Homemade Blackpowder


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AethelstanAegen
November 28, 2013, 07:34 PM
I was wondering, how many of you guys make your own blackpowder? It seems like you could certainly save some money over buying it premade or is that a misconception? I'm curious how one would go around sorting the powder into correct size, or do you just load it up with a mix? I'm mostly shooting blackpowder these days so it's tempting from a cost savings standpoint, but also makes me nervous as it seems like the kind of thing that could go really wrong if you make a mistake.

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jaxenro
November 28, 2013, 07:46 PM
Check out Brushhippies vids on YouTube covers it in detail

EljaySL
November 28, 2013, 09:33 PM
Usually your best bet cost-wise is to just do a large Internet order to spread out the hazmat and shipping and be done with it. If you want to do it for fun that's another matter entirely...

Officers'Wife
November 28, 2013, 10:08 PM
Two important steps are to powder the ingredients as finely as humanly possible and mix as thoroughly as your equipment allows. The most important step is to be inhumanly careful of sparking when dealing with the mixing of the niter. I would strongly suggest you use the wet mixing method. Even though it's a pain to dry it is a lot safer to the nth degree.

I, personally, have made about six batches of powder under the guidance of a highly experienced individual in the art. While there is a certain satisfaction in using a product of your own manufacture the risks involved just are not worth it. Order the stuff through your local dealer, the cost for pound cannot begin to pay for a finger, arm or your life.

robhof
November 28, 2013, 10:22 PM
There's a youtube video about making it and in small batches, it's not any more dangerous than reloading. I made it as a teen many years ago and used it in a 3/4" bore cannon with no problems. It's mixed damp and screened; for size by dragging it through the appropriate size screen when still somewhat damp then air drying. Quality depends on the charcoal, as the sulfur and saltpeter are pretty standard. You won't get store bought consistency, but it'll still go bang and you can still hit targets with it.:o:)

Pulp
November 28, 2013, 10:46 PM
I haven't made any in awhile, but I do enjoy making small batches from time to time. Usually just 4 ounces at a time.

whughett
November 29, 2013, 11:28 AM
YouTube has numerous videos on that subject, some informitive some not. I plan to try it this winter, more out of curosity than a cost saving venture. Firsts up, decide on and buy a ball mill. Leaning to a Thumblers as I can use it to wet clean center fire brass.

4v50 Gary
November 29, 2013, 12:10 PM
During the American Revolution, the shortage of powder made it a cottage industry with newspapers printing instructions for its readership.

Officers'Wife
November 29, 2013, 12:26 PM
YouTube has numerous videos on that subject, some informitive some not. I plan to try it this winter, more out of curosity than a cost saving venture. Firsts up, decide on and buy a ball mill. Leaning to a Thumblers as I can use it to wet clean center fire brass.
My uncle always used a capped piece of PVC pipe on a wind screw using large caliber musket balls as the grinding medium. After six days in a 6 to 15 MPH wind the charcoal ended up atomized. He also had a unit that was powered by an electric motor using the same PVC pipe.

whughett
November 29, 2013, 09:06 PM
My uncle always used a capped piece of PVC pipe on a wind screw using large caliber musket balls as the grinding medium. After six days in a 6 to 15 MPH wind the charcoal ended up atomized. He also had a unit that was powered by an electric motor using the same PVC pipe.
Hmmmmm.... I do hobby wood working, wonder if I could incorporate that concept into a whirly-gig.

Driftwood Johnson
November 29, 2013, 09:19 PM
Have you guys ever seen how many powder mills blew up in the 18th and 19th Centuries? Are you aware that they still blow up? And these guys are the professionals who know what they are doing. I hope your insurance is paid up and you set up your operation far from your house or anything else that you don't want destroyed.

I would not dream of trying to make Black Powder myself. My father worked for Hercules Powder Company during WWII and he was extremely aware of the precautions needed. He even told me the proportions of the ingredients for Black Powder when I was a kid. And then he told me not to even think about making any. I have always thought it was very good advice.

rcmodel
November 29, 2013, 09:56 PM
+1000!

This isn't child's play, except for the You-Tube idjits!

And Nothing you can make at home will be even close to the same performance of store bought black powder.

Plus, the risk of serious injury, or worse, due to explosions in the kitchen or garage, is right up there with practicing snake handling while going to church to pray for salvation!!

And then for the really paranoid like me?
Go buy potassium nitrate, and sulfur in black powder making bulk quantities.

And get yourself on the Government anti-terrorist watch list if you want to save a little on commercial grade black powder!!

rc

AethelstanAegen
November 29, 2013, 10:48 PM
And Nothing you can make at home will be even close to the same performance of store bought black powder.

Plus, the risk of serious injury, or worse, due to explosions in the kitchen or garage, is right up there with practicing snake handling while going to church to pray for salvation!!

