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Thread: Cutting a die off?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Cutting a die off?

    My brother-in-law gave me an old WW Greener 12 gauge shotgun with 2-9/16" chambers, and I am trying to modify a purchased 12 gauge die for this length. So I need some help from all of you machinists. I purchased a die for 3" 12 gauge shells I found on one of our favorite auction sites that fits my old Pacific DL-150 press. In measuring my existing 2-3/4" die and the 3" die I purchased, the crimping shoulder is 1/4" difference in depth as I suspected. So my plan is to cut off the difference between the 2-9/16" gun chamber, and the 3" die 7/16". I have on old Harbor Freight combination mill/lathe that my brother gave me years ago that I haven't done much lathe work with yet. It has a three-jaw chuck mounted on it that opens up far enough to mount the 1" diameter 12 gauge die piece in (which is about 3" long). So now comes the knowledge I am missing since I haven't run a lathe since high school metal shop class. It has a tool mount set up on it, and I think I can grind or mount purchased bits in it ok. So, if the die is rotating top down to me at a slow speed, where should I start cutting? Just below center a hair away from the 7/16" cutoff point? And after cutoff face the die end with a round or angled tool?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

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    First check to see if the die is hardened if it is you will either need carbide tooling or you will need to anneal the die. If I trim a die I just cut from the bottom to where I want the new end of the die. I usually use carbide cutters. I tuen at about 320 rpm with a slow feed and finish the cut with a hand feed.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Jedman's Avatar
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    You will most likely need a carbide tool bit to cut the die. When running carbide you want to turn the die pretty fast probably about 600 rpm and with your light duty lathe take light cuts about .010 at a time until you reach your length. Then angle the tool and put a light chamfer on the inside and outside.

    Jedman

    Sorry that it sounds like I am contradicting the poster before me but I was typing when he posted and when I posted his was there a couple minutes before me.

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    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    If you ain't got a carbide cutter you could still wing it. If you put it in a three jaw chuck deep, you could cut it with a cutoff wheel with the lathe off. The chuck would keep the hardness over most of the die. Then you could clean it up while spinning with none carbide lathe cutters.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    A small cemented carbide lathe bit is much mire expensive than the High Speed steel is. Unless you mount the cutter dremal tool in the lathe it will pinch and break the wheel going that deep. you need to mount the dremal and run the lathes slow feeding carefully with the cross feed. If the dies is hardened you will spend mire time sharpening than cutting.

    7/16" is a lot to remove with a grinder. In hardened steel even machining it off is going to mean light feeds and slow feeds. If you have milling capabilities a carbide end mill might work better. another way would be to set a die lock ring 1/4" past the cut, very carefully use a bench grinder to take it down to around. .260-.270 then mount in lathe and face the last down to .250 from the ring.

    The other option is to stand it in a pan of water and heat the end up and hold it there at a light red, then slowly cool down applying heat at shorter intervals thus softening the end. Like annealing a case only steel cant be quenched it has to cool slowly.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    First, I doubt the die is hardened. If it is hard more than likely it is a case hardening which would only be a few thousandths thick and could be ground off before you started cutting. I just checked 2 of my 105 DL crimp dies and one is aluminum and the other is steel, that I can cut with a file. I have shortened several dies over the years and have found it MUCH easier to start at the bottom and cut away what I don't want, rather than "parting off" the excess.
    There are 550 million arms in worldwide circulation. This is 1 firearm for every 12 people on the planet. The only question is , HOW DO WE ARM THE OTHER !!? The Lord of War.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    The exterior of the die is 1.000" in diameter and the interior diameter is 0.800". So the wall thickness of the die is approximately 0.100". Plus or Minus a few thousandths of course. I will go out and check for hardness with a file. The piece I am trimming off is not threaded but a smooth tube with one machined end with a small diameter hole in it for the shotshell center compression piece that slides through the hole during the final crimping operation. I brought a file in from the shop and found it was relatively easy to file a groove in the exterior of the die. Much like the steel angles I buy at the hardware store to weld up things out of. So, I assume it is not hardened. I also have a carbide 12" chop saw I use for cutting grade 60 concrete reinforcing steel. I could trim off maybe 1/4" of the die and then mount it in the lathe and cut and face the rest of the die down to length?
    Last edited by DonMountain; 01-28-2020 at 09:17 PM.

