View Full Version : Just got first mold - and have some questions before pouring

01-22-2009, 05:18 PM
I just got home and discovered that my Lee 2-Cavity TL358-148WC 38 Special mold arrived. Sor far, all I have to try it with is a basic melting pot and ladle, a pretty powerful one burner camp stove, a collection of mixed lead of unknown orign and type, and a couple of pounds of pure Tin Foil (dental grade from the 1940's).

Assuming that my pot holds 10 lbs, would I add 1/2 pound of tin? Some of the lead may have been culled from a berm at an outdoor range years ago, and would already be alloyed, but everything is in ingits so I can't tell which is which (inherited lead). Would adding tin to this cause any adverse effects if it was already properly alloyed?

I've read about casting on this forum, but wonder if someone could give me a few tips to help me avoid ruining my mold. I think that passing a bic lighter under the inside of the mold is advisable to assist in bullet release. Should I have ordered some sort of lube for the hinges?

What is galling, and how do I avoid it?

I was also wondering if I would I be able to shoot pure lead from my S&W 642 .38 SPCL Snub without fouling since from what I understand it's normally a low pressure load.



01-22-2009, 06:03 PM

I will give you some answers, to the best of my knowledge. I'm sure others will give you some advice too.

I have read a lot of the members suggest 2% tin as a norm, some as little as 1%. So figuring 2%, I'd say about 3 to 4 ounzes would get you really close. Remember that the main use of tin in your case would be to help with the fill-out of the boolit.

Do you have any idea how hard the lead is you have? Is it tough, but you can scratch the surface with you finger nail?

On the ruining the mold, I suggest you read the sticky on Leementing. Beeswax can be used on the hinge bolt for the sprue until you decide on a lube. JUST a touch will go a long way when the mold is up to temp.

Galling is the transfer of metal to another metal caused usually by friction.

I think I'll let someone else address the pure lead question. I wouldn't think you could unless you have a super lube and are shooting really slow, but I don't have that much experience with the use of soft alloys either.

I hope my limited knowledge can be a little help to you.

ONE thing I can tell you for certain. You must get the Lee mold up to temp and you don't want to rush cutting the sprue. I didn't like Lee molds, but I have learned enough about them now that I feel comfortable with them in smaller boolits. DON'T rush cutting the sprue!


01-22-2009, 06:54 PM
If it were me, I would fire up some lead without the tin and see what they look like.
Sizing is the critical component to non-leading. If they will push into the cylinder with some resistance, they are probably a good size for the bore.
Standard wheel weight is great in .357 bores, at least what I have experienced. Range lead can vary from pure to wheel weight mixtures. The best thing is to pour and see.
Your Lee Mold will have lots of lubricant pressed into the pores in the metal. At least all of mine did. Heat the bejeebers out of the mold and pour into it.
The six second rule...
You should pour your cavities, and it should be about six seconds for the contraction and freeze.
If it takes forever, it is too hot! If it freezes right away, too cool.
It should be pour, six seconds, desprue, dump into the water pot, close the sprue plate and repour. If it continues to take forever, put the mold down for about 15 seconds and repour.
New mold prep.
Get some brake cleaner. Take the mold outside and soak it! Let it puddle on the mold and let it sit. After you have done that, wipe the mold with a few paper towels, spray the cleaner again, and wipe again. Let dry completely. When you go to cast, get a throw away lighter and hold the flame close to the mold so the flame is yellow not clear blue. That puts a layer of butane soot on the surface.
Cast away.
As you cast the first 100 or so, the lube that the cleaner did not remove will come out in the castings. They will gradually get better and better.
If the mold continually sticks and you have to manually push the castings out of the mold, get two nuts. For the .357 size I prefer 1/4-20 nuts. Galvanized ones work great! The zinc holds the lead real well. Cast thru them and let them freeze in the mold. When cool remove as a unit. You will have to slide the sprue plate way off to the side to do that.
Take each casting, with nut. Coat very lightly with Clover or other fine lapping compound, found at auto parts stores. The grease variety, not water based.
Slowly close the mold on the gritty castings and turn with a 7/16 wrench untill they turn very easily. I mix and match so they both turn easily in both cavities. Plop them in the melt pot, wipe the mold, heat it, and cast away. Most wrinkles will disappear and they will pretty much fall out of the mold instead of haveing to be pushed.
As a rule, I size my .357s to .358. No leading. I make my lube and pan lube. I lube prior to sizing.
Welcome aboard, good casting, and maybe we will meet at Hernando Sportsman's Club.
A great range.
Good luck with your casting.

01-22-2009, 08:02 PM
Thanks for all of the great info - I think that this will be my weekend project. I forgot to mention that I did purchase a Lee sizer in .358 for my .38 boolits. After I size a few I'll push one through the cylinders to see how they fit. How should they feel?

I have a couple of large blocks of wax. I'm not sure what type - it was used in a dental laboratory years ago, so I guess I'll try that. If it works I'll have a very good supply of wax.

