Monthly Archives: September 2013

Trying Again – Core Shaker

This one is a bit of a challenge… After learning more about how to control some of the variables, I’m trying again. All it needs to do is stick to the plate & not warp!


Update:  Unfortunately, after approximately 6 hours of printing, I came to the realization that this print was doomed.  Although not as severe as before, two of the corners started to lift & warp.  Because of the tolerances required of this part, this would impair its function.

Back to the drawing board – the next approach will be to design this part in separate pieces, which I’ll glue together after they’re printed.  So, the entire assembly will require 9 pieces – 4 for each section of the two trays and 1 for the case that will hold the two trays.


Another Problem Solved!

Again, a simple design to solve a basic problem.  I have dies that I use often enough that I want them handy, but I’d rather not dig through a bunch of boxes.  I don’t use these on a progressive press, so they don’t sit in a shell plate.  So, I made up a die holder:


Handy for either the top of the bench / desk, or in a drawer.  Problem solved!




A Pencil Cup…

After a week of travel, I came home to a new shipment of plastic, including a roll of lime green ABS.  Lime green just so happens to be my wife’s favorite color, so the next thing out of the printer was a pencil cup for her desk.  She’ll wake up to see it this morning.  I think she’s having some trouble seeing the practical application for this printer, so perhaps this will help :).

Pencil cup; downloaded from Thingiverse & printed in green

Pencil cup; downloaded from Thingiverse & printed in green

This was treated in acetone vapor for the shiny, faux injection molded look.


Busy Week!

My world includes a full-time career that has its own demands for my time.  Notably, it pays the bills :).  This week, I have limited time and access to my tools…  so take this opportunity to read some of the material I’ve updated in the ‘Swaging‘ section of ‘Making Your Own Bullets‘.

I’ve added quite a bit of content to the ‘Swaging Equipment‘, ‘Cleaning Brass for Jackets‘ and ‘Annealing Jackets‘ subsections.  In these sections, I’m laying out the choices I’ve made as a new bullet swager, and I’m starting to detail the processes I’m using.  If swaging interests you, this is a great starting point to begin understanding what you’d need to do to create your own projectiles.



Swaging Catch Tray – Done!

Another milestone today.  Overnight, my ‘catch tray’ finished printing.  In the thread over at Castboolits, a member that I’d already printed & boxed up an RCBS decap tray for expressed interest in my design.  So, since I’m still cautiously jumping into this, he is my first official beta tester.

For those not familiar with swaging bullets, here’s a video showing cores being swaged to weight.  They’re falling out into my new catch tray.

The lead cores you see were originally stick-on wheel weights (almost pure lead).  They were melted and cast into rough cores using a purpose-built mold.  These cores are what’s inside the jacket of a bullet.  The rough cores are swaged to a specific weight (the weight of the cores + the weight of the jacket = the finished weight of the bullet).  Consistency in weight is very important – these will become 55 grain FMJ bullets when they’re done.

When the cores are swaged, they are compressed under tremendous pressure, forcing the extra lead out through a hole in the side of the die (and into the small cup at the top of the press in the video).  Then, when the handle of the press is lowered, the core is ejected and it drops into the catch tray.


Downloading From Thingiverse

One of the amazing things about this technology is that designs are made available for public use, and they can be downloaded & printed.  When I was describing my printing of swaging accessories on the Castboolits forum, a user chimed in about wanting an improved part for his RCBS press.  The primer catcher / decap tray that comes with RCBS single stage presses is notorious for allowing primers to escape (and fall on the floor / roll out of sight). I agreed to check into it and see what I could come up with.

Before going off and designing a new part (which for this, would probably take me a considerable amount of time), I checked on  Low & behold, another Thingiverse member had designed and uploaded exactly this part!  He has a left hand and right hand variant, which is a fantastic mod that users will appreciate.  How cool is that?!?


I reached out to the designer of the part (lcecil) and we’ve exchanged several e-mails.  He’s a reloader & 3D printer with lots of wisdom that I’ll put to use.  This morning, I downloaded the part, prepared it for printing (“sliced it”) and assuming another project finishes up in time, this will print while I’m at work today.

Our conversation led into the use of others’ designs and selling them.  He licensed this part under the Creative Commons – Attribution License, which can be used and even sold in small quantities by others.

So…  actually selling this stuff is something to consider.  Clearly, I’ve got my eye on that and I’m working through all of the different implications before I make a final decision.  Stay tuned.


Second Swaging Accessory

I’m focusing first on swaging accessories; the second piece in my “set” of items I want to design and print finished up overnight.  This is a ‘derim cup’.

Derim Cup Assembly

Derim Cup Assembly

A derim die takes a piece of empty .22LR brass, and pushes it through the die to flatten out the lip.  That creates the jacket for a .224 (for .223 / 5.56) bullet.

The derim cup catches the jackets after they’ve passed through the die.  This is a problem that can be solved many ways – using an empty soda bottle or hose, for example.  But why do that when I can print one, and it matches my press?

The whole assembly comes off the die easily and separates at the base so the cup can be emptied.  This one is sized to contain my typical batch of jackets that will go on together for further processing.


Day 1 – The Outcome

Ta da!  When I left for work in the morning, my newest creation was printing.  When I came back, it was done – it’s a “bleed tray”.  When swaging lead cores, they’re pushed through the die and the excess lead bleeds off through a hole in the side of the die.  Unfortunately, it drops to the floor.

This simple bleed tray solves my problem.  It’s not revolutionary, but it represents a huge breakthrough in how technology is accessible for us to solve problems.  More to come!

Bleed tray that catches extruded lead from a core swage die.