how can I make homemade sheet lead?

I have probably close to 200 lbs. of lead in various forms that I would like
to melt down into 1/8" or 1/4" thick sheets of about 10" x 15" size each.
What is the best and most economical way to do this? A week ago, I tried
using a small propane burner to melt down a small coffee can full of lead.
Once molten, I poured the lead into a cookie sheet of about 10" x 15" size
and it was a disaster as the cookie sheet seemed to sink while the lead
cooled unevenly on one side of the cookie sheet, leaving gaps and brittle
spots. The big problem seems to be that the lead doesn't remain molten long
enough to form a good mold during pouring.
Before I spend $200+ on already made sheet lead (which I don't really want
to do), I'd really like to try molding my own-- that is if I can
economically work out the issues above, so I would greatly appreciate any
pointers, tips, etc in this regard.
One other question: I notice that the lead I'm melting down contains
varying amounts of Antimony and I want to minimize the percentage of this
element for as pure of lead as possible. Suggestions?
Thanks, in advance, for your response.
Joe Travis
Reply to
Joe Travis
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Lead mixed with antimony is called "type metal" because it has the unusual property that it expands as it freezes, like water does. This is good for printers casting type because as it expands it fills all the little interstices in the mold. You can try making a slightly conical cavity e.g. by doing a slightly tapered bore on a short piece of pipe, welding a cap over the narrow end, and using that stood on end as a mold to pour slugs. If there are any really dissimilar metals they will float on top and you can bandsaw them off and remelt the lead later.
I think you may want to try heating the pan you pour the lead onto. Ideally you would have a flat steel pan and you could put the right amount of lead in and put the whole thing in an oven and let the lead melt and run evenly across the sheet, then just turn the oven off, let it cool, and turn the pan over. Something like that, maybe.
GWE
Joe Travis wrote:
Reply to
Grant Erwin
Organ pipes have historically been made of sheet lead, called "spotted metal" because the grain structure is visible to the naked eye when the alloy content is judged to be correct. The sheets were made by a "boat" riding on the two edges of a wood plank of the length required for the pipe. The "boat" was a wooden box, open at the top, that had a narrow opening at the bottom of one end, and when filled with hot molten lead and pulled lengthwise along the board, a thin stream of lead would spill out onto the board and quickly freeze. Adjusting the size of the opening and the speed of movement of the boat from one end to the other determined the thickness of the sheet. After cooling, it would be scraped smooth and bent around a mandrel and then the seam would be soldered. Evidently, the exact proportions of the lead-tin-antimony alloy were kept a secret by organ builders. Probably the temperature of the lead was also a factor. Good luck, Dave
Reply to
David Anderson
So heat it more. Technical term for that is a cold shut or short run, only you did this on an open casting....(snicker!) j/k.
I'd put the pan, level, on a pad of sand or something not very burnable, heat it with the burner first, then toast the lead to around 800 degrees. The pan WILL want to warp where it gets hotter.
If it's very pure lead (like, cast iron pipe joints... wheel weights and batteries are hardened), you might even be able to use a rolling pin afterwards to smooth and flatten it! It can be hammered in any case.
Tim
-- "I've got more trophies than Wayne Gretsky and the Pope combined!" - Homer Simpson Website @
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Reply to
Tim Williams
Lead melts around 621F, so when it hits your cold cookie sheet it will turn back to a solid. I think no matter how hot you make the lead, you're going to have trouble filling the whole mold (cookie sheet), plus you risk more harmful fumes. I think you're going to have to heat the cookie sheet up as much as you can. I'd put the cookie sheet on firebrick, or at least sand to support it and hold the heat as you warm it up. It might work if you heat the cookie sheet over a barbecue while you pour the lead in. I wouldn't use that barbecue for food though if you spill any lead, and you will :)
George
Reply to
gglines
I tried doing the same thing, used wheel weights and other bits of lead that I and a few friends had accumulated. (Note: Carefully inspect ALL the pieces that go into the pot. Some people don't understand that cartridge doesn't equal lead.) Used a propane weed burner that I got from Harber Fright, a 8 qt. pot, ladle, and cookie pan that I got from the Starvation Army store. Also tried an aluminum pan that was about 16" x 32". Melted the first batch in the pot, poured in the Al pan, found out that my garage floor isn't that level. Too hot to mess with, come back the next evening, second batch propped the end of the pan up on some flat bar and washer to level it out, reheat the lead in the pan from the previous attempt, find out that thin Al pan side melts before thicker, heavier lead, and is hard to see when flame rolling off lead surface is hiding it. Evening 3, evaluate damage to pan and decide that it's still useable, melt carefully, ensure that lead is fully melted in pan, let cool, next night find out that even molten lead is heavy and has caused the pan to sag, no flat areas at all. Evening 5 drag out a piece of 1.25" HRS that hadn't found it's way to a decent storage spot and was the only thing that I thought was up to the task, level it, melt and pour the lead and find that the pan is warped, in the bottom, oil canned, not sure why, whether it was stretched, or just differential cooling of the lead. It wasn't as soft as I'd hoped, and not very consistent in thickness. A fun experiment, but not really very productive.