By the way, dropping the boolits into a bucket of water sounds like an easy way to cool them quickly while preventing damaging them.

Now to search the garage to see if I have any brake cleaner left or it's off to the auto parts store.


01-22-2009, 08:28 PM
You can also degrease a new Lee by boiling it in YOUR spare pan (DO NOT USE SWMBO's- some got no sensa humor) with a little Dawn detergent. Gets at the cutting lube hidden where you can't get at it.
Note: get the mold hot BEFORE smoking it or moisture will condense on it from the butane burning and prevent the smoke from adhering properly.
Preheat befopre casting by letting the blocks sit in the melt until none sticks to the outside of the blocks, about 30 seconds at max with a 2 cav.
Good luck and have fun. This isn't rocket science. (it's lots more fun)

01-22-2009, 09:03 PM
At the bottom of this page there is a link to "Bullshop". Go there and get some Bullshop Sprue Plate lube. It costs about 3 bucks. After all the above listed steps have been taken cast a few boolits so the mold is hot.

Dip a q tip into the lube and lightly apply lube {leave boolits in cavity} on top of mold and underside of sprue plate and locating pins and hinge screws. Then take the clean end of q tip and remove all you can of the lube. Just leave a very thin coating and your mold will love you. No galling, sprue plate will swing easier and you will not get lead stiicking to the tops of the mold nor the sprue plate. Great stuff.

01-22-2009, 11:10 PM
Thanks Crash - that stuff sounds good. I just filled out an envelope and a check to order some tomorrow so I can try it.

The Bull Shop
HC 62 BOX 5640
12011 Rapeseed Way
Delta Junction, AK 99737

Bull Plate Sprue Plate Lube 2 oz $4.00

What's good to temporarily use for lubrication until this comes?


01-23-2009, 12:47 AM
OK you got a new mold!

First spray it down with brake parts cleaner! Have some q tips on hand and as soon as the mold is good and wet use the q tips to dry out the cavites. Wear eye protection!!!

Being new you might be a little lery of pulling the sprue plate and I can't say as I blame you! If you don't have a serious way to hold this and drill a hole in the side of the mold for a set screw on the sprue screw, leave the plate alone!

Instead get some very fine stick pins and a tube of automotive antiseize. Using the pin point put some antsieze under the sprue plate, between mold and plate, making sure to use very little and to not get it on the plate where it will drag onto the cavity area!

You can do the same to the screw area on top of the sprue plate as well as a little bit on the alignment pins!

I rarely need to smoke a mold if it's cleaned right. When you feel the need do not use a lighter or a candle! Both of these will put oily deposits back in the cavities you just cleaned!

Aviod wax of any kind! All this will do is burn, get sticky, turn brown, and then never come off!

Instead go buy a box of Kitchen stick matches and use several of those to smoke the cavities if you need to.

As far as the alloy you've got? Fire up that heat source and get everything melted and real hot! Make sure everthing is firmly balanced and won't tip over! Casting in L.A. when the ground is rolling can be..."unusual" to say the least! Suffice it to say you do not want hot lead in your shoe's.

Once you get the metal hot and have preheated the mold, close it and dip a corner into the hot lead until the mold is hot enough for the lead not to stick to it. Don't dunk it in like a donut! You should not have more than 1/4 inch of the angled corner of the base of the mold in the hot alloy!

Now cast a few and put them on a soft towel, do not use shag carpet! Now take a magnifing glass and see how well the boolits a filled out. If you don't see clean sharp bands but the boolit looks like sand blasted stainless steel you know the mold is hot enough, as is the alloy, so now put a bit of tin in!

I think these suggestions will help you produce good boolits. If you know how, and I don't, please post some pic's if you can.

01-23-2009, 08:30 AM
drill a hole in the side of the mold for a set screw on the sprue screw

I don't understand this. Just guessing - do you mean to drill a hole through the mold that reaches the set screw on the sprue screw so something like a allen screw can be inserted to keep the sprue screw from coming loose? If so, I guess I would need the appropriate sized tap.

Thanks everyone for the kick start.


Dean D.
01-23-2009, 03:05 PM
Randy, there is a good thread with pictures illustrating the process of installing the set screw somewhere here on this site. Do a search and you should find it, I cant remember where it is at the moment.

01-23-2009, 04:43 PM
here is the article location about Leementing:


Go to Member Articles and look for "Leementing Kit Documentation."
You'll be glad you did. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this article makes it very clear.

Also here is the Leementing sticky link. AGAIN, it is good reading and very helpful.


Have fun and good luck in your first venture into casting.


01-23-2009, 05:00 PM

If you remove the sprue plate getting it to stay "tight" and not come loose after you put it back in is a 50-50 deal at best. Some stay tight other will come loose.

So adding a set screw to the side of the mold is the way to go. Just don't do it with a hand drill!

If you decide to remove the sprue plate it makes it a lot easier to lube the pivot points without getting antisieze or bullplate lube in the cavities. At that time you can "polish" the bottom of the sprue plate and the top of the mold with 600 grit sand paper which will make for a much smoother operating mold!