Do-It-Yourself Felt Wad Making


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ClemBert
December 19, 2010, 11:53 AM
Because there have been some recent questions about Do-It-Yourself Felt Wad Making I have reposted below an old post I did on another forum. Unlike some other threads, this thread is dedicated specifically to making wads so the reader does not have to wade through other non-target general discussion.

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Yes, this is yet another thread about making wads for your cap-n-ball BP revolver. Lubricated felt wads can be used in the loading process to provide several advantages over plain cap-powder-ball loading. Specifically, among these advantages are:

1. Added sealing of the chamber to further reduce risk of chain fire.
2. Lubrication to aid in softening of powder residue/fouling.
3. Less messy as compare to grease/crisco/oil on top of the ball.
4. Scrubbing/cleansing effect as the hard felt wad travels down the barrel.

There are those who may frown upon the use of lubricated felt wads preferring to either load plain cap-powder-ball or to smear grease over the ball. We do know that highly respected sources have recommended the use of a lubricated felt wad since at least 1930 (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=402325). Something tells me the smart fella who gave that advice probably learned that from some old timer's who learned it well before the 1930's.

The purpose of this thread is to provide some information to those too cheap, like myself, to buy pre-made lubricated wads and who prefer a more economical solution.

What you will need:

1. Felt

A perfect inexpensive source for the type of felt you want to use can be found at Duro-Felt (http://www.durofelt.com/image_26.html). You want to use a product that is 100% wool and is hard/dense felt such as the FM1812H product. I placed an order with Duro-Felt online and received it in my mailbox two days later (Arkansas to Florida). That 12" x 36" piece for $12 is enough to punch out over 1500 wads of .44/.45 caliber or over 2100 wads of .36/.380 caliber. I passed on the local Goodwill store as a source for cheap felt. I didn't want to deal with guessing the hardness or thickness of old used wool hats or trenchcoats or any critters that may or may not reside in said source of felt.

2. Punches

For punches a great solution are the hollow punch set found at Harbor Freight (http://www.harborfreight.com/9-piece-hollow-punch-set-3838.html). Typically only $5.99 but often cheaper on sale at $4.99 or with the use of a coupon.

3. Lubricant

For lubricant there are going to be many varying opinions on what to use. For the purpose of keeping it simple here I'm going to specify the use of real beeswax mixed with Crisco shortening. Generally a 50-50 mix but vary it to suit your needs or temperature requirements. Also, you may consider using Bore Butter as your lubricant as it would appear that lubricated Wonder Wads use just plain ol' BB. There are many sources for beeswax online. Generally, the beeswax prices are reasonable but when you add shipping costs it can double the overall price. One readily available local source, for many, is Michael's Crafts (http://www.michaels.com/Candle-Making%3A-Everything-To-Get-You-Started/as0096,default,pg.html). They generally charge around $18 for a pound of pure beeswax but be smart and use a 40% or 50% coupon (http://printable.couponfeed.net/stores/michaels/128b6e05571f933f.html) to get the cost down to reasonable levels.

Below is a pic of the HF punch set. It comes with 9 hollow punches. For my purposes only two of the punches are of interest. Specifically, the 3/8" (0.375") and the 7/16" (0.4375") punches. The 3/8" punch serves the .36 caliber revolvers and the 7/16" serves the .44/.45 caliber revolvers. Some of you will be able to make good use of the 1/2" (0.500") punch.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/SyberTiger/Firearms/Wads009.jpg

The 0.4375" diameter of the 7/16" punch isn't quite large enough to satisfy my need for a .45 caliber wad. So, using my trusty grinder bit that fits my Dremel tool I decided to open up the diameter to something more suitable for .45 caliber revolvers.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/SyberTiger/Firearms/Wads006.jpg

I increased the diameter of the 7/16" punch to 0.455". It only took a couple of minutes to do this with the Dremel tool. While I was at it I decided to increase the diameter of the 3/8" punch from 0.375" to 0.380". Just enough to make the cutting edge really sharp.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/SyberTiger/Firearms/Wads002.jpg

