greetings all-
okay here’s my question. I recently completed a model of an Albert Strange Yawl and I put a lead bulb on it which I had cast a long time ago and it turned out a little on the heavy side for the boat. I need to carve some weight off of it which I don’t mind doing and Ibelieve I can. My wife, bless her dear soul, would prefer that I not do this in our apartment, let alone in any public area because Lead is so hazardous. no argument there.

so how toxic is simply carving lead with a rasp and keeping the filings contained and properly disposed of? and washing hands?

where can one go in the city of Boston to carve lead off the keel of a toy boat? I guess I could do it outside on the sidewalk but I don’t want to bother anyone? Not that anyone would really care but…I’m just brainstorming…

any Ideas greatly apreciated
John Storrow

No rasp, dust is bad. Lead is only hazardous if you ingest it. The safe method, which should assuage even the most nervous soul:

Get one of those big aluminum roasting pans, a quart of mineral oil, and a really sharp wood plane. The latter may be hard for some folks, but doable. Wear vinyl gloves. Flood the bulb with oil and plane away, flooding frequently. Besides lubricating, the oil will trap the shavings. When done, put the whole mess in a heavy garbage bag and toss. Don’t worry that you’re adding lead to the landfill, there’s a couple of million batteries in there :slight_smile:

For the record, it’s not solid lead that’s a problem. It’s dust from sanding, which you ingest by breathing, fumes from overheated melted lead, ditto, and dust from the sides of old roads (especially hills) which have been saturated from years of leaded gas exhaust (ditto). The most dangerous form of lead is actually lead acetate, which is formed by putting leaded paint in contact with acidic woods like oak. Lead acetate is a light white powder that is intensely sweet; on Sandia metallurgist I know said it would make a terrific sugar substitute if it wasn’t poisonous. Sequence: old house, oak interior woodwork. Varnish ages, gets painted white (high lead paint). Lead acetate forms next to wood. Paint flakes off. Kid picks up paint flake, tastes, tastes good, goes looking for more of the white powder to lick. Major lead poisoning results.

One symptom of lead poisoning, especially in adolescents, is increased aggression. One theory about the decrease in violent crime in New York City in the late 80’s and 90’s was that this was the period that the city got rid of a lot of lead pipe that was leaching lead into their water supply. Less lead, fewer violent teenagers.

Aren’t you glad you asked?



I might contradict Earl just a bit.

I concur with “nasty” and “dust” issues, however if you can find/purchase a VERY COARSE automotive body file you can use it to shape the bulb without too much worry about health issues. Wear a dust mask, and nitrile gloves, long sleeves. The body file has very wide and coarse cutting edges and was designed to remove lead body filler, and later Bondo filled automotive panels and doors. Once done, dispose of gloves and mask after sweeping filings and placing in sealed container. It helps if you have a copy paper box cover under your work area. Take the lead file shavings to your local HazMat Recycle center and they will handle (along with batteries, paints, thinners, and other chemicals). And finally - to offset all the negative comments this post will probably receive - please keep in mind - it is shavings, not ingested dust, and he is only doing one lead bulb - he isn’t living in the lead filings and he isn’t making an occupation out shaping bulbs by hand. It’s a one time project, and taking the minimal precautions will NOT result in death.

Mineral spirits, paint thinners, epoxy resins and hardners, weed control chemicals, eating charred grilled food, inhaling gas fumes when filling the car/truck every two weeks (or more) smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, … ummmm - you get my drift there are lots of things that can cause harm - just be safe using them.

Let the “Flames” begin

To reduce the weight of a bulb is sufficient to drill some holes and refill with lighter materials and finish with a filler.



Thanks for all the good suggestions!
I think I may just change out the bulb for a Micro Magic Bulb which I think is about the right weight. (1 pound)
Might just have to order a second MM bulb plus the rest of the MM to go with it!

IS anyone sailing those in the Boston Area?

If one lb is what you need, a trolling sinker should work.



When I find that I have to shave off some lead from a bulb I use a “Surform Shaver 21-115”. This is a small surform tool with a slightly curved multi-edged blade. It is very convenient as it is a hand held tool so your other hand is free to manipulate the bulb for even shaving. I’ve used this tool on bulbs as heavy as 10 lb. but it really proves itself on smaller sizes as for RGs or Footies where it’s small blades size and light weight make it easier to control and get the desired shape on something hard to hold.

I also use the side of a glass bottle to smooth out the surface of the bulb once I’ve gotten it to weight. This compresses the outer surface of the lead. With patience and determination this technique will deliver a very hard mirror finish to the bulb.