How To Make Brass Knuckles, From Bullet Shells

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Brass Knuckles

How To Make Brass Knuckles, From Bullet Shells

An indirect suggestion my dad made for me to try and make something practical out of brass. He didn’t expect I’d end up making these!

WARNING: Brass Knuckles are illegal in most countries, and metal foundries can reach temperatures in excess of 1,000ºC, which is well above the melting point of hobbyists. This project should only be attempted with adequate knowledge and training, proper protective safety gear, and in a fire resistant area with adequate ventilation. The heat from the foundry can easily burn, and inhaling excessive amounts of zinc fumes can cause metal fume fever. Use caution and common sense. Use of this video content is at your own risk.

Project History & More Info:

The weather has cooled off quite a bit, which has turned my interest back to keeping warm by casting metal.

This time round I wanted to play with higher temperature metals, like brass. So I made a trip to a local shooting range, and salvaged a whole bucket-load of spent brass casings.

Quite a few people have asked whether my backyard foundry can melt brass, and I was curious myself, so I threw a few handfuls of casings into a crucible and fired them up.

I tried using lump charcoal because it burns hotter and faster than briquettes, and a clay crucible purchased from the internet because it withstands heat better, and lasts longer than steel.

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I was impressed that the brass melted down without hesitation, and I was able to easily cast mini brass muffins the same day.

A couple things worth mentioning are that the melting point of brass is around the boiling point of zinc. I noticed this in real-life when the metal started bubbling, and shooting out white flames. I wasn’t sure what it was until I looked it up, but it was most likely zinc oxide fumes being released.

Zinc Oxide can be toxic in large quantities, and although it’s never happened to me, claims are that it can cause metal fume fever, which gives flu like symptoms.

You should also know that brass is over 3 times heavier than aluminum, so expect the crucible to have a lot more weight to it, making it harder to handle.

My dad was visiting at the time and confirmed my thoughts about it by suggesting I try making something more practical and useful. So I thought it would be fun to make some “Brass Knuckle” paperweights.

I looked online at different varieties of brass knuckles, then drew my own version in photoshop, and used the “Styro-Slicer” and the lost-foam casting technique to make a rough pair of knuckles.

I cast another pair the same way, and spent another 8 hours sanding and buffing them up to a mirror finish, then wondered how I could take them to the next level.

Spikes seemed like a cool idea, inspired by a picture I saw on a google image search, so I stopped at an alternative clothing store and picked up a spiked choker collar, and repurposed the spikes for my piece of metal art.

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These are not designed or intended to be used as weapons. Possession of Brass Knuckles is illegal in most countries, (but not where I live), however I created these simply for artistic expression, and use them mainly as workshop décor.

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