View Full Version : How to cut lead round stock?

07-27-2008, 09:20 AM
I've got a new project going which requires lead disc weights. I'm looking to avoid casting each one of these individually, but haven't had any luck with cutting the discs from round stock. '

I've tried using my bandsaw with a 14TPI blade, a metal disc blade on my mini mill, and a hacksaw. Anyone got any ideas? Maybe a really hot wire cutter? Less TPI? A Sawz-All?

Anyone here cut lead stock successfully?

07-27-2008, 09:41 AM
Why not cast them? I honestly can't see how you would hold it in a way that would not mark it up.

07-27-2008, 09:46 AM
cast it its quicker and safer than trying to cut it .

make up an aluminium mould, you could probabaly pour and flop them out of the mould faster than you could cut

07-27-2008, 10:55 AM
You can pretty much melt lead on a stove eye and just about cast it in a wooden mold without too many problems. I remember helping to do this growing up. A steel ladle on a camp stove with a coffee can full of old tire weights was the order of the day. It probably is an activity best left for the outdoors on a cool day.

07-27-2008, 11:34 AM
Best I found, and it works, is to "peck cut". Using a horizontal band saw lower the blade in the cut and only allow it to cut a few seconds before retracting the blade to clear the chips. The problem of course is that the chips are so soft that they smear in the cut which jams and seizes the blade. Another possibility is to freeze the lead to liquid nitrogen temperature before cutting. It will be much less malleable and should cut nicely. I haven't tried it but it should work. I have fooled around with lead in liquid nitrogen and it does harden it considerably, to the point of ringing when struck.

07-27-2008, 03:12 PM
If you go the casting route, do it outdoors as suggested, but use some fans blowing past you as well. You really can't have too much ventilation with lead.
Lead fumes are very dangerous. I grew up casting lead bullets but was fortunate that my Dad believed the fumes to be hazardous. So I had to wear a weldor's respirator as well as goggles and face shield and gloves when casting. This was back in the late 50's and early 60's, Pop was ahead of his time thankfully.
Two of his life long shooting buddies who had been casting since the early 20's died from the cumulative effects of the lead fumes.
Also, make very sure that the lead and the casting pot and the mold are all completely dry before you start. Any moisture in the mix can result in a steam explosion that throws molten lead everywhere. And since it will be at or about 700 degrees F, it won't be a pleasant experience no matter where it lands.

I have cut lead bars and pipe with a horizontal band saw, using large hooked tooth, low TPI (3 TPI) blades designed for wood, and with a good flooding of coolant. The large gullets don't pack up quite as fast, and if you use the peck method Evan mentioned, that helps too. The coolant keeps the temperature down to help prevent smearing and it also helps keep down the lead dust you don't want to breathe in either.


07-27-2008, 03:12 PM
Deleted as it was a duplicate entry

07-27-2008, 03:18 PM
I forgot another way that works very well. Use a cutoff blade in a lathe if possible. You need to keep track of the chips of course.

Forrest Addy
07-27-2008, 05:03 PM
Cut off slugs the right weight using an axe. Make a uitable male and female mold of mild steel. Coin the weights into shape in a press. 50 tons will flow 16 square inches of lead cross section.

07-27-2008, 07:05 PM
When I have to rough cut lead I use an old Swede saw.

07-27-2008, 09:32 PM
What diameter? Could you shear them somehow?

07-28-2008, 02:43 AM
2 inch diameter.

I think I'm gonna make an aluminum mold and cast them one at a time. It is pretty fast. I knocked off a couple dozen larger discs this afternoon in just a few minutes using the bottom of a soda can to mold and a coffee can crucible.

My problem was that my bandsaw blades would get stuck on the chips.

I couldn't put it on my lathe without it getting distorted by the chuck and eventually coming loose, at which point I had a 5 pound bit of lead flying through the air in random directions, and at high speed. HELLO!

Anyway, as usual, thanks for the assist fellas.