Next, it was just a matter of sitting in front of the TV with mindless TV on and punching out the wads. I used an old chunk of a cedar tree to punch on top of. The punches, after increasing their diameters, are so sharp it doesn't take much effort to punch out the hard felt. In a matter of a 20 minutes I was able to punch out hundreds of wads. You can use a chunk of 4x4 or 2x6 as your cutting surface to punch on top of.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/SyberTiger/Firearms/Wads005.jpg

The last step is to lubricate your felt wads with your choice of lubricant. The easy way may be to use Bore Butter like the Wonder Wad brand uses. My concoction is a mix of beeswax and Crisco as explained above. Our expert member, Gatofeo, has an old time recipe he has shared time and time again which is apparently one that is hard to beat in terms of performance.

With the lubricant in a melted liquid form it is just a matter of dipping/soaking the un-lubricated felt wads in the solution sufficiently. Remove the soaked felt wad while the lubricant is still dripping hot and let cool. Some of you have complained that you didn't think that lubricated Wonder Wads had enough lubricant on them. Here is your chance to make some wads that are really loaded up with lubricant.

If anyone has cheaper or better sources for materials please chime in. This post isn't meant to be a "this way or the highway" type post. Rather, it is one cheapskate's method to make lubricated felt wads by giving actual sources/links for materials.

If you enjoyed reading about "Do-It-Yourself Felt Wad Making" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
ClemBert
December 19, 2010, 11:55 AM
To lube, use the double boiler method. A used pet food tin works great. The felt wads will soak up all the melted lube they can on their own.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/SyberTiger/Firearms/Wads003.jpg

Then, its just a matter of plucking them out, letting them cool, bagging them and labeling them until you are ready to use.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/SyberTiger/Firearms/Wads005-1.jpg

ClemBert
December 19, 2010, 11:56 AM
Here's a source for those who would rather punch out Vegetable Fiber Wads (http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/2,241.html).

OYE
December 19, 2010, 12:20 PM
For 44 cap and ball, I use a 45 long colt case with a chamfered mouth, inside and out, for a punch ( I've yet to wrinkle one ). A small plastic mallet for a hammer. A plastic cutting board for a base. A dental pick to flip the wad out of the case. Beaver felt hats for material.

mykeal
December 19, 2010, 12:22 PM
Well done, thanks.

Prairie Dawg
December 19, 2010, 03:31 PM
Thanks ClemBert:
Gatofeo made a similar post years ago, which I have in my files.

This post has made me get off my duff & order some Duro-felt.

This will be a good Winter project, as I am about out of all the miscellaneous felt wads I've collected over the years.

--Dawg

ak-kev
December 19, 2010, 03:47 PM
Very nice instructions. Thank you very much! This is next on my list and just what I needed to read. Thank you. Kevin.

kwhi43@kc.rr.com
December 19, 2010, 04:08 PM
Very, Very, nice. Wonderful pictures.

Prairie Dawg
December 19, 2010, 05:33 PM
Duro felt is about to go on a long Winter vacation.
Order NOW.
Heck, shipping is free, so ..................
I ordered an hour ago.
just read my order confirmation.
I'll be makin wads soon!
--Dawg



Here is the blurb from the Website:
Holiday Closing: We will be closed from December 27, 2010 thru February 4, 2011 and re-open on Monday February 11, 2011. Orders received by December 20th will ship before we shut down for the holidays. I will take this time to travel to India to visit with my family and factories. This will also give our employees a chance to spend uninterrupted time with their family. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We look forward to your orders in 2011.
A. Sahita President/CEO

junkman_01
December 19, 2010, 06:21 PM
I got off my duff too and ordered the punch set from Harbor freight and the felt from Duro-Felt. Thanks Clembert!

