Metal Casting and general pyromania

Does anyone here do any metal casting? I’ve done a very tiny amount of aluminum casting before and I’ve been meaning to get back to it. I just moved to Burlington area, and I’m trying to find people that are into backyard projects like metal casting, blacksmithing, DIY wood furnaces, etc.

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Hi Patrick,

I do some casting on occasion and have a small propane casting furnace. Welcome to the Burlington area.


Any idea when/if you’ll be doing another casting session?

@PikePorter - Whoa! I’d love to see this. Could you make sure you let me know if you plan on doing this?

[email protected]

This winter I’ll very likely be building a small foundry furnace for melting metal in a crucible. However, I don’t have a great place to fire it up yet, as my rental house has a very, very small backyard. (I strongly doubt a metal-casting operation the scale of mine could have an accident bad enough to cause a fire beyond the 15 foot radius I have. Nevertheless, the neighbors will probably not like it at all, so I don’t want to make them worried or annoyed.) I have one location that will allow it, but it’s a bit far away.

As for the metals I want to cast:
Aluminum - I’ve melted aluminum in a home-made furnace before, and it’s not very difficult. I just casted ingots to consolidate a lot of oddly shaped scrap. Melting point is about 660degC.

Brasses and copper - I’ve seen brass casting done in person, but I haven’t done it myself. I’d like to cast some, particularly some copper for some odd functional and decorative things. Melting point of pure copper is about 1085degC, so a furnace for this material should be a bit better designed for efficiency, but simple air-propane burners can still certainly do it. Brass should have a range of melting points, all of which are lower than pure copper. The concern over brass scrap is that there are many different brass alloys, a fair number of which have a small but significant quantity of lead added to them. I don’t want to melt any brass I don’t know for certain is lead free. Lead can easily vaporize as oxides out of brass exposed to direct-fired furnaces. The zinc in brass vaporizes quite readily out of brasses in direct-fired furnaces, and it is easily visible. Zinc is far less toxic than lead, but breathing zinc dust is still very, very harmful.

Cast Iron - I really want to do this one eventually, but it’s considerably harder given the melting point of 1150-1320degC. It can be done with crucibles, but I haven’t seen it in person. I have been to a few “cast-iron pour” events held by sculpture clubs and academic sculpture departments over the past couple years. The ones I went to all used cupola furnaces, which are a whole 'nother beast to build and learn to use effectively. If you ever get the chance to see a cast-iron pour, I assure you that it will be worth your time! I’d be fine with using crucibles to cast any iron stuff I’d make for a while. (Still, though, I’d be on board with building a cupola furnace because they’re awesome.)