Loading Block for Dad

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Project by William posted 10-10-2012 12:09 AM 5002 views 7 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My Dad is a member of S.A.S.S. (Single Action Shooting Society). In competition, he uses something called a loading block to carry twenty shells at a time up to the line. The block he has been using was dropped and damaged. It was still usable, but he wanted a new one. When he went to find the guy who’d made his other one, he found out the old man had passed away. So he thought I could make him one.
So, over a year ago, he brought one to me on a visit from where he lives, in Atlanta, Georgia. I thought this was going to be simple enough, and set out to make him one. Thinking it was simple turned out to be wrong.
The holes are so close together that no matter what I tried, it would break out when I got half way through making the thing.

Here was one of my better attempts, but as you can see, there is still quite a bit of tear out on the bottom, which I found unacceptable.
Well, I was putting up heater pipe yesterday when it came to me. It’s funny how things can seem so simple at the weirdest moments. So I hurried up and finished the heater work, and rushed back inside the shop to see if my idea was, in fact, going to work. It did.
The problem, the way I seen it, was that with the holes so close together, no matter how much I backed up the block, there just wasn’t enough support for the wood to hold together. Vibration from the drill bit, runout, something, would cause it to mess up. So all I had to do was provide support, but how was I to do this if backing it up by clamping it to another piece of wood wasn’t even working? How could I make the support stronger? Well I thought about the strength of wood in and of itself.
What I done was start with a block about a half inch thicker than I needed. It drilled all twenty holes to within a quarter of an inch to the bottom of that block. Also, I had ream out the top part of the holes. This makes room for the head of a gun shell and keeps it from falling through. After all this, then I moved over to the band saw and sliced off that extra half inch from the bottom of the block, leaving all twenty holes nice and clean.

So here is how he uses this block.
I don’t have any .45 long colt shells to demonstrate this with, only four enpty casings he left with me for measuring purposes, but that’ll do for me to show how it works.

Here the block is closed. When he walks up to the shooting line, the shells are held safey under the lid, with only the business ends sticking out the bottom. The primers, the part that could cause a shell to fire, are safely under the lid.

When he sets the block on the shooting table, he swings the lid open, revealing the shells. Here, there’s only the four empty casings I had available. Usually there would be twenty shells in it.

Also, with the lid swung open, the block can fall freely straight down to the table, pushing the primer head of the shell upwards, making them easier for him to grab with his fingers. The events are timed, so it’s important for the shells to be able to be easily grabbed as needed.

I will be seeing Dad next weekend. So I plan on giving him this one then. However, now that I know the “trick” to making these, I plan on, when I get time, making him a couple of extra blocks. I hope to make them a bit more fancy and personalized for him than this one.


32 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19706 posts in 2875 days

#1 posted 10-10-2012 12:17 AM

That is quite the unique project. Great epiphany and end result.

Thanks for the lesson…....

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3040 days

#2 posted 10-10-2012 12:24 AM

I love it William. Now that is a good tool.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View KnotCurser's profile


2027 posts in 3268 days

#3 posted 10-10-2012 12:24 AM

VERY good solution to a tricky problem!

I will have to remember this when drilling holes – one usually uses a backer board, but this actually seems a better idea.


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View JL7's profile


8690 posts in 3165 days

#4 posted 10-10-2012 12:25 AM

Nicely done. Like how you worked thru the problem to a great solution…..I’m sure your Dad will appreciate this…

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#5 posted 10-10-2012 12:25 AM

Thanks Randy.
I can’t believe it took me this long to figure out a way to do it correctly.
My Dad says he’s checked everywhere and couldn’t find anyone who makes them. All the guys in his group uses different methods, most of them factory made systems. My dad though prefers a wooden block.


View patron's profile


13640 posts in 3541 days

#6 posted 10-10-2012 12:29 AM

looks good william

there is always a way
we just need to find it

have a good visit with your dad

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#7 posted 10-10-2012 12:31 AM

Who, three comments before I can type one repsonse.

Thanks Dave, it is a good way to carry shells to the shooting area. I’m thinking of making me a couple for .22 shells for my little plinking I do from time to time. For my larger calibers, I can’t afford to waste ammo enough to play around with.

KnotCurser, a backer board usually works for me too. These holes are so close together though. My dad wanted the block to be no bigger than his old one. It is only 8”x 2” and has twenty holes in it, and has to still have room for the swinging lid. The holes are just under a half inch but only 9/16” from center to center on each side.
Thank you for the compliment.

Jeff, it only took me a year to work it out. I’ve tried several different ways of doing this, but none worked out correctly. The only way I had been able to do it without tearout before this idea was with forstner bits. The problem is, I couldn’t find one the right size. I had a metric size I special ordered that was too small, and a half inch was too big. The holes had to be large enough for the shell, but smaller than the shell head. That is a tiny amount of different on a .45 long colt shell.


View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#8 posted 10-10-2012 12:33 AM

Patron, thanks. My Mom and Dad are passing through next weekend. I am only meeting them in Jackson, MS for dinner. I wish I could see them, more, but there’s so much distance between them and me.
I would love to visit with them more, but they’re only on a weekend trip to the family reunion. I don’t go to the reunion because of the distance involved, I would only be miserable by the time I made the trip, and I don’t wish to sit there miserable and ruin everyone else’s good time.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3503 days

#9 posted 10-10-2012 12:50 AM

great work william, we all have different minds, and they work some slow some fast, and if you can be left alone long enough you can figure it out…and you did, this is learning that i love, sometimes if a process can be shown, say by the man who passed away who made these, then the learning curve would have been much shorter…but im glad to see you figured it out…your a good man william, and im proud of all you have done with your limitations, fantastic..grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#10 posted 10-10-2012 12:58 AM

Thank you Grizz.
I just talked to my Dad on the phone.
He’s going to show this to the other members and he thinks I may have to make some for some other guys. I didn’t realize that there are others that have been needing blocks since that old man died.
Who knows, maybe this will turn into something bigger than I ever imagined.
I can hope.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3503 days

#11 posted 10-10-2012 01:01 AM

that would be really great, i know we wood workers enjoy it when our work is liked by others ans more is wanted, giving us a chance for some funding for the home…or a few tools…i hope it works out that way…god willing…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#12 posted 10-10-2012 01:06 AM

I think I’m going to make another one real soon Grizz with my Dad’s alias carved in the lid. Then he could show the other members the plain one and the cutomized one. This would give them a style and price difference.
All the members have aliases and they dress in cowboy attire. My Dad’s alias is Gunn Walker. His best friend is out of commision at the moment due to a surgury, but I’m thinking of doing him one. I don’t know if I could do his whole alias on the lid though, maybe the initials. His alias is Mean Matt McCord.


View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11063 posts in 3628 days

#13 posted 10-10-2012 01:10 AM

Nice shell box, William. And, a great way to “gitter done”.
Here’s hoping it really does turn into something bigger.
All the best, buddy.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#14 posted 10-10-2012 01:12 AM

View boxcarmarty's profile


16740 posts in 2560 days

#15 posted 10-10-2012 01:30 AM

I love waiting ‘til the last minute to do a project. Don’t you??? It tends to add to the excitement.

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

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