This is about what I was thinking, I was just curious if anyone actually does it and has good results. I don't think I'll be doing it anytime soon (beyond the obvious and primary important safety reasons, I just don't think I have the time for it). It seems like it might be a case of penny-wise, pound foolish id I ended up blowing myself up. I also think it would be very hard to make it consistent enough between batches that it wouldn't affect my loads (in terms of POI, etc). Interesting to see the varying degrees of success people have had.

BullSlinger
November 30, 2013, 01:33 AM
Yes people actually do it and yes it can be made just as good and sometimes better than you can buy.

rcmodel
November 30, 2013, 01:37 AM
and sometimes better than you can buy.I'd have to see some actual proof of that!

rc

raa-7
November 30, 2013, 08:15 AM
I was wondering, how many of you guys make your own blackpowder? It seems like you could certainly save some money over buying it premade or is that a misconception? I'm curious how one would go around sorting the powder into correct size, or do you just load it up with a mix? I'm mostly shooting blackpowder these days so it's tempting from a cost savings standpoint, but also makes me nervous as it seems like the kind of thing that could go really wrong if you make a mistake.
If you do decide to make your own BP,, The best thing I can tell you is to do your research and be "very" careful when making it like everyone has stressed. If you have any doubts about it and don't feel comfortable about it then go in on a group buy of Goex or whatever brand you like. Just post on here to find out when someone needs powder,it will save you the work/headaches. Good luck and be safe !

Officers'Wife
November 30, 2013, 11:31 AM
I'd have to see some actual proof of that!

rc
It's usually in cases where very large corning or meal powder is needed.

For instance, my uncle's favorite load for the double rifle was a cylinder of powder with a 3/32 hole in the center. As the powder burned in the center the surface area of the powder increased increasing the gas/heat creating a smoother "push" on the ball.

Keep in mind though, the double rifle is 75 caliber with 52 inch barrels.

Pulp
November 30, 2013, 11:36 AM
I don't have any actual "proof" that would stand up in court, but a chamber full of my homemade in a Navy Knockoff .44 gave me over 1000fps over my chronograph. And it has worked fine in .44-40 rifle for CAS. On the downside, it creates a lot more fouling than Goex.

Bezoar
November 30, 2013, 11:37 AM
just about any good dictionary will tell you the ingredients and ratios for black powder. and for each kind of black powder usage. Its really an interesting invention when you get down to it. but heres something most dont understand.

If your the kind of person who doesnt realize that no one washes there hands in the bathrom before they opened the door using the handle, washing your hands is useless if your going to open teh door with a bare hand yourself.

What i mean is, illiterate peasents in the 1300s made powder. smart scientists made powder in the 1800s. they would blow up now and then when they didnt do it right.

MRRAGPICKER
November 30, 2013, 12:29 PM
31 grains (measured on a beam scale) of my home made powder, times out at 860 fps from my home made 4" Ruger old army.

raa-7
November 30, 2013, 09:13 PM
I know that once you make your own, and you get real good with the process, and figure out what works well and what doesn't ,, there's no turning back :D

jldee55
December 1, 2013, 04:38 PM
Most of the shootin I did over Thanksgiving was with my homemade stuff (used black willow charcoal) have about 3 lbs of it left, I have milled me up some grapevine charcoal for the next batch, as long as it goes bang I'm happy..I do have some store bought holy black but I'm just keepin it for emergencies...lol

AethelstanAegen
December 1, 2013, 05:04 PM
For those of you that make your own, how much cheaper are you usually able to make it over store bought stuff? Basically, what do you estimate it costs you to make a pound of usable 2F or 3F powder?

MRRAGPICKER
December 1, 2013, 05:45 PM
That depends on how much your willing to bulk buy.
To have enough ingredients for 100 lbs, its less than 3 dollars a pound.
but 2 lbs of ingredients works out to about 9-12 bucks a pound. (depending on source & shipping)

elhombreconnonombre
December 2, 2013, 01:03 AM
JLD

What are your thoughts concerning cedar?

MJD
December 2, 2013, 01:41 AM
During the American Revolution, the shortage of powder made it a cottage industry with newspapers printing instructions for its readership.
Are there images available for those articles? That would be really neat to see.

elhombreconnonombre
December 2, 2013, 01:58 AM
Total raw material cost for a 1# batch: about $8 (charcoal is free).

zxcvbob
December 2, 2013, 02:26 AM
I've made a couple of 1/2 lb batches in a Harbor Freight rock tumbler, using .457 lead balls (cast from wheel weights and water-dropped) for media. Works pretty good. The most important ingredient seems to be the charcoal -- I used white cedar.

elhombreconnonombre
December 2, 2013, 03:09 AM
cxcvbob:
How do think red cedar would work?

Mike1234567
December 2, 2013, 01:52 PM
I've read that soft woods are better to make charcoal... untreated Spruce from you're local lumber yard is a good option. But I just READ that a couple places. I have no experience with it.

zxcvbob
December 2, 2013, 02:29 PM
How do think red cedar would work?


I don't know; it's worth a try. Willow is traditional and one of the best, if you have a source of that.

