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Tips For Making bullets on Lathe
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Picture of James Kain
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I was just wondering if anyone could give me, or anyone else, tips on making bullets on a lathe.
I m restoring/refurbishing a lathe from 1863 and will be done soon.

Thanks!!!


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Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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You can make bullets on a normal lathe, but, it is a hit and miss case.

I have made bullets on an EMCO lathe, but found it very time consuming, and hardly nay two bullets have exactly the same diameter.

We now make our bullets on a CNC lathe.


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Posts: 57454 | Location: Dubai, UAE | Registered: 08 January 1998Reply With Quote
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Without using a CNC lathe, the only way to get consistency would be by using a turret assembly instead of a tail stock. The turret assembly must have the ability to hold different shaped cutters and is set up with a precision feed mechanism.
In addition, your carriage/compound will hold a cutoff tool and be locked to a fixed position, so that after the shapes are cut by the turret cutters, the bullet will be cut off to same length every time.


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Posts: 799 | Location: Texas and Alabama | Registered: 07 January 2009Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Bob Nisbet:
Without using a CNC lathe, the only way to get consistency would be by using a turret assembly instead of a tail stock. The turret assembly must have the ability to hold different shaped cutters and is set up with a precision feed mechanism.
In addition, your carriage/compound will hold a cutoff tool and be locked to a fixed position, so that after the shapes are cut by the turret cutters, the bullet will be cut off to same length every time.

Thanks for the tip, my lathe was made in 1863, so I m guessing I m sol!


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Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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WOW SAEED
that bullets to pretty to shoot rotflmo rotflmo
 
Posts: 3818 | Location: kenya, tanzania,RSA,Uganda or Ethophia depending on day of the week | Registered: 27 May 2009Reply With Quote
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How about making them oversize on a manual lathe and swaging them to size?
 
Posts: 75 | Location: Iceland | Registered: 19 February 2004Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Ossi_Iceland:
How about making them oversize on a manual lathe and swaging them to size?

I like the way you thing. But there would be a small issue. If I m not mistaken, when you make a solid copper or brass bullet, your going to need a few re-leaf cuts.


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Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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Yes, I forgot that that. But if, the bands are say .004 high and you are swaging .001 to .002....
Nahhh maybe not.
 
Posts: 75 | Location: Iceland | Registered: 19 February 2004Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Ossi_Iceland:
Yes, I forgot that that. But if, the bands are say .004 high and you are swaging .001 to .002....
Nahhh maybe not.

LOL we must be on the same page. The problem I see with that is when you swage down the bullet you maybe fill the groves or atleast leave scrapings behind. They may or may not still be attached to the bullet.
Now if you had a very soft copper you may get away with it.
Or use several sizes for swage die and step it down.


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Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by James Kain:
quote:
Originally posted by Ossi_Iceland:
Yes, I forgot that that. But if, the bands are say .004 high and you are swaging .001 to .002....
Nahhh maybe not.

LOL we must be on the same page. The problem I see with that is when you swage down the bullet you maybe fill the groves or atleast leave scrapings behind. They may or may not still be attached to the bullet.
Now if you had a very soft copper you may get away with it.
Or use several sizes for swage die and step it down.

Oh scratch that mistake, it would have to be hard copper not soft.


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Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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You can make a sizing die to get the OD the same, to within a tenth or so.
.
It is the weight the same you have to worry about, unless there is a second op to face the base for weight.
 
Posts: 316 | Location: South Central PA | Registered: 11 November 2010Reply With Quote
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To make them on a manual machine I'd suggest reading Howes "Modern Gunsmith" on making bullet molds and make a cutter like you would for making a cherry. I'd then put a small V edge on the cutter where you want the base of the bullet to be so that after the profile is cut you can just use a cut off tool and be pretty darn close.


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Posts: 7634 | Location: Between 2 rivers, Middle USA | Registered: 19 August 2000Reply With Quote
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For consistant OD, a box mill is the answer.
.
For an 1863 lathe, get some travel indicators and dial to a "zero".

.
Dead flat, razor sharp and NO relief.
.
If it chatters, make the ogive in 2 steps. You can see the blend point..
 
Posts: 316 | Location: South Central PA | Registered: 11 November 2010Reply With Quote
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guys, I am wicked busy with my new work study and the last semester of shop time in my program, let alone physics to boot.
you can email me @ sharpscarbine@gmail.com
even on the busiest days I can reply from my phone.
james
ps,
thanks for all your time and knowledge!


Disabled Vet(non-combat) - US Army
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Build my own CNC router from scratch. I installed the hight wrong. My hight moves but the rails blocks 3/4 of the hight.....
 
Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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I would cut a shape tool from a carbide blank on my wire EDM...single pass plunge and readouts

Cut off with a .062 carbide cutoff tool.....but why?


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Posts: 7254 | Location: South East Missouri | Registered: 23 November 2005Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by ted thorn:
I would cut a shape tool from a carbide blank on my wire EDM...single pass plunge and readouts

Cut off with a .062 carbide cutoff tool.....but why?

Hey if you decide to make a few, take some photos if you can. I am interested in seeing this.


Disabled Vet(non-combat) - US Army
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Hunter, trapper, machinest, gamer, angler, and all around do it your selfer.
Build my own CNC router from scratch. I installed the hight wrong. My hight moves but the rails blocks 3/4 of the hight.....
 
Posts: 934 | Location: North Anson Maine USA | Registered: 27 October 2008Reply With Quote
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quote:
Howes "Modern Gunsmith"

I just happen to have a copy of those two volumes given to me by my late uncle who was a gunsmith in the then Rhodesia.

Keep us posted on the lathe, James. beer


Regards
303Guy
 
Posts: 2518 | Location: New Zealand | Registered: 02 October 2007Reply With Quote
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Your 1863 lathe likely has worn bronze spindle bushings. Try to get something with tapered headstock bearing.
Something that looks like a lathe and makes you think you have a lathe when you don't is a real piece of crap.
 
Posts: 13978 | Location: http://www.tarawaontheweb.org/tarawa2.jpg | Registered: 03 December 2008Reply With Quote
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Pal,

I've seen you asking about swaging, now you want to turn bullets on a lathe.

I don't want to rain on your parade, but I will guarantee you that the time you spend and product you finally get will not make you happy.

People swage their bullets as a passion, not because they actually get a better product than what is currently manufactured. I don't really believe that they do. For the cost of the dies, materials, and time, they could basically buy enough bullets to last them the rest of their lives. Unless they shoot several thousand bullets a week. But that to would take A LOT of time, wouldn't it?

As for machining you own: factory bullets are measured in tenths of a thousandth of an inch. A manual lathe won't do that regardless of the operators experience and talent. Not for hundreds of them, all the same. I one time ran a Hardinge second operations lathe. More accurate than any run of the mill engine lathe, using the most accurate tooling money could buy. It wasn't trusted for tolerances less than .001 consistently. I also ran a Traub automatic screw machine. It wasn't trusted for tolerances less than .003 as it was a little old and worn. Even new it wouldn't hold less than .001.

A CNC lathe will hold better than that, but there is still a good number of scrap bullets. I ran CNC equipment for over 20 years, and half that time making parts to tenths. I think I know what they will do. Newly manufactured bullets are again measured in the tenths of thousandths. This isn't something that everyone can do, nor something that every machine can do. If it was everybody would be doing it.

If you really, really feel the need to make your own, cast your pistol and rifle bullets, and then paper patch the rifle bullets. Still time consuming, but more practicle.

Eric


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Posts: 199 | Location: Northwest Oregon | Registered: 05 January 2004Reply With Quote
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