Copper rods and Lathe...hmm


September 29, 2011, 03:26 PM
I have a lathe, a forge, and gauges accurate enough for good readings. Perhaps I could mill out some bullets. All I need is copper rod. I have used the lathe to turn down plenty of things and it was used for very exacting work in its old home. Any thoughts? I had a look at prices for rod and it made me chuckle. A foot loong piece of rod .25" in diameter would cost me about 40 bucks shipped. I can buy solic vld's for cheaper. It is too bad they dont make a ceramic mold for bullet casting. If they did I could cast the copper into a mold. My forge measures 2700 degrees when I have it cranked fully, and I have heated huge thick pieces of metal and hammered them out to make odds and ends before. I know for a fact my forge has the muscle to melt it. Again, am I missing anything or is this truely a lost cause?

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September 29, 2011, 03:43 PM
Go for it.

I have made very light weight .30 cal bullets out of solid brass rod on a lathe for some 30-06 velocity & penetration testing many years ago.

As for a source of copper?

Check with your local crack-heads favorite junkyard.
They have probably already stole it & sold it if it is copper.


September 29, 2011, 04:14 PM
Try here, they might have a local outlet near you

September 29, 2011, 05:02 PM
Retail is expensive.

By a few thousand pounds of copper on a roll and it should be a lot more economical.

September 29, 2011, 05:09 PM
I can't see much money savings unless you got a bank of CNC screw-machine lathes setting around gathering dust.

Time is money, and it takes a lot of time & skill to make consistently good bullets all the exact same on a manual lathe.


September 29, 2011, 06:05 PM
I'm sure you can get copper rod cheaper than that. Try McMaster-Carr, Raw Materials. It would take a bunch of talent and machining experience to make each bullet exactly the same. Getting the exact same nose shape and length (truncated cone or ogive) and total length may be a challenge (maintaining +- 2 grains weight). Turning the OD to +- .001" is pretty straight forward...

September 29, 2011, 06:29 PM
Razor J,

I'm your man, I will fund the Cases, Powder, Primers, and Reloading time to test these for you. Please ship the first 5000 ASAP (I need that many to Truly Test Accuracy Etc). PM for shipping address and particulars! :)

In all seriousness, sounds like you must have some shop!

September 29, 2011, 08:29 PM
Good luck!,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=68ff90a53843e58f&biw=730&bih=432

That's the various search hits for the now defunct "groove" bullets. They made bullets that were reputed to be very accurate AND effective. One of the search hits said he,(the owner of groove), was wiped out in a flood.

It's not as simple as taking a copper rod, turning a bullet shaped slug, then drilling a hollow point. The copper has to be annealed as it's last step to allow it to open up. Then, do you want the petals of the mushroom to stay with the bullet, or shear off?

If you're doing it for your own use/amusement, then have fun. It sounds like a fun experiment.

September 29, 2011, 09:28 PM
I considered making a tool that has the proper profile (angle of boattail and point) that will fit on the tool chuck. The lathe has 2 wheels, one for going lengthwise and one for depth, each wheel has a secondary fine adjustment knob sticking off the big wheel. The big wheel is marked for .01" adjustments and the fine knob moves in clicks of .001". It should be easy if I had a tool that will cut the proper profile. Sadly my shop is my garage ( 2 car but no cars could hope to fit) and the forge is outback on the patio. I have some tungsten carbide for making new bits and quite a few plates of d2. If I could cut out the shape i want for the bit, mill the copper ( probably with prior annealing in the forge) and then anneal it or heat quench it back some stiffness again if necessary. I actually built the forge myself and it cost about 25$ for the basic design. I would be happy to tell you guys how so you can anneal things that you need like bolt handles so you can bend them, cases, etc...I even made a few changes that boost the performance to the level it is now ( from about 2k to 2700). As I see it copper melts at about 2,000 degrees, iron melts at 2800. I should be able to use an iron mold to cast copper though I dont know how well seasoning the mold with smoke would work. I dont know much about casting at all and there are probably other ways of preventing adhesion of the casting metal.

September 29, 2011, 09:44 PM
How would you anneal a bolt handle in a furnace so you can bend it without annealing the whole dang bolt, locking lugs and all??

And non-ferrous metals like copper, brass etc, cannot be re-hardened by quenching.

I'm beginning to think it might be safer for you if you want copper bullets to just buy some from Barnes!!


