Category Archives: Metal Casting

One Day Foundry – For Aluminum Casting

As a challenge to myself I decided to make a very simple foundry setup for melting and casting aluminum.  I have a larger more involved equipment but I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the methods I used for my first castings.  I also wanted to explore some new ideas I had for setting up a simple aluminum foundry.

If you have ever thought that you might like to try doing some aluminum casting “One Day” my “One Day Foundry” web page and the accompanying video may be of some help.  The steps I used to accomplish the task were intended to get to the end result quickly with few tools.  There are many ways to accomplish the same end result, I present only one.

I carefully selected my supplies and hand tools before I started and took the picture shown below.  After I had the necessary items I did all of the preparation work using only hand tools and an electric drill.  When I started casting aluminum I did not have much more than those simple tools in my possession.  Below is a picture of the tools and equipment I started with.  The only items that I did not have laying around the house were the two 8 foot 2×2 boards, fire clay and fine sand.  Wood and sand were obtained at a big box home improvement store.  The fire clay is a little more difficult.  I went to Continental Clay in Minneapolis and purchased the clay (Hawthorn-50 mesh fire clay).  They do sell by mail order but finding a local source is probably worth the trouble for most people.

One Day Foundry

I was able to complete the project in less than one day.  I captured the build in the video embedded  below.  More details, including tools/parts list, can be found on the project page: One Day Foundry project page.

And the resulting casting.



Proposed Projects for the 2015 Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire

The call for makers for the first Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire is now open.  I thought I would throw my hat into the ring to present a few projects. I picked out a few projects for which I will show some of the intermediate steps.  The projects I have chosen have built upon each other over the years.  The projects presented below are the projects I proposed in my Maker Faire call for makers application I will edit as needed as the mini maker faire approaches.

Injection Molding Machine

My injection molding machine was made using plans from the book Plastic Injection Molding Attachment for the Drill Press by Vince Gingery. This book features a small injection molding machine that relies on an external mechanism to push the ram.  Generally the external mechanism is a drill press.  For my machine I have fitted the molding machine on an arbor press. The temperature control is accomplished using a purchased PID controller, thermocouple and cartridge heaters.  The use of an external mechanism for load application and purchased components for the thermal management makes the remaining parts of the injection molding machine a simple piston with the necessary features to interface with the purchased components.  I plan to have the injection molding machine producing small parts during the Mini Maker Faire. More information on my injection molding machine and molds is available on my Home Plastic Injection Molding web page.  As shown in this YouTube Video the injection molding machine was in part made using my Gingery Lathe which is another project I plan to display.


Gingery Lathe

A Gingery Lathe is a lathe made based on the book The Metal Lathe by David Gingery.  Gingery Lathes are often started by makers that are trying their hand at aluminum casting.  In the past very few working lathes could be found on the Internet. The number or working lathes seems to be increasing.  My lathe is by no means perfect but it is an example of a functioning lathe that I continue to use.  I plan to display wood patterns I used in the process of casting the lathe parts out of aluminum.  My aluminum foundry which I used to create many of the lathe parts is another project I plan to display.


Aluminum Foundry

Casting aluminum opens a world of possibilities for makers and hobbyists.  Aluminum casting can produce very strong aluminum components using a pattern made from wood or other easy to work with material.  In addition the aluminum used for the castings can come from many sources including old aluminum frying pans and broken lawn mower engines.  Since the material comes at little or no cost I even use cast billets from my foundry for making the molds used with my injection molding machine mentioned above.  My foundry setup is based primarily on information from but once again Gingery publishing also has a great resource in the form of the book The Charcoal Foundry by David Gingery.  I plan to show my foundry tools and some castings in various stages of completion.  My foundry setup includes welded crucibles which brings us to the last project I hope to show at the faire, my home made arc welder.


Home Made Arc Welder

The final project I plan to show is my first home made arc welder.  The arc welder is made from re-wound microwave oven transformers and some standard arc welding cable, a ground clamp and electrode holder.  Various web sites detail the process of rewinding the transformers scavenged from old microwave ovens to achieve a voltage that will work for stick welding.  I plan to show my completed welder and microwave oven transformers (MOTS) in various stages of the rewinding process.  I also plan to show my steel crucibles that I made using my home made welder.


See You at the Faire

Of course if you see me at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire you are also welcome to stop by and chat about my CNC software (F-Engrave, G-Code Ripper, Dmap2gcode) or ScorchCAD (OpenSCAD clone for Android)