The folks at skylighter say spruce and white pine are okay (and really cheap): http://www.skylighter.com/fireworks/how-to-make/homemade-charcoal.asp

Arizona_Mike
December 2, 2013, 07:05 PM
Just keep in mind that the 50lb waiver of the old Federal 5lb limit only applies to "commercial" powder. I really don't know all the details under this rather obscure set of regulations but it is something to look into if you are going to be making your own.

Mike

Officers'Wife
December 2, 2013, 07:25 PM
I've read that soft woods are better to make charcoal... untreated Spruce from you're local lumber yard is a good option. But I just READ that a couple places. I have no experience with it.
According to Weingard pines, cedars and spruces retained too much tar in the charcoal which affects incorporation. Willow is the best because pore size. If my uncle's notes are to be believed, next is cottonwood, mulberry with sassafras in last place. The criteria (as per his notes) are pore size, free hydrocarbons(less is better) and ash content.

Mike1234567
December 2, 2013, 09:01 PM
^^^ Yes but which of those woods are easily available to most folks?

towboat_er
December 2, 2013, 10:14 PM
Sassafras, willow and mulberry are plentiful here in N.E. KY.

Malachi Leviticus Blue
December 2, 2013, 10:19 PM
According to Weingard pines, cedars and spruces retained too much tar in the charcoal which affects incorporation. Willow is the best because pore size. If my uncle's notes are to be believed, next is cottonwood, mulberry with sassafras in last place. The criteria (as per his notes) are pore size, free hydrocarbons(less is better) and ash content.

I thought Grape Vine was supposed to be high on the list. I've made charcoal, but never got around to making Black Powder yet.

Steel Horse Rider
December 2, 2013, 11:08 PM
What I found in my research is that Willow was the preferred wood in Europe in the mid-1800's.

bobinoregon
December 2, 2013, 11:20 PM
Several of the fireworks folks over at www.passfire.com make their own black powder, mainly cause they go through a lot of it. You may have to join the site to access the info but they have it down. When I'm shooting my cannons I go through quite a bit but for me it's easier to just buy Goex from Jack's Powder Keg in Louisiana. A phone call and a week later the ups man brings it to my door.

Officers'Wife
December 3, 2013, 06:54 AM
I thought Grape Vine was supposed to be high on the list. I've made charcoal, but never got around to making Black Powder yet.
Grape vine charcoal is useful for art as the coking leaves a pencil like product. Keep in mind, I personally have only made three or four batches and then under the watchful eye of an expert. The information I have comes from his experimentation. Since he lived in Indiana his sources were native to Indiana. My curiosity leans to other subjects so I don't do the amount of research on the subject that he did.

FWIW- he made samples of many species. He noted that Oak had too high an ash/mineral content that slowed combustion. Osage Orange or Yew too high a free hydrocarbon. Maple too small a pore size. He also made test batches with nearly every species and made noted on incorporation, corning and burn rate. The notes are quite detailed.

fguffey
December 3, 2013, 09:50 AM
F. Guffey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAES5SXUwVU

another pake
December 3, 2013, 11:06 AM
If you already have a Thumler's, you can easily make a dedicated ball mill from a lexan Nalgene bottle. Under $10. That way you don't have to contaminate your Thumler's container.

As stated, cast lead balls work very well in the mill. No sparking.

Black Willow works very well as do many willow varieties, and are readily available around any wetland, slough or drainage. Use small, pencil sized branches. They char faster and break up easier in the mill.

Sulpher and salt peter are available in any hardware store or Walmart garden department. Sulpher is a soil amendment. SP is sold as a stump remover.

A little baked corn starch is your friend too. Research it.

As to whether the product is equal to, greater than or inferior to Goex, you'll find yourself on the road of another very enjoyable pastime as you make those comparisons.

Either way there is something very satisfying about taking game with a rifle you've built, using powder you've made, pushing a ball you've cast.

pake

zxcvbob
December 3, 2013, 12:56 PM
A big step up from using stump remover for the saltpeter would be hydroponics-grade potassium nitrate fertilizer. It also was a lot cheaper last time I looked it up, (like $35 or $40 for a 50 lb bag) but I couldn't find any locally and did not want to ship it to MN from Florida.

Garden shop sulfur is good enough, it is 90% S.

Officers'Wife
December 3, 2013, 05:18 PM
Hi Bob,

If you want a true do it yourself project start raising earthworms & feed them your old veggies and yard waste. Sell the earthworms for bait then filter out their home with water. After the water evaporates the niter crystallizes out and can be purified by more crystallization.

or you could find a agriculture bulk plant and buy sodium nitrate (chilean saltpetre) in 80 pound bags and do an ionic replacement with potash if you want to cut down on your sodium.

