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Thread: Simple method to cut down cases?

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Simple method to cut down cases?

    I hope this is the correct forum.
    I have a surplus of .357 mag cases and a shortage of .38 special cases. So I'd like to shorten some of the .357 brass.
    I'm looking for an economical way to cut the long cases. I don't own a lathe and can't justify a special machine.
    My best guess is to make a mandrel, spin the cases in my drill press with a center in a vise to support the case heads, and use a hack saw to cut them to rough length. I'd set up a height block for the saw. Then trim the cases to length.
    ...I can put a drill chuck on my radial arm saw's arbor, but it would be complicated rigging up an outboard support.

    Any better suggestions will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Baltimoreed's Avatar
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    If you have a drill press get a Lee case trimmer in .38 spcl, chuck the case holder into the press, mount the cutter in a drill press vise, line it up and clamp the vise down. Put the case in the holder and lower the unprimed .357 case onto the cutter until it stops. Raise it up and chamfer the inside and outside with your chamfering tool. Play with your press speed some to get the best cut without generating too much heat. This is how I make .45-70 into .45-60 brass for my 1876 NWMP carbine. Cheapest and easiest way I know. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Do have a 38 Special only gun if now just use the same 38 special load in the 357 case. It's only 1/10 longer because in 1935 they want you to use 357 magnum in the old 38 specials.

    Loaded over 68,000 357 magnum rounds using 38 special data. Work just fine.


    I have a RCBS power case trimmer that's the easiest way. The drill press and hack saw going to be painful. Did that kind of stuff before I could afford the case trimmer.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyd View Post
    Do have a 38 Special only gun if now just use the same 38 special load in the 357 case. It's only 1/10 longer because in 1935 they want you to use 357 magnum in the old 38 specials.

    Loaded over 68,000 357 magnum rounds using 38 special data. Work just fine.


    I have a RCBS power case trimmer that's the easiest way. The drill press and hack saw going to be painful. Did that kind of stuff before I could afford the case trimmer.
    ^^what Danny said-works fine!^^
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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy gc45's Avatar
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    U say u don't want to spend anything so you will need to use lots of free elbow grease then. U can cut them using a dremel tool or a sharp case trimmer will do it, your not removing that much brass anyway.

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks.
    I have a Smith Model 60 .38 spl and Model 19 .357. Years ago a law enforcement friend gave me their recipe for mild .357 wadcutter loads for indoor ranges. ...mostly a .38 spl load.

    I want to load up some .38 spl +P protection loads. ...Factory ammo is essentially nonexistent and since I have all the ingredients except cases I'll make my own.

    @Baltimoreed above seems to have the answer. ...I didn't know if a case trimmer could handle that much stock removal.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by harringtondav View Post
    Thanks.
    I have a Smith Model 60 .38 spl and Model 19 .357. Years ago a law enforcement friend gave me their recipe for mild .357 wadcutter loads for indoor ranges. ...mostly a .38 spl load.

    I want to load up some .38 spl +P protection loads. ...Factory ammo is essentially nonexistent and since I have all the ingredients except cases I'll make my own.

    @Baltimoreed above seems to have the answer. ...I didn't know if a case trimmer could handle that much stock removal.
    The case trimmer will but it's slow; old 357 becomes 38 special old 38 special becomes 38 long colt old 38 long colt becomes 38 short colt after that is becomes scrap.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Check out the Lee trim die for your press as another option.

    You run a case up, adjust the die and lock it down.
    Then run a file across the top of it.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    I load wadcutters into tired .357Mag cases. A charge of 3.0grs of Bullseye over a #358495 works just fine. And there is no residue left in the longer chamber.
    In the past I used to cut down .357Mag cases that had split mouths down to .38Spl length.
    I've been using a Lyman Powered Case Trimmer since they came out about 35yrs ago. It also worked great for trimming starline. 45-2.6 down to 2.4 for necking down to
    .40-82WCF.

    Good Luck

    And I was very surprised when those .357Mag WC loads fed so easily into a Marlin 94.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I use the Harbor freight cutoff saw to cut 5.56 cases to make 300 blackout
    https://www.harborfreight.com/2-in-m...saw-62136.html

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by harringtondav View Post
    I hope this is the correct forum.
    I have a surplus of .357 mag cases and a shortage of .38 special cases. So I'd like to shorten some of the .357 brass

    Any better suggestions will be appreciated.
    When you are able, posting a trade in the S&S section - 357 for 38 brass - might be the easiest solution.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    given the demand for 357 cases, you could offer to trade one for one and the other person pays freight both ways, less work on your part and two people are happy

    I for one would be interested in that deal but you would need to go thru swapping and selling to be legal.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master

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    You could make a hard wood , plstic, or aluminum block up with a hole thru it on center with a cut on center lengthwise the length if the case from rim forward. In use slide case in to front of rim touching split up and clamp in vise. with a fine hacksaw blade cut of end protruding then finish in a trimmer. The finest blade the finest blade you can find is best 48-64 tpi. Or a jewelers saw even.

    If you have a drill press one of the lee cutters will do it start to finish quickly.mount the case holders stud in a block glue and lock in with a set screw. Mount the cutter and stud in the chuck case in the shell holder and the stud has the length stop built into it so just trim down and go. This is pretty quick and precise. You will want a brush or canned air to clear chips with as they will build up fast

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Do you have a hand-held belt sander? I use a belt sander clamped in a vise. take a little piece of PVC pipe and cut it to the length you want and stick the 357 magnum case in it. Run it against the belt sander for a few seconds then clean up the mouth. Quick, easy and cheap.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Do you have a hand-held belt sander? I use a belt sander clamped in a vise. take a little piece of PVC pipe and cut it to the length you want and stick the 357 magnum case in it. Run it against the belt sander for a few seconds then clean up the mouth. Quick, easy and cheap. I do then same thing to trim all my brass-- either a piece of pipe or a case gauge.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  16. #16
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    rancher1913 got a good point. Lotsa folks are willing to trade their 38spl for your 357mag unless you really cherish your headstamp worth all the trimming troubles.
    ...Speak softly & carry a big stick...

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Sasquatch-1's Avatar
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    I use this method. I have a Lee 3 jaw universal case holder that I chuck in a drill. I then use a tubing cutter to cut off what I need.

    I have tried the Harbor Freight saw but it tends to cut at an angle.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Work a trade if possible. Cutting back many will be a lot of work but, it will work.

    The Harbor Freight cut off saw does work great but, as Sasquatch said, it will cut at an angle unless you devise a means to level up the case...which isn't difficult to do, then it's quick!
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch-1 View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Tube cutter mounted.jpg 
Views:	13 
Size:	39.2 KB 
ID:	293418

    I use this method. I have a Lee 3 jaw universal case holder that I chuck in a drill. I then use a tubing cutter to cut off what I need.

    I have tried the Harbor Freight saw but it tends to cut at an angle.
    I have made 38 short colt cases that way works.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Jeez just get your 30 post and place a WTB. There is still lots of 38sp brass around.

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
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