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Old May 29, 2010, 08:11 PM   #1
ClemBert
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Do-It-Yourself Felt Wad Making

Yes, this is yet another thread about making wads for your cap-n-ball BP revolver. Lubricated felt wads can be used in the loading process to provide several advantages over plain cap-powder-ball loading. Specifically, among these advantages are:

1. Added sealing of the chamber to further reduce risk of chain fire.
2. Lubrication to aid in softening of powder residue/fouling.
3. Less messy as compare to grease/crisco/oil on top of the ball.
4. Scrubbing/cleansing effect as the hard felt wad travels down the barrel.

There are those who may frown upon the use of lubricated felt wads preferring to either load plain cap-powder-ball or to smear grease over the ball. We do know that highly respected sources have recommended the use of a lubricated felt wad since at least 1930. Something tells me the smart fella who gave that advice probably learned that from some old timer's who learned it well before the 1930's.

The purpose of this thread is to provide some information to those too cheap, like myself, to buy pre-made lubricated wads and who prefer a more economical solution.

What you will need:

1. Felt

A perfect inexpensive source for the type of felt you want to use can be found at Duro-Felt. You want to use a product that is 100% wool and is hard/dense felt such as the FM1812H product. I placed an order with Duro-Felt online and received it in my mailbox two days later (Arkansas to Florida). That 12" x 36" piece for $12 is enough to punch out over 1500 wads of .44/.45 caliber or over 2100 wads of .36/.380 caliber. I passed on the local Goodwill store as a source for cheap felt. I didn't want to deal with guessing the hardness or thickness of old used wool hats or trenchcoats or any critters that may or may not reside in said source of felt.

2. Punches

For punches a great solution are the hollow punch set found at Harbor Freight. Typically only $5.99 but often cheaper on sale at $4.99 or with the use of a coupon.

3. Lubricant

For lubricant there are going to be many varying opinions on what to use. For the purpose of keeping it simple here I'm going to specify the use of real beeswax mixed with Crisco shortening. Generally a 50-50 mix but vary it to suit your needs or temperature requirements. Also, you may consider using Bore Butter as your lubricant as it would appear that lubricated Wonder Wads use just plain ol' BB. There are many sources for beeswax online. Generally, the beeswax prices are reasonable but when you add shipping costs it can double the overall price. One readily available local source, for many, is Michael's Crafts. They generally charge around $18 for a pound of pure beeswax but be smart and use a 40% or 50% coupon to get the cost down to reasonable levels.

Below is a pic of the HF punch set. It comes with 9 hollow punches. For my purposes only two of the punches are of interest. Specifically, the 3/8" (0.375") and the 7/16" (0.4375") punches. The 3/8" punch serves the .36 caliber revolvers and the 7/16" serves the .44/.45 caliber revolvers. Some of you will be able to make good use of the 1/2" (0.500") punch.



The 0.4375" diameter of the 7/16" punch isn't quite large enough to satisfy my need for a .45 caliber wad. So, using my trusty grinder bit that fits my Dremel tool I decided to open up the diameter to something more suitable for .45 caliber revolvers.



I increased the diameter of the 7/16" punch to 0.455". It only took a couple of minutes to do this with the Dremel tool. While I was at it I decided to increase the diameter of the 3/8" punch from 0.375" to 0.380". Just enough to make the cutting edge really sharp.



Next, it was just a matter of sitting in front of the TV with mindless TV on and punching out the wads. I used an old chunk of a cedar tree to punch on top of. The punches, after increasing their diameters, are so sharp it doesn't take much effort to punch out the hard felt. In a matter of a 20 minutes I was able to punch out hundreds of wads. You can use a chunk of 4x4 or 2x6 as your cutting surface to punch on top of.



The last step is to lubricate your felt wads with your choice of lubricant. The easy way may be to use Bore Butter like the Wonder Wad brand uses. My concoction is a mix of beeswax and Crisco as explained above. Our expert member, Gatofeo, has an old time recipe he has shared time and time again which is apparently one that is hard to beat in terms of performance.

With the lubricant in a melted liquid form it is just a matter of dipping/soaking the un-lubricated felt wads in the solution sufficiently. Remove the soaked felt wad while the lubricant is still dripping hot and let cool. Some of you have complained that you didn't think that lubricated Wonder Wads had enough lubricant on them. Here is your chance to make some wads that are really loaded up with lubricant.