J-Bar
December 19, 2010, 06:38 PM
I have been a "lube-over-ball" shooter for years, but you have given me a good winter's project for experimentation.

Thanks!

Hellgate
December 20, 2010, 01:01 AM
Making the wads goes A LOT FASTER if you chuck the punch into a drill press set at a very low speed. The rotating punch cuts easily and pulling the handle each time over a hardwood block of wood results in a perfect wad each time. You can punch out several hundred in an hour or two. I also ground the hollow channel smoother with a Dremel so the wads come up through the punch easier. You need to shift the wood block around periodically to get a fresh spot to punch on after about every 30 or so wads.
Two drawbacks:
1) The rotating punch also throws the wads around so I made a cardboard shield to keep the flying wads somewhat contained. Seems they always want to land in sawdust or some other clingy debris. Otherwise you need to dig the wads out of the punch every 8-12 wads by shutting the press off and using a copper house wire or other non dulling probe to push the wads out of the punch.
2) The noise and movement of the press require concentration so watching TV or even listening to a radio w/o headphones isn't gonna happen.

BullRunBear
December 20, 2010, 08:15 AM
Clembert,

Great post! I've been making my own with Durofelt for a couple of years using the Gatofeo formula (will have to try your simpler one) and they work great. I use them for my C&B revolvers, BP 45 Colt cartridges and 45-70 BP rounds.

I found a cheaper source of beeswax. Our local farmers market has a guy selling honey from his own hives and candles he makes from his beeswax. He charged less since he didn't have to spend time making the candles. Don't remember the exact cost but it was less expensive than the beeswax from a retailer and no shipping charge.

For punching out the wads, I use a maple cutting board picked up for 25 cents at a yard sale.

Jeff

junkman_01
December 20, 2010, 08:53 AM
Clembert,
Great posts, but one thing is unclear to me. Is your lube mix of 50/50 bees wax and Crisco by weight or volume?

ClemBert
December 20, 2010, 11:33 AM
My general specification of 50/50 is by rough volume. This is really a starting point. Your mileage may vary....that is, the right mix for you may very well depend on the time of year and weather conditions. Under a hot sun I'd tend to have a higher percentage of beeswax. If you shoot 777 rather than BP you may go a little lighter on the amount of your concoction you put on your wads as 777 tends to create it's own "greasy" residue when burned.

The best bet is to experiment and find the right combination for your conditions.

junkman_01
December 20, 2010, 11:44 AM
Thanks. So my starting point is 50/50 by VOLUME.

BTW, I just measured some Wonder wads I have in .44-45 caliber and they measure exactly .500 inches x .125 inches.

Bluehawk
December 20, 2010, 02:36 PM
Hellgate..I have a great idea...you work the drill press with my felt and I'll sit and watch TV!!! :what:

Noz
December 20, 2010, 05:53 PM
I use the Durofelt.
I found that an 11mm punch from Hazrbor Freight fits my 1860 Army chambers perfectly.
I use the Pearl Lube to soak the wads (1 part soy wax, i part toilet bowl ring and 1/2 part Crisco)
The soy wax is a suitable substitute for bees wax and considerably cheaper. Available at candle making suppliers.

45-70 Ranger
December 28, 2010, 10:06 AM
As a lube for my wads, I use Lee Liquid Alox thined down with mineral spirits. Dip, dry, & load. Leaves little lube splatter associated with lube over the ball system. No boiling or mixing. After I use the LLA for a bit on slugs, I'll take one bottle that I'm using and mix in some mineral spirits ti thin it down. Lasts a long time too. The wads soak up the thined mix and it sure leaves an even amount of lube in the bore and combined with a 777 load, I can get several rounds off with a '58 Remmy without need to clean at the range. Remember guys, I'm real old school and this came to me out of a lack of the conventional mix componants. I was out of wax and needed some wads lubed for a shoot. I just had a hunch that thinning the LLA might work. It did, and for me even better with less mess.

