Show Us Your Bullets!

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Forum topic by Lee Barker posted 12-17-2010 07:21 PM 2145 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3028 days

12-17-2010 07:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak

Three times in my woodworking career I have come across stray lead in lumber.

I have no documentation of the presentation box I built about 5 years ago for a client who asked that three species of reclaimed lumber be used. I found three slugs in one of the boards, and he asked that I include them as visibly as possible.

The first time I found lead I was ripping face frame stock from oak and a group of 1 1/2” material was on its way into the planer when I spotted the unusual gray color. I didn’t know what it was, but feared it was something ferrous (feral?) but it immediately disappeared into the machine. Out the other side came nicely planed edges with a sparkling copper ring and shiny lead slug. Further examination of the stock revealed another example. I cut them out and saved them. In the image you see the double piece which has a hinge on the back. Opened, you see the slug. The other board shows the effect then the reverse side. It is interesting to study these grain patterns to see how the tree responded to the insult from the projectile.

Latest find was straightlining 6/4 oak for rails for an arts and crafts bed (see my Projects Page for images of the frame). The client insisted the bullet show as prominently as possible, so he made sure it appeared on her side, not his.

What’s your story?

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

13 replies so far

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 4083 days

#1 posted 12-17-2010 08:09 PM

Here is a .50 caliber musket ball I sawed in 1/2 with my bandmill. It was very deep inside a 200+ year old sycamore.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3214 days

#2 posted 12-17-2010 08:59 PM

Gives a whole new meaning to ’ Get the lead out.’

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View TheDane's profile


5535 posts in 3840 days

#3 posted 12-17-2010 10:10 PM

I don’t have pictures, but a couple of years ago I bought some re-claimed red oak beams that am Amish guy had salvaged from a building near the Fort McCoy military reservation. My rip blade ‘found’ what appeared to be a .45 caliber slug. I heard the blade hit something during the cut … didn’t realize it was a bullet until I dug it out and measured it. It was a clean cut and there was no apparent damage to the blade.

The funny thing is, there were no defects in the wood that would have given a hint of what was embedded in it. I believe that bullet was fired into the tree while it was still growing and the tree grew around it.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3951 days

#4 posted 12-17-2010 10:51 PM

After I got out of high school, I took a two year Vocational course that was one year of cabinet building and one year where we built a house. We could build our own cabinets or people in the area could order custom cabinets and have us build them. All it cost them was material cost plus a shop free to cover shop supplies. Some farmer brought in some walnut boards he had harvested from his farm years ago. He wanted a four drawer dresser made and knew that there was at least one board with three bullets in it. He requested that I use that board in the top. When I was laying out the top boards for glue up, one of the boards I wanted to use had a knot hole in it. I did not want to putty it, so filled it with solder and told him I found another bullet. He was very pleased. Only bullets I have ever seen in fourty years of doing woodworking. Thanks for the reminder.

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View TheDane's profile


5535 posts in 3840 days

#5 posted 12-17-2010 11:15 PM

ND2ELK—Pretty clever! Bet he never figured it out.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 3415 days

#6 posted 12-17-2010 11:59 PM

Back in High School shop ( way way back ) the shop teacher power planned a walnut board and it had a large quantity of 22 cal or so slugs in it, nicely grouped. Planned them real smooth.

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3459 days

#7 posted 12-18-2010 05:27 AM

Years ago, when I was a lot younger I spent a couple years doing mostly roofing. I was amazed at the number of bullets I found when we’d do a tear-off of an old roof. It’s messy work and bullets are small. I’d guess I only saw less than a tenth of the bullets in those roofs, if I was lucky. It wasn’t unusual for me to find a couple bullets in a roof. There’s a lot of lead flying around out there.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18380 posts in 3853 days

#8 posted 12-18-2010 08:21 AM

lwllms Where were you working with that many bullets on roofs?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3459 days

#9 posted 12-18-2010 04:23 PM

I live in a small rural town in Arkansas. Some bullets were probably from hunting out side of town but many appeared to be pistol rounds. My guess is the result of New Years revelers popping off a few rounds into the air trying to shoot down the new year or bar patrons shooting at stars after “last call.”

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

699 posts in 2958 days

#10 posted 12-21-2010 11:47 PM

Some years ago when visiting a professional woodworker to pick up some offcuts for bowl turning, as a newcomer to this sort of thing I was impressed by his very new-looking dust collection system, with all its pipes and a huge collection bag that reached almost to the ceiling. When I remarked on this, the owner explained how on one occasion previously he had been ripping some rather thick raw lumber from Africa and had hit an embedded bullet. He said that this must have created a spark, since his whole dust collection system (full of potentially explosive fine wood powder) had exploded with a tremendous bang, and that the bag disintegrated and blew out part of the shop wall. Apart from being stunned and deafened, he was lucky to be unhurt. I can’t remember whether the new system included any items that would help to reduce the chance of a recurrence of his ‘big bang’, but it would have seemed a sensible addition.
Thinking about this now, I wonder if it had actually been a bullet – since lead (or a copper sheath) might not have produced a spark (?) – but perhaps it was something ferrous, such as the broken off point of an assegai or something similar.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View TheDane's profile


5535 posts in 3840 days

#11 posted 12-21-2010 11:58 PM

Don—Full metal jacket bullets sometimes use a steel alloy, which certainly could cause sparks.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3680 days

#12 posted 12-22-2010 12:51 AM

The wood that I used to make one of my first projects here, The Ark, was made from a huge sign that hung alongside a highway…
It must have been an inviting target because it had been shot at numerous times….22 bullets lodged in Mahogany

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View knotscott's profile


8141 posts in 3553 days

#13 posted 12-22-2010 01:15 AM

In a former life before I did woodworking, I had a high end speaker company and hired my cabinets done by a couple of local woodworking shops. One of them came across an old lead slug in a piece of cherry for a custom pair of speakers. He was all excited and wanted to feature the lead! I wasn’t so sure the customer would appreciate the novelty of it, so we featured the “plain” side. Sorry, no pics, but it did happen!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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