View Full Version : making your own wads

January 6, 2011, 11:19 PM
I am new to the world of bp revolvers and have started casting my own roundballs and now want to make my own wads. I have looked into using felt but durofelt is closed until feb. the 11th and I can buy vegetable fiber locally were I live. How does this stuff respond to the lubing process? Are they as good as felt as far as preventing chain fires? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Ideal Tool
January 7, 2011, 12:59 AM
Hello, coltbp44. It has been years since I shot percussion revolvers, but when I was, I tried felt wads..these were cut by me using thin felt. I lubed them in crisco/beeswax mix. to be honest, I always found them to degrade accuracy. As far as veg. wads, I use these .03" under cast bullets in .40 Sharps, they don't appear to be able to absorb much if any lube though. As far as preventing chain-fires...A good tight fitting ball, that is being swaged into cyl. mouth, as opposed to being sheared..lightly chamfer those sharp cyl. mouths, goes along way to prevent this...plus a good smear of lube over ball. I personally had 1 chain fire & I don't think it was because of anything up front..rather I think cap-flash set off adjacent cyl. Use snug fitting caps.
Best of luck & have fun!

January 7, 2011, 01:27 AM
AFAIK, there's 2 different kinds of vegetable fiber wad material. One veg. fiber material is quite dense, hard and brittle and susceptible to cracking. It's most often used in cartridge cases. While the other fiber material is flexible, properly sized and better suited for sealing percussion revolvers.
I don't know about lubing any of these wads.

Cabela's Vegetable Fiber Wads:




Smokin_Gun has made wads out of egg carton material:


I've made wads out of juice carton wax board:


January 7, 2011, 04:16 AM
Go to a thrift store and get an old felt hat.

January 7, 2011, 08:43 AM
thank you all for the information, after reading your post I think i will use felt instead of vegetable fiber. Felt seems to be the best choice after reading your post about vegetable fiber. Thanks a bunch

January 7, 2011, 09:40 AM
I got a punch set from Harbor Freight, one of which was within a few thousandths of an inch being big enough for my .44 Remmy, so I used my dremmel to open it up just a bit. I also bought a spool of felt weather stripping from Lowe's or Home Depot. Total cost of all that, about $10. $3 more for a tub of crisco.

Now, the felt is not nearly as nice a quality as Durofelt; it's much "looser" to the feel. But it absorbs melted crisco just fine, and I can probably get several hundred wads (or more) out of one spool of that stripping.

I should mention that I only had once chance to shoot it, and then I moved and haven't had time to get to another range. On the day I shot those wads for the first (and only) time, it was extremely humid, having just finished raining in June, and it was a swampy area in the woods (was on a woods walk). I did not notice any change in accuracy - I hit the same targets I would have expected to hit given my skill level. The big change was that the powder seemed to absorb a ton of moisture, because the charges did not feel nearly as powerful as usual (25 gr. FFFg). The amount of crisco my wads had absorbed was pretty high, maybe too high, but I don't know if it was that, the humidity, or the combination that affected the potency of the powder that day.

January 7, 2011, 05:06 PM
Thick gasket paper, from the auto parts store seems to work, too.

Ideal Tool
January 7, 2011, 06:45 PM
Hawg Haggen's hat trick jogged my memory about a story I read in Keith's book Hell I Was There! This was around the first few years of the 20th century, him and a buddy were in Helena MT. when some guy comes out of the haberdashy...just bought a nice cream colored Stetson. and says to Elmer..what are you kids carrying them old cap&ball sixshooters for...you know you can't hit anything with them...including my hat, whereupon he flung it off his head and up in air. Now Elmer had a Colt 1851 .36 Navy & he had worked with it so he could shoot the heads off sage grouse..he shot & hat landed..guy thought he missed until he saw nice hole thru rim & crown..he was so discusted he threw hat down in muddy street and stalked off. Elmers buddy started to walk away when Elmer said..boy that felt hat would make some dandy wads after soaking in deer tallow, & picked it up.

January 7, 2011, 07:04 PM
A word of caution,
I used weatherstripping felt (from Home Depot) to punch out wads before I got some Durofelt wool felt. The problem with the weatherstripping felt is that it's made from synthetic fibers. The stuff turns into a molten ball of plastic yuck. The first time I used it, I had a good pattern, but there was a flyer. Then I realized there was one more hole than rounds shot. I asked my buddy if he'd been fooling around and put one in my target, and he said no. It turned out the flyer was actually where a wad had gone 20-yards and burned a hole in the target and cardboard backer. I've not had a similar problem with the Durafelt based wads, nor with pre-made Wonderwads.

