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Sabayn

Wanting to get into casting/melting

13 posts in this topic

Hi, I am new to casting. I don't have a working setup yet. I am wanting to build one. Perhaps out of an old oven I found but not sure if that would be best. I want to build it big enough to be able to melt iron someday. But mostly I'll be doing brass and aluminum. I live on an old farm and there are all sorts of old weathered metals, tools. I don't mean worthless as junk iron, or such. I have sold off loads and loads of it. I just am getting to point where I need a hobby. I have been watching a lot of YouTubers that do casting. But I don't know what kind of design I want to do. I would like to see one in person so I can see them and ask a hundred and five questions as I think of them. I live in Eastern New Mexico. I would also be interested in making reusable molds, but that is a long time off.

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Welcome to IFI! There are lots of people here with all kinds of experience with casting and other metalwork, so you've definitely come to a good place.

Before you get started, please take the time to read over the entire section on casting, especially the threads on SAFETY. Casting can be horribly dangerous, and YouTube videos are notorious for presenting incredibly unsafe practices as normal. Kudos to you for wanting to seek out in-person instruction; that is definitely the way to go.

Take a look as well at the sections on general blacksmithing. Smithing is a lot easier to take up at a basic level than casting, especially if you have lots of "old weathered metal [and] tools" already. Take a look around, see what interests you, read EVERYTHING, and keep in touch.

(N.B.: thanks for putting your location in your profile settings. We have a number of members in NM, and you might find other IFI members in your area.)

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I want to be safe with what I do. I have been burned by molten iron before cutting down old wagon wheels. I have a large burn scar on my left arm as a reminder that I have had for 15 years come few days. Happened on my 15th birthday which is why I remember specifically.

 

That is why I put the location in, because I really want to learn from someone preferably in person.

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I would start off small and easy since you can always upgrade. Make a simple charcoal furnace and use a hairdryer as the air source. I would also start with aluminum for various reasons. The main being it's lower melting temperature compared to bass or cast iron. Try melting the AI into ingots as a first few projects, an old muffin tray is great to use. After a few melts, try your hand at lost foam casting. I've done a few projects and it's a great hobby. Do your research, ask questions and use common sense. There is a pretty big risk factor with this hobby but it can be done relatively safely.

Check out Alloy Ave. It's a website dedicated to the backyard metal caster. 

I also have a few casting videos up on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK9rYpRQmiM

 

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I was not aware of it. I will have to get over there. I only live in the Clovis area so not very far at all. Will have to get in touch when I have a little time. 

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20 minutes ago, Sabayn said:

Edited 10 minutes ago by Sabayn
Bad grammer

Bless you.

 

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Welcome aboard Sabayn, glad to have you. If you live reasonably close to a university that has a metal casting program or metal shop classes I HIGHLY recommend you take an extension course. Handling molten metal is a different world of dangerous than torch cutting steel. If the melting temp is above the boiling point of water the potential for a spill causing a steam explosion and spraying molten metal is ever present. Concrete is a very dangerous surface to spill HOT metal on, the hydrated lime that cements it together becomes almost instantly dehydrated and the concrete spalls explosively. 

I know I sound like a broken record if you read my posts to folk wanting to get into casting but I've been spattered with molten aluminum and it wasn't a good thing. That was around 1,100f riding a layer of steam down my spine from collar to the waist band of my Jeans where it escaped out from under my untucked T shirt. The idiot who poked a piece of wet aluminum into the crucible didn't get touched, almost all of it went straight up past his face missed him completely. It got a bunch of the rest of the class though, fortunately no serious burns, a LOT of 1st. degree and not bad then.

Bronze is WAY hotter and you won't get spattered and only get 1st. degree burns, the injuries can be crippling, disfiguring, even fatal. 10lbs. of molten iron has the potential explosive energy of a case of 40% dynamite. 

It is a seriously hazardous game. I don't want to discourage you I want you to make beautiful, useful, castings, post pictures for us to ogle and brag about them.  I do NOT like reading about injuries, or obits!

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks Frosty, know that I am designing things with safety in mind before anything else. My dad is a demo guy in the oilfield and expired explosives were our playthings. Being around gun reloading and gun-smithing has given me a healthy respect for being safe. I once saw a some nitroglycerin punch threw two water heaters and peel the "skin" like a pair of bananas with just a bb to set it off.

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I know it's not as much fun but don't ignore the lower temperature alloys.  Those can be a really good area to experiment with when starting and you have a LOT more mold flexibility--including silicone reusable molds on some.  You can also make some good money on the fantasy stuff at some conventions and fairs (like dragons and orks if you get my drift)

It's a way to get some casting time and practice in without going whole hog for the really dangerous stuff.  Not the same as the higher temp stuff but your first car didn't have 600 horsepower either, did it?

And...with some of the bismuth alloys (look up the term "fixturing alloy") they even melt in hot water or just slightly above--which makes for some unique fun.  Also a good way to pre-test certain types of molds to see if you got them right.  That stuff is designed to cast...melt...reuse so it makes a good test material.  It also expands very slightly on solidification (depending on allow) so can be used in places where shrinking alloys cause frustration..like fixturing parts :) 

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Let revise what I had previously said. I want to build a propane or electric foundry. Mostly I can't stand coal or charcoal. Though I can make it, Smoking is a hobby as well. I am used to playing with gallium and such. Just a little expensive to get. I have tons of aluminum, tin, and iron around here. Which is why I want to be able to eventually build up to able to do iron.

Would it be better to build it into an old stove or build it in an old drum I have cut in half? Of course, I am planning on getting plenty of firebricks. If I build propane do I need an Airflow like with charcoal. I have an electric leaf blower, is that too much or is an old hair dryer better for such things?

 

A lot of my knowledge comes from reading and Grant Thompson and TheBackyardScientist. I am trying to get information together so I can start making my design.

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8 minutes ago, Sabayn said:

A lot of my knowledge comes from reading and Grant Thompson and TheBackyardScientist.

Okay, let's stop right there. Both of those two are entertaining, but routinely present highly unsafe practices that one day are going to get someone seriously injured or killed. The knowledge here on IFI is at least self-correcting, not a video record of the one time someone lucky managed to get away with something dangerous and stupid. 

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Okay, I figured as such. Which is why I am seeking collective knowledge. I don't want to fumble into this. I want to know pretty what I am doing before I do it. I don't want to blow myself up. I know the best option would be simply to buy the stuff, but there is something to making it and also money is the limiting factor.

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