  8. #8
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    If it’s not hardened, just mount it in the lathe and start trimming from the bottom of the die. It will only take a couple minutes.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    Ran into this problem with an old Caruso 12ga. Short chamber for paper shells. Had the forcing cone honed just a tad for plastic shells but still brutal with lite dove loads. It's really a 2 1/2" chamber. As yours is probably twist made barrel, light loads only anyway. Roll crimp plastic will keep the pressure down. Plastic petals unfold into the forcing cone and increase pressure. I gave it to BIL for a wall hanger. RST makes paper shells but for $$. You have to keep the pressure <~5K
    Whatever!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by popper View Post
    Ran into this problem with an old Caruso 12ga. Short chamber for paper shells. Had the forcing cone honed just a tad for plastic shells but still brutal with lite dove loads. It's really a 2 1/2" chamber. As yours is probably twist made barrel, light loads only anyway. Roll crimp plastic will keep the pressure down. Plastic petals unfold into the forcing cone and increase pressure. I gave it to BIL for a wall hanger. RST makes paper shells but for $$. You have to keep the pressure <~5K
    This old Greener shotgun does have steel barrels on it, and is in surprisingly good condition. Hence, my desire to reload for it. I do a lot of reloading for modern guns with 2-3/4" and 3" chambers for trap shooting, squirrel and turkey hunting. It does have apparently the short tapered forcing cone for paper shells with roll crimps. But I am trying to build loads for it with modern plastic shotshells and easily trimmed plastic wads. I can easily trim 2-3/4" length Remington Gun Clubs or Winchester AA hulls down to the proper length with a sharp pocket knife and a 5/8" wooden dowel up in side to cut against. And shorten the plastic pedals on a 1-1/4 ounce Winchester style wad to reduce length and load one ounce of shot. So the only problem I am having is the final crimp die being too long.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I did as KCSO did for not having to remove much. Just plowed it off with carbide then cleaned it up.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    The older standard English 'short chamber' in 12ga was 2 1/2",,but guns were cut with proprietary lengths by their mfg'rs.

    Anyway,,does the final crimp die on the reloader bottom out during normal operation of the press? Or could the 2 3/4" die be simply adjusted back down to crimp the short shells?

    If not and you do need to make up the 3" die into a short shell crimper,
    If the material in the die is soft enough, simply hacksaw it off and then file it square and smooth. A slight bevel on the inside surface helps to guide the loaded round into the die. The lathe can make the final trim and bevel very easily.
    The OAL of the final crimp die most likely isn't an exact spec if there is adjustment up and down on a threaded post for it. There usually is so the crimp can be fine tuned for the load inside it.
    It's the crimp shoulder and a slight bevel to the top edge of the shell that that die produces. Nothing further down the side walls that would require a full length die though some distance is good for support of the case while the crimping is being done.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Never mind...I miscalculated. Nothing to see here. Back to your lives Citizens.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2152hq View Post
    The older standard English 'short chamber' in 12ga was 2 1/2",,but guns were cut with proprietary lengths by their mfg'rs.

    Anyway,,does the final crimp die on the reloader bottom out during normal operation of the press? Or could the 2 3/4" die be simply adjusted back down to crimp the short shells?

