Lathe Questions

Lathe Questions

Derek
Derek

October 8th, 2011, 3:42 am #1

Howdy. Today I got the bright idea to make some decorative bullets (solid single piece lathed from bar stock) for a guitar strap or similar novelty for my band.

I have access to a couple lathes and plenty of bar stock in aluminum (black and white, possibly polycarbonate?), aluminum (a lightweight, high reflectivity variant which seems a fairly pure alloy), and brass.

I have no particularly specialized tools, and no lathe experience, so my plan thus far has consisted of making a blade with which to cut the shape. The formed blade would be half of the bullet's profile (I'm using a .223 from an AR-15, BTW), and would be made of Unobtanium.

So my questions are A)... which material should I use? I understand that brass may be difficult to work with, and is susceptible to corrosion and oxidization. I also know that plastic may just be flat out unattractive, but comes in MUCH higher quantities than my other materials. I gravitate toward the aluminum, but hesitate to choose it outright until I have enough knowledge to be dangerous. And B)... How might I implement my blade? I'm thinking a metal-harder-than-material-cut-into-form kind of deal, but I'm just not sure which metal.

I don't want to do it by hand, because I would have a hundred different bullets. Thanks in advance for any help,
-Derek
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Doc Nickel
Doc Nickel

October 8th, 2011, 6:54 am #2



Seriously, you need just a weeeeee but more experience before you leap right in to making form tools.

First off, what you're after is called a form tool. They do work, and have uses in production, but the wider the cut (the longer the piece) the more rigid your setup needs to be and the more HP it'll take to make the cut. You'd have trouble doing something the size of a .22 LR on a minilathe, and something as long as a .223 would tax my Sheldon.

Second, for anything stronger than plastic, the form tool has to be ground out of tool steel. This is a major trick in and of itself, as the general form will not be easy to grind by hand, AND, as you grind it, you'll need to pay attention to keeping the cutting edge sharp, with appropriate rakes and reliefs.

I've made a few over the years, and half the time, I can't get them right.

Third, that small an object- long and thin, with a small OD- is a poor choice for a form tool. It can be done, but unless your tool is sharp and properly formed (and the lathe is tight and rigid) you'll fight chatter and the tool digging in.

You would be much better off trying to find already-made pieces, like from a prop store or model makers supplier. Or, optionally, make yourself a mold and cast yourself some copies. That's fairly easy, can be done on a kitchen table, and there's hundreds of online tutorials to show you the way.

The lathe thing can work, but you need some proper training and experience first. The molds won't slice your fingers off.

Doc.
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Irregular logic
Irregular logic

October 8th, 2011, 7:27 am #3

Howdy. Today I got the bright idea to make some decorative bullets (solid single piece lathed from bar stock) for a guitar strap or similar novelty for my band.

I have access to a couple lathes and plenty of bar stock in aluminum (black and white, possibly polycarbonate?), aluminum (a lightweight, high reflectivity variant which seems a fairly pure alloy), and brass.

I have no particularly specialized tools, and no lathe experience, so my plan thus far has consisted of making a blade with which to cut the shape. The formed blade would be half of the bullet's profile (I'm using a .223 from an AR-15, BTW), and would be made of Unobtanium.

So my questions are A)... which material should I use? I understand that brass may be difficult to work with, and is susceptible to corrosion and oxidization. I also know that plastic may just be flat out unattractive, but comes in MUCH higher quantities than my other materials. I gravitate toward the aluminum, but hesitate to choose it outright until I have enough knowledge to be dangerous. And B)... How might I implement my blade? I'm thinking a metal-harder-than-material-cut-into-form kind of deal, but I'm just not sure which metal.

I don't want to do it by hand, because I would have a hundred different bullets. Thanks in advance for any help,
-Derek
That's what I get when you mention guitar straps. If that's the case, then you might be better off going to the gun range and find someone who reloads cartridges. Get them to press some bullets into some empty shells.

You could do it yourself if you get a reloading press, the proper dies, and fullmetal jacket bullets. For cases, some ranges might just tell you to help yourself to the brass scrap pile, just ask around.