January 7, 2011, 09:42 PM
Zippy: Thanks for that info. I didn't know that about the weather stripping. I did that, following the advice of a guy who posts on several different forums, user name Gatfeo (I think), who seems to have quite a lot of experience and listed this as his method for making wads. As I said, I've only been able to shoot with them once, so I'll have to see if it will cause problems (like leaving synthetic residue in my pistol). I'll probably just get some durofelt at some point, though.

January 8, 2011, 01:53 AM
You'll note that Gatofeo is responsible for the "So you want a cap and ball revolver?" sticky at the top of this forum's listings. My wads and lube are as he describes them.

Back in the day, weatherstripping felt was made from natural fibers, it's not longer the case. Just like toilet donuts were once pure beeswax, and now they're synthetic.

Before you use any material for wadding, you might wanna do a flame test to see how it burns. Also, the dense wool felt (from Durofelt) punches much, much better than the weatherstripping does -- there's no comparison.

January 8, 2011, 07:19 AM
Some carpet pad is made of horse hair felt. Check at a carpet store they should be able to help ya out.

January 8, 2011, 09:14 AM
Thanks Zippy:
That's the article/thread I read when I started with my 1858, but on another forum. Somehow, I guess I missed it here. Anyway, I didn't know about the change from natural to synthetic fibers. The loose nature of the fibers on the weather stripping certainly fits my experience. I appreciate the updated info.

January 8, 2011, 09:49 AM
The type of material is not important as long as it is not synthetic.
Punches can be made or purchased at little cost. e.g. the HF idea.
I suggest you go to an appliance shop and ask for a cardboard packing box. They are very thick and sturdy cardboard. Some are even already wax impregnated. If not, just soak with vegatable oil, let excess drip off and use.

January 11, 2011, 05:08 PM
I cut up an old wool coat.(Real wool not synthetic) I then found a rather large lid from a tin box. I cut the wool pieces a little smaller than the lid. I filled the lid about halfway full of melted beeswax-crisco combo set atop of a pan of boiling water and emersed the patches in the bath of wax until they absorb as much lube as possible. Picked them out with a pair of tongs and laid them on tin foil until they set up hard. Then I proceded to punch out thousands of wads on an old nylon cutting board. I keep them in a container with a little cornmeal to keep them from sticking together works great. they keep my ROA barrel well lubed and were very easy to make. Hope this helps

January 11, 2011, 05:22 PM
Rifleman, just go to a grocery store and ask for their used banana boxes. The come heavily waxed.

January 11, 2011, 09:36 PM
See my post that's become a sticky, about cap and ball revolvers.

Duro-Felt of Little Rock, Arkansas sells felt that is perfect for wads. Get the 1/8-inch thick hard felt. I bought a large sheet some years ago. Considering that I can get 4 wads per square inch, whether .36 or .44 caliber, I calculated I can make roughly 8,000 wads.
As I recall, I paid around $25 for that sheet of felt.
Even with inflation, you can still get a large sheet of hard, 1/8th inch felt from Duro-Felt for a pittance compared to buying wads from the store.
Melt a couple tablespoons of Gatofeo No. 1 lubricant, SPG, Lyman Black Powder Gold or a mix of lard and beeswax in a pet food can. Add your wads. When they're soaked, removed from heat and allow to cool.
Snap on a plastic pet food cover and you're done.
You can carry the wads to the range in that can, a Zip-Loc, Altoids sour candy tin or shoe polish can (the kind that can be easily opened with greasy fingers).

Cardboard, waxed paper, thin wads, egg carton material and other substances don't soak up enough lubricant in my experience. You need ample lubricant to keep the fouling soft. Wool felt is sponge-like and soaks up quite a bit of lubricant.
Natural sponge, if you could find it 1/8-inch thick, would work too, I guess. I would think that synthetic sponge would leave plastic deposits in the door. Polyester felt is plastic and will leave a build-up of plastic. I've experienced it.
Real wool felt is harder to find but worth the effort.
Duro-Felt is the best source I've found. Alas, the owner may be on vacation. Check her website to see if she's returned.

January 13, 2011, 01:45 PM

50% beeswax and 50% candle or tallow. Pour melted solution into a dish to the desired depth, allow to set and cut out with a punch. Works OK for me.


January 13, 2011, 03:24 PM

Your colored concoction confused me until I realized it was from the candle wax. I've heard of other folks using all-lube wads; but, I've not tried them. I'm concerned that they would melt in a warm cylinder and compromise the powder. Do you use them over the powder or over the ball? Have you used your "wax pills" in warm weather?