Or when all else fails there is always skylighter.com

KNO3 (http://www.skylighter.com/mall/product-details.asp?id=683)

Added thought: if you use stump remover check the ingredient list carefully. Some are based on chlorates or perchlorates. Two oxidizers you do not want to mess with! Unless you plan on making your own percussion caps as well. If so you have a far better sense of adventure than I!

wyofool
December 3, 2013, 10:52 PM
A lot of good info on making BP http://www.musketeer.ch/blackpowder/bp_menu.html

fguffey
December 4, 2013, 07:45 AM
http://www.cowart.info/Florida%20History/Dupont/Dupont%20Biography.htm

F. Guffey

Mike1234567
December 4, 2013, 12:58 PM
F. Guffey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAES5SXUwVU
Okay... that's just about the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I suppose I understand why you posted it though. Some folks can be REALLY STOOPID!! With reasonable care I don't see why one shouldn't make their own black powder... just not THAT moron.

theotherwaldo
December 4, 2013, 01:53 PM
I want to know how to make black powder.
I want to know how to make the tools for making black powder and the other materials necessary for keeping firearms functioning.
I want to know how to make and use bows, arrows, slings, traps, traps, shelters, and whatever may be useful (or fun).
I'll probably never have to use this tool set (again), but I WANT TO KNOW HOW!

another pake
December 4, 2013, 07:43 PM
the otherwaldo, head over to your local library and start checking out the Foxfire Books. eight or nine volume set written in the 80's or so. Still around in bookstores too if you want to go that route. Very entertaining, educational and just plain interesting exploring all aspects of everyday living, southern mountain style.
Pake

theotherwaldo
December 4, 2013, 07:56 PM
1- I'm a temporarily unemployed reference librarian. I MUST know!! It's a compulsion.

2- I have the full set of Foxfire books in my ancient motor home. I've just about worn them out.

BowerR64
December 4, 2013, 10:12 PM
Okay... that's just about the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I suppose I understand why you posted it though. Some folks can be REALLY STOOPID!! With reasonable care I don't see why one shouldn't make their own black powder... just not THAT moron.
lol
I know thats fake but i feel like that guy some times.

ofitg
December 6, 2013, 11:39 AM
1- I'm a temporarily unemployed reference librarian. I MUST know!! It's a compulsion.



As somebody mentioned in a previous post, Brushhippie has a good "how to" video on YouTube. Bear in mind, other methods are also used.

I think the best book I've ever found on the subject was "Black Powder Manufacturing, Testing & Optimizing", written by Ian Von Maltitz.

A few people even make their own percussion caps..... :what:

..... but that's an entirely different topic.

Driftwood Johnson
December 6, 2013, 06:00 PM
Okay... that's just about the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I suppose I understand why you posted it though. Some folks can be REALLY STOOPID!! With reasonable care I don't see why one shouldn't make their own black powder... just not THAT moron.


You are missing the point I made earlier. This guy was dumb (and no I don't think it was fake, I think it was real), but he at least survived the initial manufacture of his fireworks. He got really dumb when he lit a match to it standing only arms length away.

My point was that powder mills used to blow up regularly. They still do. Goex had a major explosion just a few years ago. And they are the experts, who know what they are doing, they are not some clown who posted a video on you tube. They have many, many years of experience, and powder mills used to blow up regularly and still do on occasion. This is dangerous stuff. I have been using Black Powder since 1968, my Dad was an explosives chemist who taught me a few things, and I would not dream of trying to make my own Black Powder. I will continue to let the experts do it, and let their mills blow up, I will not attempt to do it at home.

MRRAGPICKER
December 6, 2013, 06:16 PM
That blast in the video was so powerful it blew the lights back on, removed his blue shirt with graphics on it and replaced it with a plain black one.

Mike1234567
December 6, 2013, 06:18 PM
You are missing the point I made earlier. This guy was dumb (and no I don't think it was fake, I think it was real), but he at least survived the initial manufacture of his fireworks. He got really dumb when he lit a match to it standing only arms length away. <snip>

I didn't intend to insinuate anything else. I posted my remark(s) in response to other posts.

Officers'Wife
December 6, 2013, 07:39 PM
1- I'm a temporarily unemployed reference librarian. I MUST know!! It's a compulsion.

2- I have the full set of Foxfire books in my ancient motor home. I've just about worn them out.
OK, Waldo,

Find a copy of Weingard's "Pyrotechnics" or Tenny's "Chemistry of Powders and Explosives." The former for minor curiosity and the latter for major obsession.

theotherwaldo
December 6, 2013, 08:34 PM
Find a copy of Weingard's "Pyrotechnics" or Tenny's "Chemistry of Powders and Explosives." The former for minor curiosity and the latter for major obsession.

-I have PDF downloads of these (and others) - there is still more to learn, though.

Driftwood Johnson
December 7, 2013, 10:03 AM
Find a copy of Weingard's "Pyrotechnics" or Tenny's "Chemistry of Powders and Explosives." The former for minor curiosity and the latter for major obsession.

I do have a copy of Tenny's Chemistry of Powders and Explosives. Another reason why I will not attempt to make my own Black Powder. Does that make me obsessive?

