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Thread: Dumb Noob Questions

  1. #1
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Dumb Noob Questions

    I've loaded enough revolver cartridges to feel like I have a good handle on it and I find that I am using a lot of commercial cast in my favorite loads, so I have decided to put together a basic casting setup together without spending a while lot of money. I will be getting my hands on a lee bottom pour pot, lee molds, a lee sizing die and plan to tumble lube. Since I shoot 38 special the most, I will start with a 158 grain RNFP mold and a 148 grain wadcutter mold. To keep things simple up front, I will be buying wheel weight ingots off ebay and will figure out sourcing and smelting lead later. I figure if I cast some bullets at 3 cents a piece instead of buying them for 8 cents a pop I am doing well enough for now. If this all goes well, I will get my hands on a 44 mag and possible a 35 Rem mold as well.

    I have done a bunch of searching, but I still have a few stupid newbie questions:

    - Should I start with a 2 cavity or 6 cavity mold? The goal is regular practice and plinking fodder so volume is a goal, but I do not want to bite off more than I can chew.

    - Should I expect to get usable bullets out of my first casting session?

    - Can I cast with straight wheel weight material, or do I have to add something (tin) to the pot?

    - I am a beekeeper and I think it would be neat to use some beeswax in my lube. Can I use the 50/50 beeswax/LLA mixture for tumble lubing, or is it too think/solid for that?

    Anything else I should be aware of? Suggestions very much appreciated as I plan to assemble everything and do my first cast in the next month. I want to cast outside and it is probably better to do that while the weather is still good.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    If you get a 6 cav. Lee .358-158-RNFP you will be able to cast all the 'fodder' you can use and with that mould your keepers oughta start about the third fill if you have paid attention to pre cleaning and deburring, then watch temps in the pot and preheat your mould.

    Straight COWW's will do fine.

    Can't comment on the Beeswax since I exclusively PC.

    Once you have gotten into the casting mode and made 20# of boolits you'll forget all about investment $ and will be hooked for life.

    c h a r l i e
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    just, "watch your 6" .

  3. #3
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    tumble lubing with a solid lube is possible but I wouldn't try it.
    it gets gloppy has to be held at a consistent temperature for it to go on very well.
    you could just get the mold with a lube groove and use your wax to make lube.
    then pan lube and push through a sizer on your reloading press.

    I know 'LEE says' but there is a reason why their 2cav. molds cost 20 dollars and everyone else's cost 80$
    they are useable for sure but they ain't perfect and the sizing makes sure they are 'good nuff'

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    ain't nothing cheap about casting your own, its a large rabbit hole you done fell down

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    But it's rewarding when a friend looks at a few loaded rounds and asks " Did you cast those ?"
    The UPS driver for our route is a gun person and friend. Today I
    Showed him some loaded rounds and he asked just that. So did the security guard at the hospital. He couldn't believe that the boolits came out so smooth and wrinkle free. I told him that it's my hobby and I get anal when it comes to cosmetics. I haven't been hunting since 2012, I just shoot paper. But I want my rounds to look better than any factory loads. And they can, even with Lee molds.
    Tom
    μολὼν λαβέ

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    I don't remember who said it, first to me it's an addiction. You will spend a lot of dough to make cheaper boolits and love every minute of it!!!!! I dream of lead in my sleep!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biggin View Post
    I don't remember who said it, first to me it's an addiction. You will spend a lot of dough to make cheaper boolits and love every minute of it!!!!! I dream of lead in my sleep!
    Yeah, I have been a homebrewer for 25 years, so I understand. That said, at some point you have the stuff you really want and have paid for it several times over in cost savings vs. store bought and it all becomes gravy.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Budget permitting you may want to purchase some better quality equipment esp. some good molds like NOE, RCBS, Accurate, Saeco, etc. and a decent melting pot like the RCBS.....the Lee "Drip-o-matic" pot and some spotty quality molds may turn you off casting.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MT Chambers View Post
    Budget permitting you may want to purchase some better quality equipment esp. some good molds like NOE, RCBS, Accurate, Saeco, etc. and a decent melting pot like the RCBS.....the Lee "Drip-o-matic" pot and some spotty quality molds may turn you off casting.
    Maybe a dumb question, but are the Lee molds usable or not? I load shotshells with a Lee Load-All which is very much maligned by people who have spent a lot more on the equipment. There was a bit of a learning curve with it, but it works just fine. Similar deal with the molds?