If anyone has cheaper or better sources for materials please chime in. This post isn't meant to be a "this way or the highway" type post. Rather, it is one cheapskate's method to make lubricated felt wads by giving actual sources/links for materials.

Last edited by ClemBert; May 30, 2010 at 09:48 AM.
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Old May 29, 2010, 08:50 PM   #2
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clembert, thanks for the Duro-Felt site. I've been using old hats for years, but there's usually a bunch of waste cause of the shape of the brims etc plus they're not as common as they used to be. My punch table is a nylon cutting board I stole from our kitchen one night....got found out the next day and replaced it ASAP!!! The key to a happy marriage is a happy wife :-) !!
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Old May 29, 2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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Beeswax sources:

Look up your local county extension service or agriculture cooperative. They will know where the beekeepers in your area are. Beekeepers will often give beeswax away; it's a surplus item for them - they can't sell it and can't use it over. You may wish to melt it down and filter it through cheesecloth before using it in your lube recipe, but in reality the unfiltered stuff will work just as well.
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Old May 29, 2010, 11:01 PM   #4
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I'm doing the same thing (same punch and felt source), except I use a different lube. I use a mix of paraffin, beeswax (we used to keep bees) and lanolin. I put the felt and the lube in a pan, and into the oven at 190. In a few minutes the felt has absorbed it all. Then, I shake them out before the lube stiffens.

Why do I do this? In my LGS, wonder wads are 10-cents each!!!

The next time I need to make more wads, I may try lubing them prior to punching. Oh, I don't punch on an old stump, I use a catalog or phone directory.
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Old May 30, 2010, 04:21 AM   #5
arcticap
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Buffalo Arms sells several different types of wad punches that already have the proper diameter:

http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/2,242.html


I previously posted about making waxboard wads with the wad punches that I ordered with my Triple P Loader. The thinner wad material leaves more room in the chamber for loading extra powder and conicals.



http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=359444


And Smokin_Gun previously mentioned that he was using his Triple P to punch out wads from egg cartons which is a thick paperboard. So now I've been saving up some of that material too. When the material is "free" it helps to defray the cost of buying the more expensive punches.

See photos post #18:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ht=egg+cartons

At $18 per 1000, the Cabela's vegetable fiber wads are also relatively economical and come in two thicknesses.




http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ht=walter+wads

Product page:

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...box.jsp.form23

Last edited by arcticap; May 30, 2010 at 02:05 PM.
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Old May 30, 2010, 09:46 AM   #6
ClemBert
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Those are some good links arcticap.

Those Buffalo Arms punches appear to be of good quality. Unfortunately, I'm too much of a cheapskate to shell out $18 for each punch. For me is was a matter of spending $5 (no shipping) for the punches at HF and spending a few minutes with the Dremel tool to make them exactly the size I wanted. Understandably, some folks don't have the Dremel tool or accessories to do that and thus the BA punches could be a great option for them.

Ideally, a Triple P loader with proper punch seems to be the cleanest and easiest way to punch out felt. When I save up enough spare change I might consider buying one. Seems like a great product. Thought I recently read though that the person selling these is not responding to orders (and may be taking money w/o shipping product) and isn't living up to the lifetime guarantee he advertises for his product. Maybe someone can comment on the facts of this...just saying I may have read this on a couple of threads somewhere.

I currently use 0.030 fiber wads when reloading BP 45 Colt cartridges (between the powder and bullet). I don't use them for cap-n-ball shooting as there isn't any lubricant on them. I wonder if fiber wads can be lubricated or can hold lubricant like a felt wad? For thinner felt wads one could order the 1/16" material instead of 1/8" as I specified. The 1/16" felt wads would be similar in thickness to the fiber wads mentioned by articap and therefore would give you an extra 0.060" of room for powder if desired; plus they can be lubricated.

BP Stuff seems to be the cheapest source for pre-made lubricate felt wads. However, they still aren't as cheap as making them yourself and you can't control the amount/type of lubrication yourself as when you do it yourself. But then again, for some folks the option isn't there to make their own so BP Stuff could be a great source.

I'm still not understanding the use of fiber wads, wax board wads, or egg carton wads within cap-n-ball shooting. As far as I can tell they are used to get the ball closer to the forcing cone when using less than full powder loads. But, I thought that was the reason for using cream-of-wheat or grits, et al. Maybe they help seal the cylinder too like a lubricated felt wad. The use of felt wads as a filler is something I didn't list in the OP but maybe I should have. I considered the lubrication on the felt wads as the "sealant" to help against chain fire similar to smearing grease over the ball.

