How to Build a Lead-Shot Maker

by James Roberts
Make shotshells with a lead-shot maker.

Make shotshells with a lead-shot maker.

Lead-shot making has been around since the 16th Century. Since the introduction of black powder in Europe at that time, wing-shooters have treasured the art of making their own shot shells. The integral component in the process is a small sphere of pure lead. Prior to the introduction of modern shot-making equipment, lead shot was dripped as molten lead into the air. As it fell, it naturally assumed a spherical shape, landing in a bath of water or cool motor oil to solidify. Today, this ancient art of lead-shot making has been revitalized.

  1. Measure and mark five pieces of 3/8-inch steel plate for the body of the lead open hearth. The back and front should be 12 inches by 8 inches, and 12 inches by 4 inches, respectively. The sides should be identical, trapezoidal shapes with an 8-inch-base dimension, a right-edge length of eight inches and a left-edge dimension of four inches. The bottom of the open hearth should be 12 inches by 8 inches.

  2. Cut the pieces of the lead open hearth with an acetylene torch. Clean up the edges with a heavy steel file.

  3. Weld the five pieces together, producing a lead open hearth that measures 12 inches by 8 inches with the back slanted down to a front side four inches high.

  4. Measure, mark and drill three equidistant holes in the lower face of the front panel. Make the holes 1/2 inch in diameter and 3/4 inch up from the inside bottom of the hearth. Use a power drill to make the holes.

  5. Insert the wire feed nozzles through the holes, one at a time, with the pointed tip of the nozzle extending 1/2 inch outbound of the hearth. Weld the nozzles in place by looping a bead of metal around the edge of the hole on both sides of the front plate (the nozzles are brass so they must be welded this way; brass can't be welded to steel).

  6. Measure, mark and cut four legs for the hearth. Make them 1 inch by 6 inches of 3/8-inch steel plate. Weld them to the four corners of the base of the hearth, producing an elevated hearth that can be fired from beneath its frame.

  7. Measure and mark a 6-inch-by-8-inch piece of 1/8-inch sheet metal for the drip plate. Cut the piece with a power hacksaw. Weld the piece to the bottom edge of the open hearth. Make it point down and forward with a 45-degree angle from the bottom of the base.

  8. Use a Teflon paint to coat the upper surface of the drip plate.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • T-square
  • Permanent marker
  • Steel plate (3/8 inch by 24 inches by 36 inches)
  • Acetylene torch and tanks
  • Heavy steel file
  • Steel vise
  • 140-Amp stick welder
  • Power drill
  • 3 Wire feed nozzles (.023 inch)
  • Sheet metal (1/8 inch by 6 inches by 8 inches)
  • Power hacksaw
  • Teflon paint
  • Paintbrush


  • Place a double row of 5/8-inch firebrick pieces under the shot maker prior to inserting a fire source under the box.
  • Place a small plastic tub with four inches of antifreeze under the shot maker for the shot to drip into.


  • Wear eye protection when working with hot metal.


  • "Welding Fabrication and Repair"; Frank Marlowe; 2002

About the Author

James Roberts began writing professionally in 1989, focusing initially on methodologies, multimedia courses and how-to articles on information technology, business, software, health care and relationships. His published works appear on various online article databases and he holds a Bachelor of Science in business from West Virginia University.

Photo Credits

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