Joe Travis wrote:
Reply to
nic
One thing you can do is sell your lead locally to someone who wants to cast fishing weights or something, and buy sheet lead at a roofing supply store.
Grant
Reply to
Grant Erwin
That was actually my first choice, but I have been unable to find such a firm. I've tried the biggies like Lowes, Home Depot, etc. What sort of roofing supply store would I look for?
Thanks, Joe
Reply to
Joe Travis
Um, a roofing supply house. Not like Lowe's or Homo Depot. Those stores are good for buying resin chairs or plastic garden hose these days, not much else. Try your Yellow Pages. Or post your location -- maybe someone in your area knows of a good local source. In the Seattle metropolitan area, there's a chain of 3 local hardware stores named McLendon. They carry sheet lead.
Grant
Reply to
Grant Erwin
How about: Get two (about 1/4 inch thick?) steel plates and make a mould that you cast the lead into (between the spaced plates), vertically. Heat up the steel sheets to above the melting point of lead and pour. Let cool slowly. Maybe that works? M.K.
Reply to
markzoom
Take lead to scrapyard - swap for equal weight of roofing lead (you need a friendly scrappie)
Scrap lead has antimony in it - it always gets in somehow from either typemetal or bullet scrap. This makes it hard, and in sheet form that makes it brittle. Most of the purposes you might want sheet lead for are scuppered by this problem and the inability to form it to shape. So for sheet, try to stick with pure lead.
Historically, roofing lead was cast onto beds of sand. To get these beds flat and level, they'd be washed out in water, then allowed to drain and dry out. I hope they were well dried before pouring !
Reply to
Andy Dingley
I guess the question is, what did the original poster really want to do? Did he want to actually *do* something with some sheet lead, or did he want to experiment with propane burners and molten metal?
If the first, it would be interesting to find out exactly what dimensions he wanted the material in, and what the application was.
McMaster Carr carries sheet lead.
Jim
Reply to
jim rozen
Homeland Security will probably be knocking on your door soon, assuming you are building a dirty bomb or real nuke. "Honest, I didn't want the lead for shielding. Really!"
-- Bob (Chief Pilot, White Knuckle Airways)
I don't have to like Bush and Cheney (Or Kerry, for that matter) to love America
Reply to
Bob Chilcoat
Bob, with all due respect, I don't think that's very funny. With the current alert levels the way they are, I am surprised that anyone would joke about this stuff. I love the good, old USofA, period, and would NEVER intentionally harm it or anyone in it. God, I ask a simple question and I get an off the wall answer like yours. Did you ever consider that I just needed the lead to be *flexible* and not so rigid that I couldn't bend it. Of course not. I guess you've never worked with roofing lead with high levels of Antimony, which is why I'm trying to avoid it!
Joe
Reply to
Joe Travis
What kind of dimensions do you need?
Small amounts of tin or antimony are often added to improve mechanical properties. For example, we have a small amount of lead sheet that is about 0.020 thick, with about two percent Sb added to it. It still feels 'dead soft' but would probably fall apart under its own weight if it were not alloyed a bit.
If you want to get real uniform thickness you are going to be looking at some kind of roller setup to work the cast product you make.
Do you need high purity - 4, 5 or 6 nines?
Jim
Reply to
jim rozen
Bob is a private pilot like myself, and as such I'm willing to cut him some slack.
General aviation has been made a target for a lot of "feel good" security policies by the TSA and other agencies. Policies that do nothing to increase our security, but makes Joe Public feel like the TSA is doing something.
This has been going on since 9/11 and the pilot community has developed something of a gallows humor about it. I can certainly see where the non-flying public might not see the humor though.
Reply to
Frank Stutzman
Thanks for posting that answer Dave. As a pipe organ enthusiast, I have a good number of pipes made by that method. You can tell this by the fabric patterns inside of the pipe, because the casting was generally done on a sheet of canvas with the boat running on the pair of the wood planks that you mentioned. It may be well to mention that the alloy of lead used for this purpose generally includes tin as well as antimony (in fact, more often tin than antimony) depending on the sound of the pipe you are attempting to duplicate.
I'm not sure that they use the same method for producing lead flashing sheets, which are smooth on boat sides and come in long rolls. My best guess is that this stuff is extruded, but then I've never seen this process in operation.
Harry C.
Reply to
Harry Conover
Joe, Home Depot sells lead flashing sheets right next to the copper, as do most quality hardware stores. That failing, locate a seller who sell slate roofing materials. They will also sell copper and lead flashing material.
Harry C.
Reply to
Harry Conover

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