Thanks for the other helpful comments fellas. Keep it coming.
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Old May 30, 2010, 02:37 PM   #7
arcticap
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I don't think that the lubricant in the wad is the sealing agent as much as the over powder wad is by itself. Its measure of effectiveness should be judged by how snug it fits up against the wall of the chamber.

Lubricant might help to a small degree too but it shouldn't be necessary to impregnate the wad with lube as a means of preventing chain fire.

Last edited by arcticap; May 30, 2010 at 02:47 PM.
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Old May 30, 2010, 02:47 PM   #8
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What about just making some out of 90# felt?
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Old May 30, 2010, 03:48 PM   #9
Hawg
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Quote:
I don't think that the lubricant in the wad is the sealing agent as much as the over powder wad is by itself
No but you want enough lube to keep fouling soft all the way through.
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Old May 30, 2010, 03:58 PM   #10
arcticap
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Some folks say that lube isn't even necessary when using 777, even after many shots have been fired.
I put a tiny amount over a ball or two per cylinder when using APP fffg and even that really isn't necessary.
I guess that it depends on the powder.

Last edited by arcticap; May 30, 2010 at 04:06 PM.
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Old May 30, 2010, 04:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
I'm still not understanding the use of fiber wads, wax board wads, or egg carton wads within cap-n-ball shooting.
Ditto!
My experience using those over powder and filler wads was with the old school way of loading shot shells 40+ years ago. There were many plastic wads avail for the popular loads; but, for for the odd balls it was the old way. They came out with a one-piece plastic wad/shot cup for the last of my loads about 35 years ago, and I've never gone back to individual wads.
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Old May 30, 2010, 04:15 PM   #12
arcticap
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Lubed wads do swab the bore with each shot to prevent the barrel from getting fouled with powder residue. But each powder is different by producing a different amount and type of residue. I would never be able to fit 40-45 grains of APP fffg powder into the 1858 chamber if it wasn't first rammed and compressed before the ball was loaded. A hard wad does provide a flat, firm surface for when compressing it with the greater force of a loading press.
More powder compression can result in more velocity and compressing it separately from the ball in 2 stages reduces the amount of stress on the hand and on the gun's loading lever components too.
The variation of thickness and hardness of the different wad materials each offer some distinct benefits.

Last edited by arcticap; May 30, 2010 at 04:39 PM.
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Old May 30, 2010, 05:00 PM   #13
Hawg
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Quote:
Some folks say that lube isn't even necessary when using 777, even after many shots have been fired.
I put a tiny amount over a ball or two per cylinder when using APP fffg and even that really isn't necessary.
I guess that it depends on the powder.
I don't use either one. I only use Pyrodex. Not knockin them just sayin.
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Old May 30, 2010, 08:18 PM   #14
ClemBert
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I'm in agreement that 777 may not need lubrication as the residue is somewhat greasy itself. I still use a wad though just for the purpose of sealing the chamber. Extra lubricant doesn't hurt though.
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Old May 30, 2010, 11:33 PM   #15
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pre wax wads

I read on another site about using a 45 long colt cartriage and pure wax melt in a cake pan. Waite till wax is almost solid and punch them out. Use a wooden match stick thru the primer hole for a push stick to remove.
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Old May 31, 2010, 07:06 AM   #16
Hawg
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Quote:
Use a wooden match stick thru the primer hole for a push stick to remove.
Mighty thin matches
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Old May 31, 2010, 09:20 AM   #17
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Lot of good information here. Some confusing comments also.
As one who has been using traditional muzzle loaders for 90% of my shooting, including competitively, for over 40 years, I have seen and tried many techniques. As for 777, I won't even comment as I use and understand only true black powder in the old timers.
For the revolvers a seal is absolutely necessary. I do know guys who boast they shoot without a seal but I also know some who have had chain fires without. Many, maybe most, competitive c&b revolver shooters use an over-ball grease seal. Some use corn meal under the ball, a few do use wads. I never have used a meal seal, messy and unnecessary, IMHO. Most of my shooting has been with an over ball grease seal. For hunting and long term storage, I have used lubed wads, they are just fine. I believe they provide a good shooting seal but can't prove that. They do help clean the bore a little. Remember, the burning powder crud is behind the wad and waits for the next shot. Main rule is to use what works for you and keep it simple.
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Old June 1, 2010, 10:52 AM   #18
ClemBert
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To lube, use the double boiler method. A used pet food tin works great. The felt wads will soak up all the melted lube they can on their own.



