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Boxer Rebellion: Box-Turtle Folk, WIP

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Well the casting worked.  I learned a lot about working with high-temp metals.  Here is the tree after I quenched the mold:





After that I cut them off and cleaned each with water and a toothbrush.  I should note that I had one flaw in this casting, the leg wires were a bit too thin where they meet the body and only one of the models filled completely (the center one in the following photo).  That said, all the shell filled perfectly as did the arm wires.  Only 2 bubbles happened and they are easily removed.  You will note that I lost two feet, this was due to me making an error in cutting them off, launching them into the corners of my basement. Oops.





For those legs not connected, that isn't a problem, I can always just remove the pin, drill a hole in them and attach them with wire.  If I ever make more, I'll be sure to add a bit of extra wax to that part of them.


You'll note some reddish stains, that is firescale (I believe) and is to be expected when casting a copper-based alloy.  It should remove easily in a sulfuric acid pickle (which I'll do later this week).  I played with the castings and I am not convinced that I like this bronze.  It is very hard, harder than the tin based bronze I've played with.  I can bend the arms and such, but forging the feet spikes is proving difficult as this bronze doesn't want to deform as I had expected.  If I do this again, I may use pewter, just because the hardness of this bronze out weighs the gains I get in its ductility.  Live an learn right; at least I now feel ready to try a silver casting.



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On ‎2‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 8:46 AM, Kang said:

Thanks for setting me straight GHarris, I kind of figured the c-clamps might be too good to be true.  ::D:  As a self-taught amateur in foundry work for the past 4+ years, one thing I've learned is to always take note of the voice of hard-earned experience. 


I have built a couple of melting furnaces and other foundry tools for the hobby foundry in my backyard, but I haven't done any lost wax casting or spin casting, and I've definitely never cast anything this tiny and detailed, so your insight is appreciated.   My experience with making larger castings in aluminum and bronze in greensand molds has taught me that there are good and bad places to take a DIY Approach - ie. assuming there is no big hurry, DO save money by building your own melting furnace and welding up your own crucible tongs... But if you want your gear to work well and work safely and last a long time, DON'T line said homemade furnace with homemade refractory or try to make your own crucibles...


Not ready to eat my hat quite yet though - I only said a spin casting setup could be built just as well for a fraction of the cost of buying one.  Your numbers (although fairly old) have already shaved 5-7K off Talespinner's pricing without even considering any sort of DIY...  I'll concede that building a setup like this from scratch that works as well as a purchased one would not be practical for most people. 




No hat eating necessary! Well unless you are on a high fiber diet....get it? High fiber? Er right, moving on then!


The other thing I'd want to do with a vulcanizer is have the ability to slowly add clamping pressure as the mold is heating up as well as have the ability to "burp" the mold to try to get trapped air out. Basically you add and relieve pressure a few times as the mold is heating up to try to get any bubbles out. I will admit that I don't know if it actually does anything but I learned it from FAR better moldmakers than myself and I had good results. Why mess with what seemed to be working?


A melting furnace may be a bit more DIY friendly, basically it is just a big pot that gets, well, hot. As long as you can control the temperature, be safe, and have it mounted at an ergonomic height (save the strain on your back!) you really don't have to get all that fancy. 

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Fiber-based Dad jokes are definitely one of my Things, so no worries there - I totally get it and fully approve.   


Once the rubber in the vulcanizer heats up and starts to move under all that heat and pressure, it must relieve some of said pressure. So I can see why periodically tightening it down during the process makes sense...  I wonder how the guy in that video I posted above deals with that - I bet he grabs some oven mitts every few minutes so he can crank each of those C-clamps a quick quarter turn or so tighter.  ::D: 



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Alright, the basilisk is done, back to these guys.  


Using a length of silver coated copper wire (can't remember the gauge), I forged a sword blank on my jeweler's anvil last night.  This consisted of making a point in the wire, flattening it with a hammer, truing-up the sides and straightening it, re-flattening, twisting the hilt and forging the twists together, then grinding it on some sand paper.  I also shored up the hilt with some Apoxie:GS as it was getting pretty work-hardened by the end of the forging and I was worried that there might be a crack forming where the hilt meets the unforged copper wire.


I will add Apoxie:GS to this then to form the sword and sculpt the details.  Then I will make a mold of it so I can cast as many copies as I need.





