Instructables
Picture of Lead / Pewter Casting at home
How to cast lead / pewter at home using what you have around you.

I needed some lead balls for using in a homemade ball mill and they are too expensive to buy and I had some lead kicking around in the shed so I figured I would cast my own.

At this point it is worth noting that lead is poisonous so be careful.

you can cast pewter in the same method as I have shown for the lead.
 
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Step 1: What you will need

what you will need

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some lead, I used roofing lead off cuts

plaster or other casting media

non-drying modelling clay

old tin can

biscuit tin or somewhere to put scrap molten lead

an old teaspoon

long handle pliers

1 x G clamps

a shallow muffin tin or somewhere to put excess molten lead

hacksaw or tin snips to cut off excess lead

old scissors for cutting lead

petroleum jelly

would I be able to cast molten pewter onto a fissured table top that has been made out of wood? The voids are linear streams where the wood has decayed. The rest of the lumber is sound and hard.

n1cod3mus (author)  ken.bird.5811 month ago

hmmmm, maybe, I would soak the wood first to prevent burning, and then quench the metal right after pouring by pouring cold water on it. I would try it out on a test piece of wood first.

PamBensman2 months ago

I have about 50lb.s of pewter plates. They are scratched beyond saving I was wondering if I melt them, could I use them for making jewelry?

n1cod3mus (author)  PamBensman2 months ago
I can't see why not, you could make molds out of plaster, as long as you heat the molds before you pour they should come out well.

when you have done some post them up here, it would be nice to see.

try a bracelet you could do that flat then bend it to shape afterwards should be nice and easy.
PamBensman2 months ago

I have about 50lb.s of pewter plates. They are scratched beyond saving I was wondering if I melt them, could I use them for making jewelry?

Mikey85679 months ago

I cast lead fishing sinkers and here's a few tips:

#1 Avoid moisture (water) on or in the lead, causes explosion (liquid lead every where, including you if close enough)

#2 Preheat your molds if you can. Helps with flow and gets rid of moisture.

#3 If your going to do a lot of casting take your bulk lead and make ingots first. This helps two ways. It allows you to get ride of the impurities and also makes adding lead to your pot easier. Typical ingot casting pan is cornbread cast iron pan. You can also use stainless steel measuring cups (allows to to make any size ingots based on what your doing).

#4 Wear long sleeve shirts, welding gloves, and some sort of face protection (face shield). If your casting outdoors (Preferred) a simple dusk mast will be fine as long as you have airflow and your not hovering right over the melting pot a lot. Of course the level of protection is up to you. You feel you need a respirator then use one.

Lead is a poisonous heavy metal that over the many years of use has been linked to many deaths and cause of many illnesses. It is being phased out thru the USA (Starting to ban the use of lead in fishing weights, lead bullets, and other stuff). The use of lead is entirly up to you, but please check your local and state laws concerning it and it's use.

One phrase I always live by "When in doubt, check it out!"

HBU2 years ago
Safety Note -- As a jeweler, I appreciate the qualities of pewter. The problem is that lead is a heavy metal poison and should be handled approiately.
Do not melt lead without very good ventilation and/or appropriate respiratory protection.
Always wear an apron and a work shirt that you can take off so as not to minimize cross contamination when working lead and lead based white metals.
Also, look for "Britannia" metal. It is a lead free pewter that works really easily.

Just my 2 cents for what I consider to be one of the top 10 coolest sites on the net.
jayb12 years ago
Find old car batterys. Empty the Acid out into a plastic bucket. Mix up some drain cleaner.(draino) Pour it into the battery shake it up a bit. Then pour the contents into the Acid in the plastic bucket. This will neutralize the Acid in the battery case & the bucket. Smash open the battery & there you have lead. Put a little Draino in the pot when you melt the lead, otherwise it tends to be acidic & will slowly eat through the bottom of your tinnie, (boat)

That's what we did when we were kids. There's nothing wrong with us, with us, with us. ;-)

Go to your local fishing store. They have sinker moulds, if you just want round lead balls. Don't put a greasy wire through where normally the holes would be.

Mr. Jay. You are absolutely right!
Tired of working with molten lead. If it were so poisonous, I would be killed by lead poisoning.
Cezsaria2 years ago
Casting is fun! Very nice instructable.

