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Handy Containers from Shotgun Shells

Have you ever come accross a small pond or stream when out in the woods and wish you had a small fishing kit handy?  Have you ever attempted to replace a button on a trip only to find your sewing kit a knotted mess of needles and thread?  Or, have you ever spent more time digging your fire building supplies out of your gear than you do actually building the fire?  I have, several times.  Here’s a useful trick to make small storage containers for virtually no cost that will organize and simplify your small kits. This small kit is made from readily available spent shotgun shells that can serve as small containers.  They’re light, durable, cheap (if not free), and disposable if necessary.  The total time spent in construction of these kits is typically less than a couple minutes, and they last years.  The materials you’ll need to start with are at least two *spent* shotgun shells.  I prefer 12 gauge as they’re the largest and most common, but any size will work.  By "spent" shells I simply mean they’ve been shot, and are therefore empty of all explosives and projectiles rendering them safe to handle.  If you’re not sure if a shell is spent or not, don’t use it.  Ask someone who knows.  Using a loaded, live shell will have disastrous results.  Furthermore, if you’re still unsure, stay away from pointy objects and things that might be hot…. Moving right along….


I feel compelled to share a fantastic tip with all of you. However conscience forces this admission; this is not my original idea. I’m sure it’s been done a thousand times over, dozens of different ways, all over the country. If I knew to whom to credit this idea, I would. But, I know I’ve seen several variations around and to be honest, they’ve all admitted to borrowing the idea as well. I’m simply writing this to show the Woods Monkey readership how I make these containers in hopes they find it them simple to make and handy to use.  You will also need a sturdy knife, a lighter (Bic style, or similar), and a cutting board.  Gloves and a pair of common pliers are also handy.  After ensuring your workspace is free from any possibility of live ammunition, gather your materials.

Briefly inspect the plastic hulls of the shotgun shells.  Shells with cracked hulls can be the donors for the caps, but the cracked hulls will be discarded.  If all your shells are in good shape try to pair them by brand.  This helps to ensure the caps fit snugly on similar hulls.  Different manufactures vary hull and cap size very slightly, so matched pairs are easiest to work with.  Removal of the cap off the hull is done with direct heat from the lighter.  Hold the shell near vertical, tipped slightly to one side.  With your other hand, light the lighter and hold the flame so it’s barely touching the cap.  Don’t allow the flame to touch the sides of the cap, or the plastic hull will be melted and fuse to the cap.  Simply heat the cap up from the bottom for 15-20 seconds.  One the cap is fairly warm, hold the end of the hull in one hand and grasp the cap with the pliers.  If sufficiently heated, the cap should be fairly easy to pull off the hull with the pliers.  The remaining hull will likely be discarded.  The heat has more than likely warped or slightly melted the end of the hull.

Next you will take your knife and cut off the open end of another spent shell.  Cut the end off in as much as a straight ring as possible.  You can clean up the end with some fine sandpaper, but it’s not always necessary.  Now the cap you removed first can be placed over the open end of the trimmed shell, giving you a simple small container.  I’ve found these to be handy as match cases, fishing kits, sewing kits, and storage for your Vaseline cotton balls for your fires. It’s also handy to carry a few nails, wire, and safety pins and similar items that might come in handy around camp.  As to the Vaseline cotton balls, it’s handy to make a hull tube, with two separate caps for ends.  This will give you a Vaseline ‘push pop’ arrangement that makes removing a Vaseline cotton ball with cold fingers a lot easier.

I hope you can enjoy this tutorial.  Once tried, it takes only a few minutes to make one.  They can be done at the work bench or out in the field.  It’s a great trick to share around the camp fire and useful in every hunting pack.  Enjoy, be careful, and have fun!

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