The "deactivated" cartridges would be a little lighter than something made out of solid brass anyway. I would suggest a larger caliber (like 308) so it would show up better.
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Eric
Eric

October 8th, 2011, 7:45 am #4

Howdy. Today I got the bright idea to make some decorative bullets (solid single piece lathed from bar stock) for a guitar strap or similar novelty for my band.

I have access to a couple lathes and plenty of bar stock in aluminum (black and white, possibly polycarbonate?), aluminum (a lightweight, high reflectivity variant which seems a fairly pure alloy), and brass.

I have no particularly specialized tools, and no lathe experience, so my plan thus far has consisted of making a blade with which to cut the shape. The formed blade would be half of the bullet's profile (I'm using a .223 from an AR-15, BTW), and would be made of Unobtanium.

So my questions are A)... which material should I use? I understand that brass may be difficult to work with, and is susceptible to corrosion and oxidization. I also know that plastic may just be flat out unattractive, but comes in MUCH higher quantities than my other materials. I gravitate toward the aluminum, but hesitate to choose it outright until I have enough knowledge to be dangerous. And B)... How might I implement my blade? I'm thinking a metal-harder-than-material-cut-into-form kind of deal, but I'm just not sure which metal.

I don't want to do it by hand, because I would have a hundred different bullets. Thanks in advance for any help,
-Derek
If it is a non use item (aka something that just sits there and doesnt get banged around) you can get a two part mold and make a bucketfull for the price of some cheap resin or poly mix. Add paint and voila...bullets.

If not it is definently easier to get some brass and tips to build your own non-firing bullets (+1 to Irregular Logic for his suggestion). Just be careful to not handle them around loaded ammo...kinda suck to start drilling on a live round.

A couple of re-loading companies sell non-firing rounds at about the same price as live...I would go in that direction myself.
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Derek
Derek

October 8th, 2011, 2:06 pm #5



Seriously, you need just a weeeeee but more experience before you leap right in to making form tools.

First off, what you're after is called a form tool. They do work, and have uses in production, but the wider the cut (the longer the piece) the more rigid your setup needs to be and the more HP it'll take to make the cut. You'd have trouble doing something the size of a .22 LR on a minilathe, and something as long as a .223 would tax my Sheldon.

Second, for anything stronger than plastic, the form tool has to be ground out of tool steel. This is a major trick in and of itself, as the general form will not be easy to grind by hand, AND, as you grind it, you'll need to pay attention to keeping the cutting edge sharp, with appropriate rakes and reliefs.

I've made a few over the years, and half the time, I can't get them right.

Third, that small an object- long and thin, with a small OD- is a poor choice for a form tool. It can be done, but unless your tool is sharp and properly formed (and the lathe is tight and rigid) you'll fight chatter and the tool digging in.

You would be much better off trying to find already-made pieces, like from a prop store or model makers supplier. Or, optionally, make yourself a mold and cast yourself some copies. That's fairly easy, can be done on a kitchen table, and there's hundreds of online tutorials to show you the way.

The lathe thing can work, but you need some proper training and experience first. The molds won't slice your fingers off.

Doc.
Before I go putting my foot in my mouth any more (or worse...), I'll go find some other options. I think the reason I really wanted to do it was because it was easy to make a profile for the from tool on Autodesk Inventor. Of course, I don't have the know-how to make it tangible. So no bright aluminum for me. Thanks for the warning'
-Derek
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bubbachomp
bubbachomp

October 8th, 2011, 2:45 pm #6

Howdy. Today I got the bright idea to make some decorative bullets (solid single piece lathed from bar stock) for a guitar strap or similar novelty for my band.

I have access to a couple lathes and plenty of bar stock in aluminum (black and white, possibly polycarbonate?), aluminum (a lightweight, high reflectivity variant which seems a fairly pure alloy), and brass.

I have no particularly specialized tools, and no lathe experience, so my plan thus far has consisted of making a blade with which to cut the shape. The formed blade would be half of the bullet's profile (I'm using a .223 from an AR-15, BTW), and would be made of Unobtanium.

