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How to make a lead ball mould.

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How to make a lead ball mould.

Unread postAuthor: blafen » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:22 pm

I notice that many of you who have built high powered, hybrid launchers do not use lead projectiles, most likely because lead balls are difficult to find in calibers over .75, so i will teach you my method of making a lead ball mould out of clay.
I made a mold similar to the one i will describe to cast lead balls for homemade musket.
To make it you need a chunk of clay roughly 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches. And a spherical object that will fit into your bore with a little bit of clearance for patching.

To construct it you cut the block of clay in half and then place the marble or whatever spherical object you have into one half of the clay, place it within half an inch of one edge, this edge will be the top of the mold. Now place the other slab of caly over the marble and bring the two pieces of clay together so they become a block again, you must be careful not to actually fuse the two halves, now you want to make marks perpendicular to the seam with a nail or other object, these will be used to line up the mold later, then pull apart the two pieces of clay and remove the spherical object, leaving a half spherical depression in each half of the clay, now you must create a spout to pour the lead through using a knife or other object cut a small slot between the half spherical depression and the top edge of the mold, now let the clay dry and fire it if you have access to a kiln, i used mine unfired and it worked fine however.
Once the clay has dried you line up the two pieces according to the lines that you drew perpendicular to the seam of the mold and hold it together with a rubber band, now all you have to do is pour molten lead into the mold and let it cool, then remove the rubber band and seperate the two halves of the mold revealing your shiny new lead projectile, it may have a seam that will need to be cut with a knife for a round projectile.

Sorry if that was a wall of text but my camea is broken at the moment and I will get pics as soon as its fixed.
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Unread postAuthor: john bunsenburner » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:31 am

If you want to make small projectiles from lead for example Pellets get a block of Hardwoad or even better a block of metal(i make my own!). Then drill holes into this block and cut it in half, attach a hinge and a lock and cast lead pellet into this.(pm me is you dont understand)
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Unread postAuthor: iemand » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:41 am

Nice guide, but you should also note that wearing safety clothes like a respirator is a must.
Unless you really like lead poisoning. :twisted:
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Unread postAuthor: john bunsenburner » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:49 am

you could and should use tin or zinc instead of lead, esspecially if you dont have a respirator, otherwise safety clothings isnt all that important
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Unread postAuthor: Floyd » Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:29 am

Sounds good. Always do this outside like on a camping stove or electric range and be sure that the mold is completely dry or you may have molten lead jumping at your face.

john bunsenburner wrote:If you want to make small projectiles from lead for example Pellets get a block of Hardwoad or even better a block of metal(i make my own!).


I'm guessing aluminum? Also you should cut the metal in half first, then clamp it together than drill. It will make the finished product more round thus tighter fittig in the barrel.
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Unread postAuthor: john bunsenburner » Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:07 pm

yes alli is very good so is brass or even iron. I guess floyd^s meathod will also work very well:
I'm guessing aluminum? Also you should cut the metal in half first, then clamp it together than drill. It will make the finished product more round thus tighter fittig in the barrel.
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Unread postAuthor: blafen » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:47 pm

Do not melt zinc, the fumes produced from burning zinc are much more poisonous than those produced by melting lead, Caution must also be taken when welding or otherwise heating any piece of galvanized metal.

And yes i wear the appropiate safety gea, safety googles, respirator, rubbah slippahs the works, and I know all about safety when it comes to melting lead and felt that i didnt need to go into very much detail as far as the actual casting of the lead goes, which is reasonably safeif done outdoors with a good breeze, or if you need to do it indoors use a fan to draw air away from you and out a window.

If you want to make a round ball mold in metal you can take a spade bit and anneal it, then file it to half round shape and file a relief on the backside of the edge to make acutting edge, then reharden and temper it andchuck it up a drill press, it makes a suitable cutter for working with non ferrous metals ie brass, bronze or aluminum.
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Unread postAuthor: Gippeto » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:23 am

Very true blafen.

Carbide router bits also work nicely on aluminum. Use WD-40 as a coolant/lubricant to prevent galling and melting of the aluminum onto the tool edge.

Below are a couple of slugs cast from molds I made using a 3/4" ball end router bit for the round end. :)
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Unread postAuthor: blafen » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:25 am

Are those hollow in the back like fostner slugs?, they look very prfessional.
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Unread postAuthor: Gippeto » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:28 am

Yes, they are hollow in the back. And thank you. :)
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Unread postAuthor: and7barton » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:17 pm

[quote="blafen"]Do not melt zinc, the fumes produced from burning zinc are much more poisonous than those produced by melting lead, Caution must also be taken when welding or otherwise heating any piece of galvanized metal.

INCORRECT ! -
Lead is much more toxic than Zinc. The symptoms of Zinc poisoning are rather like the symptoms of flu, and pass off as your body excretes it. Lead on the other hand, being a Heavy Metal is retained by the body and in excess causes brain damage. Chelation therapy can to an extent reduce the amount of lead but I don't think it can completely rid the body of it.
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Unread postAuthor: john bunsenburner » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:28 pm

What is the moral of the story? Wear a respirator and work in a well ventilated area or even better use tin, not that hard to get and it is harmless...
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Unread postAuthor: and7barton » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:32 pm

Tin is pretty expensive though....... and doesn't have the weight of Lead or Zinc. To its advantage though - Tin has a lower melting point than either of the other two metals, so it's not such a job to cast it.
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Unread postAuthor: john bunsenburner » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:37 pm

Or jsut start off with tin, practise yo will spend a bit more money but if you get it from the right places it is virtually nothing anyway(my tip, if you buy buy in bulk). when you are used to handeling molten metal move on but belive me molten metal can be very very painful, i have one made this experience with copper(long story, dont ask) and it was not fun. And i am not sure baout the others here but i feel more confortable working with something that will not cause brain damage...
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Unread postAuthor: and7barton » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:53 pm

john bunsenburner wrote:Or jsut start off with tin, practise yo will spend a bit more money but if you get it from the right places it is virtually nothing anyway(my tip, if you buy buy in bulk). when you are used to handeling molten metal move on but belive me molten metal can be very very painful, i have one made this experience with copper(long story, dont ask) and it was not fun. And i am not sure baout the others here but i feel more confortable working with something that will not cause brain damage...


I agree about the brain damage !
I do a lot of Lead casting and have a semi-permanent melting and pouring setup in my workshop. I ensure that there is a steady flow of air across my work area and the fumes are taken away through an open doorway. Fortunately, there isn't really any danger from Lead apart from the fumes that hot Lead gives off - Handling the metal itself is safe enough.
I cast Lead plaques and nameplates; also cannon shot and musket bullets. I can't get up to a high enough temperature to cast in Iron, so I'm stuck with Lead ! - I much prefer Zinc though. It's a harder and more durable metal, but the maximum temperature I can reach is only just around the melting point of Zinc and I haven't so far been able to get a decent casting using it.
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