TaleSpinner

My Journey into Lost-Wax Metal Casting

133 posts in this topic

 

...

I'd never heard about the rings in Haiti either - that's really interesting, and a bit sad too. I love that y'all send rings over! ...

Same here.

 

A quick image search revealed that it is very much a thing to have rings that are a near his/hers match.

 

(Two rings that closely resemble each other.) Such as:

Haitian+Engagement+Diamond+Fashion+Rings

 

I saw several styles and I assume this ^ is the very posh end of the range.

.

 

 

That is a big reason we want to be able to recast them.  Right now all we can give them is what chance brings us at auction and estate sales.  Most are not matched or even very practical for a people who work with their hands all day.  And yeah, those above are definitely on the very posh side.  We will most likely be giving them simple bands (likely in silver, I don't want to do much gold work until I hone my skills for a few years), though I will likely work with the priest to develop some designs that the people can choose from.

 

Another reason for the custom is that the rings are considered the couples' emergency saving account, because in the most dire of need, they have something of value that they can convert to money to save their children, pay for hospital, etc...   We really like the idea of giving them that savings account, a good start to their lives and childrens' lives. Our parish does a lot with them, the best was when we sent a well driller down with his equipment and drilled them a water well, so they could stop walking a mile to a stream for water everyday. A couple years ago, the generator on the well went bad (after the earthquake), so we replaced that with an electric one that runs off of a couple solar panels.  Sun is definitely something they have a lot of.

 

I am buzzing with excitement. I just wish I didn't have so much work to do on the house before I can even start using them, but safety first.  I don't want my kids breathing metal gas fumes either.

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Agreed on the metal fumes/venting.  Definitely make sure of that.  Mind you, I am more worried about the Oxygen/Acetyline setup that is required for most castings, but I would think Wax and the flux to keep the metal from scorching  would be the biggest worries in this case.  Please tell me the kit came with flux.

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Agreed on the metal fumes/venting.  Definitely make sure of that.  Mind you, I am more worried about the Oxygen/Acetyline setup that is required for most castings, but I would think Wax and the flux to keep the metal from scorching  would be the biggest worries in this case.  Please tell me the kit came with flux.

 

I'm currently leaning toward using an electric melt furnace instead of a torch.  They are safer and cleaner than a torch.  They are a lot more expensive up front, but cheaper over time as the gases are not cheap.

 

I am currently thinking of getting this top load kiln, after I finish my current sculpting project:

 

100-oz-gold-quikmelt-pro-tabletop-electr

 

The nice thing about this furnace is that it is sealed until you open it, so you can run it up to temperature and use directed venting when you open it. It heats up to 2200 deg F so will melt anything I need to melt.  As for a torch, for my needs in metal work, my little hand torch will continue to serve for the annealing work I need done.  When I want to start soldering gold and sliver though I'll need something better, but that is a few years away. (The only problem with this kit over a torch is that I won't be able to make my own white gold because nickel melts at 2651 F.  However, if the white gold is already made (like in a ring) the alloy melts under 2000 F and will work fine. Not that I'll have to worry about making white gold anytime soon; again gold is a bit too valuable for me to attempt yet until I've honed my skills using silver, copper, a pewter) I have so much to learn here; I love it!)

 

No the kit does not come with flux (or any melting equipment).  I have to obtain that separately, which is fine since one uses a different flux for the different metals.  The primary hazardous gasses come from the flux when melting gold, any metal with zinc as a component, pewters, and anything with lead.  Silver, copper, aluminum, and nickel are fairly safe; but when you start making the copper into brass and bronze you need to ventilate. 

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Man and I've been one wanting to get into making molds. LOL. NEXT LEVEL Andy!

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Agreed on the metal fumes/venting.  Definitely make sure of that.  Mind you, I am more worried about the Oxygen/Acetyline setup that is required for most castings, but I would think Wax and the flux to keep the metal from scorching  would be the biggest worries in this case.  Please tell me the kit came with flux.

 

I'm currently leaning toward using an electric melt furnace instead of a torch.  They are safer and cleaner than a torch.  They are a lot more expensive up front, but cheaper over time as the gases are not cheap.

 

I am currently thinking of getting this top load kiln, after I finish my current sculpting project:

 

100-oz-gold-quikmelt-pro-tabletop-electr

 

The nice thing about this furnace is that it is sealed until you open it, so you can run it up to temperature and use directed venting when you open it. It heats up to 2200 deg F so will melt anything I need to melt.  As for a torch, for my needs in metal work, my little hand torch will continue to serve for the annealing work I need done.  When I want to start soldering gold and sliver though I'll need something better, but that is a few years away. (The only problem with this kit over a torch is that I won't be able to make my own white gold because nickel melts at 2651 F.  However, if the white gold is already made (like in a ring) the alloy melts under 2000 F and will work fine. I have so much to learn here; I love it!)

