|February 6, 2005, 08:01 PM||#1|
Join Date: October 1, 2004
Location: Remote Utah desert
Found! Proper Felt to Make Wads!
In a firearms site a few months ago, a member posted Durofelt as a good source for felt for making your own wads for cap and ball sixguns, cartridge guns and related uses.
I can vouch for Durofelt’s excellence. Not only is it perfect, when the right felt is ordered from this Little Rock, Arkansas company but the price is right.
I visited my brother in Little Rock during Christmas of 2004, so I made arrangements to visit DuroFelt. I have no affiliation with Duro-Felt
Asha Sahita runs it out of her Little Rock home but it’s no fly-by-night business. She’s been selling felt products since 1996.
Ms. Sahita, who is of Indian ancestry, said that a relative in India had a very successful felt-making business in India. When he died, the family discussed selling the business but a family member stepped forward and said he’d like to try running it.
The family business continues to be successful in India but the business wanted to expand to other countries, including the U.S. He contacted his relative, Ms. Sahita, who agreed to begin selling the family’s felt products in the U.S.
Until I met with Ms. Sahita, she said she hadn’t had much interest from the shooting community but I expect that will change when word gets out.
She offers a variety of felt products: buffing wheels for polishing (gunsmiths take note), gaskets, polishing bobs, knife edge wheels, felt blocks, piano and organ felt strips, cones and felt with an adhesive gum on one side for various uses.
I’ll stick with the topic at hand: sheet felt for making your own wads.
To view all Duro-Felt products, visit its website at www.durofelt.com. Duro-Felt’s address is: No. 6 White Aspen Court, Little Rock, AR, 72212-2032. Telephone: 501-225-2838. Fax: 501-219-9611. Email: DuroF1@aol.com
Shipping is FREE for retail orders from U.S. customers!
Now, on to the felt for wads.
I ordered a sheet of felt 54 X 36 inches, 1/8 inch thick, and of Hard density (Item FM1836H). The cost was $27.
The 1/8 inch is the right thickness for most black powder uses and the felt should be hard, to help scrape fouling from the bore.
Felt in other thicknesses and densities is offered: 1/16th, ¼, ½, ¾ and 1 inch. Some thicknesses may only be obtained in certain densities, such as soft, extra soft, medium or hard. If you don’t find what you want contact Duro-Felt and specify what you need.
ECONOMY OF MAKING YOUR OWN WADS
With a sheet of 1/8 inch hard felt, 54 X 36 inches, I could conceivably make 7,776 felt wads of .36, .44 and .45 caliber. That’s calculating four wads per square inch (two down and two across --- 4 X 54 X 36 = 7,776).
That’s a lifetime supply for $27 --- and plenty left over to sell to your buddies to recover your $27 if you wish.
If you purchase Wonder Wads, at about $6 per 100, for $27 you’ll get a little over 400 wads. To purchase 7,776 Wonder Wads, at $6 per hundred, you’d need $467 --- compared to under $50 for a sheet of felt and a wad punch.
Quite a price difference, eh?
A quick word on Wonder Wads, as made by Ox-Yoke, is in order.
Ox-Yoke claims that the dry lubricant on Wonder Wads is all that’s needed for black powder shooting. This claim is not borne by my experience.
If I use a
YOU NEED A WAD PUNCH
For .31 or .32 caliber, use a 5/16 inch or 7.5 or 8mm wad punch. For .36 caliber use a 3/8 inch or 9.5 or 10mm wad punch. For .44 or .45 caliber revolvers, or .45-caliber rifles, use a .45-caliber or 11mm or 11.25 to 11.5 mm wad punch. For .50 caliber, use a ½ inch or 12.5mm wad punch.
You’ll have to experiment with metric wad punches a bit. I’ve never used them, so I’m guesstimating the appropriate size. But felt wads are a little forgiving. If it’s oversized a little bit, a close-fitting wooden dowel with a flat end will usually get it started in the bore, chamber or cartridge case. In fact, a snug-fitting wad is good as it will make a more effective seal against the powder’s hot gases, protecting the bullet base or patched ball, and will scrape fouling better.
If you plan to make shotgun wads, or large-bore rifle wads, punches can sometimes be found in 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24 and 28 gauge. Search the internet auction houses for these items. I see the more common-gauge wad punches offered regularly on Ebay.
For 12 gauge shotgun, rifle and pistol calibers, see the Buffalo Arms website at http://www.buffaloarms.com.
Buffalo Arms of Ponderay, Idaho offers a variety of wad punches. The drill-press mounted kind is $20, in calibers .38, .40, .44, .45 and .50. The hammer-struck wad punch is $18 each, in .32, .38, .40, .43, .44, .45, .50 rifle calibers. 38-40, 44-40 and 45 pistol calibers. The reloading press-mounted wad punch is made in calibers .25 to 12 gauge and costs $52 to $75, depending on size. The press-mounted wad punch will shell out hundreds of wads in an hour, if that’s what you want.
MAKING WADS BY HAND
I use a 3/8 inch hand punch for my .36 caliber revolvers, a 7/16 punch for my .44-40, and a .45-caliber punch for my .44 cap and ball revolvers, .45 Long Colt and .45-70 rifles. It may be slower than other methods but I find that I can sit on the couch, watch TV and make hundreds of wads in one evening --- nearly a year’s supply.
I place a piece of 2X8 inch board, about 18 inches long, across my lap. A piece of 8” diameter log, cut flat on both ends is attached to the center of the board with long decking screws.
It is easiest to cut wads if the cutter goes into the end-grain of wood, rather than 90 degrees to the grain. Your cutting surface will last longer too.
A 12” long by 6” wide strip of felt is perfect for easy handling on the log. You’ll also want a piece of dowel, smaller than the diameter of your wad cutter, to push out any wads that resist traveling up the cutter and falling out. Watch your fingers around the sharp edges of that wad cutter, it will make a nasty cut!
WAD CUTTER HAS MULTI USES
Felt wads aren’t the only thing you can make with a wad cutter. Thick or thin paper wads may be made, to protect the bullet’s base or discourage contamination of the powder from lubricants on the patch or bullet.
A good source of cardboard, in varying thicknesses, are the cardboard scraps found in a picture-framing shop. Most owners are happy to be rid of the scraps or you may buy a bagful for a few bucks.
Store cardboard or unlubricated felt wads in a small box, plastic tub (yogurt, margarine, cottage cheese, etc.), soup cans with a lid or --- my favorite --- small plastic, see-through jars. Plastic peanut butter jars are particularly good since they hold hundreds of wads and a quick glance often reveals the size. However, label the jar so you don’t confuse a 7/16 inch wad meant for the .44-40 with a .45-caliber wad, for example.
"And lo, did I see an ugly cat. Smoke. Brimstone. Holes in parchment. And this ugly cat was much amused." --- The Prophesies of Gatodamus (1503 - 1566)