Instructables

Build a foundry and sand-cast aluminum.

FeaturedContest Winner
Hello instructableers, DIYers, and Internet people everywhere! Welcome to my debut instructable!!!!
(Whooo, We love you Fenris! You rock! Give me your socks for my creepily obsessive collection of things related to you!).

Thank you, thank you! But really, I must get to the instructable, settle down please.

In this instructable, I will detail how to construct a simple, cheap, and effective foundry, capable of melting aluminum. This foundry can be built quickly, with little tools or money, and is great for beginning metal-casters.

I'm entering this in the Epilog laser cutter challenge, so if you like it (as if you couldn't), please vote.

I'll be your best friend ;)
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: How this is green

Picture of How this is green
Before I instructify your minds, let me tell you how this project is green.

I live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and in Hattiesburg there is no recycling center. The nearest center is in Jackson, Mississippi; which is about 80 miles away. Nobody wants to drive 2 hours just to turn in some cans they could have thrown away in 5 seconds.

That's where me and my friends come in.

Our friends, family, and even random people who just want to recycle bring us pounds of aluminum cans each week, which ordinarily would just be taking up space in a landfill.

We melt down their trash to create tools or art, which we then can either sell or give away.

And though this foundry design pollutes the air with smoke and fumes, it teaches us (and any other beginning metal-caster who wishes to learn with us) what we need to know to build greener, more efficient designs which run off of clean-burning propane or use waste-oil as the fuel (reducing the amount of toxic chemicals people would be dumping elsewhere).

As we learn how to build cleaner, more efficient foundries, I will post instructables, so people in places like Hattiesburg, MS, will be able to do their part to save our planet.

On to the legalities!
Mr.Brownstone8 months ago
that is cool. I might try that.
jadronx11 months ago
Wonderful instructable! Aside from the lack of face shield that is. I am excited to see what new designs you come up with.
man ray4 years ago
what did you use for a crucible?
my crucible was an old fire extinguisher that i cut the top off with a sawsall. works great!
Fenris The bbw (author)  man ray4 years ago
A tin can.
That was certainly a steel can. BTW, I've seen a lot of aluminum soup cans lately. They usually have pull-tab tops. Before you use a food can for a crucible, check it with a magnet. The best cheap crucible for aluminum and zinc alloys is a short piece of steel pipe with a piece of steel plate welded over one end. I haven't checked with local welding shops, but it would probably cost less than the cheapest clay-graphite crucible from Budget Casting Supply. There are a *lot* of web sites devoted to amateur foundry. www.backyardmetalcasting.con is a good start.
I can make you some stainless crucibles if you would like or carbon steel. I take paypal so you are covered and ship USPS.just need to know the size and what kind of material you would like. 256-309-9406 is my number. Thanks.
Fenris The bbw (author)  Wyle_E4 years ago
I think i adress that most cans are made out of steel somewhere, but for the life of me, i can't figure out where. Probably in the comments somewhere. Also, a welded crucible would probably work better, but I'm trying to make this build as simple as possible so others with no experience can replicate it.
Have you ever tried a ceramic crucible? I was wondering if you would get a purer product if you didn't have the ferric metal possibly alloying minutely with the aluminum.
A ceramic crucible would be awesome. But I'm trying to keep it cheap and only use garbage for my materials.

Also, I don't think the steel alloys with the aluminum at all, but rust flakes might get in the melt if you use the same crucible more than once.
 Could you make a crucible out of plaster? (since you could cast the aluminum into it anyway?)
Wyle_E leifbus3 years ago
Plaster, like portland cement, sets by a hydration reaction.  Get it hot enough and it dehydrates, turning back into dust.  The furnace is going to be a lot hotter than a mold full of molten metal.
Can you use a glass bottle or container as a crucible? I know it has a much higher melting point than aluminum and is somewhat easier to come by than steel.
Fenris The bbw (author)  legendeveryone4 years ago
The short answer, no.