 

No the kit does not come with flux (or any melting equipment).  I have to obtain that separately, which is fine since one uses a different flux for the different metals.  The primary hazardous gasses come from the flux when melting gold, any metal with zinc as a component, pewters, and anything with lead.  Silver, copper, aluminum, and nickel are fairly safe; but when you start making the copper into brass and bronze you need to ventilate. 

 

 

There are a few fluxes that work on both Silver and Gold.  I've only done casting work with a torch.  There are quite a few fluxes, and the ones I used were really good with both silver and gold (I'd have to check on which ones to confirm, it's been a while!).  The flux itself is a hazard, so, even when working with Silver, Copper, Nickel, and Aluminum, definitely vent.  Aluminum is dangerous if fumes are inhaled, IIRC.  My casting teacher was very explicit about proper venting and insulated-against-the-heat venting. 

 

Also, never use anything with Ammonia near the silver.  It does bad things (just in case you were considering things).  For a test, put a silver ring into a small ('dixie' cup) of windex overnight.  It'll be solid black and need re-polishing even if it didn't get etched.

Edited by Darkmeer
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My casting teacher was very explicit about proper venting and insulated-against-the-heat venting. 

 

 

This is the part I am trying to figure out right now.  How much venting is enough?  In every video I watch, they don't seem to have obvious vent hoods, so how are they venting?  If I build a vent hood over bench, how far does it need to be from the equipment to be safe?  How do I ensure that the vent hood doesn't catch fire and burn down my house?  From what I have read, most of the heat of the devices I am using will only be expelled into the room for a short time (i.e., when opening them).  This is one of the reasons I am going to buy an electric melt furnace; no open flames and the heat is contained until you open the top and pull out the glowing crucible for the pour.

 

Some of the books I have been reading talk about spot venting, with smaller venting designed for each apparatus, using a shop-vac to suck the fumes away.  Sounds very noisy.

 

I need to keep reading on this and figure this out, as the equipment showed up last night.  ::D:  I'd like to get the shop reconfigured and the venting built by mid December so I can start the learning process on the actual equipment.

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OK, did some more research.  Answered a lot of my own questions.  It turns out a lot of jewelers start small in their basements and have had these same issues.  Large hoods are generally bad.  Better are small, movable elephant trunks that you place over/behind the operation being performed.  Also, a HEPA air filter in the work area is very important.  This last one is actually true for ANYONE filing/polishing pewter and and other metals.

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OK, did some more research.  Answered a lot of my own questions.  It turns out a lot of jewelers start small in their basements and have had these same issues.  Large hoods are generally bad.  Better are small, movable elephant trunks that you place over/behind the operation being performed.  Also, a HEPA air filter in the work area is very important.  This last one is actually true for ANYONE filing/polishing pewter and and other metals.

 

If you haven't already, I'd recommend reading "The Complete Metalsmith" by Tim McCreight.  It's a wonderful book and I used it as a desk reference in college when I was in my jewelry and metalsmithing class.  Before doing some work with my former employer (a jeweler with the full shop setup in their basement), I reread the pieces I needed to make sure I got everything right. 

Edited by Darkmeer
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OK, did some more research.  Answered a lot of my own questions.  It turns out a lot of jewelers start small in their basements and have had these same issues.  Large hoods are generally bad.  Better are small, movable elephant trunks that you place over/behind the operation being performed.  Also, a HEPA air filter in the work area is very important.  This last one is actually true for ANYONE filing/polishing pewter and and other metals.

 

If you haven't already, I'd recommend reading "The Complete Metalsmith" by Tim McCreight.  It's a wonderful book and I used it as a desk reference in college when I was in my jewelry and metalsmithing class.  Before doing some work with my former employer (a jeweler with the full shop setup in their basement), I reread the pieces I needed to make sure I got everything right. 

 

 

Got it.  Love it.  I got the new pro edition, because I wanted all the content.  Really awesome book.

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It came on Thursday, in 7 large boxes:

 

post-140-0-41640400-1479012793.jpg

 

 

After much cleaning and rearranging, I have the area set up:

 

post-140-0-47986200-1479012890_thumb.jpg

 

 

It will still be a lot of time before I can start.  I first need to run 3, 20 amp circuits to the area to power it (the kiln and melt furnace will each need a dedicated circuit. Then I need to build the ventilation system.  I expect that to take me a month, since I first have to finish a bunch of sculpts for a couple clients before I can put the time into this.

 

Have a good night,

 

Andy

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Now that's a beautiful sight... awesome project, I can't wait to see what you come up with! Best of luck with it.

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Man, that setup looks awesome already!  Yes, please be careful, we want you around for a long time so that we can see and hear of your exploits.  The ring making is such a wonderful thing. ::wub::

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Having seen your work on sculpting, I already know you have the talent to make wonderful pieces, and your plan with the wedding rings is very touching. 

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Nice setup!  Foundry envy.  :)

 

You will love metal casting.  I haven't got my foundry set up for lost wax yet, but it is on my list.  You have yourself  very nice setup there, you will be able to make some amazing things.  People have directly invested and burned out and cast such fine and tiny things as insects and really fragile delicate flowers using that sort of equipment.  Can't wait to see what you come up with!

