How hard is casting?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by joncutt87, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. DixieLandMan

    DixieLandMan Member

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    If the rain holds off, I'm going to try my hand at casting this weekend. I do have a question though. I've read/heard somewhere about using formica to coat bullets after they have been lubed. Is this correct? Is there any benefit other than the bullets being less sticky?
  2. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    Once you've cast a bunch of bullets they need to be lubed. Depending on the size of the bullet and the gun it's to be shot in, you can either simply tumble-lube using something like Lee Alox or use a luber/sizer that reduces the bullet o.d. to a specific size for loading and shooting. Many casters get good results with the tumble lube but I've found a luber/sizer to provide superior results for me. You can use a lube that is tailored to the particular gun and velocity. I use either Red Rooster or T/C blue which requires heat to allow it to flow through the luber/sizer. My rifle stuff gets lubed with my own recipe.

    Personally I like cast iron molds over aluminum. They will certainly last much longer but are considerably more expensive. If you are just starting out you might use one of the aluminum jobs from Lee; especially if you are loading for pistol. They are also designed to be tumble lubed which is cheaper than acquiring a dedicated machine to lube and size.
  3. gun-nut

    gun-nut Member

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    Go to you tube and look up bullet lubing. lots of stuff there.
  4. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    Actually, it's pretty darn easy.

    Casting boolits for your particular guns is prolly the most satisfying aspect of home made ammo. I can take a bunch of useless, dirty, greasy wheel weights and smelt them down and produce shiny, clean ingots of boolit alloy. Then I take those ingots, melt them down and cast some raw boolits. Then I customize those raw boolits for each particular gun I plan on shooting them in by size and lubing. Can't buy that feeling of accomplishment.

    Get a Lyman 3rd or 4th Edition Cast Bullet Handbook and read it. Start out simple, don't overthink the process (yes, it is safe), and you can be casting custom bullets in no time (I started with a single burner Coleman stove, a stainless steel pot, a slotted spoon, a Lee ladle, a Lee mold, and a bunch of wheel weights I collected at work. I used alox for lube then grew into pan lubing. Controlling melt temp was the hardest part, but I made thousands of shootable boolits with that set-up). Lead is getting harder to find now, but still plenty out there if you look for it...

    You can find hundreds of years of experience on all aspects of cast lead boolits here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/index.php
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  5. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    Don't worry until yer hair starts falling out...
  6. dbach

    dbach Member

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    Casting "Boolets" is just another feather in your hat in the knowledge of firearms, reloading and anything else to do with shooting. All knowledge is good.

    Common misunderstandings.

    Melting lead at the temperatures we use to cast will not expose you to lead vapor. It would take temperatures over 1200 degrees F to generate lead vapor, our casting pots will only reach 900 degrees +/-. Shooting at a poorly ventilated indoor range, or standing over a dry case tumbler is more likely to expose you to lead toxins. The source of the toxins would most likely be from the spent primers.


    A drop of water falling into a lead pot will not explode.
    If you stood over a lead pot and used an eyedropper to introduce a drop of water, it would dance around on the surface of the molten lead and quickly boil away. However if you were to drop a wet object into a lead pot and the object sunk, allowing the water to go beneath the surface you would no doubt get a visit from the tinsel ferry. Lead would go everywhere, and burn most everything it touches. Water below the surface of molten lead at 800 degrees F turns into steam instantly, in the blink of an eye .... so to speak. The water would now be steam and occupy 1700 times the space it did as a liquid. this is what causes the exploding lead pot we all have heard about. A drop of sweat from your brow will not do it.

    For safety's sake:
    Use molten lead in a well ventilated area, preferably outside.
    Do not introduce anything wet to the lead pot.
    Avoid poorly ventilated indoor ranges.
    Do not breathe the dust generated by your tumbler, a mask isn't a bad idea.
    Dry Tumble used casings in a well ventilated area, preferably outside.
    If you use a liquid case cleaner, avoid contact with the contaminated liquid (wear protective gloves).

    Always practice good hygiene when around lead ... in any form.

    Casting bullets is fun and rewarding.

    All knowledge is good.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  7. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    You are a very brave man. I'm afraid if I tried casting in the kitchen I would wake up the next morning missing a body part or three. :D
  8. al45lc

    al45lc Active Member

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    Wow, I can still get wheel weights from my local Big "O" FOR FREE and they are still very good for casting just everyday plinking stuff.
    BTW, I worked a lead reclamation plant for years, ingestion is the big issue for casters, you shouldn't be getting it hot enough for breathing it to be a major issue as dbach pointed out.
  9. joncutt87

    joncutt87 Active Member

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    thanks for all the info guys
  10. dbach

    dbach Member

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    Forget wheel weights, they are next to impossible to get nowdays. Todays tire shops recycle wheel weights for credit towards new weights.

    Recycling lead is good for the environment ...... bad for the reloader.

    Find a plumbing supply and you can buy lead at a reasonable cost.
  11. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    If you have a good source of wheel weights I'd say get as many as you can. Meebe make ingots of cleaned WW alloy and sell 'em...
  12. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    You also need a small supply of tin. Plumbers' supply is a good place to start.
  13. joncutt87

    joncutt87 Active Member

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    What about copper casting?
  14. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    Copper melts at 1983F. Its common alloys (brasses) above 1500F. These temperatures do not lend themselves to manual die casting in reusable molds.
  15. DixieLandMan

    DixieLandMan Member

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    Well, I finally did it. I cast some bullets. Got home from metal detecting Saturday and got out the melter, lead and molds. Sat down in the garage (with the garage door opened) and casted for an hour or so. It was really easy and not as hard as I thought it would be. I dropped the bullets in the water, recycled the sprue and made more bullets. All the deformed bullets are in the melting pot for next session. After weighing all them, I lubed them up and are on wax paper drying. Should be able to load them up this weekend.
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