanks šŸ™‚

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      June 7, 2015 / 2:47 pm

      Unique family crafts, on Prospect Ave. Behind the French school šŸ™‚

  16. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 / 11:09 pm

    How would you search for that style of stone? I keep finding the wrong shaped beads..

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 23, 2015 / 2:43 pm

      Good question! They're crystal points. That search term pulled up some good ones on etsy. You could specify raw crystal top drilled points, to get the hole drilled across the top. Measurements for strands of these vary a lot. I bought a strand in person and brought a casing to check fitment. Only half fit but that's all I needed. Be sure to ask the seller how many would fit the casing size you're using.

  17. Hannah
    August 1, 2016 / 3:43 am

    My Uncle Randy recently passed away. I am going to use a shell we got from his 21 gun salute to make for my Aunt. Thank you so much for the awesome directions! She will love it!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      August 1, 2016 / 10:39 pm

      Hi Hannah, I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Hearing that you'll be making something special for your Aunt using my tutorial really means a lot to me. You're so thoughtful for making this for her. I hope she loves it!

  18. Unknown
    November 27, 2016 / 2:21 am

    How did you put wire in stone I have a few crystals we got from crystal mining. Were getting more next summer we know where a lot of them are

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      November 27, 2016 / 10:30 am

      My stones were already drilled for jewelry making. Your crystals will need to be drilled – there are small drill bits you can buy for this – just ask at your local hardware store. Alternatively, you could use a strong glue or epoxy to set the stone into the casing and drill through the casing for a chain to be threaded through for wearing (see the photos near the end of an example of what I mean). P.S. I'm jealous you're finding crystals!

  19. Anonymous
    July 23, 2017 / 6:30 pm

    If you want that shiny brand new look from brass, just chuck it in your drill and polish with fine sand paper. Start with 220 and you can go all the way to 1000 grit and polish with a fine rouge.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      July 26, 2017 / 12:14 am

      Great tip!

  20. Steph Stephanie
    August 16, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    I suggest checking out your local shops first.

  21. Karen
    November 17, 2018 / 8:48 pm

    Could you tell me what kind of drill bit your husband used? My husband tried to drill my 9 mm casings and broke a drill bit. Was it hard to use a nail and hammer?

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      Author
      November 19, 2018 / 1:34 pm

      Make sure the drill bit is designed for metal and keep it super straight. Just keep it straight and take it slow because those smaller bits can break easily with a little side loading or bending. Hope this helps šŸ™‚

  22. Bubba
    November 9, 2019 / 8:21 pm

    Awesome ! Great ideas. Thanks for taking the time to show us !

  23. Elina
    February 27, 2020 / 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial now I know how to punch out the pin. I do have a question though. What is the easiest way to flatten casings. Eg: 223s for making keychains and I also what to metal stamp on them

    • February 29, 2020 / 2:50 am

      To flatten casings, I’d recommend putting them in a vice with aluminum, or another soft metal, that would not mark the brass. Just put the casing in there and squash. You can buy metal stamps on places like Amazon, something like this.

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