I have to lay out my lead cred first.

The day I began building organs in 1983, my blood was tested for lead. When we’d finished two organs by 1992, my blood was again tested for lead. Though they both tested positive for beer, before and after results were exactly the same for lead. So there’s that.

We cast our own pipes from 3 alloys of lead and tin–mostly lead, of course. We also hand-scraped each pipe to its final thickness with cabinet scrapers!, leaving lead ribbons thin as onion skin. The high-tin front pipes face the audience, so the scrapers for those were honed on oil stones, which left a mirror pipe surface and generated powdered lead shavings.

We wore masks for front pipe scraping. We soldered all the seams with eutectic solder that we made and cast in bars about the thickness of your little finger, about a foot long. We made our own flux from tallow and secret chemicals, the sizing from rust and other secret chemicals.

Lots and lots of skin contact with lead.

I’ve seen those casting pots boolit makers use. It would take four of those to fill one ladle, the two-handed one we used to fill the casting box–which needed ten ladles to fill it for a big pipe. The casting pot weighed over 600 pounds full of molten lead.

The Master was religious about lead safety. I learned from the Master. Lead cred. Snap.

So, here are some things about working with lead safely.

We had shoes we wore only for casting and pipe making. We left them at work and wore sneakers home.

We wore coveralls for casting.

Religious hands-washing, not because lead can be absorbed much through the skin, but because touching something else transfers the lead, and eventually it will get into someone’s mouth or lungs.

We wore apron, Nomex gloves, and a face shield and dust mask when casting. You have not lived until you’ve been face-splashed with molten lead. And your shoes will get splashed, so here’s the second call for special lead shoes. If you have kids, it’s doubly important. Sensible shoes are a good idea.

Wear dust masks when sweeping up and during casting.

What happens when bullets go down barrels and smack into backstops at high speed–there is a problem: dust.

This exposes potential problems with indoor ranges. It is good first to check out the ventilation system before you shoot. Some ranges pull fumes toward the target, and some pull them toward the shooter. Shoot in ranges that pull the smoke toward the targets.

Here is something I learned on the Liberal Gun Club forum about hands home from the range: wet kleenie-wipes in those plastic packs. You keep ’em in your car trunk, use one and re-close the pack, then toss the wipe in the range trash can. This is so we don’t bring range lead home. You know, you’re handling bullets, brass, all kinds of solvents maybe, or what ever funky stuff is in your range bag. You don’t want that to get on your steering wheel to flavor your next burrito or what not.

Safety with lead can’t be over done.

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