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TaleSpinner

My Journey into Lost-Wax Metal Casting

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12 minutes ago, Kang said:

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

 

That area of my house is my studio.  Nothing domestic is allowed in there.  That said, getting cluttered with tools that should have been put away, boxes of Bones, or workout dumbells (I exercise in the area too) is a real possibility.

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Jewelry Bench, Part 2:

 

I finished it!

 

IMG_2714.JPG.016f668aef7bf1542d211be6b5569445.JPG

 

I put the fifth and final coat of varnish on the top last night and installed the drawer pulls.  I then mounted the GRS BenchMate bracket and bored a ring mandrel hole.

 

Then I leveled it using its leveling feet:

 

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Finally, I installed my Foredom:

 

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Now I just have a ton of sculpts to get done for clients and then I can make a ring for my wife.

 

Andy

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On 11/29/2017 at 10:50 AM, Kuro Cleanbrush said:

Looking awesome!  You're making me want to sit down and build a dedicated painting desk, but I lack the necessary tools...

 

You come teach me how to paint and I'll help you build a paint desk in my shop :"D:

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Rings, finally!

 

For Christmas I decided to sculpt a ring for my wife.  She has a really cool oriental dragon necklace.  I actually used it for inspiration for the dragon heads on the Reaper Mystic Portal:

 

IMG_2345.JPG.27f9d6ad514bfa4b08eab68d334ae834.JPG

 

 

Anyway, she liked what I did with the portal so much, I decided to reprise the effort and make her a ring to match her necklace.  The following is my original sculpt (note that it is damaged as this picture was taken after molding and the dragon's mustache and some hair was ripped off):

 

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I cast it in wax and gave it to her at Christmas with a note letting her choose the metal of her choice:

 

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She chose 18K gold to best match her necklace.  Now, I have never made a ring before, my only experience with high temp metals is the bronze I recently cast for the Boxer Rebellion.  There is no way I am going to start out casting a metal that sells for $1,300+ per ounce.  We decided I should practice using silver first ($16 an ounce).  So I took measurements of the whole family and am going to create a ring for each of us in silver first, then move on to the gold.  I made the waxes of these and resized them.  Last night, I made the wax tree, and I will cast them in silver this weekend.

 

IMG_E2879.JPG.3cc22f79487e6b264d747b28f7150e03.JPG

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This is SO COOL! I'm so excited for you that you're ready for this step. Can't wait to see the rings after casting!

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Those are gonna look AWESOME in silver!  And even more awesomer in gold...  Good luck with the pour!

 

Kang

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On Saturday morning, I invested the waxes and began the burnout process.  When I melted the silver though, it did not seem to melt as smoothly as the bronze had the previous week.  It seemed sludgy. I upped the heat a bit until I was within 10 degrees of the maximum recommended temperature for 925 silver.  Then it liquefied nicely.   I let it get fully to temperature and skimmed what I could from the top; it seemed to skim over almost instantly though.  Finally, I prepared the flask and went to pour.  Here is where I messed up, big time.  I slowly poured the silver into the mold, because I was scared of splashing.  At first, the silver ran into the mold but then trickled off.  Then about 2/3 of the silver extended out of the crucible in a sleeve of hardened silver skin and landed on top of the mold with a thunk.  I knew then that I had messed up. 

 

I had poured the silver too slowly and it had formed a skin that turned into a bag that trapped the silver.  When casting metals you want a lot of metal suddenly to hit the mold so the weight of the metal drives it deep into the mold.  My little stream just wasn't enough.

 

I quenched and removed the investment.  All seven rings failed to fill. ::(:

 

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Last night, I removed the oxides from the silver in hot sulfuric acid (called a pickle).  This made it all shiny.  You can see the big lug that was the remainder of the silver that failed to go into the mold.

 

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On the back side of it is a circular pink area.  I think that is the impurities caught in the borax that I didn't get fully scraped off.  I'm not sure why it is pink; I hope that is not an indication that some of the copper came out of solution.  I will grind that off before I melt again.

 

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So back to the drawing board I guess.  Last night I shot 7 new waxes.  I'l start sizing them tonight.  Hopefully, I can have them ready for another attempt on Saturday.

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7 minutes ago, kristof65 said:

::(:

Well, on the plus side, it sounds like you gained some experience.

 

 

Big time.  Like I told my wife, learning via books and online instruction works, but there are a lot more of these experiential learning events than if one has an instructor that one can learn from.

 

But then this is why I chose to do this in silver first.  Messing up in silver is far less costly than messing up in gold.

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Save any scraps - the "useless" and the filings add up! I met a jeweler who paid for a semester of her son's college with the bits of sludge in her sink. She had a sink trap to catch metal bits released while washing her hands. 20 years of sludge to the metal refinement company, but hey, it was worth a lot in the end!

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21 minutes ago, pcktlnt said:

Could you reuse the silver or is it truly ruined? 

 

No not ruined, I can remelt it.  The problem is that every time you remelt silver or gold, it gets a little purer, since the copper oxidizes out at a higher rate than the silver/gold.  So what starts out as 925* soon becomes 935, then 950, then 975, etc....  This may sound like a good thing, but really, one wants it to stay at 925 (92.5% silver) since that is Sterling and it has it's own unique properties.  Since I will be marking them as 925, they really should be (though being slightly above is OK; slightly under is illegal).  Unfortunately, accurate assaying of silver is rather expensive, it is much cheaper with gold.  If it were gold, I'd just test it to see where we are at then add alloying agent to get the right mix.  Silver is a bit more difficult. My wife is the assay expert though; I'll see if she can test it before I remelt it.

 

I think I feel comfortable melting this silver one more time.  Any left overs though (or another screw-up), I'll likely bag up and send back to the refiners at a 15% loss (i.e., they give me 85% of the silver value).

 

11 minutes ago, Cyradis said:

Save any scraps - the "useless" and the filings add up! I met a jeweler who paid for a semester of her son's college with the bits of sludge in her sink. She had a sink trap to catch metal bits released while washing her hands. 20 years of sludge to the metal refinement company, but hey, it was worth a lot in the end!

 

Yep, I am set up to catch any filings and such.  Silver is valuable enough to save.  With gold it is essential to catch every fleck you can.

 

 

* The 925 number is parts per 1000 of silver.  925 is Sterling Silver.  In otherwords, Serling silver is 925 parts silver to 75 parts copper and or other agents (the bulk of the 75 should be copper, but modern Sterling has other deoxidants in it as well), thus making it 92.5% silver.

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