Well, that's my two cents worth,

Wade

Noz
December 28, 2010, 10:14 AM
I've recently run across a shooter that soaks his wads for cap and ball revolvers in Moose Milk, 10 parts water to 1 part Ballistol. The water of course evaporates before use and leaves a very thin amount of Ballistol, not enough to contaminate the powder. Works for him!

junkman_01
December 30, 2010, 09:17 AM
Making the wads goes A LOT FASTER if you chuck the punch into a drill press set at a very low speed. The rotating punch cuts easily and pulling the handle each time over a hardwood block of wood results in a perfect wad each time. You can punch out several hundred in an hour or two. I also ground the hollow channel smoother with a Dremel so the wads come up through the punch easier. You need to shift the wood block around periodically to get a fresh spot to punch on after about every 30 or so wads.
Two drawbacks:
1) The rotating punch also throws the wads around so I made a cardboard shield to keep the flying wads somewhat contained. Seems they always want to land in sawdust or some other clingy debris. Otherwise you need to dig the wads out of the punch every 8-12 wads by shutting the press off and using a copper house wire or other non dulling probe to push the wads out of the punch.
2) The noise and movement of the press require concentration so watching TV or even listening to a radio w/o headphones isn't gonna happen.
Hellgate,
I finally got all my materials together yesterday (Fedex delivery) and started to make wads. I started out using the hammer method, which quickly grew old so decided to use your drill press method. I have a 1/2 inch chuck on my drill press and the 7/16 punch wouldn't fit so I took about .030" off the top end with my mini-lathe. Now it is smooth sailing and I have to give you kudos. This is DEFINITELY the way to go. It's just so much faster and produces better wads. Thank you for the tip!

Hellgate
December 30, 2010, 10:51 AM
Junkman,
Hey, I got the idea from somebody else (whom I can't remember) so just keep passing the info along!
Hellgate

Moptop
December 30, 2010, 03:40 PM
I use wads punched out of fiberboard egg carton material lubed with Bore Butter. Much cheaper and it works great. The nice thing is that the wad will soak up the lube but doesn't fall apart. If you like to ude a little thicker wad you can just use two or punch them out of a McDonalds 4 drink holder instead of egg cartons. It works just as well. I also use the H/F cheapo punch set.

I got this idea from a man on another shooting forum and just thought I'd pass it along.

Jim K
December 30, 2010, 09:07 PM
And when you are done, the felt will look like a target perforated by "wadcutter" bullets!

Hmmm.

Jim

Deltaboy
December 30, 2010, 09:59 PM
Thanks for this information!

Gatofeo
December 31, 2010, 04:10 PM
Tons of good info here.
I first posted my lubricant recipe about 2000, near as I recall. Perhaps in 1999. I have so much of it now, and it works so well, I haven't felt compelled to change.
I also bought a 3X4-foot sheet of 1/8-inch felt years ago. Hardly touched it, considering that a square inch will make four .36 or .44 wads.
I can make a few hundred wads in one evening, sitting in front of the TV with a hammer and small log. I glued a piece of cutting board on the end of the little log. Keeps sawdust and wood chips out of the felt wads and never splits or chips.
I don't own a drill press. If I did, I'd probably try your method. But I can punch out a few hundred wads in one sitting, which is a good supply. A concentrated effort in the winter months keep me supplied for years.

The 7/16th wad punch is too small for the .44/.45 cap and balls, but a good fit for the .44-40, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, etc.
I use 7/16ths lubricated wads twixt bullet and black powder in my 1873 Winchester repro, in .44/40 caliber. The extra lubricant augments the Lyman 427098 bullet's lubricant.
Incidentally, I use Gatofeo No. 1 Bullet Lubricant for wads and bullets, especially bullets that will be used with black powder but it works fine with light smokeless loads too.

