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Old July 19, 2010, 02:40 PM   #1
crisd
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Machining you own brass

Gentleman, can any of you steer me to a web site or good manual for the home machinist that desires to machine his own custom brass?
Thank you,

Cris
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Old July 19, 2010, 02:47 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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You mean from a solid block of brass, or from one cartridge to another?


Brass cases are not "machined" they are pressed from a disc into the correct shape under many tons of force. It is not something that can be replicated at home for anything less than, I would guess, several hundred thousand dollars.
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Old July 19, 2010, 03:34 PM   #3
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maybe he wants to make 20mm or larger cases?!
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Old July 19, 2010, 03:36 PM   #4
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Well, actually, you can buy lathe turned straight wall cases. It's one way around obsolescence, but not a cheap one. Several bucks apiece. The thing that drawing cases from a disc does is work-harden the brass, which is needed at the head, and it aligns the grain structure. I expect the lathe-turned stuff starts as drawn hard brass rod, so you'd need a source of that. SAAMI drawings will provide the exterior dimensions. Interior dimensions are largely optional.

Turning the thin walls will be the challenge. You probably want to turn the inside first and insert a form with a center drilled hole and use it with a center to prevent deflection. I don't know if high pressure cases can safely be made this way? It seems to me I saw some turned .50 AE cases at a gunshow once, so 35 KPSI is doable, anyway.
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Old July 19, 2010, 05:17 PM   #5
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I don't know what you are looking for but there are a few that machine rifle cases and leave most of the "case" solid so it has much less internal volume. Better SD's using pistol powder for subsonic loads.
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Old July 19, 2010, 05:21 PM   #6
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My local retired machinist has turned both brass & steel cases for himself for obsolite cartridges, we were debating doing this for the 577 Snider, even though I have loading dies, because of the differences between chamber dimensions & the sizing die, along with excessive case capacity... but in the end, well at least so far, we have decided to drop that project... but it can be done if you get the full cartridge dimensions, but if you are hoping for a rigid case, a chamber casting would be better to work off of for exteriour dimensions anyway...
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Old July 19, 2010, 05:46 PM   #7
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I've turned belts off 460 Wthby cases to make 416 Rigby when you could only get the Rigbys in the loaded form from Rigby.

Actually anyone with a lathe and the drawings but I don't think it would be cost effective.
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Old July 19, 2010, 06:05 PM   #8
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From my limited knowledge on the subject ...

I would think it would be too expensive to machine brass from solid stock. As others have said .... brass that we use today is stamped out of solid sheet stock. The stretching action of the press helps to stress harden the walls and neck of the cartridge.
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Old July 19, 2010, 06:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
From my limited knowledge on the subject ...
Note: It is not "stress hardening", it is "work hardening". Brass can only be hardend by "working".

Modern brass cartridge cases are produced with multiple cup and draw dies. As the previous posts have stated, turned cases have been produced on lathes, but the skill and the machinery required makes that process cost prohibitive. Buy drawn cases, conversion from another similar case is a more reasonable solution for obsolete or wildcatting.
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Old July 19, 2010, 06:57 PM   #10
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Rocky Mountain Cartridge sells turned brass cases. Expensive, but if all you want is 20 at $4 apiece so as to be able to shoot Grandpa's gun on ceremonial occasions, it sure beats paying Starline to tool up to draw 100,000.

Nonte gives basic instructions on turning odd brass in The Home Guide to Cartridge Conversions. $85 second hand at Amazon? Wow.

Agree that unless you need something really weird, you would be better off to reform an existing case by die forming or fireforming. Also in Nonte.
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Old July 19, 2010, 08:24 PM   #11
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Sorry, but that's nuts. Part of the extruding process also adds stability to the metal. Every tool path ring on the turned part is another stress point as the brass gets used. Even with a CNC Lathe and a Bar feeder, your talking about a lot of $ to machine brass.
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Old July 19, 2010, 10:19 PM   #12
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Besides the actual machining difficulties, you would then have to worry about the different levels of "hardness" necessary. The mouth and neck have to be soft, but not to soft, and the head has to be hard, but not too hard. Tricky, to say the least.
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Old July 19, 2010, 11:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Gentleman, can any of you steer me to a web site or good manual for the home machinist that desires to machine his own custom brass?
Thank you,

Cris
What kind of brass? More to the point, which caliber?

It's not possible to machine a bottle-necked cartridge case. Most are tapered, and the shoulder neck could not be machined, you'd have no way to machine the INSIDE through the small neck. So, you'd have to machine a straight tube, then have several dies to form the shoulder and neck, and taper the body.

Brass extrusion is a very difficult, expensive process. The machines cost millions of bucks, and the dies are not much cheaper, and wear out over time.

Forget about it! Buy some brass, or mount the old war horse on the wall. Not all old/obsolete rifles HAVE to be fired.
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Old July 20, 2010, 12:01 AM   #14
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Expensive, but if all you want is 20 at $4 apiece so as to be able to shoot Grandpa's gun on ceremonial occasions, it sure beats paying Starline to tool up to draw 100,000.
Quality Cartridge is a better option for special runs of brass, or large-run wildcat brass. They'll do anything you want, but the cost is usually reflecting a 750-1,250 case run if requesting less than that. (Small time, by industry standards.)
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Old July 20, 2010, 10:34 AM   #15
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Greetings Cris, and welcome aboard,

As you can see, most folks are skeptical about machining your own brass. Your success, to a great extent, will depend on the specific cartridge you have in mind. Have you considered something simple like starting with relatively thick walled shot shell cases?

Good luck!
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Old July 20, 2010, 11:20 AM   #16
jmorris
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Here are some David of Liberty Suppressors made using a CNC machine.
They are 308 reduced capacity cases. Last I read the cost might have been around $75 for 20 cases.


http://www.libertycans.net/



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Old July 20, 2010, 11:31 AM   #17
F. Guffey
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1 200 533 5000 order a special order die catalog from RCBS

http://www.z-hat.com/Cylinder.htm

I use forming/trim dies, before I chamber a rifle I check the availability of cases and dies, chambers I have cut before loacating dies, 30 Gibbs, 257 Roberts Ackley Improved and 338/280 Remington,

I have never had an interest in turning cases nor have I had a need.

http://www.huntingtons.com/cases.html

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Old July 20, 2010, 01:53 PM   #18
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1 800 533 5000, sorry about that,

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Old July 22, 2010, 07:46 AM   #19
escard
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you could ask your browser looking for the website of "Horneber brass".
Mr. Horneber will be proud to make brass for you in good overall quality (and with your own stamp on it).......
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Old July 23, 2010, 05:02 PM   #20
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jmorris: "Reduced capacity cases".

How does the inside of these cases look?
Does the inside contour follow the outside form of the case?
Or... Is it just a straight down bore thru the bullet hole?
That would reduce the case volume, but add plenty of weight.

Turning the outside is easy. Turning the inside would require some custom, small, bore bars. and I wouldn't want to do it without a CNC Lathe.


=============

My second comment: I had a feeling this guy wasn't going to come back.

But if your lurking around out there, don't be embarrassed by your question. Nothing wrong with having an idea. Just because it doesn't make sense to us, doesn't mean it cant be done.

We hope you stick around and join in the conversations.

Welcome to the forum.
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