Draw Dies

Draw Dies

  In the bullet making section I mentioned that I had problems with cut cores that wouldn’t fit into the core swage die after cutting. In my case I had purchased lead wire from a source that does not specialize in bullet making wire therefore what I received was nothing more than pure lead in a full ¼ inch diameter. I acquired the address from the same person I purchased the dies from and according to him he had no problem with the wire but also told me that I may have to make some draw dies to make it work. Ok, now I have 50# of this stuff so being on a budget I decided to work with it, enter the drawing process, nothing really new to me for we used this process at work but on a much larger scale.

To form a draw die is quite simple and inexpensive, I used a piece of 1 ½ x ¼ inch cold roll that I had lying around. I first decided what size hole I wanted to end up with then drilled a hole slightly smaller through it, countersink a 45 degree on one side to about 1/3 the thickness of the stock for a lead. After that the polishing begins, I used a Dremal tool with a grinding stone and worked the 45 into a smooth funnel shape eliminating the sharp edge where the 45 meets the hole. At this point I used a felt bob wrapped with some fine emery cloth and polished the grinding marks out changing the grit as needed. The final process was using lapping compound to polish to a mirror finish. Now this may seem crude and by industry standards it wouldn’t make it to first base but all we are after is reducing the diameter so it fits a swage die. There are something’s that you should pay close attention to and I will explain that later. The picture below is of the dies I have made for different applications.

Various Draw Dies

First, this is my method, I suppose that it could be changed and should you decide to try drawing lead that will be your choice so these are my steps;

1st. I cut (on 30 cal. wire) 36 inch pieces, seems to be the easiest to work with.

2nd. I straighten the wire the same way as in the bullet making process by rolling the cut pieces on a flat surface.

3rd. This is probably a bit anal but I clean the blanks with mineral sprits.

4th.On one end I take a hammer and forge a taper so it goes thru the die, this is so you can grab it with a pair of pliers to pull it thru the die.

5th.As in bullet making I like the Dillon Case Lube for lubricating the wire before drawing, I use it liberally.

6th.Now with a lubed piece, put the tapered end thru the die, grab it with a pair of pliers and pull it thru.

Below is my Rube Goldberg set-up, the die is mounted in a bench vise and piece of plywood clamped to the vise as a table to hold the length of lead wire to be drawn so it lays flat and in align with the die.

Die mounted in Vise

My makeshift setup

At this point pay special attention to how fast you pull it, the stroke needs to be steady, not jerky and don’t stop and start. What happens is the wire changes in diameter when the stroke is not smooth and even, this will be detrimental when it comes to the swaging stage for the swaged cores will not be consistent. It takes some practice to achieve consistent diameters from one stick to the next; I monitor the process with a dial caliper.

Ok, lets say that your process didn’t work very well, the blanks are all over the map, not all is lost and don’t toss that lead in the scrap, it can be salvaged with a little more work. As this has happened to me thru 50# of lead, it took a while to get things to work right and all my mistakes were saved by double swaging my cores to get consistent weight, not the most productive method but better than scraping the lead. Since muddling thru this problem I have since ordered wire in smaller diameters with a percentage of antimony added, I believe that the swaged cores come out with a more consistent weight.

I am putting this out here for those that have had problems in the past and for those that have no idea that this can be done or how to do it. As with my entire site what I am trying to convey is another approach to a problem or situation to accomplish a task, another way out to avoid expense or loss. It is my sincere hope that you read this and find some useful information within.

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