Imagine, you’ve just discovered that it is possible to melt and cast metal in your own backyard foundry, you feel excited at the prospect of making your very own metal castings. The enthusiasm builds as you start to slowly begin to understand the; how, what & when of this ancient metal craft.
You’re eager to begin the search for the right kind of knowledge, because there is so much to learn, you wonder who you can ask for guidance, or where to start.
In days gone by, the first port of call in the search for knowledge was the local library, alas, you begin to browse around the foundry/metal casting section only to be confronted with big fat text books written for the serious career minded commercial foundry worker. Which is great for the student or advanced metal caster, but not so for the novice.
So you ask your friendly librarian “do you have any books on home hobby foundry work, The librarian replies, “ah, well, no I don’t think so”. You then turn and walk out of the library muttering to your self about the lack of info for the hobby foundry worker..
One of the best ways to find the right kind of hobby foundry info is the Internet, it is possible to download info rich “How To” ebooks in just a few minutes, you can then start reading & learning right away.
What a huge time saving that is!
Once you’ve absorbed the knowledge, you can then start thinking about equipment. But where do you get the equipment to set up a small hobby foundry? Eventually you get to talk to someone who understands your needs, perhaps it is the local technical college trade teacher, who just so happens to have been in involved the foundry trade, but now teaches the subject to 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 start. 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 man of the trade.
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 and learn more about the methods & techniques.
It is not until you actually start moulding and doing things in your foundry that you actually start to truly learn. You can look at a heap of moulding 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 of sand 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 the sand 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 lots of practice using the sand will teach you the correct temper for your sand. In the early years of casting you can spend many 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 is real back breaking work.
And when the moulding sand has been used up – the metal melted
& poured, and the castings cooled and removed from the sand, the whole process has to be repeated all over again.
You will begin to dislike the chore of re-conditioning green sand, until you start to use a small-motorised gyratory riddle. You can learn “How To Build” this wonderful little machine by reading the three-volume hobby foundry ebook called Metal Casting Made Easy.
Re-conditioning green sand with the riddle is actually quite a bit of fun and it produces the smoothest, silkiest green sand this side of the Black Stump. (Fictitious place in Australia)
You now have about the most perfect green sand you can produce, with good moulding sand you have everything in your favour. Sand moulding is not really a black art, it’s about 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. Remember to take notes of your successes and failures, note the things that worked best for you, it’s just a simple log to write down all sorts of notes about your foundry project.
Hobby foundry work is learnt by doing.