Busyhands94
December 7, 2013, 11:08 AM
I made some blackpowder a few months back, and tested it the day before yesterday. I loaded up some .32 S&W Longs with a little under a case full of that stuff and a 90 grain LRN, that load punched through a 2X4, I would say that's a good result! :D

Officers'Wife
December 7, 2013, 08:11 PM
I do have a copy of Tenny's Chemistry of Powders and Explosives. Another reason why I will not attempt to make my own Black Powder. Does that make me obsessive?

Not at all, some have a higher level of acceptable risk than others. Some have differing views of what is a risk. As I mentioned before, the only time I have made powder I was under the supervision of a person with a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience in both manufacture and use. While it was not unheard of for him to manufacture black powder, NC, nitrostarch and PETN, he refused to even consider the possibility of thinking about making fulminate of mercury or NG.

The man that taught him explosives handling used to make NG on site at a coal mines. It's not obsessive, chicken or cowardice... it's risk assessment. You find the risk too far above the reward. More power to you. Just remember the hardest duty of freedom is the necessity of allowing others to do things that you don't particularly approve of.

Officers'Wife
December 7, 2013, 08:13 PM
-I have PDF downloads of these (and others) - there is still more to learn, though.
In that case you need to find the US Army training manual titled "Military Explosives." Followed by the title "Military Pyrotechnics."

Mike1234567
December 7, 2013, 09:33 PM
IMHO, I think this is a valuable skill to learn. I personally wouldn't make a long-term habit of it but I would like to know how. I don't even own a BP firearm but hope to get both a rifle and handgun soon. One never knows when factory cartridges will become extremely difficult to find and/or very much unaffordable.

Pete D.
December 8, 2013, 08:55 AM
IMHO, I think this is a valuable skill to learn. I personally wouldn't make a long-term habit of it but I would like to know how. I don't even own a BP firearm but hope to get both a rifle and handgun soon. One never knows when factory cartridges will become extremely difficult to find and/or very much unaffordable.
Yes. +1.
That is why I tried it. Got the ingredients (made my own charcoal), got a ball mill and a loong extension cord. Ended up with a half pound of BP. It works but not as well as Goex or Swiss.
Should I ever have a real need, I know what to do and have the tools. Not now, though.
Pete

Ken41
December 8, 2013, 10:50 AM
A good source for material and instructions is:
http://www.skylighter.com/

4v50 Gary
December 8, 2013, 10:58 AM
UplandRifles - I don't have any images of those newspapers.

Mike1234567
December 8, 2013, 03:16 PM
...not to mention that separate components are far safer to store than any type of gun powder.

Officers'Wife
December 8, 2013, 05:38 PM
IMHO, I think this is a valuable skill to learn. I personally wouldn't make a long-term habit of it but I would like to know how. I don't even own a BP firearm but hope to get both a rifle and handgun soon. One never knows when factory cartridges will become extremely difficult to find and/or very much unaffordable.
While making powder would be useful, knowing how to make your own dependable percussion caps would be the lifesaver.

Mike1234567
December 8, 2013, 06:09 PM
Oh yeah... that too!! :D I meant being able to DIY the whole thing. See? I don't know squat... at least can't remember squat. :(

Officers'Wife
December 8, 2013, 09:04 PM
Oh yeah... that too!! :D I meant being able to DIY the whole thing. See? I don't know squat... at least can't remember squat. :(
Just remember that caps require a primary explosive. Primary explosives are notoriously unstable. Add to it, the great white father in Washington is just barely tolerant of people making black powder in small quantities. He gets absolutely annoyed when you start making the real stuff.

(Note- cut the tips off "strike anywhere" matches and put them in a home formed cap of thick metal foil. You have to use a nipple pick after every shot but they do work. A chlorate based salt, sulfur and powdered aluminum in brass foil will also work but far more dangerous to manufacture.)

ofitg
December 8, 2013, 10:59 PM
While making powder would be useful, knowing how to make your own dependable percussion caps would be the lifesaver.

Tenney Davis's book, Chemistry of Powder & Explosives, contains a good recipe - potassium chlorate, sulfur, antimony sulfide, shellac binder, and finely ground glass.
As he explains, adding a dab of antacid (eg, 1 or 2% sodium bicarbonate) will greatly improve shelf life.

davepool
December 8, 2013, 11:14 PM
While making powder would be useful, knowing how to make your own dependable percussion caps would be the lifesaver.
Which a good reason for black powder shooters to own at least one flintlock :)

elhombreconnonombre
December 9, 2013, 04:10 AM
You can use spent small pistol primers to make your own percussion caps. Pop out the anvil, hammer the firing pin dent out with a small punch. Use another diameter punch to open up the inside diameter of the primer cup so that it will fit over the nipple cone, use a 1/8" paper punch to cut out German toy roll caps, insert 2 or 3 caps, into the primer cap, and enjoy. Remember there is potassium perchlorate in these toy caps (in Pyrodex too), so clean after your time at the range.

