View Full Version : Making wads

Doc Hoy
January 17, 2011, 10:43 AM
Okay, I have to open by saying I don't use wads, never have but I am thinking of starting. I have to also say that when I am able, I like doing things myself rather than buying ready made stuff. For that reason I want to make my own wads.

I am starting with felt that I cut from a 100% wool hat (actually two) which I bought from a thrift store. This is not intended to turn into a discussion of bore lube recipes so I won't talk about what I use, but I can say that I am happy with it and would not change unless I had a good reason. I melt down some of my own bore lube to use for the wads.

I cut a piece of felt about three inches by three inches and saturate the felt in the liquid bore lube. Then I cut the wads from the felt with a .4375 punch from Harbor Freight. I wind up with a pretty good looking wad which I think will fit the .44 chamber okay. (I know this is smaller than the bore but who knows the diameter of the wad once you mash it down during loading.

My intention is to use the wads under the ball (I shoot only round balls)

It there a better way to do what I am trying to accomplish?

Magnum Wheel Man
January 17, 2011, 10:57 AM
guess I'm posting, because I want to follow along... ( I'm starting to load brass shot loads using 444 Marlin cases... both 36 caliber round balls, & maybe #6 shot ) & I need to come up with some wads... I was just going to use several layers of ( non corrigated cardboard ) or one, if I could find thick enough stock... also thought about using those sawdust composite style ceiling tiles or something similar???

is there a reason you are lubing your wad behind the ball ??? ( I'm assuming black powder & keeping the fouling soft ??? )

January 17, 2011, 11:50 AM

I punch the wads first with the same punch you have, but I've opened it up. Then, put some wads and lube in a pocket-size tin box (Altoids Mints) and put it in the oven at 200DegF. The lube melts, the wads wick it up, and I'm ready to go after it cools down. I use the wads straight from the box. With your method of applying the lube first, you're wasting some of it.

January 17, 2011, 12:13 PM
I have never made my own wads; so I can't offer you any first-hand comments.

I found it interesting that you soaked the felt in lube prior to stamping the wads. On other threads, I seem to remember that most people didn't do the soaking until after the wads were stamped. So long as the felt was thoroughly saturated, I can't imagine that there would be a performance difference. Perhaps, one method is easier (or less messy) than the other. Have you tried stamping out the wads prior to soaking?

Regarding wad size: The pre-lubed wads that I use from Cabela's are actually marginally larger in diameter than the cylinder openings. When they are pushed into the cylinder, the wad is compressed slightly which results in a tight, positive seal between the cylinder wall and the wad. Whether this makes a difference or not is unknown; since we don't know what the diameter of your smaller wad becomes under compression.

I only purchased the pre-cut wads because it was easier for a newby. Ultimately, I will try making my own wads. Keep us posted on your results.

January 17, 2011, 12:40 PM
I use a Harbor Freight 11mm hollow punch for my 44s. Fits the chamber perfectly. I use 1/8" felt from durofelt.com and the thickness allows the wads under compression to fill expand laterally and fill the chamber completely. Over sized wads tend to get sideways for me.
I punch first and then lube. The sticky waxed wads are hard enough to handle with out starting with them in that condition.

Doc Hoy
January 17, 2011, 01:17 PM
is that when I cut the wads first, I always wind up with a wad that is uneven and much thicker with way too much goop on them. As far as wasting the lube I think I use more by lubing the individual wads than I do be soaking the felt and then throwing away the waste felt. I will take some photos of the wads I get with the two methods.

January 17, 2011, 04:19 PM

I've never used hat felt; but, with the pre-punched DuroFelt wads, its quite easy to tell if each wad is fully lubricated by visual inspection. After doing it for a while, you get a feel how mush lube shavings are need to do up a tin of wads. Previously, I didn't mention that the wads are set flat, evenly distributed in the tin, so it's the same number of wads and measure of lube each time. The finished wads are very uniform.

January 17, 2011, 06:04 PM
Doc, of course you already read this thread (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=411414) on the topic. ;)

Doc Hoy
January 17, 2011, 06:04 PM
The wads on the right was made by cutting a piece of felt three inches square, soaking it in lube and then cutting the wads. ON the left are wads that were cut out first and then soaked individually.



January 17, 2011, 06:25 PM
It is also almost immaterial (pun not intended but it works :rolleyes:) what material you use for the wads. Cardboard is excellent. For thicker wads just go to any appliance or tv dealership and ask for one of their old shipping cartons. One carton will produce a lifetime worth of wads. Punch, soak in favorite lube, use.

Doc Hoy
January 18, 2011, 01:26 AM
...I looked into materials availability and somehow I got the impression that felt made the best wads. I never tried it so I had to accept what was being said. Someone said that window seal was a good source but then I found that window seal felt is no longer 100% wool felt. It was actually polyester which leaves a residue in the barrel. I got hold of a 100% wool sweater but the weave was too loose.

This hat felt is nice and dense, thick enough, cuts easy, and was pretty cheap. Now if it works in the pistols, I'll probably stick with it.

January 18, 2011, 02:33 AM
I wouldn't want to put moist lubed wads in contact with the powder for very long before shooting
An over powder card might help to protect the powder from lube migration in a pre-loaded cylinder that's stored for any length of time prior to shooting.
Powder contamination really doesn't matter at all when shooting at the range. But for storage I'd think that the waxier the lube the better, or keep the lube away from the powder by using lube or lube pills above the wad only.

Doc Hoy
January 18, 2011, 06:34 AM
The way I shoot, the revolver never stays loaded for more than about five minutes anyway so not much danger of compromising the powder.

It seems as though you are speaking of a dry plug between wad and powder. This is getting mighty complicated.

Doc Hoy
January 18, 2011, 06:44 AM
So how many of you who use wads below the ball also put lube above the ball?

January 18, 2011, 07:28 AM
I'm going to skip your last question (I use wads only) and suggest a 'dry' lubed wad for those who are concerned about lube contamination of the powder. A 'dry' lubed wad is made by soaking the wad in a 5:1 water:Ballistol solution and then allowing the wads to dry before use. Any 'moose milk' lube made with a recipe adjusted to increase the water proportions will do nicely.

January 18, 2011, 07:37 AM
Fred Cornell makes a great wad punch from tool steel, hardened and strong enough to cut gas checks. They work in your reloading press. I think they go about $50-$55. I make my 44 wads to keep leading under control. Tell him Ed the engineer from his home town sent you.