Hi I believe I can shed a little light on some of the uses for the shell casings after the war. About 2004 or thereabouts my sister, Frankie Heffernan and I lived in Raymond, WA and I was running a small shop that carried a variety of things including antiques and collectibles and I always had my sister looking for things for my shop.
In late 2004 she called me to tell me about some friends she had in Gig Harbor that were moving to Montana to be closer to their kids and they had a lot of things that they weren't taking with them so they were going to give me first choice if I came right away. Sis and I went up that day with a large moving truck because I had no idea what we were going to buy.
This was an elderly couple who were very gracious and had a home that he built by himself and it was not only breathtaking to see but it was also absolutely spotless and this was a 2 story home. In the living room were three large oriental cabinets with another one upstairs in their bedroom..I hope I still have a picture of one of them so you can see how beautiful they were. Each cabinet which measured 48 in length and 24 deep by 36 tall, had over 100 pieces of ornate brass including 8 pieces for the 4 way locking system that each one had.
I fell in love and bought the 3 that he was going to let go of for a very reasonable price and that when he told me about the cases. He was a pilot in WWII and stationed in Okinawa and there was also a Korean man who lived close to him and he built beautiful wood cabinets of all sizes. He became friends with the craftsman and asked if he could build him 4 large cases that would all have the kind of locking mechanisms that he put on others.
The cases were started in 1949 and then shipped to the U.S. in late 1950 and the pilot got to watch how the cases were made and that's when he found out that the brass pieces were from the shell casings that were found by a couple of his friends and sold to the Korean craftsman to melt down and prepare for use on the cases. The pilot said it was time consuming but the end product was unbelievable. I once had all of the information written down but I have moved several times and everything connected to my cases was lost. I will now make a better attempt at finding them.