    If not and you do need to make up the 3" die into a short shell crimper,
    If the material in the die is soft enough, simply hacksaw it off and then file it square and smooth. A slight bevel on the inside surface helps to guide the loaded round into the die. The lathe can make the final trim and bevel very easily.
    The OAL of the final crimp die most likely isn't an exact spec if there is adjustment up and down on a threaded post for it. There usually is so the crimp can be fine tuned for the load inside it.
    It's the crimp shoulder and a slight bevel to the top edge of the shell that that die produces. Nothing further down the side walls that would require a full length die though some distance is good for support of the case while the crimping is being done.
    On the Pacific dies I have, they bottom on the case holder and have a finite length up to the rolled edge of the shotgun shell. So the normal dies for 2-3/4" length shells have a certain distance from the bottom of the solid die shell up to this edge. And checking the 3" final crimping die I purchased, it is exactly 1/4" longer for this distance. On both of these dies the center plunger in the die that closes the crimp up is adjustable for location, but the outer shell or tube that rolls the top edges in is spring loaded so it seats on the shell holder as the adjustable plunger comes down. So, thats why I was trying to shorten a final crimping die for the 2-9/16" chamber of my gun. But the only final crimp dies I could find were of 3" lengths since they were usually not supplied in a set of dies, but by themselves to simply replace the 2-3/4" final crimp die.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    You have a lathe. Instead of altering that old die why not make one. It might be cheaper than the old die cost you.
    Leo

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 44magLeo View Post
    You have a lathe. Instead of altering that old die why not make one. It might be cheaper than the old die cost you.
    Leo
    I am not that good of a machinist! And how would I machine the spring that is part of the die set?

  17. #17
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    A lot of older springs can be replaced by new springs. Most good hardware stores carry an assortment of springs. Measure what the old one was by length, diameter of the spring and diameter of the wire the springs is wound from and number of turns. Then take these along to the store and find one that matches these measurements. A bit off those spec will probably be ok.
    Leo

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by garandsrus View Post
    If it’s not hardened, just mount it in the lathe and start trimming from the bottom of the die. It will only take a couple minutes.
    Well, thats what I did this afternoon. It took me about two hours of careful manipulation of the lathe controls and a lot of cutting oil and I got the die cut down to the correct length. Without any problems and it cut just fine. Looks nice and clean and well polished face. So, now I need to see if I can figure out how to cut a slight bevel on the outside of the die to make it less sharp and to add a bevel entrance into the die so the shotshells don't hang up on entrance.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    I don't have a metal lathe but do have a wood lathe. To cut an angle on the edges as you want I would just move my cutting tool at an angle to make the cut.
    I no a bit about metal lathes from high school shop class. Low those many years ago. I know the cutting tool is held in a clamping devise so it is held strong enough to cut steel. This clamping devise could move with a hand wheel.
    It could move along the work or 90* to the work. I don't recall if it could move at an angle.
    If so set it to like a 45* for the outside of the die, then a 60* or so on the inside. This steeper angle would better guide the case up into the die.
    That's my guess on that.
    Leo

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I thank everybody for your help and recommendations with all of this die cutting project. I got the die mounted in the three-jaw chuck a couple of days ago and started from the end after adjusting the cutting tool to the center of rotation and then just started cutting across the end of the die several thousandths at a time. The die is a cylinder just like a piece of grade 80 steel water pipe. It took me a couple of hours to trim off the 7/16" length I needed to. Then I took a close look at the tool holder and there is an angle cutting upper portion of it where I can rotate the top of it along with a screw-slide for moving the tool head. So, I just adjusted the tool head to about 45 degrees and cut an angle on the outside of the die to break the sharp edge. Then in the tool kit I had purchased after my brother gave me the lathe, I discovered a boring bar. Mounting that in the tool head and grinding the cutting tool to an angle to fit inside the die and adjusting the approaching angle to about 5 degrees, I cut a slow taper inside the die to help the shotgun shells slide up into the die. I cut all of this at very slow travel on the tool head so I would get a really shiny looking finish. I then took a piece of fine emery cloth and polished the cut edges even better. And then applied wax to all the surfaces to lubricate the shell casings as they are final crimped, and put the die back together. So, now I need to swap that Pacific DL-150 off my storage shelf for one of my Pacific Super Deluxe presses mounted on the bench, and see if I can properly crimp those 2-9/16" shotshells!

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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
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check