How to chop up a 50# chunk of soft lead?

I took a bunch of aluminum cans to the scrap metal dealer today. (I've never seen his place so full before) I asked about scrap lead. He poked
around a bit... said he thought he had a half a bucket of it but he must have sold it already. Then he said "I have a kinda big piece if you want it."
It's about a foot in diameter and a couple of inches think, with a bent iron bar sticking out the middle of the top. I don't know what it was for because the iron bar does not have a loop in it like it would for an anchor. "You gonna melt it down?" I said yes; I asked how much he wanted for it, and he said he'd just give it to me; he had no use for it.
I hauled it home and put it on the bathroom scale. Fifty pounds exactly. I scratched to top with a wood screw and it seems kind of soft. Now I just gotta figure out how to cut this thing into 3 or 4 pieces so I can melt it... [several hours pass]
I tried cutting it up with a 5# axe. That would work great if it was only an inch thick, but I can't cut more than about 3/4" into this. Even when I manage to hit it in exactly the same spot, it just goes "thunk" and the cut doesn't go any deeper.
Next I tried drilling holes in it with a 1/2" drill, and cutting between the holes with a cold chisel. That actually almost works -- very slowly. Maybe I should be using a splitting wedge instead of a cold chisel. I also discovered that a 1/2" Milwaukee portable drill can easily pick up a 50 pound block of lead and spin it around and smash your thumb with that iron bar sticking out the top. (that could have turned out much worse.)
Someone told me to use a torch to cut it; so I fired up the acetylene/air torch and tried to melt it along the line of holes I had drilled already. That *might* have worked if I was willing to use up the whole tank of acetylene. I gave up on that pretty quickly.
I don't have a bandsaw.
The best I've come up with (besides building a big wood fire and melting it into a puddle and dipping it up) is drilling a line of holes thru it, and then "connecting the dots" with a carpenters hand saw. I live in the city is the reason I don't do that big fire thing with some old firewood.
Are there any other obvious methods that I'm overlooking? Maybe a Sawzall with a wood-cutting blade? The table saw just doesn't seem like a good idea...
Thanks, Bob
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I would try a sawzall first. A woodcutting blade would be my first choice. I would stay away from O/A for fear of too much contamination. if you have an air hammer, try using its chisel.
i
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zxcvbob writes:

You gotta melt it and make pigs. Structural angle works well for pig molds. Lloyd S will show you how to cast other shapes with aluminum foil in a bucket of kitty litter.
You have some value there. Look at how lead has rocketed for 20 cents/lb to over $1/lb lately on the world markets:
http://www.kitconet.com/charts/metals/base/spot-lead-5y.gif
Time to go sweep up the local garage floor.
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Use a propane torch to melt off as much as you need at one time
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When I was melting lead into "pigs", I used a ladle from Walmart, it worked quite well. Dip the ladle, get lead into it, and then lower it into a bucket with water carefully, making sure that water does not come over the top, so that lead cools rapidly. I have about 50 lbs of ladle shaped pieces of lead in my basement now.
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Richard J Kinch wrote:

I'm using little stainless steel cups (shaped like muffins) for molds, but for this I might use beer cans for molds for this because they are bigger, and to keep this lead separated from my harder alloys (I have about 60 pounds already that I've scrounged at the local outdoor pistol range, in nice little 2# ingots. It casts like it already has a little tin in it.)
I have a little electric hotplate in the garage that can easily melt about 10 or 15 pounds at a time, but first I have to get it into pieces that'll fit in the saucepan I'm using for a crucible.
> You have some value there. Look at how lead has rocketed for 20 cents/lb > to over $1/lb lately on the world markets: > >
http://www.kitconet.com/charts/metals/base/spot-lead-5y.gif
> > Time to go sweep up the local garage floor.
Thanks. Time to make a riddle and go sift the berm behind the rifle range. There's probably tons of bullets and shotgun slugs in there.
Bob
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Richard J Kinch wrote: ...