Then, its just a matter of plucking them out, letting them cool, bagging them and labeling them until you are ready to use.


Last edited by ClemBert; June 1, 2010 at 09:11 PM.
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Old June 2, 2010, 12:01 AM   #19
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i tried this, i file sharpened a brass .45 acp case, soaked the top of a cardboard egg carton in bacon grease and dried, then used the .45 case to punch wads from the carton... works out quite well...
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Old June 2, 2010, 07:15 PM   #20
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Thanks for the info Clembert. I got the Harbor Freight punches. Opened the 7/16" to .455. Soaked some 100% wool felt from an old cops winter coat. Then went to town punching wads. I soaked the felt first and then punched when it was cool and stiff. What a pleasure it is saving all that money and so simple to do. Found a beekeeper nearby and got a pound of beeswax for $4.00 and the punches were $4.89.I had a large can of crisco in the cupboard. So for the price of a bag of Wonder Wads I have made thousands of wads.
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Old June 3, 2010, 09:54 AM   #21
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I'm using a 7/16" punch for my .45" lubed wads because the lube formula I use(Gatafeo's 2 parts paraffin, 2 parts lard/lanolin 1 part beeswax), makes the wads expand a little, so they are tight when I load them. I have a .45" punch I bought from Track of the Wolf, but they're uncomfortably tight and extremely messy to load. Using the .44" wads is cleaner and easier. I have a good shaved ring, so it's sealed.

I used nothing but Hodgdon 777 FFFg until recently, when my local store ran out and started ordering Goex Pinnacle. I still use 777 FFg in my rifles. I noticed that 777 was greasy, using grease wads and grease pills made it even more greasy wth my Pietta SS Remington. I had good results with using 777 "dry" with no greased felt wads at all, but I was still loading a dry felt wad to wipe down the bore. With Pinnacle, it's greasy using a dry felt wad and a greased felt wad, I haven't tried it dry yet.

When I shoot my rifles with PRB, I load a greased felt wad after the powder charge. That keeps the bore phenomenally clean. I had some adventures with a '52 Springfield I bought lightly used. I thought it was smoothbore until I used greased felt wads. The wads knocked out fouling I didn't know was there, and then I noticed rifling grooves in the bore after the first shot with the wads and figured out how to properly clean it with boiling water.

I use the 3/4" punch to make wads for my .69" (tight is good) and the 9/16" punch for my .54" and the 7/8" punch for my .58", all with good results on fouling.

I use a pair of bamboo toaster tweezers to pull the wet felt wads out of the melted lube. I give them a squeeze to let the excess drip out, that makes them clean to use and they look just like store bought grease felt wads, except they're cream colored and not yellow.

Edit: I got my beeswax from Hobby Lobby. I signed up on their website, so I get a coupon nearly every week for 40% off one item, so it was cheaper. I only live a few miles away from the store, so there wasn't any shipping. Good tip on the co-op, I have some bees in my well house. I need to call a beekeeper to see if they can come and get them and I get to keep the hive. I can smell the honey ten feet from the doorway.

That cedar stump probably makes it more fun, you get a whiff of cedar with every hammer blow. I have to get me one of them. I whack out enough for each caliber to fill an Altoid tin.
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Old June 3, 2010, 11:41 AM   #22
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Thanks for the thread. I just bought a set of those punches and some felt weather stripping like Gatfeo recommends (somewhere around here), and I'm ready to go.
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Old June 3, 2010, 01:26 PM   #23
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Buy the metric punches. The 11mm size is perfect for my 1860 Armys.
I do the Durofelt and melted lube routine.
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Old June 3, 2010, 05:56 PM   #24
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11mm (0.433") is smaller than the 7/16" (0.4375) punch. An 11.5mm (0.453") punch would about right for those desiring a .45 caliber punch.

The Buffalo Arms 45PISTOL punch is .455".

My smallest .44/.45 revolver has a 0.447 chamber supposedly but the felt wads are flexible enough to used for it on up to my ROA's which have a larger chamber diameter.
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Old June 3, 2010, 06:02 PM   #25
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Here's a source for those who would rather punch out Vegetable Fiber Wads.
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