Shell cases upcycling report

The inspiration of my upcycling project is from the military style artworks made from military materials. When I was a child this type of products were very popular in the souvenir stores around the Chinese military bases for sale. I have seen people make some beautiful and practical stuff by using fired shell cases. Here are two examples that I found on Google:

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 6.17.26 PMTank made with brass shell cases and bullets

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 6.19.24 PMBall pen made from used ammo

It turns out that I’m a guy who enjoys shooting targets in the mountains with my friends. I go shooting a lot and I found out that ammo waste pollution is pretty serious in the national forests in Colorado. Since the shell cases are ejected from the firearms and drops randomly on the dirt, shooters tend to just leave them there and don’t care. So I think doing a brass upcycling project can in some levels show people that these fired brass also have their value. So next time maybe consider picking them up after shooting targets in the mountains and recycle them.

At the beginning I was planning to make a tank just as the example picture above. Unfortunately, I didn’t collect enough shell cases. So I had a plan change and decided to go with something smaller: a howitzer. The materials that I am going to use includes: .45 ACP brass shell cases, .223 shell cases, 308 shell cases, lego wheels and Loctite epoxy.

IMG_1811

The first step was to clean the shell cases. These shell cases have been fired so there’s lots of gun power on them. The way that I clean them is to soak the shell cases in hot water, then add a spoon of salt and a spoon of apple cider. 2~3 hours later the gun power can be brushed off easily. After giving the shell cases a rinse, I simply dried them using a hair dryer.

The next step was bonding the shell cases into the major parts of the final design. To bond them, I used Loctite epoxy. The epoxy dries very fast so it was a little tricky to use. After 20 minutes of completely bonding, the major parts are done.

The final part was to bond the major parts together using epoxy. Below is the final project:

IMG_1825IMG_1826

To conclude, the project achieved my functional goal, which is to be used as a piece of artwork. The project also achieved my artistic goal, which is to build a military style artwork by using shell cases. I am very happy with how it turned out. I will keep the project. Since I didn’t have enough shell cases to make a decent tank, I might try again and build a tank next time with more shell cases.

 

 

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37 Comments. Leave new

  • […] and made benign objects from it, like Ethan Gehring’s nutcracker from a grenade casing, Shen Shu’s toy cannon, and Chad Alvarez‘s string of shotgun shell lights.      Here is a full scale example […]

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  • This had impressive shape and heft! Did you polish any of the pieces? Were those both 308s and 30-06 on there?

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  • Shawn Sprinkle
    February 16, 2016 9:59 pm

    Really well done! I love how this project has an aspect of cleaning up the environment

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  • Ashley Zimmerer
    February 15, 2016 10:52 pm

    Fun sculpture. I like the color of all the shells. Maybe you should paint the wheels gold to match, or try to make the wheels out of shells. Did you add any structure other than the epoxy? It seems pretty strong.

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  • Cool project, I think you would’ve benefited if you used more shell cases to give the object more shape and definition. The fewer shells you have the less distinguishable it is. Good work though!

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  • Nicholas Flood
    February 15, 2016 7:08 pm

    This is a neat use for used shell casings. The Lego wheels look a little out of place appearance-wise. Nice job!

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  • That’s really cool! Its very meta and came out nice. You could potentially solder them or figure out another way to attach them. That would help make it cleaner without the epoxy gunk on it.

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  • Nice end product. Neat idea and inspiration. Next to make it fire somehow?

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  • The canon looks Awesome. Great aesthetic. I love your project. The shells looks clean. Maybe make the wheels move if you can. Is there a way that you can make the epoxy hide? Otherwise great project.

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  • This is really cool! I love the combination of the overlapping military/gun aesthetic. I think using scrap metal for the wheels, would add a great addition to the aesthetic.

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  • Thomas Brunsgaard
    February 15, 2016 12:18 pm

    Are the shell casings made of brass? You might actually be able to solder the shells together. Very creative idea!

