Where To Start And The Way It Used To Be.
Imagine this; you’ve just discovered that it is possible to melt and cast metal in the backyard foundry, you feel excited at the prospect of making your own castings. The enthusiasm builds as you start to slowly learn the; “how what & where” of this ancient metal craft.
The search for knowledge begins: there’s so much to learn, you hardly know where to turn, or where to begin. Years ago the first port of call in the “info search” was the local library, alas, when you take a browse around the foundry/metal casting section you are confronted with big fat text books written for the serious commercial foundry career worker, great for the advanced caster, but not for the hobby novice.
So you ask your friendly librarian “Got any books on home hobby foundry work,? she replies, “Ah, well no, I don’t think so”. Bewildered, you walk out of the library muttering to your self about the lack of info for the hobby foundry worker.. That was then (1980s).
Acquiring the right equipment.
So you finally get to talk to someone, perhaps the local tech college trade teacher, who’s been in the trade, but now teaches the subject of foundry to the eager industry apprentices.
After explaining what you intend to do with your hobby, he then suggests that you enrol in the six month foundry class that’s about to begin. After considering the cost, which can be considerable, you decide this is a good option, as you no doubt will learn much from this wise teacher.
(Or you can enrol in the Gold Membership and study over a period of time)
Six months down the road, you’ve completed your hobby foundry course. And now you really want to get stuck into this hobby foundry thing.
You now know how to go about building your own equipment and tools, there’s no guesswork, & you won’t be groping in the dark. But don’t stop your learning just because you’ve completed your basic foundry course, buy some more books.
Learning And Practicing the Methods And Techniques.
You can look at a heap of sand till your blue in the face, but you wont be able to tell whether it is suitable to use for casting or not, you have to physically grab a hand full and squeeze it as hard as you can, then grab the wad of sand between the fingers and gently apply a force to see if it breaks cleanly or not, if it just crumbles in your hand, you have some issues to address with the amount of binders (bentonite) or water it contains, moulding sand needs to be neither to dry nor wet to make it ideal for sand casting. It can be a complex substance.
Only with lots of practice using the sand will you learn the correct temper for your sand.
Years ago we used to spend what seemed like hours dragging, adding water, cutting, turning and dumping green sand with a small spade in an effort to condition the sand ready for casting. (This can be really hard work) Once the moulding sand was all used up through ramming up the moulds… the metal melted & poured… the castings cooled and shaken from the sand, the whole process had to be repeated all over again.
I discovered that manual reconditioning of green sand is a chore, until the brainwave struck me one day to construct a small motorised gyratory riddle. Yep… that’s the one explained in the three volume hobby foundry ebook, and boy, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.
The riddle will condition and produce the smoothest, silkiest green sand this side of the Black Stump. (Fictitious place in Australia)
Practice makes perfect.
You now have just about the most perfect green sand you can produce, you have everything in your favour. You can now practice ramming the sand, setting patterns, gates & risers till the cows come home; this is where you get the sand under your nails, and you can really start to come to grips with this green sand casting.
It’s not really a black art, it’s just you learning what works best for you, sure, there are a few rules to follow, but these become second nature after you become familiar with all the steps.
Consolidating the operation.
OK, now it’s time to take note of what you’ve been doing… remember way back in your school years you used to take down pages & pages of notes, guess what? Now is the time to start taking notes again, well, you don’t actually have to write pages & pages… just enough to note what method worked best for you, it’s just a simple log book to write down all sorts of notes about your foundry work projects.
Notes about your sand, was it to wet, or too dry, the way you rammed the mould, was it too hard… to soft, the amount of venting, etc, etc, etc…. you get the picture.
Thankfully, today the learning is different, the internet has changed that, now you can purchase and download the information you need with a couple of clicks, in order to do the work that you want to in your own hobby foundry.
Click the image in the column on the top right hand side of this page to obtain backyard foundry info you’ll need to begin your metal casting journey, you wont look back.