Introduction: Create a Custom Cement Cigar Ashtray

Picture of Create a Custom Cement Cigar Ashtray

This is how we (the wife and I) created a cement cigar ashtray. We learned a few things along the way that we would definitely do differently, which I will note along the way.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Plastic butter knife, toothpicks, florist foam, paint brushes, sealer/glue, plaster of paris, cement, water, buckets, foil and a shoe box.

Step 2: Creating the Model

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I carved a prototype or model of my ashtray from florist foam using a butter knife. Florist foam is very soft and super easy to carve. I used my fingers to smooth the transitions and round corners. While carving, this stuff makes an incredible mess; be sure to lay down paper in your work area. This is the creative step and is the most fun. I had a few cigars out to test the size of the bowl and rests. This was by far the most fun step of the process.

Step 3: Attaching the Parts

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A single piece of foam was not large enough for what I wanted to create, so I used two blocks of foam. Once I was done carving both pieces, I joined them together using toothpicks... this idea was Ong's. I imagine that you could join multiple parts with just about any method.

Step 4: Sealing the Model

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Since I was using two separate pieces, it was important to seal them together. This was to prevent the plaster from running into the joints. We also thought that the plaster might seep into the pores on the foam; turns out that this was not the case. The pores on the florist foam is too fine. For my next ashtray, I will not be using sealer; it ended up being a pain at almost every step.

Step 5: Creating the Mold

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Once the sealer was dry, it was time to create the plaster mold. We used a shoe box lined with foil; plaster is very wet and would have killed the cardboard. We could have used plastic wrap, but the foil is easier to work with. For this step, we needed A LOT MORE plaster than we thought; take note and make too much. We attempted to glue the foam to the bottom of the shoe box with rubber cement, which turned out to be a complete failure. When pouring the plaster in, the foam decided to float. We freaked out... but while freaking out I was holding the model down with my (gloved) hand. Upon letting go, the plaster had set enough to hold the foam down. This worked out very well.

Step 6: Removing the Model

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We had hoped the foam would be easy to remove; we were wrong. Once the plaster had dries, we had to carve the foam out of the plaster... all while being very careful not to crack the mold. The plastic is much stronger than we thought it would be... so be careful, but not not like handling eggs careful. This step took a lot longer than estimated; this was mostly due to the sealer. The sealer bonded with the plaster more than the foam, so it was like gluing our model to the plaster. Not fun.

Step 7: Pouring the Cement

Picture of Pouring the Cement

With a clean and dry mold, we made our cement. As to not repeat an earlier mistake, we made entirely too much cement. Cement sets crazy fast, so too much is a good thing. Pouring the cement was fast and easy. Since our foam floated while making the mold, our mold was not quite level. We had to level the cement by placing a paint brush under one side of the mold.

Step 8: Removing the Mold

Picture of Removing the Mold

After letting the cement dry for 48 hours, we broke away the plaster. All was going well until we got to the bowl. The plaster had been re-wet by the cement and had turned into clay. I suspect that letting it dry for another day would have made life easier, but I was in a hurry to use my ashtray. We chiseled, scraped and dug to remove as much plaster as possible. Here again, the sealer was an issue... it bonded with the cement over the plaster and was not part of the ashtray.

Step 9: Clean-up

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There was still patches of plaster and sealer all over, so we washed it with hot water and soap. Turns out that the glue came off easier with dry rubbing. After a whole lot of scrubbing and rubbing, it was ready for use.

Step 10: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy

Light up a cigar and start smoking!

In the end the project was fun, but ended up being a lot more work than planned. By skipping the sealer, we could have saved a lot of trouble. Any plaster that seeped through the cracks was easily removed in Step 5. The other thing that I would have done differently is to use concrete instead of cement; I have no idea what the difference is, but concrete is way cheaper and would have done the same thing.

I will be doing this again... in fact, I already have my second prototype carved out.

www.MercuryState.com

Comments

craig3 (author)2014-03-18

just checked back on this to try myself, how come all the photos are cut in half?

Battlespeed (author)2014-01-09

Lots of info available about creating reusable molds for concrete (would also work with cement, mortar, plaster, etc.). Florist's foam certainly isn't one of the materials I'd recommend.