 

I am so excited to see this that it is taking all my energy not to babble on and on about metal casting.  But I have my own thread to do that in...  Most recently I posted my lost foam 3-faced jack-o'lantern there, maybe you saw it...

 

Well, maybe just a little...  A while back I was planning on building my own vacuum chamber and vacuum assist casting rig, using an old fridge compressor for a vacuum pump and a piece of heavy PVC pipe with a thick plate of polycarbonate plastic for a lid and window for a vacuum chamber to degas investment and/or molding rubber, and I even have a sketch somewhere of a pattern I may still make someday to cast an aluminum base plate for the silicon gasket to seat on for a vacuum assist rig.  But of course if I start that, I'll be locked in and I'll also have to build a burnout kiln to prep flasks for pouring, and dabble with homemade investment recipes, and then before you knew if I'd look up and it would be sometime in the 2020's.  Not that it could not still happen that way!  You may have noticed I prefer to build my own equipment.  For me that is half the fun, but that is not to say there isn't a huge advantage to be gained by purchasing pro equipment like you got.   Very nice!

 

Anyhow, before I really get going, I should probably cut myself off and just say, good luck to you, be safe, post pictures/video, and please do feel free to pick my brain about anything related to molten metal; I am entirely self-taught, but I have read a lot of foundry books and immersed myself in that lore for the past 3 years in a seriously obsessive way, so I do know a few things.  I can help you sort out the crazies on youtube from the guys who actually know their stuff, or help troubleshoot weird casting defects, etc.  Just ask.  But also sign up on the Alloy Avenue dot com forums.  It's just like this place, but for metal casters.  There are actual lost wax experts there casting everything from jewelry to statuary to car parts and everything in between, and they are a helpful and friendly bunch... Maybe stay clear of the occasional political threads though.  :)

 

Kang

 

AKA Tobho Mott on the Ave., - Look me up when you get there!

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Nice setup!  Foundry envy.  :)

 

You will love metal casting.  I haven't got my foundry set up for lost wax yet, but it is on my list.  You have yourself  very nice setup there, you will be able to make some amazing things.  People have directly invested and burned out and cast such fine and tiny things as insects and really fragile delicate flowers using that sort of equipment.  Can't wait to see what you come up with!

 

I am so excited to see this that it is taking all my energy not to babble on and on about metal casting.  But I have my own thread to do that in...  Most recently I posted my lost foam 3-faced jack-o'lantern there, maybe you saw it...

 

Well, maybe just a little...  A while back I was planning on building my own vacuum chamber and vacuum assist casting rig, using an old fridge compressor for a vacuum pump and a piece of heavy PVC pipe with a thick plate of polycarbonate plastic for a lid and window for a vacuum chamber to degas investment and/or molding rubber, and I even have a sketch somewhere of a pattern I may still make someday to cast an aluminum base plate for the silicon gasket to seat on for a vacuum assist rig.  But of course if I start that, I'll be locked in and I'll also have to build a burnout kiln to prep flasks for pouring, and dabble with homemade investment recipes, and then before you knew if I'd look up and it would be sometime in the 2020's.  Not that it could not still happen that way!  You may have noticed I prefer to build my own equipment.  For me that is half the fun, but that is not to say there isn't a huge advantage to be gained by purchasing pro equipment like you got.   Very nice!

 

Anyhow, before I really get going, I should probably cut myself off and just say, good luck to you, be safe, post pictures/video, and please do feel free to pick my brain about anything related to molten metal; I am entirely self-taught, but I have read a lot of foundry books and immersed myself in that lore for the past 3 years in a seriously obsessive way, so I do know a few things.  I can help you sort out the crazies on youtube from the guys who actually know their stuff, or help troubleshoot weird casting defects, etc.  Just ask.  But also sign up on the Alloy Avenue dot com forums.  It's just like this place, but for metal casters.  There are actual lost wax experts there casting everything from jewelry to statuary to car parts and everything in between, and they are a helpful and friendly bunch... Maybe stay clear of the occasional political threads though.  :)

 

Kang

 

AKA Tobho Mott on the Ave., - Look me up when you get there!

 

Woot!  Yeah, I like making my tools too, but in this case, I've way to much to do to keep my sculpting business going.  I just decided I didn't have time to build everything for this too.  I will be building my jeweler's bench though in some future year.

 

Thanks for the support, I will definitely be hitting you up and coming over to Alloy Ave (I'll have to check that out tonight).  I haven't seen your lost foam casting.  Where is that?

 

Right now my biggest impediment is getting electrical power into the area.  I need to add 3, 20 Amp circuits to the basement for this and to augment my wood shop.  I've never run electric before, but as I said, I like learning and doing myself.

 

I ended up deciding to use a small propane kiln for my 1000-2000 deg metal melting and a heated ladle/melt pot for pewter.  They are inexpensive and easy to use (plus propane is very clean burning, cheap, and readily available).

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