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Woo-hoo!  Congrats! 

 

Indoor foundry envy!  I've been trying to find a day to get outside and fire up The Black Dread to do some melting and casting for a couple of months now, but it keeps on raining anytime I have a little free time.  It's getting ridiculous, frankly, and someone really ought to put a stop to it.  I can only rebuild my waste oil burner to pass the time so often...

 

Can't recall if you've said whether you de-bubble your investment under vacuum, or if your equipment is set up to be able to do that?  If not and if you want to start, look to the internet for DIY solutions before shelling out for a "real" bell jar (as in, "real" expensive) - Why pay so much more when you can do the same thing with an old pressure cooker and a scrap of polycarbonate for a lid from the plastic supply store's scrap bin?

 

Also, aonemarine on youtube (AKA DavidF on Alloyavenue) has many great vacuum assisted investment casting videos that may be of interest.  Good tips and tricks there.

 

I mean, holy cow, did you guys catch that hint?  The super secret new Talespinner sculpts have CHINS!  :)

 

Kang

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45 minutes ago, Kang said:

I mean, holy cow, did you guys catch that hint?  The super secret new Talespinner sculpts have CHINS!  :)

 

Kang

 

7 of them. ::P: 

 

Yes, I vacuum de-bubble, which I am sure is why this is my first one.  These sculpts were pretty big and there was a pocket under the chin that it got caught into, but i always make a few extras, just in case something like that happens. I am actually surprised that this was the first time.

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On 5/5/2017 at 10:14 AM, Kuro Cleanbrush said:

Yay!  Awesome work!

 

It's so fun to hold a perfect little pewter casting right after it's made!

As long as it has cooled down, right?:blink:

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16 hours ago, knarthex said:

As long as it has cooled down, right?:blink:

 

By the time one CAN touch the pewter, it has been thoroughly quenched, scrubbed, sprayed, doused, scrubbed, brushed, hosed down, and cleaned.  Getting the investment off of the pewter sucks.  For my 20th anniversary gift at my company, I chose a power washer, just to help with this. Unfortunately, I don't actually get it until my anniversary on June 2.

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I found a few suggestions of using a power washer on the alloy avenue forum.  But not from people who had tried it...  It certainly sounds worth trying.  Hopefully the power washer will do a good job removing the investment but not the sculpted details from your 7-chinned mystery monstrosities.  Good luck!

 

One suggestion I also found interesting was to use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (definitely not the fast way), pre-soaking the castings in vinegar if needed to help break down the investment.

 

I would try soaking an expendable piece of pewter first to make sure the vinegar won't eat up your castings.  This is just speculation, but if it works, it might be just as helpful when using the power washer as with the ultrasonic cleaner.

 

There were also some suggestions to sand blast, or rather blast with other gentler media such as crushed walnut shell or glass bead.  Again, if you try it, make sure to test first on something expendable!  They were not talking about pewter castings, and I have no idea how that stuff would hold up to blasting with these various media. 

 

Kang

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On 5/12/2017 at 8:08 AM, Kang said:

I found a few suggestions of using a power washer on the alloy avenue forum.  But not from people who had tried it...  It certainly sounds worth trying.  Hopefully the power washer will do a good job removing the investment but not the sculpted details from your 7-chinned mystery monstrosities.  Good luck!

 

One suggestion I also found interesting was to use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (definitely not the fast way), pre-soaking the castings in vinegar if needed to help break down the investment.

 

I would try soaking an expendable piece of pewter first to make sure the vinegar won't eat up your castings.  This is just speculation, but if it works, it might be just as helpful when using the power washer as with the ultrasonic cleaner.

 

There were also some suggestions to sand blast, or rather blast with other gentler media such as crushed walnut shell or glass bead.  Again, if you try it, make sure to test first on something expendable!  They were not talking about pewter castings, and I have no idea how that stuff would hold up to blasting with these various media. 

 

Kang

 

Power washer works great.  I used it on my last batch.  I'll be using it tomorrow too, as I just cast a bunch of leaves.

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Hey,

I'm new to the forum and been reading through various articles. This one is really close to my heart as I've been learning how to cast with a similar set that you have: I specialize in bronze and silver jewerly, small everyday items and miniatures. Among the first problems were the investment removal- that stuff is demonic! It took hours to get all of the tiniest bits off from the models...and after hours of scrubbing and washing, some of the stuff were still holed up in some of the models. I'd previously bought an ultrasonic cleaner for my jewerly work (not as expensive as they used to be) and went through some testing with different kind of cleaning liquids. Here's what I found: dentists use a product to destroy investment from the casts and what it basically is, is citric acid.  Vinegar reacts to alloys like bronze, so could not use it for my work...but citric acid does not. You can buy food grade citric acid from any pharmacy. What you do is scrub away most of investment by hand (old toothbrush will do) get some boiling water, add the acid and the tree into the liquid. Let it soak. If you do have an ultrasonic, place the acid water and the tree into a thin jar (used soda bottle, anything that has thin walls will do- I do this, because it's easier to clean the bottle than the whole cleaner) the investment will be ripped off from the models in about half an hour. I do change the water a couple of times to be certain to get rid of all of the investment.