I also cut waxed cardboard wads from milk cartons or Whoppers malted milk ball candy cartons. If you have concerns about a lubricated wad affecting the black powder or primer, you can put one of these waxed wads between the black powder and greased wad.
Opinions vary greatly on the use of wads with smokeless powder. Most seem to agree that the wad should be right up against the bullet's base, never down on the powder or anywhere between the smokeless powder and bullet's base.
About 30 years ago, complaints began surfacing of chambers getting ringed by the use of such wads.
Now, I know that shooters have used light wads down on the smokeless powder charge in the past, and no such reports surfaced, but it came to a head in the early 80s as I recall.
Since then, the practice has been both praised and damned by reloaders, many of them with long experience.
When it comes to using a wad in a cartridge case loaded with smokeless powder, you'll have to decide. But those that do recommend it almost universally say that the wad should be firmly against the bullet's base, without a gap.
The use of Kapok or tissue to hold powder against the primer, in light loads, has also been praised and damned.
I dont' use such wads, Kapok or tissue with smokeless powder. I use wads only with black powder. The black powder fills the case and is firmly compressed by the bullet's seating.
This leaves no gaps between bullet, wad or powder.

I noticed that you transfer your wads to Zip-Loc bags after melting the lubricant in a pet food can. Years ago, I adopted a different method.
I leave the wads in the can and snap a plastic pet food cover on the can, after it's cooled of course. Then I just label the can with a wide marker. The cans stack upon each other on the shelf.
In my range bag, I keep wads in the Altoid Sour Candy can. The pet food can is rather large for this purpose. The round Altoid sour candy can seals completely. Open it with a press on one side. An old shoe polish can is good too, as long as you can open it easily with greasy fingers.
The Altoid mint cans that open with a hinge are not as good. They let moisture escape through the opening cut for the hinges.
An Altoid sour candy tin will hold 100 .44/.45 wads, while you can get about 150 .36 caliber wads in -- plenty for the day's shooting.

But hey, Zip-Locs work too. Whatever works is fine.

Years ago, a company made plastic disks of .44 and .36 caliber, with a shallow indentation on both sides, for cap and ball revolvers.
Frankly, they looked like oversized red blood cells!
The instructions said to fill the concave sides with grease, then load the plastic disk between ball and powder.
"Only a tiny amount of lubricant is needed," I recall the instructions coaching.
I picked up some .36 caliber ones: failure! They simply would not hold enough lubricant. to keep fouling soft. I still have some in my shooting box. They'd be good for making shot loads in my .36 revolvers, but that's about it.

Too many shooters seem to forget that the greased felt wad is not only a barrier against multiple ignition (though I personally don't believe in the theory that flame gets past the ball and ignites adjacent chambers), but its lubricant keeps fouling soft.

When black powder combusts, it leaves behind 56 percent in solids. The remaining 44 percent is gas, comprised of carbon dixoide, nitrogen and other gases.
Obviously, with a propellant that leaves 56 percent solids behind, you need plenty of lubricant to keep it soft for easy removal. That's where the lubricated wad comes in.
I also believe -- but cannot prove, though others state it as fact -- that a hard felt wad helps to scrape fouling from the bore with each shot. I've noticed for a long time that the bores of my revolvers stay much cleaner with a greased felt wad between ball and powder, than if I put grease over the seated ball as is commonly recommended.
It seems against reason that a greased wad behind the ball would keep the bore cleaner, compared to grease ahead of the ball, but I've seen it for so long to accept it as fact.

There are certain facts in the Cosmos that are irrefutable:
1. Speed of light is 186,000 miles per second.
2. Women will never understand the concept of a 4-Way stop sign.
3. A greased felt wad between ball and powder keeps the bore cleaner than putting grease over the ball.

Sorry for rambling on so much but thought some of you would find it valuable.

OYE
December 31, 2010, 08:55 PM
Yes, and only the finest beaver felt should be used.

If you enjoyed reading about "Do-It-Yourself Felt Wad Making" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!