The long answer no becuz it'll explode, or at least crack, which would waste all the aluminum.
jbend2 years ago
can you use wood insted of charcoal.
No, Wood will not burn hot enough
wood does burn hot enough. i do it all the time.. in fact thats all i use to smelt my aluminum. granted you use alot of wood but if your like me and you have alot of trees on your property then its no problem.
Yes you can i have used wood alot just cut it into kindling then it will turn into hot coals quickly which are easily able to produce the heat required for melting aluminium
what kind of gas mask filter will cleanse the toxic fumes form the cans?
brsild1 year ago
is there a way to set it up to melt stainless steel?
what sand did you use and how much water do i put in the sand
im going to make this just got to find the coffee tins
Wiredfey2 years ago
Question,i have a heat gun which i use to take off formica when doing remodel and use it to melt ice. would this be more effective?
Fenris The bbw (author)  Wiredfey2 years ago
No.

Hot air is less dense than cold air, and consequently contains less oxygen.
I know it's counter-intuitive, but colder air burns better.
that's kind of funny but interesting :) thanx,time to hit up a goodwill for a dryer.
Deadskull572 years ago
Cool, I've been looking for a good foundry instructable, looks like I'll be taking a trip to the goodwill for a cheap hairdryers.
TimmyMiller2 years ago
what if you just removed the paint from the cans?
canis4 years ago
cannot stess the importance of a face mask here. no matter how well prepared you are, unexpected s#!+ happens. a cheap lexan face mask from a local welding supply is a lot cheaper than skin grafts - and a hell of a lot less painful.
canis canis4 years ago
P.S. i got my degree i bronze casting specifically, and i have a ton of experience with all manner of aluminum casting. i know whereof i speak.
Fenris The bbw (author)  canis4 years ago
Thanks for the advice. You can get a degree in casting? That's awesome, I'll have to look into that.
Not bronze casting specifically, no LOL. But bronze was my emphasis in my sculpture degree, which is as close as one gets, I suspect.
junits154 years ago
put a rol of pennys in, they if its hot enought, they will burn blue.
DO Not do this with pennys. This can hurt you fast. Most pennys now are made out of Zinc and will poison you if you breathe the fumes when it is melted or burning.
They have a very thin coating of copper over the zinc cast.
If you want to melt copper, use old copper tubing or wire with the plastic removed. Just make sure it is realy copper all the way through.

And to prevent oxidation a little bit of hundred mule team borax floating on top works like a champ.
Kurt_3 years ago
Sand Casting actually involves clay to stabilize the sand so it doesn't crumble, and so you can have a two-piece mold like in industrial uses.

Other than that, nice instructable. It's ghetto-tastic, just the way I like it!

Read how to make casting sand here:
http://www.ehow.com/how_6065035_mix-sand-casting-aluminum.html
How do you make 3d designs like ring, bracelets, bangles, etc? Could you put a material within the sand with a gap uptop, that would incinerate immediately while pouring in the molten liquid?
there was a show were they would see which of two animals would win if they ever got into a fight. i loved the show, not only because of the awesome idea, but because they always made a black iron replica of said animals skull (complete with teeth) or claws or what not .... ON THE SHOW. they even exsplained what they were doing.

they would pretty much do sand casting, however they would use foam, like styrefoam, that they carved into shape, and just pour the molten metal onto the sand. i don't think they even made sprue. of course, i think they used iron sand..... may be important....

the downside to this is that the metal was kind of pitted.
i remember that show they would overcast the teeth and then polish them down to size i though them to be unrealistic in comparison to the same size tooth in enamel/bone (much higher psi before breaking) but the metal work idea is sound if your making your own foam molds enlarge them a bit then you can machine off the excess for a good finish where you need it
hmm.... good point. i didn't remember that. i agree about the breaking thing though. very hard to gain real evidence without useing real props.... still, you can't say you wouldn't love haveing a solid steel tiger skull on your dresser.
..... it wont let me reply to myself..... oh well. the show was called 'animal face-off' i can't find a full video, so i cant find the casting stuff, but i liked it so much i wrote it down as a kid once..... so i'm pretty sure i've got it right. the only thing (besides it being a special sand or not) was weather they used a sprue hole..... which kind of ties in to the sand being special or not, cuz iron sand would melt, making a hole...

but hes, you could use a burnable material.... look up lost wax casting. same thing, basically, just without the sand.

==========================================================note:
sand casting wouldn't work so well with jewelry, though..... unless you have extremely fine sand, your detail level will be degraded, cuz your detail is restricted to the size of the grains of sand. if it's course, it will leave pits and bumps in the surface of your jewelry.
can you hook up a miniature A/C in replacement for the hair dryer.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!