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  • Neat idea for upcycling shell casings! Never seen anything like this before, but now I’m definitely interested in using this material for a project in the future.

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  • Joseph Yoshimura
    February 15, 2016 12:17 pm

    Shen! What an amazing final product! I would have never expected gun shells to have such a complex and artistic design. Plus the aesthetic is pretty relevant and ironic to the material you used!

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  • I like the industrial aesthetic you went for. Cool, unique, realistic design

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  • I like that your upcycling project helped clean up the environment a bit while you made a piece of art. Cool aesthetic!

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  • Nice idea to do environmental remediation in the process of making your project. Creating some symbol of peace or the opposite of pollution might be a meaningful goal too.

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  • I think it turned out really well! I love the the coloring and the use of shell casings in a form of weaponry. Since you only used half of the shell casings, it might be cool to make a bigger version in the future.

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  • Really nice final product. It might help tie it together to paint the inner hub of the lego wheel, just to get rid of that white plastic.

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  • Like the military aesthetic, clean simple lines from the material, using hot glue or some fast acting epoxy or solder would allow for less epoxy use. Good work.

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  • Christopher Coffman
    February 15, 2016 12:15 pm

    I really like this idea, the shape looks very realistic and very industrial. Cool idea to go to a shooting range.

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  • Anfal Abdulrahman
    February 15, 2016 12:15 pm

    I am not big fan of this aesthetic but have to say you did a really nice job, nice job!

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  • Meridith Richter
    February 15, 2016 12:15 pm

    I think you had a really good idea in collecting and using these shell cases for your project. They have a nice finish to them and it works for your model. Good job!

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  • I like the military style aesthetic. It also reminds me of childhood toy models. Cool project.

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  • Samantha Maierhofer
    February 15, 2016 12:15 pm

    Very cool final project. I like that you reused shell casings to make a military-type sculpture. It is a nice nod to the original use and a great way to recycle parts that are usually left as trash.

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  • Peter Brunsgaard
    February 15, 2016 12:15 pm

    The canon turned out well! It also comes with the added bonus of helping to clean up the environment at the same time. Making the wheels out of metal would really complete the aesthetic.

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  • Your project looks really cool. I really like the look of your project. I also like that you helped clean up an area from bullet shells to help make your project. Is there anything you’d want to do differently next time? Maybe use different wheels to give it a more rugged look.

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  • Cool idea! Epoxy looks like it was slow to work with, but I really like the final product!

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  • This is a cool project! I really like that you picked up some of the trash left by other shooters and turned it into something creative.

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  • I think the cannon made out of ammo(shell casing) is a clever idea. It has a nice aesthetic and feels a little like steampunk. I think it would be nice if you replaced the wheels with mettle ones(instead of toy wheels) to keep the aesthetic.

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  • Why did you choose this military aesthetic – did you feel that the shell cases were best used in a related vision?

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  • Rachel Grosskrueger
    February 15, 2016 12:15 pm

    I love how you stuck with the firearm theme for your upcycled design! Amazing idea and it would be really easy to expand on this design or create more considering how many shells are left at shooting ranges.

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  • This was a clever use of old shell casings and keeps with the military aesthetic. Good idea.

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  • Nice looking model! How did you design it? By that I mean how did you decide how to arrange the shells together to create the cannon?

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  • I really like where you got your inspiration from. Your project turned out really neat and you definitely achieved your goal of wanting to create a military style of artwork.

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  • Gardner Nichols
    February 15, 2016 12:14 pm

    I think your project fits your aesthetic really well. Nice job!

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  • This is beautiful. You represented a cannon so well made out of sheer shell casings. Great citizen cleaning up the environment!

    Reply
  • Brendan Warren
    February 7, 2016 11:46 pm

    I love the irony that this project has. A military model made from expended military type items. The project completely transformed what is thought of of shell casings. Did you think about machining the wheels out of scrap metal? I feel like that would give the project a more sturdy feel.

    Reply

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