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Homemade Bullet Molds (Read 7535 times)
Chuckster
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Homemade Bullet Molds
Dec 11th, 2010 at 4:02pm
 
Anyone with experience making bullet molds using the lathe and boring bar method?  Could use some advice. Shapes are limited but John-Boy posted some interesting designs.

Trying a .38 caliber bullet with a bore rider design. Pictured are the molds I have tried (mild steel), nose reamer, boring bar, and finished bullet. Have a CAD program, so can predict weights pretty well as discussed here earlier (359 grain predicted, 355 actual).

Problems so far:
Venting groves too deep, 0.003” is too much, getting a flash.

Not getting mold perfectly centered in the lathe. Need to ream pilot hole to indicate center. Drilled hole too rough. Off center and bullets are hard to drop.

Controlling spring-back on the boring bar. Using numbers on cross feed dial, one direction and multiple passes, but can’t seem to get consistent groove diameters. No way to measure until you cast a bullet.  Probably lack of machining skills. Some bore rider groves are too large; have to seat deeper in the case than desired.

Surprisingly, the bullets shoot somewhat better than my factory 335 grain mold. About the 1.5 minute range with black powder. Going to try again to see if I can get it right. Third time is a charm. Any comments would be appreciated.  
Chuck
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frnkeore
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #1 - Dec 11th, 2010 at 5:49pm
 
1. Use a solid carbide boring bar, have it made by a tool grinder so, the relief on the cutting edges is right. Other options are, boring bar .010 wider than 1/2 the width of the band , rough your cuts to within .002 of finish such as.... cut one side of the bands (leaving .002 on the dia), go back, cut the other side. Then cut to the finish dia, move forward the the other side of the band, move out of the cut and do the same to all bands.

2. Put the dial indicator on the tool post, it's self.

Using a boring bar, if the cavity is on center, then the blocks weren't on center to start with. To be sure that the base is square with the mold, leave a little on the blocks to face off.

I've never made a mold but, I was a machinist for 35 years. If you still have a problem or would like to ask a question, call me at 541-292-9141

Frank
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RJM
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #2 - Dec 12th, 2010 at 9:32am
 
Chuck,
I modified a Lee aluminum mold from 32-20 to 310 cadet. The aluminum cut cleanly with a tool that looks like the one on the right in your picture.

I used an indicator to center up the cavity to nary a wiggle. The front band was cleaned up and enlarged a bit, the middle band was enlarged to bore size, and the gas check part was enlarged to 311 to fit the case neck.

This was my first try & I didn't cut the middle band quite far enought forward to clean up the band completely. The bullet shoots well, however. If I do this again, I'll clean up the bottom of the bullet grooves with a light cut and make the front band a true bore riding diameter.

The pics are of the mold and a couple of bullets from my junk pile, unmodified cavity on left and modified on the right.

Regards, Ron
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merle
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #3 - Dec 12th, 2010 at 11:58am
 
I've made a mold more or less using this method.

here is a link

http://www.homegunsmith.com/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=3;t=24090

Merle
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nobearsyet
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #4 - Dec 12th, 2010 at 2:49pm
 
Very interesting read Merle, I might have to try that.  How do you determine what the bullet diameter needs to be before patching and what to use as a patch paper?
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I'm for any sport that burns powder, I just look down a different set of barrels than most folks.  __Elmer Keith
 
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merle
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #5 - Dec 13th, 2010 at 11:12am
 
There are two schools of thought in paper patching.

1. Patch to bore diameter
2. Patch to groove diameter.

In my case groove diameter was .457 and I decided to patch to groove although many prefer patch to bore.

So, bullet design parameter was .450 and paper thickness of .0035.
Two wraps around equals .457.

Paper is a thin, cotton based paper that I had on hand.   I've seen similar paper in an art supply store.  Even if you end up slightly oversize, you can make a push thru sizer in the lathe to insure bullet diameter and roundness.

If you patch to bore size, you adjust accordingly.  Bullet upset takes care of the rest.

It ends up looking like this.

...

I'm in the process of setting up a two trigger rimfire wesson.  I'm making the brass out of tubing and machining the rims out of bar stock.  Then, I Silver solder the rims into the tubing.   I set up the cartridges in the mill and drill out the bases offset for a .22 with the bullet and powder to use as a primer.

I made a simple mold and pushthru sizer that shot a crude "ashcan" wad cutter as a prototype.

I made about 5 cartridges and shot the ashcan prototype.  It did reasonably well.   So, I've acquired tubing and just acquire brass rod to make about 50 cartridges.

The plan is to make a bullet mold that will duplicate the original rimfire round.   Havn't thought this out yet. It's a heeled bullet. It looks like this.

...

I have a .54 ballard that Lee Shaver is working on.   I'm thinking paper patch bullets for it.