 

If you do have any questions, I'm happy to help :)

~Julia

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18 hours ago, Julia said:

Hey,

I'm new to the forum and been reading through various articles. This one is really close to my heart as I've been learning how to cast with a similar set that you have: I specialize in bronze and silver jewerly, small everyday items and miniatures. Among the first problems were the investment removal- that stuff is demonic! It took hours to get all of the tiniest bits off from the models...and after hours of scrubbing and washing, some of the stuff were still holed up in some of the models. I'd previously bought an ultrasonic cleaner for my jewerly work (not as expensive as they used to be) and went through some testing with different kind of cleaning liquids. Here's what I found: dentists use a product to destroy investment from the casts and what it basically is, is citric acid.  Vinegar reacts to alloys like bronze, so could not use it for my work...but citric acid does not. You can buy food grade citric acid from any pharmacy. What you do is scrub away most of investment by hand (old toothbrush will do) get some boiling water, add the acid and the tree into the liquid. Let it soak. If you do have an ultrasonic, place the acid water and the tree into a thin jar (used soda bottle, anything that has thin walls will do- I do this, because it's easier to clean the bottle than the whole cleaner) the investment will be ripped off from the models in about half an hour. I do change the water a couple of times to be certain to get rid of all of the investment.

 

If you do have any questions, I'm happy to help :)

~Julia

 

Thanks!  My wife has an ultrasonic cleaner, so I can try this.  I found that my power-washer works great for getting the big stuff off, but a final hit with citric acid in the cleaner is exactly what I am looking for. 

 

Thanks and welcome to the forums.

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Glad to hear it: remember to use hot water with the citric acid- if the water is cold, it slows down the process to a crawl. And rinse well with clean water. Let me know how it worked ::):

 

And thanks again for the welcome.

Ah, before I call it a day- what are you using to finish the castings? Do you have a tumbler? Any ceramic media to go with it?

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14 hours ago, Julia said:

Ah, before I call it a day- what are you using to finish the castings? Do you have a tumbler? Any ceramic media to go with it?

 

So far I am just cleaning them up with my rotary tool and bits.  I haven't tried anything but pewter yet, and they have all come out as clean or better than typical minis.  After ReaperCon, I'll be taking the plunge into bronze and silver.  I do have a good tumbler from my rock-hound days, but haven't done the research into how to use it on castings yet.  I also just got a nice 2-spindle polisher at an estate sale recently. I have a lot of clean-up to do on that yet and need to setup a polishing station for it.

 

After ReaperCon, one of my big priorities is Jewelry Shop: Phase 2.  I will be cleaning out a section of the basement next to the foundry and adding more lights.  Then I am going to build myself a good Jeweler's bench.  About 20 years ago, I was at a building materials outlet store and picked up a lot of 1" thick, hard maple boards for $1.00 a linear foot.  It has been stored on my wood rack in the basement all these years, waiting for the right project..  I'm going to take a bunch of that maple, cut them into strips, and laminate them together into a nice 2.5 inch (6 cm) thick, butcher block top for the bench.  I want to build into it a bench pin slot and steel hammering plate.  The bench itself will have several storage drawers and a sweeps drawer. I might also make a built-in soldering station.

 

Once all that is done, I'll be adding a Foredom rotary tool to my arsenal to replace my old and not so precise Dremel.

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Oo! Oo! I want to see the bench design.  It appeals to my word working and construction mind.  As for lights we just added 2x4 LED panels in the basement, twice the light for a 1/3 of the wattage.  I am so happy with the outcome.

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3 hours ago, chaosscorpion said:

Oo! Oo! I want to see the bench design.  It appeals to my word working and construction mind.  As for lights we just added 2x4 LED panels in the basement, twice the light for a 1/3 of the wattage.  I am so happy with the outcome.

 

I'll post the designs once I draw them up.

 

Yeah, I've been upgrading everything to LED too.  They are far superior.