ofitg
December 9, 2013, 02:06 PM
...a home formed cap of thick metal foil

I tried something similar - first I wrapped aluminum foil around the butt end of a 5/32" drill bit -

http://i949.photobucket.com/albums/ad336/crawdads/primcap001r2_zpsb6fc0215.jpg (http://s949.photobucket.com/user/crawdads/media/primcap001r2_zpsb6fc0215.jpg.html)

Next, I "painted" the outside of the foil with epoxy...... I waited a few hours for the epoxy to harden, and then I cut/trimmed the hull to the proper length -

http://i949.photobucket.com/albums/ad336/crawdads/primcap006r2_zps76dd42a0.jpg (http://s949.photobucket.com/user/crawdads/media/primcap006r2_zps76dd42a0.jpg.html)

Not as convenient as a Tap-O-Cap, but this would do if needed.

theotherwaldo
December 9, 2013, 03:16 PM
I've experimented with a Lee press, modified shell holders, and rods held in de-capper dies to make the metal shells for caps. Looks like it should work OK.

Officers'Wife
December 9, 2013, 04:19 PM
Another way is simply to drill a hole in a steel plate then find a flat punch the right diameter and a second plate with a metal stud to fill the hole in the plate two a quarter inch. Put a small square of foil over the hole in the plate, push gently with the punch until you meet the stud. Trim the foil even with the top plate. Lift the top plate off the bottom and push the cap on through. Remove the "cap" of foil from the punch and repeat as many times as necessary.

Although this requires more prep time and initial costs to build the forming die you can "mass produce" the caps and with a bit of turning use thicker foils.

Or use Waldo's methods. Hmmm, may have to "borrow" my brother's reloading press now.

ofitg
December 9, 2013, 05:35 PM
Lots of great ideas floating around here! Waldo & OW, can you post photos, showing the methods you describe?

tpelle
December 9, 2013, 07:38 PM
Too bad that the Tap-O-Cap still isn't being made.

You can cast balls from recovered lead. You can make your own powder. But those percussion caps are the fly in the ointment.

Mike1234567
December 9, 2013, 07:53 PM
Too bad that the Tap-O-Cap still isn't being made.

You can cast balls from recovered lead. You can make your own powder. But those percussion caps are the fly in the ointment.

You mean THIS (http://www.midwayusa.com/product/842064/forster-tap-o-cap-11-percusion-cap-maker) ? Yeah, looks like a handy doo-hickey.

theotherwaldo
December 9, 2013, 08:08 PM
I took that rig apart many years ago. It was only intended to try out the techniques of drawing out the cups used to hold priming materials for percussion caps to be used on a slightly modified Lyle line-throwing gun. The result of my test looked like an oversized musket cap, usually with a brim. The rod was a very loose fit through the priming hole of a Lee shell holder on one end and dressed down on the other end to fit in a Lee decapping die's collet. It was only a few thousandth's difference. The underside of the shell holder has enough relief that the new capcomes out easily. Sometimes too easily, as it tends to jam the channel that the spent cap would fall through in the press if you try to use the right (too small) diameter disc of sheet stock. Most of the parts have been lost or used for something else. It's a pretty simple design, though.
If you wanted to make #10 or #11 caps you would need a much smaller die hole and block.

ofitg
December 9, 2013, 08:30 PM
One of those Tap-O-Caps sold for $153 on Ebay last month.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Forster-Tap-O-Cap-/271319473662?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f2be69dfe#ht_954wt_948

There seems to be a significant demand for a cap-forming tool...... perhaps some entrepreneur will step forward with such a product.

Officers'Wife
December 10, 2013, 07:35 PM
It's standard tool and die process.

Officers'Wife
December 10, 2013, 07:38 PM
Hmmm, three OMB's on the place and a chance to make some money? Perhaps I should have a small chat with my brother. :evil:

ofitg
December 10, 2013, 08:33 PM
OW, please PM me if you get a prototype up & running. I might be your first customer.

RetiredUSNChief
December 10, 2013, 09:27 PM
I was wondering, how many of you guys make your own blackpowder? It seems like you could certainly save some money over buying it premade or is that a misconception? I'm curious how one would go around sorting the powder into correct size, or do you just load it up with a mix? I'm mostly shooting blackpowder these days so it's tempting from a cost savings standpoint, but also makes me nervous as it seems like the kind of thing that could go really wrong if you make a mistake.

According to all of my older brothers, I did once when I was about 5 years old. (Brothers would have been 13, 18, and 20 years old at the time.)

Also, according to my brothers, I blew up the trash barrel where we burned trash with a Coke can full of it. Split the barrel at the seam and blew ashes 50 feet into the air. Probably wouldn't be here today had I been standing next to the seam when it blew.

None of which I have any memory of, which also according to my brothers is understandable as they claim they wouldn't remember anything either had Dad beat them like he beat me for that...