Merle
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bisaacson
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #6 - Dec 13th, 2010 at 7:47pm
 
Custom mould makers are great, but for the folks in the cheap seats and for those who just want to experiment or cast a few bullets for something odd, having some LEE moulds hanging around is the way to go. I cut 5/16 slots in the sides to fit small Lyman handles, profile the shape I want on the lathe in a smaller diameter, cut 3/4 of the turned profile away and bore a hole that has been counter drilled to leave a minimum amount in the hole to be bored. Make sure the cutter is relieved and set above center, or it will spring into the work, not away. Measure carefully or design the bullet so that you start cutting from a known dimension and cut as deep as you need to. Since the blocks are aluminum, the cutter can be turned from a good grade of steel bolt for a one-time use - we're not in production here.

I've cut moulds for a Ross (.292"), a Belgian Spencer, a Remington DB derringer, heeled bullets for .32 Longs and Extra Longs, an Evans, and a Sharps & Hankins.

The cutter will give you a flat area on the nose of the bullet unless you have bored the pointed nose with another cutter and are just relieving the curved surface or the grease grooves. Be sure to relieve the sides of the groove cutters too, or they'll gall. Sharpen the cutter so it scrapes, rather than digs in, as the blocks are soft material. If you get bending, rather than cutting, check the height of the cutter in the bored hole or the areas that need more relief. A mould with an off-center hole can be centered by lining up the two mould parting surfaces on either side of the hole with a sharp center sighting in two positions 90 degrees apart.

I keep an eye out for cheap LEE moulds at gun shows just to keep around for cutting the occasional odd mould. If I screw up and cut one too big, it goes back in the junk box to be cut into something with a larger diameter (but correctly, this time). And if I really screw up, since they're cheap and light, it takes little effort to toss them into the trash.
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Chuckster
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #7 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 10:59am
 
Thanks for the comments. I learned some things. Obvious Frank and others have been there and done that. Will look into a carbide boring bar. Indicator on the tool post is one of those "Duh! why didn't I think of that." Seems aluminum blocks might be easier to work. Have not tried paper patching.
Chuck
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nuclearcricket
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #8 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 5:17pm
 
For a carbide boring bar, you might want to check out this site, http://www.expresscuttingtools.com/, I have purchased from this company and been very happy with the tool I got. You will have to call him to make an order and my guess is that he can grind the tool to your specs as to the angle on the sides and radius on the corners. And his prices are pretty good also.
Sam
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frnkeore
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #9 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 6:56pm
 
Sam,
Thats a great site, they are reasonable and a good selection. I think I would use the O-ring bar if I where going to bore a mold.

Frank
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38_Cal
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #10 - Dec 15th, 2010 at 7:09pm
 
I've done some re-cutting of existing moulds, and have found that for limited use, re-ground Allen wrenches are hard to beat for boring bar material.  I hold them in a piece of drilled out round stock with a couple of set screws, and can clamp the round stock in my tool holder. 

David
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David Kaiser
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boats
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #11 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 1:43pm
 
Home Machinist magazine has a article this month by Steve Acker on modifying bullet molds.  He is a good writer and explains very well. I picked it up in Barnes and Noble but did not buy it. Was Xmas Shopping with my wife and had to stay focused on the job at hand

Same issue article on building your own precision bench rest

Worth buying and will get a copy shortly.

Boats
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nobearsyet
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #12 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 6:58pm
 
And the same magazine that back in the nineties told you how to build your own single shot precision benchrest rifle from scratch, you ca nnow get article reprints from midwayusa.
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I'm for any sport that burns powder, I just look down a different set of barrels than most folks.  __Elmer Keith
 
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boats
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #13 - Dec 16th, 2010 at 7:33pm
 
The usually have something gunsmithing in the magazine. Steve Acker is a real good teacher, His explanations and detail are well worth reading

Boats
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.22-5-40
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Re: Homemade Bullet Molds
Reply #14 - Dec 22nd, 2010 at 2:00pm
 
Hello, This is a little different...Back in the early 70's, I needed a heeled .22 bullet for my rimfire-reloads...this could be a story by itself,  Anyway, I was attending a vocational high school & used two aluminum blocks about the same size as a single cavity Lyman, dowelled together for nice slip fit.  A small pilot was drilled on center of parting line (1/2 hole in each block face).  Next I turned up a tool steel "bullet" complete with heeled base a few thou. oversize to allow for shrinkage in casting. After hardening & polishing,   This was placed on pilot hole a little below top surface of block, the other block mated, & whole works placed in a 20 ton Hyd. press & blocks brought together.  I let it "dwell" for awhile under pressure to let metal move & when opened, there was a mirror finished cavity in both blocks.  I milled off top to heel base, made cutter, & was in business.  I got the idea for this from Lee mfg.  They had just come out with their moulds & advertised this "coining" process was how they achieved final size & finish.  I don't know how this would work with larger dia. bullets..probably have to make up larger mould block blanks to allow for distortion, & mill to size after.
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