Please also mark the tins/spoons/pans in some way so that they are never used for foodstuffs again by accident!!
n1cod3mus (author)  Cezsaria2 years ago
thats not going to be an issue, the tin ends up blue at the bottom and has lead stuck to the bottom, just a little. and the spoon is bent
ak47freak2 years ago
where did you find the lead?
n1cod3mus (author)  ak47freak2 years ago
they were off cuts, i got them off my dad who collected a lot of it years ago, you could try asking a builder is he has some off cuts but some times they keep it and sell it to a scrap yard.
in the us, we don't use much lead in homes anymore. wheel weights are lead. pry them off of old car rims, and cut out the steel rim clip.
n1cod3mus (author)  handyhippie652 years ago
intresting, what do they use for flashings?
for roof flashings around vent pipes we have a product that has an aluminum, or steel plate that mounts to the roof, and a neoprene gasket that fits around the pipe with a water tight seal. i replace the old lead ones that leak all of the time. most other flashing is made with either aluminum, or a neoprene membrane with adhesive on both side that seals around fasteners. the epa has regulated the use of lead in homes, in both paint, and materials. i have worked on some old houses that still had lead plumbing, but we haven't used it in decades. i know in europe they still have buildings with lead roofs. never saw one here.
Old fishing weights can be made of lead.
LancasterPA2 years ago
You must be single and live alone. When I was a kid, my mom would have shot me for doing this on her stove. Now my wife would kill me just the same. I think maybe a single burner stove out side would be needed for this. I may just try this to make diving weights using a muffin top tin like you did. I think I will try to heat it with a propane torch in a tin can. Good Photos.
n1cod3mus (author)  LancasterPA2 years ago
I would have used a camping stove but i couldnt find it, my cooker is right by the back door so fumes are not an issue.

my mrs is really understanding she knows i do mental stuff now and then and has come to accept it.
At first I melted scrap lead into ingots using a charcoal BBQ and a hair dryer as blower. I got a 2 metre metal tube & put one end in the fire and the hair dryer blowing in the other end (so the girlfriend's plastic hair dryer was not melted). I just set the cast iron pot in the fire. The charcoal melted lead fast & easily. I melted 100 kg of scrap with charcoal before changing to the camp stove. Altogether my $6 cast iron pot has melted about 900 kg of lead. 8 kg in the iron pot is as much molten metal as I can safely lift and pour. Some people use ladles which is easier but takes longer.
lead + cooking tin = geeeeeennniiiiiiuuuusss
ernie6662 years ago
You could just buy some steel bearing balls
Ball mills usually need to have "non sparking" balls...
n1cod3mus (author)  MK1Jack2 years ago
give that man a star, yes most people use ball mills to grind materials for pyrotechnics, so you dont want any sparks otherwise you could blow your self up.

and I also wanted to use what I had around me, and I'm out of work at the moment so I dont have the money spare to buy ball bearings for test.
hammer98762 years ago
So you shouldn't be breathing in or licking fingers when working with lead?

Or rather, you should be wearing respiratory protection and gloves to avoid being poisoned?

Yikes!
ak47freak2 years ago
would it be possible to pre-heat the mold in an oven/toaster oven to try and reduce the effects of heat shock?
n1cod3mus (author)  ak47freak2 years ago
thats exactly what i did when i started but between casts it cooled too much, i should have put it back in the oven betwen casts
Trike Lover2 years ago
Thanks for this Instructable. From my own experience I would not recommend melting lead indoors. Lead fumes are both toxic and stinky.

A Coleman stove and a small inexpensive cast iron pot work well outdoors. Proper clothing and safety gear are a must - long sleeves,shirt buttoned, long pants, leather boots or shoes, good gloves, and most importantly eye and/or face protection. Some people also recommend a lead respirator mask - they are not expensive, and melting lead does produce a lot of fumes.

A good rule to follow is: never add cold scrap to a pot of molten lead. Some scrap - range lead or wheel weights, for instance - has holes or voids that may trap water. Adding these to the melted lead can cause molten metal to spatter - sometimes violently - from the pot.

Rule of thumb: Fill the pot, melt it, then pour the pot empty. You can then safely refill the pot with fresh scrap, and do another melt/pour cycle.

Thanks for the writeup. Casting can be enjoyable and useful. Have fun and stay safe.
Austringer2 years ago
If you're casting modern pewter (90 Tin, 9 Antimony, 1 Copper) the fumes are not that much of an issue. Lead - yeah - well ventilated space, activated charcoal respirator, don't get your metal any hotter than you need to. (If it turns a slip of printer paper a golden brown after 15 seconds or so, it should be good.)

The big safety issue is making sure the plaster is REALLY DRY. If you have a drop of free water in there it will boil, and you'll get a very exciting demonstration that steam has a volume of more than 1200 times the same amount of water. Don't ask me how I know this.
otsillac2 years ago
must wear respiratory protection to avoid inhaling fumes.
wire-nut2 years ago
Make sure wash your hands, also dross is easy inhale.
n1cod3mus (author)  wire-nut2 years ago
yes indeed, dont eat food or put your fingers near your mouth without washing your hands first