So my questions are A)... which material should I use? I understand that brass may be difficult to work with, and is susceptible to corrosion and oxidization. I also know that plastic may just be flat out unattractive, but comes in MUCH higher quantities than my other materials. I gravitate toward the aluminum, but hesitate to choose it outright until I have enough knowledge to be dangerous. And B)... How might I implement my blade? I'm thinking a metal-harder-than-material-cut-into-form kind of deal, but I'm just not sure which metal.

I don't want to do it by hand, because I would have a hundred different bullets. Thanks in advance for any help,
-Derek
http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/BrowseC ... 52***19785***

For the same amount of money as making the tooling, you could probably buy a bag of 100 actual projectiles from a reloading site. Midway USA is a good source for such things. You could drill and tap the bases of the bullets and use a small machine screw to attach it to your slings or whatnot.
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Madcat
Madcat

October 8th, 2011, 7:49 pm #7

Howdy. Today I got the bright idea to make some decorative bullets (solid single piece lathed from bar stock) for a guitar strap or similar novelty for my band.

I have access to a couple lathes and plenty of bar stock in aluminum (black and white, possibly polycarbonate?), aluminum (a lightweight, high reflectivity variant which seems a fairly pure alloy), and brass.

I have no particularly specialized tools, and no lathe experience, so my plan thus far has consisted of making a blade with which to cut the shape. The formed blade would be half of the bullet's profile (I'm using a .223 from an AR-15, BTW), and would be made of Unobtanium.

So my questions are A)... which material should I use? I understand that brass may be difficult to work with, and is susceptible to corrosion and oxidization. I also know that plastic may just be flat out unattractive, but comes in MUCH higher quantities than my other materials. I gravitate toward the aluminum, but hesitate to choose it outright until I have enough knowledge to be dangerous. And B)... How might I implement my blade? I'm thinking a metal-harder-than-material-cut-into-form kind of deal, but I'm just not sure which metal.

I don't want to do it by hand, because I would have a hundred different bullets. Thanks in advance for any help,
-Derek
I am sure I have seen in some Army surplus shops actual lengths of ammo links ( deactivated rounds of course) I have seen them in 5.56mm, 7.62mm, 12.7mm, .50cal and even on rare occasions 20mm and 30mm, I did on occasion managed to get a few short length of link from a 30mm Aden cannon, made a nice talking piece when people came round :P.
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J. Cook
J. Cook

October 9th, 2011, 5:35 pm #8

If it is a non use item (aka something that just sits there and doesnt get banged around) you can get a two part mold and make a bucketfull for the price of some cheap resin or poly mix. Add paint and voila...bullets.

If not it is definently easier to get some brass and tips to build your own non-firing bullets (+1 to Irregular Logic for his suggestion). Just be careful to not handle them around loaded ammo...kinda suck to start drilling on a live round.

A couple of re-loading companies sell non-firing rounds at about the same price as live...I would go in that direction myself.
non-firing rounds are also known as "dry fire" rounds or snap-caps. The three types I've run across are a clear red plastic (rimfire rounds), a clear red plastic body with a brass base, or a dull anodized maroon aluminum with a plastic insert where the primer goes. They are typically used for dry fire practice, or to perform function checks on firearms that do not take well to being dry fired. Here's a sample of what I've been using:


for decorative purposes, you'd probably be better off using plastic and using a mold, primarily for weight and other considerations.
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Bruce Bergman
Bruce Bergman

October 10th, 2011, 6:59 am #9

If it's to decorate a bandolier or guitar strap, the red plastic ones won't work.

You need to have someone take real bullets and real shell cases and make you up some Inert Rounds.

Which you'll have to explain to every cop you run across. All they see is Real Bullets, and you'll have to show them the empty primer pockets with a little slug of Silicone Seal filling the hole...

That, or search jewelry supply houses - I'm sure someone mass produces them. While they won't stand up to close-up scrutiny because they're totally fake, they'll be fine on a stage viewed from 20+ feet away.
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Derek
Derek

October 10th, 2011, 12:19 pm #10

It just needs to look real enough for the situations when we're NOT on stage, i.e. interviews, photos, and videos.
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