...
That's not the scrap price, "mixed lead" is $.47 here: http://www.recycle.net/Metal-N/Lead/index.html
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zxcvbob wrote:

I would guess that with a band saw or portable band saw you could saw corners of it. A sawzall with a wood blade would work. Even a Skill saw with a thin kurf blade would cut it. It's softer than even some woods so almost anything will cut it. Maybe a hand saw without drilling the holes if you need the exercise.
John
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You may not want to breath in a lot of the "dust" produced by some of these methods! Keep that in mind whatever method you use. Melting it might produce some vapors so I don't know which might be worse, the vapors or dust.
[ Someone could google "MSDS lead" or MSDS Pb - with or without the quotes - at this point. }
I worked a nuclear power house once where lead was used as barriers to the radiation and some of that got melted in a metal ladle and poured into a mold that produced several fish sinkers at once. It started out in 4'x 8' sheets, lifted by cranes. Don't recall the thickness or how they got from one large sheet to pieces that fit into the ladle. As best I can recall - it was 20+ years ago - the metal detectors worked on magnetism at that time and didn't pick up the lead. I'd hate to guess how many pounds allegedly got carried through the metal detectors in the evenings.
========== john wrote:

> I would guess that with a band saw or portable band saw you could saw

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Band saws do work..however..lead is exceptionally gummy and will clog up teeth in short order. Its far far worse than aluminum. I use a 6T blade with coolant..not because it gets hot..but because it helps prevent clogging the teeth up. Sometimes..mostly..usually..kinda sorta
Its best sheared..shrug
Gunner
"Abortion is self defense" Bob Kolker
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A hand saw will definitely work, I've done it. Saw slowly so you don't get heat build up. Course teeth and wide kerf are good.
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...
Two thoughts.
Try a chisel, and work near the edge - your axe could also work, but you don't want to pound on an axe head. It gets stuck because the metal cannot move - if you are near an edge, the metal at the edge can move, and you can peel off chunks.
The other would be to try freezing it and smacking it with a sledgehammer to see if it would shatter. I don't recall if that will actually work at reasonable temperatures for lead.
--
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

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Ecnerwal wrote:

I didn't think about that. I should be chopping on a tangent rather than straight into it.

It might work at dry ice temperatures, but I don't think I'll try that one.
Bob
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wrote:

a bent

was
this.
goes
but you

metal
move,
will
that one.

Bung it in a bonfire, and let the lead trickle out in a stream - far less effort than swinging with an axe !
AWEM
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Drill horizontally and then use a wedge to cut into the horizontal hole from each side.
You probably don't need to buy a new tool, you might try a hand saw for wood. (Rip blade or pruning saw should work fine)
--
Roger Shoaf
If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent.
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I had a 150 lb pig that was in the bottom of a ship for ballast. I ended up using a hacksaw on it, just started cutting until I had it cut in pieces, then melted them down from there. I have a big cast iron stove that I threw them into to melt but for the initial cut, a hacksaw worked just great for me.
Aaron
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wrote:

A chainsaw with lots of kerosene for lube works, as long you can avoid the steel.
A friend and I cut a good size lead keel up with a large bow saw (the tree trimming sort). It wasn't much fun, but it worked fine. Kero also helps here.
Ned Simmons
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zxcvbob wrote:

Cutting it sucks, as you now know. You want to melt it in one piece and just need a crucible large enough.
If it fits into a 12" skillet, put it in that on a hot plate & be patient. If it's bigger than that, get a small steel barrel & cut it down. Again, the hot plate. Or a piece of 18 ga steel with the edges folded up to make seamless corners.
You can melt it with a propane torch, from the edge. It's kinda' tedious, but once it starts it goes pretty fast. I've melted a few pounds off a big piece that way.
Hey, here's an idea: fasten it upright on its side & position a hot plate right up against it. The the face of the lead will melt & run down to where it's caught in a trough leading to an ingot mold. Now you know why that steel is in there: it's to hold the lead upright while you melt it 8-)
Bob
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snippage

Bandsaw with a coarse blade would have been my first choice. Really, a cross-cut panel saw or a sawzall with a coarse blade should work fine. You can get sawzall blades of all lengths, I've got a 12" one for just such occasions. I've just been melting down a bunch of scrap wheelweights, the old cast iron pot I use will handle about 70 lbs at a time, your chunk would probably just fit as-is. Did 200 lbs of scrap plumbing lead a couple of weekends ago, large chunks, didn't have to cut a thing. I use a propane plumber's lead furnace but if you do a lot of melting down, one of those turkey fryer burners will do just fine if you can find a cast iron crucible. The pot I'm using now resembles one of those camping dutch ovens, those might work out, thrift store, maybe. Don't use aluminum, cast iron or steel only for melting down. A ladle is needed, too. Can't help you there, mine are all inherited.
O/A isn't needed for melting, just a good propane torch if you need to speed things up. One of the turbo sort works best.
Stan
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Here in TX the scrap yard would not sell lead, they said it was against regulations?? Of course they did not sell it to you they gave it, but I like to know what these rules are. Local or EPA nationwide.
MG
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