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Old 06-09-2009, 04:27 AM   #1
pizzaman
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Default DIY Sand Casting Aluminum in Backyard Foundry

For anyone else who feels it's not enough to make your own beer, I've been looking a lot into the hobby of sand casting aluminum. Does anyone have any experience with this? Yuri?

From what I've read you can do this with something as simple as charcoal and a coffee can. Since I just happen to have a propane burner I could get a pretty nice setup going. I've always had the desire to build things out of something other than wood, and can't quite afford welding gear yet.

Here's the basic idea for anyone not privvy to what I'm talking about:

DIY Sand Cast Aluminum 1.0.1

Required Materials:

  • Furnace
  • Crucible
  • Casting Mold
  • Scrap Aluminum
  • Sand

You first make your cast out of the material of your choice(wood, clay, metal?) Then you bury the cast into your mold with sand. Any sand will do if you run it through a sifter, there are certain sands that will work better than others. Once the mold is set and you have holes for pouring the molten aluminum you heat up your furnace and begin melting your scrap metal. You can use beer cans, aluminum siding, just about anything made of metal that you can fit into your furnace. Beer/soda cans do produce a lot of slag so you will need something to skim the slag off the top of the crucible as it cooks(a metal spoon works fine for this). Once all the slag has been cooked out you let the aluminum cool to the right temperature so it's not so hot it ruins the sand mold, then you carefully pour it into the holes in your mold. Once cooled you remove your new aluminum cast from the mold, trim, sand, and polish it, and voila! you just made something out of aluminum.

That's my basic rundown of it, if you want more info check google and youtube for lots of cool info. I'll be posting more info and hopefully pics if I ever get into this.
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Old 06-09-2009, 04:50 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pizzaman View Post
Beer/soda cans do produce a lot of slag so you will need something to skim the slag off the top of the crucible as it cooks(a metal spoon works fine for this).
Depending on how much of a pain slag is, you might want to try just using the tabs. These are pure aluminum, whereas the can is mostly plastic.

I can't wait for pics.
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Old 06-09-2009, 12:59 PM   #3
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Two good videos on the whole process:

Part 1:


Part 2:



Here's a good video on just the slagging and pouring processes:

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Old 06-09-2009, 01:08 PM   #4
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One of the best places to get books and info on this stuff is Lindsay's Technical Books

They re-print a lot of the old DIY books from before lawyers got involved in making the world safe and sanitized.....The catalog and the website is a hoot...and the cheap pamphlets of archaic DIY plans and info from the 70's and earlier is amazing....

they also carry the current books by Dave Gingery who's like the guru of home metal work. I used to own a bunch of his books...You can literally build your own metalworking lathe, by sand casting your own parts in the charcol forge he shows you how to build in chapter 1.

David J Gingery Publishing Title List


Quote:
Metal Lathe

Build a 7" capacity metal cutting lathe accurate to .001". 12" between centers. 5" swing over saddle. Uses castings produced by the charcoal foundry. Cost only about $50 (fifteen years ago). Some incredible lathes have been built as a result of this classic book. You can do it, too. Detailed, proven how-to. 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 softcover 128 pages.

No. 177 ... $9.95
Although I'm not advocating it, since it's illegal, and we don't talk about that stuff here...Gingery also has a book on producing an alcohol still.
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Old 06-09-2009, 02:53 PM   #5
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I'm not sure what the right way is, but I do know that this is the wrong way:

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Old 06-09-2009, 04:26 PM   #6
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LOFL

"AAGGH! My EYES! The goggles do nothing!!!"

For anyone curious, the ingot pan they were pouring the molten aluminum into either had some sort of surface impurity or was too cold.

Thanks for the gingery info revvy, I'm downloading some of his books now. Looks like I may be building a lathe out of beer cans.

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Old 06-09-2009, 04:44 PM   #7
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check out cnczone.com. youll find links and alot of info on lost foam casting

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Old 06-09-2009, 07:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by pizzaman View Post
LOFL

"AAGGH! My EYES! The goggles do nothing!!!"

For anyone curious, the ingot pan they were pouring the molten aluminum into either had some sort of surface impurity or was too cold.

Thanks for the gingery info revvy, I'm downloading some of his books now. Looks like I may be building a lathe out of beer cans.
Yep, probably moisture, which caused a steam bubble. I always preheat my stuff and use WD40 to drive off moisture. Note that the kid DIDN'T have his faceshield on and lied to the instructor.
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Old 06-09-2009, 07:40 PM   #9
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LOL, I love foundry work. Old hair dryer, some tubing, and a coffee can is all you need to get a charcoal foundry started. Charcoal is great for keeping the oxidation out too. Beer cans aren't worth it. Go find yourself throw away lawn mowers. The blocks are solid aluminum and they smash easy with a sledge. Best source I have found for the silvery metal yet. Cans are a waste of time IMHO, fun but a waste. I'm trying to find a fresnel lens to do it solar.

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Old 06-09-2009, 08:39 PM   #10
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LOL, I love foundry work. Old hair dryer, some tubing, and a coffee can is all you need to get a charcoal foundry started. Charcoal is great for keeping the oxidation out too. Beer cans aren't worth it. Go find yourself throw away lawn mowers. The blocks are solid aluminum and they smash easy with a sledge. Best source I have found for the silvery metal yet. Cans are a waste of time IMHO, fun but a waste. I'm trying to find a fresnel lens to do it solar.
I also like car pistons, waterpumps, thermostat housings and stuff like that. I melted down an entire Subaru 1.8 flat-4 that I have as ingots waiting for me when I get back to the States. I have no idea what I'm going to make. I need some parts for my lathe and my first casting was not usable. It is an interesting art.
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