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· "Mighty Can Smiter"
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was thinking about purchasing a rock tumbler to maybe smooth out rocks that I find in order to utilize them for "better" ammo.

What do you think?
Has anyone attempted this?
would it be good to smooth out self- lead cast ammo? (I don't use lead, but I know many do)

LGD
 

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For lead casting, all you have to do to get a rounder ball is use steel molds with a sprue cutter so you can... put the balls back into the mold turned by a quarter so the flat sprue side is against the round wall... give it a tap or two with a hammer until the mold is shut all the way..... and now you have very round and smooth balls. This is what my daughter does when she makes ammo.... hers is by far the most accurate I've shot with.

Putting it all in a rock tumbler works to a degree, but the finish on the lead balls isn't as smooth and the sprues don't really disappear as well... but using the tumbler for rocks should be okay.
I'd imagine you'd want to double screen a gravel pile or something to get the sizes you want and then tumble them.
 

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It would be cheaper to go to a landscaper and buy a bucket of river stones. I pay about $6 for a 20 pound bucket of 1/2 inch river stone ground by nature. Tumblers don't work well with sedimentary rocks which seem to be the most common lots of places. Tumblers cost and the grit to do the first smoothing cost you to buy also. Then you have to keep the tumbler running for about two weeks to a month and remember to add oil to the motor at least once a day. Mine was made by T Square now Thumlers Tumbler and has seen 30 years of use. I think it holds 20 pounds of rock, water and grit; so about 15 pounds of stone. You may also want to buy a belt and drum seal to have as spares. If you play paintball you can tumble them to help with accuracy.
Wayne
 

· "Mighty Can Smiter"
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4,166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@Bill.. yeah I could see that it might not be worth it for lead, and yes I was planning on scavaging for rocks with my daughter and was thinking it would be nice to smooth them out a bit ( outside from the times we go to the river where the stones are quasi-smooth already).

But from the comments here, and doing more research it might be more trouble than what it's worth.. oh well I may still get one for precious stone collecting.. I mean there is no such thing as too much involvement when it comes to the kids education..

Thanks all

LGD
 

· Cogito Ergo Armatum Sum
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956 Posts
I use a vibrating type brass polisher loaded with sand to give my cast lead shot a uniform matte surface and minimize the sprue. I find the matte surface easier to grip in the pouch than a smooth polished lead surface, which tends to feel slippery to me.

As for rocks, as mentioned the carbide grit for smoothing rocks is not exactly cheap. Most tumblers are fairly small and would not do a lot of rocks per batch either. A trick that many rockhounds use is to make a tumbler for the first stage out of an old tire. A couple of plywood circles, a long bolt or piece of allthread and a few nuts will hold a couple hundred pounds of rocks, grit and water. You can either put it on rollers and drive one roller to turn it, or suspend it with bearings from the center shaft and turn that.
 

· "Mighty Can Smiter"
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4,166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My neighbour got these from a local Garden Suppliers. They are lively little beggars and some have been known to jump into my pocket when I am walking by
I don't publicly support those actions
but sure sounds like less work then Js is asking me to do


I will probably still get a tumbler for my daughter on christmas... but only save it for use if I want to shoot "quartz" or "lapis lazuli"


again thanks for all the comments.. it helped me organize my thoughts on using 'natural ammo'

LGD
 

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I use a vibrating type brass polisher loaded with sand to give my cast lead shot a uniform matte surface and minimize the sprue. I find the matte surface easier to grip in the pouch than a smooth polished lead surface, which tends to feel slippery to me.
That not a bad idea, would work great I bet. What brand of tumbler do you use? Is it necessary to buy a good one or would a cheap Midway tumbler get 'er done?
 

· Cogito Ergo Armatum Sum
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956 Posts
I use a vibrating type brass polisher loaded with sand to give my cast lead shot a uniform matte surface and minimize the sprue. I find the matte surface easier to grip in the pouch than a smooth polished lead surface, which tends to feel slippery to me.
That not a bad idea, would work great I bet. What brand of tumbler do you use? Is it necessary to buy a good one or would a cheap Midway tumbler get 'er done?
[/quote]
I don't know what brand mine is, but you can bet it was cheap. it's orange. I think a vibratory would work better than a rotary, but might be wrong. a couple of pounds of sand screened to remove bigger chips will leave a nice matte finish on lead. I dispose of the sand each batch to avoid inhaling lead dust. Never a good thing to get into your lungs.

A overnight ride in the tumbler with sand then a few hours with a couple of pounds of rice will remove rust and leave steel bearings matte polished and coated with a very fine oil that discourages future rust too. I reuse the rice with steel, have never tried it on lead though.
 
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