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Carl Brill

Book recommendations for casting.

16 posts in this topic

Hi Folks,

 

I'm looking for recommendations of books or PDFs about lost wax casting. I want to have a good overview before I start asking a bunch of questions.

 

Thanks much,

 

Carl

Edited by Carl Brill

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It would depend on the type of casting you are thinking about. Centrifugal,vacuum or steam. The results can be similar,but the equipment expense can vary greatly.

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Thanks for the reply.

 

I'm thinking the super simplest. I just want to make simple fittings for knives and maybe some jewelry. I have access to silicon bronze scrap at work so I'd like to be able to use that. I'd like to keep it simple enough that I can get most of the materials at a big box hardware store. I imagine I would order a crucible online, and perhaps other things as well.

 

I improvise well.

 

Thanks

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Not sure if it will be of much use to you , but I did some basement lost wax casting a little while back for sword fittings. It took a little trial and error, but in the end the result was what I was going for. You can substitute some of the things for hardware store equivalents. A short length of black iron pipe will probably work for a casting flask if you have something to use to plug one end. Other than that, it was just some bronze melted in a crucible (you might be able to get away with a ceramic flower pot if you are careful, maybe even a pipe cap if it is black iron and you are careful about scale buildup inside it) in the forge and gravity cast it. Nothing special. I also made a bunch of greensand, which might be the easiest way possible short of casting into carved wood (but that is only for lower melting temp metals like sliver and lead). Hope this helps.

 

Lost Wax

 

Greensand

 

Primitive water casting

 

 

John

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Thanks John, funnily enough I have had your blog bookmarked for a while but didn't see those posts....

 

I am looking for a book or two to keep around (maybe in the bathroom) to look at for a while. I learn pretty well by reading an thinking and reading and thinking a bunch before I start working. Unfortunately the disjointedness of forum threads makes them less helpful to me.

 

A quick question though, did you use plaster for your final mold? that you poured the bronze into? Anything in the plaster?

 

Thanks,

 

Carl

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The plaster is specific to casting, which allows it to take the higher temps. For the more precious metals that melt lower, I can't see a reason why normal 'art' plaster wouldn't work. But for brass, bronze, probably aluminum, copper, and tin, the thermal shock would probably crack it to pieces before the metal can solidify enough to keep its shape. I used satin cast, don't remember where I got it (online somewhere). It works very well when you mix it according to the directions and cure it as prescribed. I might experiment around with adding things like high temp refractory or satanite to see if I can make it work. Anyway, I digress..

 

Hope this helps!

 

John

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John, it sounds like you are confusing the melt point of tin and silver. You mention silver as low (it is above 1750F) and tin as high (it is about 450F).

 

Carl, if you have a pottery/ceramics/artsy store near you I would stop in there (or call) and see what they say. Small casting is fairly popular with jewelry people, so they may be stocked with supplies (including books) or at least know of somewhere else that is. I'd recommend starting with plaster of Paris and tin. Cheap trial and error, which teaches really quickly.

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Not only that, don't use the term "plaster" when talking about investment. It leads people astray by thinking they can use ordinary plaster of paris, which only leads to heartbreak at best and severe injury at worst. Plaster of paris is just gypsum powder that sticks together with water. That water comes chemically unbound at around 450 degrees F, at which time the plaster reverts to gypsum dust. You might get away with using it for tin and lead, but not higher-temperature metals. Then again, if you put a plaster of paris mold in a burnout kiln it'll come back out as powder anyway, so problem solved. ;) If you're using a two-part mold and not going the burnout route for true lost wax is when you need to be careful about the mold media. Any bound water will flash to steam, which has to go somewhere. With plaster of paris that somewhere is usually right through the vent and parting lines at high velocity. Ask me about the time my brother was trying to cast coins using two-part plaster of paris molds and a lead/antimony alloy...then again, that's the cheap trial and error Jerrod mentioned above! :lol: We did the trial and had the error, with only a few minor burns. Bronze is not as forgiving.

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Bronze is not as forgiving.

 

This is a big understatement. I've poured a lot of tin molds (using K-Bond sand), and copper based still scares me for the lack of forgiveness, especially with oxygen reactions. Very easy to get porosity and cold-lap.

 

I have successfully cast lead into Plaster of Paris, and tin is lower melting than lead, so it should be doable. Definitely good to play with gating and venting before making the part you really want. My first attempts at casting were in college, just Google searching how to do it. I came to the conclusion that the steam method would be best for my situation. It did not end well (though safe). Let's just say I wish I knew more about venting at the time. :o

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Good info, Plaster of Paris and tin. That sounds good. I'm thinking of getting some low melt alloys for poured "pewter" bolsters anyway so I'll use those.

 

Thanks.

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" That water comes chemically unbound at around 450 degrees F, at which time the plaster reverts to gypsum dust. "

 

Alan,

Was this your personal experience ? I have done that to plaster and found it to remain quite strong ( though very slightly warped ).

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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I don't have the exact temperature measurement, but it will turn back to dust if you get it hot enough for long enough. In my own experience it cracked up after a couple of casts with lead.

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Also good to note: For low enough melting alloys (pewter/babbit) RTV silicone works well for simple geometries, and it can be used multiple times!

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Silver melts at 1750? I was way off on that one B) I was probably thinking zinc rather than tin, but that is still fairly low (and has its own risks...) so who knows.

 

John

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Since I am setting up for Lost wax casting in the next year I tried to get as much information beforehands and read some books on the topic of Lost Wax casting. I tend to accumulate books so this got a bit out of hands after the first few ...You wont need them all but its hard to recommend one best over the others since all are a bit different and tend to be stronger on information specific topics while other topics are better described in another book.