Battlespeed (author)Battlespeed2014-01-09

P.S. Yes, there are concrete dyes, and you can also create texture by controlling the type and amount of small stones in the mix. You can embed items in the mix after it has set briefly, and you can even use rubber stamps to add texture, designs, words, etc.

Gerde (author)2010-01-07

Hej together,
even though this is an old post, I wanted to share my concrete ashtray.
As a hobby smoker, and full timer DIY'er I turned a rubber "clay mixing bowl" inside out, and filled it with concrete.
That gave me a pretty nice form.
See for yourself



linseed1 (author)2009-01-06

keep the cement-add some sand -just a little-vibrate or tap the mold after pouring and it will settle raise some of your bubbles- Also, if you beef up your mold and spray with release you can make more than one. Oh yeah, any reason you didn't make the foam one piece before carving thereby eliminating the seam? I think this project is a real winner! Concrete is a good thing...

Rossiroller (author)linseed12009-01-07

He mentions that he wasn't able to get a large enough piece of foam so he used two. Unless you mean he should have bonded them or something before carving in which case I have no idea how you could do that.

linseed1 (author)Rossiroller2009-01-08

you would do whatever you would do to bond them after the fact, just stay away from your carving area with the toothpicks and glue... Again-awesome project. I love cigars and making things- what could be better? Maybe a concrete vessel to sip single malt... lol

Derin (author)linseed12009-07-12

My experiments show VAM works well with foam.It was used to fix a RC helicopter of mine with a broken tail motor.

headlessbubble (author)2009-03-11

great idea

idogis1 (author)2009-01-28

you should try doing this with a block of wax instead of foam. Much easier to remove, just hold at an angle and heat with a blow torch.

Fildain (author)idogis12009-01-28

Just use acetone to melt the foam out.

Punkguyta (author)2008-08-28

I think the difference between Concrete and cement is that cement is one of the few ingredients in concrete as a whole. It's more of a mortar, but has more strength, but hence the smooth look when you're finished (which btw the ashtray does look nice). Concrete on the other hand has stone and limestone among other elements mixed in for strength and gives it more of a grittier finish. I have no idea how concrete is cheaper..

Orchestrapit (author)Punkguyta2008-12-27

concrete is cheaper because it contains cheap abundant earth materials, while cement is a more expensive compound. think of it like if you buy 1 liter of orange juice concentrate, it is more expensive than buying 1 liter of plain orange juice. because the juice (concrete) is diluted, and contains less orange concentrate (cement) it is cheaper.

106yeahboyz (author)2008-12-27

I did something similar while helping a plasterer mix plaster for a house being renovated .when he asked me to go clean the bucket i tapped the excess plaster out first and realised that the half set plaster was just like clay , so i hand shaped a small ashtray and left it to dry ,this was a year ago and i still have it , pretty durable as well -its been dropped a few times but still is in one piece ,obviously not as tech as urs but a good 5 minute make

n0ukf (author)2008-07-15

You should have used some kind of release agent on top of the sealer before applying the plaster, perhaps wax or vaseline. Besides preventing the sealer and plaster from bonding, doing the same to the mold might prevent the water from the cement from turning the plaster into clay, as well as again helping release the cement from the plaster. The difference between cement and concrete? Sand or gravel added to the cement to make concrete. If you use colored sand, maybe you can see it as cement is worn away.

SlothOnSpeed (author)2008-07-03

This is copied in it's entirety from ReadyMade Magazine's last issue. I looked it over and decided it was insane amounts of work for so little payback.

Weissensteinburg (author)2008-05-29

Very cool...floral foam was a great idea for a mold.

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-05-28

It sounds like you have learned quite a bit with this project. If you made another it would go so much easier, the second time always is because you learn the mistakes the first time :-) Good job Are you going to paint it now?

reedz (author)Mr. Rig It2008-05-29

I think the paint would look REALLY bad, to me the concrete gives it a certain character by itself.

b13ed (author)reedz2008-05-29

I was thinking about staining it -- versus painting. I heard that they make cement stains... or on the next one, I might add dye to the cement.

Mr. Rig It (author)b13ed2008-05-29

They do make cement stains and they look really good. You could stain it which wouild be cool or seal it and then paint it. Or just seal it with a clear finish.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-05-28

Very nice. Complicated process for a simple object. Great job!

b13ed (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-05-29

It was so much more work than I thought, but I dig it. Thank you!

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