This sword will be modeled after a Han Dynasty Sword:






I will probably make the cross guard into a play on the turtle shell or the hexagon shapes in their shells.

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I added Apoxie:Gs mix to the blade and when hard, filed the planes of the blade into it.


Then I wrapped the hilt with GS and made the disk pommel.





Finally, I sculpted the guard.  I decided to vary a bit from the historical Han guard, and instead match the scutes on the back of the turtle shell.  This is a theme you will likely see throughout the line. Here is the finished blade


IMG_E3072.JPG.185fa394091e38755598cb325adca803.JPG IMG_E3078.JPG.0ffecd543932a7cd5f2323e7ca2e3d7c.JPG



Next, I started the butterfly sword.  I first rough shaped it on my anvil from copper wire:





Then I finished the shape with my diamond files:





I have already thickened the blade with Apoxie:GS, and will be filing that to shape today.



This project has officially drawn blood.  I was drilling out one of the body armatures last night, when the shell slipped out of my grip.  The drill bit plunged though the center of my thumb nail and went 5 to 7 mm into my thumb. Thankfully, it went in at an angle so it missed the bone.  I'm just hoping that I don't have any beeswax or bronze under the nail.


I have to say that the bronze I used is really hard stuff.  It isn't nearly as ductile as I was hoping.  I might try annealing it to see if that softens it a bit.  As it is, I can see why the ancients were able to make sharp weapons from the stuff.


I'm considering trying a casting with straight copper, but I'm not sure that I can get it hot enough to pour in my melt furnace. Copper melts at 1984 deg F, and my furnace goes to 2000 deg F.  Really you should have the metal 100 degrees over melt to pour. 

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Annealing the bronze will be easier than making good castings in straight copper, from all I've seen and read.  Copper loves to oxidize, especially when molten...


The swords look great!  Easy for me to say when it's not my blood, I know, but IMO it was worth all that pain.  Happy healing!



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These are so cool! What a neat concept. Although I'd have to respectfully disagree with you on the capability of turtles to be expressive, but these are looking really great so far and I can't wait to see the sculpts you end up with out of the new process.

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I have one more weapon to make.  This will be a type of 2 handed curved Chinese sword, similar in nature to Middle-Eastern curved swords, but with a longer handle for powerful blows. I'm not sure if this will make the first three turtles, as I was going to go with a staff on one, but I can fit three weapons on a mold, so I wanted to get a third ready before I mold the others.






s-l300.jpg 31w9zPvCH2L.jpg






I forged and ground the blade last night, then thickened it with Apoxie:GS:





Today, I will make the handle. I will make is more like what the guy in the references is holding, as it will fill better during casting that the ring or thin, backward spike on the guard of the other one. I also appreciate that it is too curved and shaped a bit too much like a shamshir.  That is purposeful.  Once molded, I will be able to make it into a shamshir someday as well.  I can also make it look like what the guy is holding above with a small amount of forge work and grinding after casting, or even alter the wax before casting..

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I finished the sword hilt.  I'll likely sand it a bit yet, but it is good for a basic design for casting.  I'll likely add embellishments to it at some point after casting or not.  The point is I can reproduce it as much as I need.





Then I went on to rough in the shape of the turtle head.  I'll add the scale and beak details later tonight.





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15 hours ago, Rainbow Sculptor said:

Looking really great, that curves sword is BOSS! Love it. I hope you're thing is feeling better, when people ask so you say that you don't a Ninja turtle and lost? I would.




My nail looks like hell, but feels fine.

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I realized that I forgot to post the finished butterfly sword:





I'll be adding the D guard after the hand is sculpted in place. In case you don't know what a butterfly sword is:





They are paired swords that fit under your robes in one sheath. Often used by ancient Chinese monks.



I put all three swords on an injection sprue and then prepared the mold:








The mold came out great.  The center sword separated, but I was expecting that. It is still in line though, so cutting a flow channel is easy.





Here is a wax cast in the mold:





I made a lot of copies last night. Injecting wax is fun, and quite satisfying.





I also worked on the turtle head, but can't for the life of me get the camera to focus on it.  Sorry.  I should have that done today and will be molding it tonight.

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I got the turtle head done and molded last night. It looks like a snake with a beak because it has no eyelids.  That will allow me to better add expression to each figure later.


 I'll cast up some copies, clean the waxes, and tree them tonight.  I'm hoping to cast them on Sunday.



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