Bullet Casting for Beginners, Part 3: IT’S ALIVE!!

    We have arrived at the third part in out bullet casting series. Today we birth the pew. Our gestation period consisted of gathering scrap lead, sorting it, and creating our lead ingots. Since today is our expected date, we should gather all our equipment, and prep our workspace. When the little fellers are born we will be excited, so prepare ahead of time. Clear your workspace, and have proper ventilation.  You can find Part 1, the intro at https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2018/08/22/bullet-casting-for-beginners/ and Part 2 Processing the Lead at https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2018/08/31/bullet-casting-for-beginners-part-2-leads-dead-baby-leads-dead/.  At the end of Part 1, I list all of the equipment you should need to get started–it is repeated at the end here as well.

    I placed my lead ingots in the furnace prior to turning it on. That way any moisture will evaporate as it heats up. You can certainly add ingots to it later, it is just easier now to fill the cauldron of the furnace (not completely, I shot for 75% full). As the furnace heats up go ahead and double check that you have everything, and everything is in the right place. As our ingots are melting and are getting close to the starting points, we should start heating the mold. Many people rest the mold in the lead to heat it, I had more success with using a propane torch. Heat the entire mold with it slightly open for best results.


    All is ready for our first born


    When we are ready to go, place the dipper in the lead for a full minute, allowing it to heat up. It does not require much lead to fill the mold cavities, but it is dependent on the bullet size. It will not take long for you to see how much you need.

    Scoop some lead into the dipper. Hold the dipper close to the top of the mold, and pour. Pour enough so that you have a small excess on top. You want that! As the lead cools it will slightly shrink. Place the dipper back in the cauldron and watch the excess lead on top. We call that the “sprue”. The plate on top of the mold that we poured on is referred to as the “sprue plate”. As we watch our sprue we will see it dull in color. At this point, we knock the sprue plate open with a heavy wooden stick. It might require a couple smacks. Just like the doctor spanking the newborn (that never happens by the way), it opens and knocks the sprue off. Drop it in a pile so we can add it back to the cauldron later.

    Pour slow and steady


    A good pour. Nice sprue, the cavities should be full

    The sprue dulls in color as it cools. Two small divits form over the cavities from the minor shrinkage in the cooling

    After we have knocked the sprue off we take the mold over to a bucket of water. It is a good idea to have a towel at the bottom as the lead will be soft enough to be damaged from dropping it in. Open the mold over the bucket. For me usually one fell out and one remained stubborn. A good whack with the stick on the bolt hinge of the hold knocks it out.

    A small tap on the hex head there will induce the labor of our pew


    As one of our readers pointed out, like making pancakes, the first one will look crappy. (Thanks “Risky”). Anticipate it. I would go further and say to dump your bullets into sprue pile until they start looking nice. After four or five, your mold should have found the sweet spot for its temperature. If you are having problems at the beginning with the bullets not looking smooth and uniform, it is probably the temperature of the molds.

    The second thing to check would be your pour. A fast, sloppy pour will produce an ugly sprue and a bad bullet. When pouring, get down to a slow steady pour over the mold cavities. A nice sprue delivers a nice bullet.

    A fast sloppy pour delivers a …

    sloppy bullet! The cavity on the right is not near full. Both went into the sprue pile


    When your sprue pile starts to add up, go ahead and toss it in the cauldron. No, wait…place it in! Take your dipper out and put your sprue in that. Then slowly just roll it into the cauldron. IT IS VERY EASY TO SPLASH LEAD, always be aware of that.

    Carefully place the sprue in the cauldron. It will quickly melt.

    Anytime you stop the casting process your mold may have cooled. Once it is up to temperature, it does take a while to cool to a point to where it affects the casting. Just be aware when you start up again the first couple pours might not be up to par.
    Repeat this process until you are out of the lead. The pic below was my yield in about an hour from the first cast. Once you have the process done, it was pretty easy (even for this noob).

    They are so cute at this age, and they will never ask you to pay for college

    Just recently I found a site with an amazing amount of info for bullet casting. An excellent reference, I wish I had found it much sooner (find it here).

    As always I need to give big thanks to Lyman for supporting TFB, please visit their site and consider their products.

    Thank you Lyman!

    Next week we get our pews all grown up to fire. We will go over resizing, lubing and powder coating. As always I would like to hear your comments. I will do my best to respond.

    Items used in this series.  At the very minimum, you need these things.

    You may also want these items for safety:

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    Mike R

    Mike spent his entire adult life riding an ambulance throughout the Southwest US. He found humor in long in-depth philosophical conversations with crack heads and other urban street survivalists.

    His highest point was being invited to instruct for some “special” medics in the military. A 30 year gun enthusiast, he started down the path of reloading to keep up with his desperate need of more ammo. Reloading is like medicine, you never stop learning.

    He can generally be found at the local range picking the brains of the old timer, looking for brass, and banging away at gongs. He reloads everything from .32 to .45, .223 to 7 rem mag.