  10. #10
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    For starting out, I would get the 6 cavity Lee 358-158-rf and just get used to casting that one for a while. That boolit gives excellent accuracy and will shoot well loaded hot or mild. That boolit will do anything that needs doing in a 38 special. I have cast thousands of boolits with mine.
    For the 38 special or even 357 magnum loads up to about 1200 fps, range scrap(which is softer than wheelweights) will work just fine. I water quench mine from the mold for a little extra hardness and haven't had any issues with accuracy or leading for decades.
    Range scrap ingots off ebay tend to be a little cheaper than wheelweights.
    I buy White Label X-Lox in large bottles and tumble lube with that. Don't overthink your lube. You can experiment with small batches if you wish, but keep something around that you know works.
    Lots of threads on this site about cleaning the mold, preheating, and all the other details of getting started in casting. Pay attention to the details and stay safe. You will get tremendous satisfaction out of making your own loads and having them work as well or better than factory.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    In recent years Lee improved his mold designs by using steel bullet nosed pins and bushings to align the mold halves. This single design change should make Lee molds a much better and longer lived product.
    When you buy molds be sure you get recent production and not one of the older molds. For any handgun application use a 6 cavity mold with a bottom pour furnace. You need much higher volume production for handguns so just pass on a 2 cavity mold. The 2 cavity molds are ok especially for a rifle but you want buckets of bullets for handgun fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
    I've loaded enough revolver cartridges to feel like I have a good handle on it and I find that I am using a lot of commercial cast in my favorite loads, so I have decided to put together a basic casting setup together without spending a while lot of money. I will be getting my hands on a lee bottom pour pot, lee molds, a lee sizing die and plan to tumble lube. Since I shoot 38 special the most, I will start with a 158 grain RNFP mold and a 148 grain wadcutter mold. To keep things simple up front, I will be buying wheel weight ingots off ebay and will figure out sourcing and smelting lead later. I figure if I cast some bullets at 3 cents a piece instead of buying them for 8 cents a pop I am doing well enough for now. If this all goes well, I will get my hands on a 44 mag and possible a 35 Rem mold as well.

    I have done a bunch of searching, but I still have a few stupid newbie questions:

    - Should I start with a 2 cavity or 6 cavity mold? The goal is regular practice and plinking fodder so volume is a goal, but I do not want to bite off more than I can chew.

    - Should I expect to get usable bullets out of my first casting session?

    - Can I cast with straight wheel weight material, or do I have to add something (tin) to the pot?

    - I am a beekeeper and I think it would be neat to use some beeswax in my lube. Can I use the 50/50 beeswax/LLA mixture for tumble lubing, or is it too think/solid for that?

    Anything else I should be aware of? Suggestions very much appreciated as I plan to assemble everything and do my first cast in the next month. I want to cast outside and it is probably better to do that while the weather is still good.
    EDG

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    Start out right. Get a hotplate to pre-heat your mold, especially if you get a six cavity. Yes, Lee molds are very usable. I have bunches, from one cavity hp/hb to six cavity special order. I use them regularly. Be gentle with them, keep them clean, and don't beat on them and they will last a lifetime of use. I also have Lyman, RCBS, NOE, Mehic, etc. and use them as well.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    slim1836's Avatar
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    Try powder coating in lieu of lube, works great in pistols and the boolits don't oxidize in storage. Less messy too. Pan lube beats tumble lube in my opinion as only the lube groves get coated, thus dust does not collect on the noses.

    Welcome, it only gets worse.

    Slim
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
    I've loaded enough revolver cartridges to feel like I have a good handle on it and I find that I am using a lot of commercial cast in my favorite loads, so I have decided to put together a basic casting setup together without spending a while lot of money. I will be getting my hands on a lee bottom pour pot, lee molds, a lee sizing die and plan to tumble lube. Since I shoot 38 special the most, I will start with a 158 grain RNFP mold and a 148 grain wadcutter mold. To keep things simple up front, I will be buying wheel weight ingots off ebay and will figure out sourcing and smelting lead later. I figure if I cast some bullets at 3 cents a piece instead of buying them for 8 cents a pop I am doing well enough for now. If this all goes well, I will get my hands on a 44 mag and possible a 35 Rem mold as well.

    I have done a bunch of searching, but I still have a few stupid newbie questions:

    - Should I start with a 2 cavity or 6 cavity mold? The goal is regular practice and plinking fodder so volume is a goal, but I do not want to bite off more than I can chew.

    - Should I expect to get usable bullets out of my first casting session?

    - Can I cast with straight wheel weight material, or do I have to add something (tin) to the pot?

    - I am a beekeeper and I think it would be neat to use some beeswax in my lube. Can I use the 50/50 beeswax/LLA mixture for tumble lubing, or is it too think/solid for that?

