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Old 06-26-2022, 01:05 PM
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Default Lead Hardness Tester

I purchased a Lee lead hardness tester and found it near impossible to keep steady enough to get a good reading. Here is what I built to make things easier, thought I'd share it to give others an idea.
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Old 06-26-2022, 01:22 PM
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Excellent idea and fabrication. I often make tools/jugs, etc., even when there are easier remedies, just because I can and I just wanna. But I did 2 things to make my use of the Lee "microscope" easier. First I drilled/reamed a Lee sizing die to snugly hold the 'scope and used it in my single stage "C" press. Still kind of uncomfortable to use so I now use a dial caliper while wearing my magnifying visor to measure the dent...

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Old 06-28-2022, 10:47 AM
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Lead Tester-LDTSTR
Cabin Tree made an excellent lead tester that is now being made and sold by Desperado Bullets for future interest in one. I rind it far easier to read a numbered scale than measure dents.
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Old 06-28-2022, 05:10 PM
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I bought a box of a dozen lead pencils with different hardness on each pencil.

I try to draw a line on the lead ingot. If it carves a mark, it is harder than the ingot. If it doesn't draw a mark, it is softer.
It takes seconds to determine my bullet hardness.

Cheap and simple; and it works.

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Old 06-28-2022, 07:15 PM
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So you know the Brinell hardness number for the pencils? Lead pencils do not contain any lead as far as I know??
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Old 06-28-2022, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by glowe View Post
So you know the Brinell hardness number for the pencils? Lead pencils do not contain any lead as far as I know??
It's a fairly common method of testing hardness. Here's a link to one explanation of the method. Checking Lead Hardness With Drawing Pencils
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Old 07-02-2022, 09:25 PM
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I use art pencils as well as the Lee kit. The Lee kit is a pain, but this set up works well. Found the micro scope at a flea market for $5.00!
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Old 07-02-2022, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Piper1410 View Post
...Here is what I built to make things easier, thought I'd share it to give others an idea.
What product did you use for the stand? Is it expensive like some of the casting resins?
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Old 07-03-2022, 02:36 PM
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Nice tool. I've thought about building something similar. Currently I just put the bullet in the vice and brace the hand holding the Lee scope against the vice. To me the biggest flaw in the Lee tester is that the scale is black which makes it extremely hard to read against the backdrop of a dark gray dent in the bullet. It the scale was white or optic yellow, it would be so much easier to use.
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Old 07-03-2022, 03:05 PM
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What product did you use for the stand? Is it expensive like some of the casting resins?
It was a very inexpensive product I purchased on Amazon. An 8 oz two part apoxy resin kit that cost about $20
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Old 07-05-2022, 07:32 PM
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I use the Lee tester. Yes, it can be a pain to use. I would like to find a mold that casts a square piece of lead, in a manner as bullets are cast, that has flats large enough to steady the microscope. Don't like all the filing down that is needed to get a good measuring flat, even with larger 45 or 50 caliber bullets.

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Old 07-05-2022, 08:04 PM
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I've used an LBT tester for more than thirty years. Easy to use with fast, direct readouts. It costs more than some other testers, but if you check hardness on a regular basis, the convenience makes it well worth the price.
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Old 07-15-2022, 06:55 PM
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I think the evolution of my Lee Lead Hardness Tester system has peaked!

A flea market find the other day- $8.00 for a vintage cast iron/brass/steel Baush & Lomb microsope, a few rubber stoppers and a little tinkering.

My first set up was just a chunk of scrap 4x4 post.


Then I found a toy microscope. It was a lot better than the block of wood, but it was still a bit sketchy on adjusting the little scope. But it works.



(Sorry for the sideways pics)
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File Type: jpg lee hardness in micro scope frame.jpg (54.8 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg lee hardness in micro scope frame 2.jpg (68.2 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg lee lead tester holder (2).jpg (85.2 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg lee lead tester in scope stand (1).jpg (98.7 KB, 11 views)

Last edited by tmd17; 07-16-2022 at 03:52 PM.
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