 

Most of the mentioned Books are older Editions that are no longer in Print but can in some cases be picked up for a few bucks in used condition on amazon, betterworldbooks, powells etc.

Nowadays the casting machines and wax injectors have become more sophisticated and the use of RTV silikones vs vulcanized rubber molds is more widespread but the general process of lost wax investment casting has not changed much and most of the information in the Books is still valid. Thats not necessarily a bad thing because instead of telling you to go out and buy the latest equipment gizmo the older books can tell you how to do it yourself for lower cost .

 

For Lost Wax casting:

 

 

Fred R Sias, , Lost Wax casting, Old, New and Inexpensive Methods

 

Still in print, deals with all the necessary topics from making waxes, investing ,Burnout, Steam-, vacuum- and centrifugal-casting and good troubleshooting section. Some informations on homemade caster, bunrnout oven etc. added to that the ashanti method of casting is explained. I liked it and for the Price it goes a valuable addition to my small library of casting books.

 

 

 

Murray Bovin, "Centrifugal or lost wax Jewelry casting for schools and craftsman"

 

Out of print, but still avaliable used for low to reasonable price.. Again solid Information on the lost wax casting process from start to finish. This one deals more with centrifugal casting than vacuum casting, What i liked is the many examples of how to cut difficult rubber molds for the waxes. This is of cause also explained in the other books but not with as much detail. I would by it for this chapter alone . Also deals with Whit metal spin casting and has a small chapter on scrap gold refining.

 

 

 

Keith Edwards, "Lost wax casting of jewelry"

 

Out of print, but I have still seen it on amazon and the likes. Aslo deals with all the needed topics to sucessfully cast something. Has more informations on making wax models by carving, and wax build up and sprueing, in addition to vaccuum assist and centrifugal casting, Pressure and steam casting are dealt with. Has a small section on fabrication, findings and setting for gemstones.

 

 

Sharr Choate, "Creative Casting"

 

Out of Print. This one is A mixture of a casting and jewelry making book. About 2/3 of the book is dedicated to the lost wax casting process, besides the usual also deals with Cuttlebone casting, (oil)sand casting, casting with hollow cores and casting of natural objects like seeds leaves beetles etc. the last third of the book deals with various jewelry making topics like finishing, soldering, findings, chasing& engraving ,stone setting etc etc.

 

 

 

Greta Pack, "Jewellery making by the lost wax process"

 

Out of print. Well, this is the book I would not recommend you get. In comparison to the others its sorely lacking on detailed information you want to read about if you want more than a general overview of the process.

 

 

James E. Sopcak, "Handbook of lost wax or investment Casting"

 

Out of print. Compared to the others this is just a small booklet. It deals mainly with homemade equipment for the lost wax process., How to make : a vacuum investment mixer, small burnout oven, Wire wax extruder, wax injector, rubber molds. Some informations on investing, burnout and making waxes but not as detailed as the other books. Only pressure casting, no vacuum assist or centrifugal casting informations. Its mostly about equipment and may give you a few Ideas on how to fabricate something yourself.

 

 

Additional related books

 

C.W Ammen "Casting Brass"

 

Out of print. Since most of the aforementioned books are dealing with jewelry cast from precious Metals they all lack Information on the Brasses and various Bronzes that are most often used for our Fittings. This is where this book shines. 245 Pages of solid Informations on how to alloy and cast all the different Brasses and bronzes that are out there. Geared mostly for larger foundrywork and sand casting but tells you how to make the alloys , melting and casting temperatures, shrinkage , solidification issues, Detrimenal impurities to avoid, fluxes, gas pickup, what to watch out for when casting a specific alloy etc etc. If you want information on how to best cast a specific alloy this is the place to look. Highly recommended! If you can pick it up at a reasonable price - get one you wont regret it.

 

 

 

Ernest A. Smith, "Working in precious metals"

 

Out of Print. If you are looking for extensive informationson alloying, stength, composition, hardness ,casting, rolling drawing general properties etc of alloys of Gold, Silver, Platinum this book will fulfill your needs.

 

 

 

Lawrence Kallenberg, "Modeling in Wax for jewelry and sculpture"

 

Out of Print. 250 Pages of all you ever wanted to know about making wax models! One of the few books that deals exclusively with this subject. Good book with solid information, can still be had used for reasonable price.

 

 

Sand casting & Ceramic shell casting

I am mostly interested in lost wax casting but here is some books if you want to cast larger stuff:

 

 

Stephen chastain, "Metal Casting, A Sand casting Manual for the small foundry" Vol 1+2

 

If you want to cast larger stuff,using the sand casting method these are the books I would recommend for setting up a small backyard foundry. Valuable information on all the needed topics from making your own equiment to mold making, core making, sprues and risers and casting informations from aluminium to bronze.

 

 

 

Ronald D. Young " Methods for modern sculptors"

 

This one deals mostly with the ceramic shell process for making larger bronze sculptures , How to sprue them, applying the ceramic shell, burnout and casting. Has a nice section on patina recipes for bronzes.

 

 

This should give you some Idea whats out there in terms of books on the lost wax process. Some of these can be picked up used for low cost and I think its well worth the effort to inform yourself before starting to cast something. I still fully expect to get faliures when starting out - but the more you know the easier it will be to track down the issue and correct it.

 

Best Regards

Ralph

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Tim McCreight has a nice book on casting, with a lot of options for going with alternatives to the common huge vacuum casting set up. I still use it as a studio reference for specific gravities & melting points etc.

 

http://www.brynmorgen.com/PC.html

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