:neener:


I imagine, having made various explody things over the years while growing up, that the issue with making gunpowder for rifle use would be a matter of consistency as well as safety and process. Making gunpowder isn't difficult...but there are a lot of factors to consider in making it consistently, safely, and of consistent "grainage". I wouldn't have any problem making it for general explody use, but for something that's supposed to give a consistent, reliable burn rate for use in a rifle? Nah, too much trouble for me when I could buy it much cheaper, comparatively.

elhombreconnonombre
December 12, 2013, 01:16 AM
Dang it...missed that tap o cap on eBay. I've been checking on gunbroker for awhile not on eBay. Oh well I've still got my used small pistol primer idea: load em up with a couple of roll caps or put a bit of diy Armstrong's mixture in 'em. Plus the pistol primers are sturdy enough to reload several times and no cap fragments like with new percussion caps.

RetiredUSNChief
December 12, 2013, 01:48 AM
Dang it...missed that tap o cap on eBay. I've been checking on gunbroker for awhile not on eBay. Oh well I've still got my used small pistol primer idea: load em up with a couple of roll caps or put a bit of diy Armstrong's mixture in 'em. Plus the pistol primers are sturdy enough to reload several times and no cap fragments like with new percussion caps.

How's about this at MidwayUSA?

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/842064/forster-tap-o-cap-11-percusion-cap-maker

Only 29 clams and some aluminum cans ought to see you in business, according to this.

;)


EDIT:

After looking at the picture again and thinking about how that must work, it shouldn't be too difficult to make one if they were unavailable.

EDIT, PART 2:

Never mind...I missed the part on the site that said "discontinued". Sorry.

RetiredUSNChief
December 12, 2013, 01:57 AM
Maybe those plastic caps for cap guns would work? I don't know what size they need to be, but might be worth checking out.

RetiredUSNChief
December 12, 2013, 02:02 AM
And here's someone's sketches and measurements from an existing one that could be used to make one of your own, with a few resources:

http://www.thefirearmsforum.com/showthread.php?t=82768

elhombreconnonombre
December 12, 2013, 03:26 AM
Yeah midway really needs to cleanup their website of orphan products. Forrester stopped making those aways back. Just goes to show you: almost everything is collectable to someone...from $29 to $153. Go figure
Btw, I found some of those plastic cap gun caps that said on the label they had 20gr (yes 20 grains) of perchlorate and red phosphorous sand. It will throw a cast plastic .451 gluelitt out of Walker and punch a hole in a cardboard box on its own. That's pretty stout compared to the typical ring plastic caps of .04 gr and roll caps of .02 gr per cap, which don't do a thing without a bp charge in the cylinder.

Anybody know what the typical load is for a percussion cap and small pistol primer. The reloading guy at my local gun shop thinks its 1grain of lead styphanate.

Pete D.
December 12, 2013, 07:52 AM
I have a Tap-o-Cap tool that I bought some years ago....and a few thousand European roll caps - hotter than domestic caps......it works but I don't use it since I solved the percussion cap issue the old fashioned way.....I shoot flintlocks nowadays.
Pete

elhombreconnonombre
December 12, 2013, 08:36 AM
Pete D
Would you consider selling your Tap o cap?

brushhippie
December 12, 2013, 09:25 AM
I'm late in the conversation but my homemade is faster than swiss. I got over a thousand feet per second with 15 grains from my 36 remmy...but you will have people cryin about how dangerous everything is....or they don't believe this or that...don't let people scare you I've been doing it for goin on two years without incident. Now the tap o cap friction type powder is waaaay most difficult and much more dangerous but still possible.

ofitg
December 12, 2013, 10:43 AM
Brushhippie, welcome to the thread!

Anybody know what the typical load is for a percussion cap and small pistol primer. The reloading guy at my local gun shop thinks its 1grain of lead styphanate

ElHombre, I'm fairly certain that lead styphnate is the standard ingredient nowadays, but 1 grain sounds pretty stout.... maybe that's the charge for a rifle primer?

As best as I can measure it, I load 0.5 grains of the KCLO3-based mix into each cap..... incidentally, I've been informed that the recipe from Davis's book is the same compound that the U.S. Army used for priming .30-40 Krag cartridges.

elhombreconnonombre
December 12, 2013, 02:19 PM
They were there last week, but they are not now?????
I even stopped at customer service to inquire and they seemed puzzled???
Oh well, I did grab some primers for my tubing adapter idea and some toy ring caps made in Italy to play with.

AethelstanAegen
December 12, 2013, 03:24 PM
I'm late in the conversation but my homemade is faster than swiss. I got over a thousand feet per second with 15 grains from my 36 remmy...but you will have people cryin about how dangerous everything is....or they don't believe this or that...don't let people scare you I've been doing it for goin on two years without incident. Now the tap o cap friction type powder is waaaay most difficult and much more dangerous but still possible.

After someone recommended your youtube video, I checked out your channel and I'm now a subscriber. Fun stuff you have on there! I may just end up giving this homemade BP a try at some point, until then I think I'm going to have to start buying BP by the barrel.

brushhippie
December 12, 2013, 05:53 PM
Thanks Im glad you enjoy it! I have fun doin it!