September 29, 2011, 10:47 PM
In the early 80's we made armor piercing 9mm out of solid copper rods with pionted hardened steel penitrators.:what:

They worked fine in our Sterlings,Uzis, and highpowers.;)

That was when I lived wayyy down south of the border.



September 30, 2011, 12:36 AM
I considered making a tool that has the proper profile (angle of boattail and point) that will fit on the tool chuck.

Are you sure you're really that schooled regarding the use of a lathe? I believe the part you're referring to is known as a "tool post" not a "tool chuck".

Please explain how you plan to anneal tungten carbide? It might be well to explain your procedure you use to harden and draw D2 steel.

September 30, 2011, 01:34 AM
It sounds to me like you have no knowledge of what it takes to make a copper solid bullet. Also your lack of proper terminology of lathe mechanics leave a lot to be desired. If it's a manual lathe, you have almost no chance of making two bullets the same. CNC or even a digital read-out are the basic requirements needed. You don't need to harden a copper bullet, you need it to be dead soft or completely annealed to work.

Making small parts,(bullets), on a lathe is tool & die stuff, you'd better have a thorough knowledge to work, and be able to fine things down to 1 ten thousandths of an inch. Then, be able to control surface finish on a non-ferrous metal.

The original nosler partition bullets were actually a brass rod that was bored from each end, then annealed. Then the lead cores were inserted on each side of the partition. then formed to a point on the front, and the back end was crimped to hold the rear core.

Nosler now has a way to form a guilding metal bullet similar to how brass cases are formed. Both ends are formed, leaving a solid partition, then the lead cores are inserted and formed.

September 30, 2011, 08:08 AM
I think that it would be easier to go to work for Nosler if you want to make the bullets yourself. IMHO it would be easier to make dies and use a hydraulic press to draw/swage some jackets and cores or solids of your own design than to turn them on a lathe. At least with a die the shape would be repeatable when you found a design that worked well. I would think that if it was easy and inexpensive to do a lot of shooters would be making their own solid bullets already.YMMV

September 30, 2011, 11:51 PM
Some of the comments in this (and other threads) kinda irritate me to no end.

Some folks, like me, are aware that buying something pre-made might be easier. Perhaps even cheaper... However some of us like the idea that we made something on our own. Further, we got what we wanted and not a compromise by purchasing something close to what we want.

I value the education I get whenever I make something in my workshop. And yes, I own lathes and a milling machine. And I am not afraid to use them!

So please, rather than throwing your personal comfort levels into somebody else's desires to do something just hold your tongue unless you have a useful bit of input.

Now, having said the above..

It sounds like the OP is a novice WRT machine work. Dude, I encourage you to try things. Just do not expect to go forth into your workshop and make parts to +- .001" the first go.

If you are experienced, please accept my apology and go make some chips...

I make a lot of things in my workshop that I could just go and buy. What fun is that?

Sorry for the rant. I'll shut up now.

October 1, 2011, 10:11 PM
thats real cool of you to say Twmaster. It is nice to hear some advice minus the chiding undertones. I am a novice at machining. All the knowledge I have about blacksmithing/machining is self taught so I guess I need to look up the exacting terms because it is apparently extremely important to use them properly. I guess making these things is a little more complicated than shaping parts to repair an old clock or the other odds and ends I have practiced on. I read a bit more about the bullet making process and have decided that I will write my ideas down and get back to it when I have time over the winter break to experiment. There is alot more going on when making bullets than I expected. As for drawing out d2, its called a hammer. Heating, air cooling, and reheating anneal the metal. Quenching in an oil bath, (and clay tempering which I am just beginning to get the hang of) work fine to reverse the annealing process and form lovely martensite. I have a few knives around the house made out of the stuff, and no, it wasnt fun to do, hence my refusal to make any more with that material. I stick with old car springs now. I have a jig made of cast iron that is pretty stout and the slit in it directs the heat and gasses into a fairly narrow area. While the heat takes some time to get any glow on the metal that would be enough to anneal a bolt handle. No I have not tried, and the point wasnt whether I could. I was offering to help you guys make your own cheap forge which can be infinitely useful and i offered up some ideas about what you could use it for offhandedly. You can take my advice and say thank you, or read over it and ignore it. Here I am again, feeling like I need to ward off an attack instead of having a pleasant discussion about what I am up to...

October 1, 2011, 11:47 PM
Well to start with D2 steel is an air hardening steel not an oil quench steel, this is just a start.

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