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Jewelry Bench, Part 1:

 

I ended up not really following my plans.  When I cleaned out the shop I found that I had purchased far fewer maple boards than I had thought, certainly not enough to make a 72" counter top.  I started looking into doing it on the cheap and using plywood.  Then I saw the cost of high quality plywood. :blink:   It seems wood products have gone up in price since my last project.  If I were to buy all the materials I'd need for this, it would easily be in the $800+ range.  At that price, I might as well save myself the time and buy one of the pre-made ones they sell for around $1000.

 

So I did what I always do when I need a project done on the cheap, I went to Building Materials Outlet to see what bargains were to be had.  I was in luck, for under $600, I was able to get a 72" maple counter-top and 2 maple cabinets with fully finished and mounted drawers.  It was more than I wanted to pay, but within the realm of what I was willing to pay in order to keep me from making drawers for the next month.  Here they are as they came from the factory in my basement:

 

IMG_2704.JPG.1689d676e3c16ebf24f12f7b6c7a7116.JPG

 

IMG_2705.JPG.8124dddcfa724c134adb42badf9ed59b.JPG

 

 

My goal from this moment forward is to make this into a jeweler's bench without buying any more wood (I did have to buy some hardware and varnish, but that is it).  That way, I can keep costs down and reduce the scrap yet-to-be-used wood in my basement.

 

Now, being professionally made cabinets, some of their components suck.  I hate the way commercial cabinet makers these days use plastic corner braces and rely on gluing the counter to them to hold everything together. 

 

IMG_2706.JPG.e0c8ebbd2341d10c8a5cccd221f5063b.JPG

 

 

I wanted these to be stronger, so I removed the plastic and screwed/glued in wooden braces.  These will also give me a surface through which I can screw down the top, there-by not needing to glue it and being able to remove it when I want to move someday. I should note that I really didn't go out of my way to hide the screw heads as this is a work-bench and not some fru-fru upstairs furniture.

 

IMG_2707.JPG.8c1c0665a4a38f8dba37584d098fc801.JPG

 

 

Next, I took an old folding table I have in my shop, leveled it, and placed the cabinets on it.  I made a jig to square them up to each other and then shimmed them to get them level with each other and back to front.

 

IMG_2661.JPG.b8a1984d9dc0f7d80c20be0f4bc56cdc.JPG

 

 

Next, I attached them to each other by screwing on two large 3/4" sections of plywood I had to the back of the cabinets.  Then, I placed and centered the top and screwed it to the cabinets.  Now it is solid.  (It also weighs about 300 lb; I had to wait for KnightyNight to come home from college to get it off of the table.)

 

IMG_2662.JPG.d65f742d103b6c0b757a4ba9229b730f.JPG

 

 

Next, I cut and placed a section of 1/4" oak-faced plywood (it's what I had), in the back under the counter to hide the ugly rough plywood in back.

 

IMG_2663.JPG.7e584dfd0236a1659b6d9f28aa0219d1.JPG

 

 

The next step was to make a sweeps drawer and shelf under the counter in my work area.  A sweeps drawer is designed to catch the gold and silver filings so they can be remelted or sent to a refiner later.  This is very important, considering the price of gold.  Typically, a sweeps drawer has a removable tray under the drawer that the sweeps fall into.  This allows you to easily collect and bag them.  I made my drawer from maple and 1/4" plywood.  I cut a hole in the center and attached a metal tray my wife found at an estate sale a few years ago by embedding RE magnets along the underside of the hole.  I am very proud of that solution.  The magnets make it very easy to use and are a much more elegant solution than trying to make some sort of wooden channel or bracket to slide the tray into.

 

I mounted the sweeps drawer into the cabinet with two wood runner boards on either side and two more above it.  Then I cut a shelf to go above it out of 1/2" plywood.

 

Jeweler's benches have a deep cut out to make room for your bench pin and mandrels, keeping them over the sweeps tray.  I cut this out with a saber saw, then evened out the cut with my belt sander.  Finally, I fine sanded it with my palm sander.

 

Here is a view of the cut out, shelf, and sweeps drawer with blue tray installed:

 

IMG_2710.JPG.2dafd73df1b4ef9234b9b91f38572df4.JPG

 

 

Right now, I am working on the long process of finishing it.  I am coating the whole thing with Minwax Polycrylic, which is a very tough, clear, acrylic varnish.  I have the whole body done now, and have just the top to finish.  I want 5 coats on the top, since it will see a lot of action.

 

I'll post more pictures when it is finished.

 

Andy

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Nice work, you're a far better wood worker than I am.

 

Now comes the hard part - keeping yourself from cluttering up that beautiful new flat surface with last week's laundry loads and other assorted random detritus that has nothing to do with lost wax casting.  Be vigilant!  ::D:

 

Kang

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