RetiredUSNChief
December 12, 2013, 06:33 PM
I just ran across something neat...a guy who uses an old timey Mattel Vac-U-Form toy and a homemade mould to make plastic percussion caps using milk cartons. Here's the link:

http://gunslingersgulch.com/index.php?topic=118.0

I did a little googling on this and you can find the Vac-U-Form toy online, like ebay and whatnot. Pricy, but hey...maybe a little searching will pay off.

Also, this sparked the creative streak in me and it seems that you should be able to make your own vacuum moulding setup from scratch pretty easily, using some simple materials and skills.

Make a vaccum box of convenient size out of scrap wood and install a vaccum hose attachment to it which can be connected to any convenient vacuum cleaner...preferably a shopvac, because those buggers can really suck. And Mamma would probably object to using her vaccum anyway.

Then make a heated hood to go over the top of the vaccum box to uniformly heat the plastic that you lay across the vacuum mould you made for your caps. I figure a really easy way of doing this on a small scale would be to use an electric skillet, positioned upside down over the vacuum box with a small gap to allow air to be drawn through while the vacuum is running.

Just make your vacuum table sized to fit the skillet heater hood.

Then either don't tell Mamma what you're doing with her electric skillet, or buy one of your own just for this project.

:)

Officers'Wife
December 12, 2013, 07:21 PM
I used to have a Lindsey book about vacuum forming plastic. Give me a couple days to see if I can find it.

Added thought... Since the idea is to simply heat the plastic to semi-fluid, the "burner" from an old electric stove should work. If the plastic is on a hinged frame and once fluid simply flipped over to the other side... a piece of broomstick with a rubber washer attached inserted into a length of PVC pipe and a simple valve system should produce more than enough vacuum. Especially if the PVC pipe were mounted to a frame and the broomstick attached to a foot operated level system with a 2 or 3 to one length of travel.

The trick would be in regulating the burner so it heated the plastic to just fluid and not to the melting point. But then you can get computer "thermostats" for a just a few dollars and connect them to a high amperage relay. Or just watch for the "droop" of the plastic....

Hmm, I wonder if copper azide would be a "hot" enough spark for BP?
Oh no! I've inherited my uncle's OMB gene!

ofitg
December 13, 2013, 11:22 AM
Oh well I've still got my used small pistol primer idea: load em up with a couple of roll caps or put a bit of diy Armstrong's mixture in 'em. Plus the pistol primers are sturdy enough to reload several times and no cap fragments like with new percussion caps

ElHombre, if you're hammering out the firing pin indentation in a spent primer and brewing your own primer compound, you're only one step away from reloading that primer to use in a metallic cartridge - just reinstall the anvil.
If you've got good eyesight and steady hands (better than mine, at least), it might be worth a try.

There's an informative thread on this topic over at the Castboolits forum, including a variety of different chemical recipes from an old wizard named Perotter -

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?182089-can-you-make-priming-compound

elhombreconnonombre
December 13, 2013, 04:51 PM
I don't have any cartridge pistols, only c&b, but thanks for the reference to the castboolit site.

elhombreconnonombre
December 14, 2013, 10:11 PM
I went down to the Austin history center today to track down some info on who made percussion caps, powder, and cartridges locally during the ACW. I learned that there was a percussion cap and cartridge factory located in the old supreme court building that was located behind the old state capital at that time.The mechanical cap making machine could produce 250 caps per hour. The paper cartridge machine produced 5000 rounds per day in which the charge was loaded manually. NW of Austin on Cypress Creek, a gentleman named Anderson built a water-powered gunpowder mill, making powder by extracting saltpeter from bat guno deposits from the numerous caves in the area, sulfur, and from charcoal from the cedars common to the hillcountry. A replica of the mill later converted to a grain mill exists, but not on the same site.
Next week I will head down to the state archives to see if those old percussion cap and cartridge making machines are stashed somewhere in a museum so I can grab some pics.

TheRodDoc
December 15, 2013, 03:31 AM
They must have had an old or very small cap machine or still loaded them by hand.

One average machine around 1863 or 64 was producing about 31,000 caps every 10 hours, including all necessary stoppages. The machine punched, formed and loaded and packed the powder in the copper. They were loaded with 1/2 a grain of fulminate of mercury.
Each sheet of copper 48 inches long and 14 wide could produce 2314 caps.
That sheet weighing 3 pounds 2 ounces more or less. 1,000,000 caps took 1300 pounds of sheet copper, of which about 1/3 was returned in scraps.



And One worker could count and varnish 7000 of the produced caps from that machine in an hour.

elhombreconnonombre
December 15, 2013, 10:14 AM
Oops...I was off by 10x. It was 250 caps/min or 1,500 per hour. Have you ever seen one
of these old machines. If so how big was it physically?

elhombreconnonombre
December 15, 2013, 05:54 PM
Oops again...make that 15,000 caps per hr...govt schooling ya know ;-)

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