    Anything else I should be aware of? Suggestions very much appreciated as I plan to assemble everything and do my first cast in the next month. I want to cast outside and it is probably better to do that while the weather is still good.
    Buy your lead here ,never ebay you will get not what is advertised just what is laying around and that is avoided by buying from folks you can trust ! Namely the people in swap+ sell .Everything you need (including experience on casting boolits will be found here)

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    brewer12345, firstly, welcome to the casting community and the best casting resource on the internet Let me try to answer your questions.

    If I were you, I'd start off with a 2 cavity mold. They're easier to regulate the temperature on and that is the key to getting good bullets. A 2 cavity mold will make about 100 bullets an hour. Make sure to deburr the sprue plate before you start casting or it'll scratch up the top of your mold blocks. If you decide to start out with a 6 cavity mold please follow Wayne Smith's advice to get a hotplate to preheat your mold.

    If you clean your mold well with dawn dishwashing soap and get it up to the right temperature, you can expect good bullets from your first casting session. In my experience, the first time a mold is used it could cast good on the first pour or the last.

    Wheel weights are an excellent alloy to cast bullets from as is. Some people like to add a bit of tin or pewter to aid fill out. About 2% by weight is about right. I don't use tin, but it's an option for you.

    I use alot of wax for my lube. It's a mixture of bees wax and vasoline. I use it in a luber/sizer. I've never used a tumble lube so I can't speak to that aspect of lubing.

    The main problem for the beginning caster is getting the mold temperature right. Start by dipping a corner of the mold into the lead for about a minute then tilt the to the other mold half and dip that for about a minute. when you start pouring, leave a big sprue puddle on the sprue plate (about the size of a quarter).

    If your bullets are rounded or have wrinkles, your mold is too cold.
    If your bullets are shiny and well filled out, congrats! your doing good.
    If your bullets are well filled out but frosted looking, your mold is a little too hot. Cast slower.

    Happy Casting,

    Jerry

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to the addiction! The guys seem to have answered most of your questions. I would suggest a 20# pot if you buy 6 cavity molds. If not, you will spend a lot of time waiting on a 10# pot to catch up. I'll second skipping EBay and looking in our swapping and selling section. A $12 Walmart hot plate was a very worthwhile addition to my casting bench. Its possible to get good bullets at the first casting session but most don't. Its not rocket science but there is a learning curve. Be prepared so you are not disappointed. You can post pictures of your results and someone here can advise you.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    Look up Emmert's lube on this site. I use it exclusively for pistol/revolver and BP loading. I actually use the Emmerts with additions.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  18. #18
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
    Maybe a dumb question, but are the Lee molds usable or not? I load shotshells with a Lee Load-All which is very much maligned by people who have spent a lot more on the equipment. There was a bit of a learning curve with it, but it works just fine. Similar deal with the molds?
    Yes, Lee molds are usable.

    Sometimes you do get one, that turns out to be a problem child, but most times those problems can be worked out, if you are handy with tools...some people consider a Lee mold as a partially assembled kit, that needs to be "finished" (search Lee-menting).

    BUT, sometimes...or I should same MANY times (since they improved there product in 2013) you get a perfectly functioning mold that functions as well as a expensive $80 mold.

    Of the very many new Lee 2 cav. molds I have bought, I only had one the was untune-able and unfixable. I sent it back, and Lee sent me a new mold, that worked perfect right out of the box.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Welcome to the madness, Mr OP!

    There have been plenty of comments about which pot and moulds to buy, so I'll just say I use a pair of Lee 20 pounders and keep fiddling with them to minimize dripping, and use a variety of moulds from many manufacturers. I generally prefer 1 and 2 cavity iron moulds from Lyman, but use good examples of aluminum and brass as well.

    The big reason I'm joining in on this thread has to do with lube... specifically lube using that beeswax you already have. While beeswax alone has virtually no lubricating value, when combined with something slick like Crisco or lanolin, it is the basis for excellent lube mixes, and can be used for dip or pan lubing as well as cast into sticks for lube pumps. I used to make a lube that was mostly beeswax and lanolin until the latter became expensive and hard to find, then switched to modified Emmert's for a large portion of what I lubricate. Search out Emmert's on this site and look for the ones that add a little lanolin and a little carnauba. Any components you lack locally can be ordered from "randyrat." Enjoy your new addiction!

    Froggie
    "It aint easy being green!"

  20. #20
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Lots of great comments and helpful suggestions! Thank you very much.

    I was planning to get a 20 pound melter rather than a 10 pounder. Since I shoot 38s out of a lever as well as revolvers, I go through at least a couple hundred with every range session so it would be nice to be able to keep up.

    I will probably start out tumble lubing with LLA for starters. I figure I can always fiddle with things over time, especially if I buy a lubrisizer.

    Silly question: I looked at the buy and sell forum and did not see lead/alloy for sale. Am I missing something?

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check