I got such a great response from the Easy Dual Fuel Furnace Burner that it only made sense to follow it up with the rest of the furnace.

This furnace will be able to handle melting aluminum and bronze with no trouble. In theory it should be able to melt iron too but that's probably pushing it.

I've been using my furnace for a couple years now and it has worked out quite well. My design is based on information I picked up from the backyard metalcasting forum. It's a great resource and community. There are a bunch of furnace builds there exploring a variety of ideas. I recommend checking it out. I'd also read this comprehensive guide for a general overview of metal casting and furnace design.

Step 1: General Plan

The basic concept is that we are making an insulated container that can withstand temperatures of up to 2600 degrees. The dimensions don't need to be precise but you will have better results if you stick with the general program. I wanted a furnace that would let me cast a decent amount of metal, about 5 lbs aluminum.  It needs to be sturdy but as inexpensive as possible to make and run.

The furnace is really simple. It's just a metal container with a lid, a drain and a hole for the burner. It is filled with high temperature insulation to retain the heat and a sturdy inner lining (hot face) to withstand the flame from the burner.

I based my design around a small metal barrel that I got from a salvage place. The sheet metal was thick enough to weld to (pretty much) and not galvanized. The zinc coating on galvanazed metal containers will burn and make a noxious smoke so don't use it. Otherwise any metal container should make a serviceable shell for the furnace. I used bits of pipe and angle iron from my scrap pile for the rest of the metal parts.

I made my own insulation because it was substantially cheaper than buying commercial insulation and I just wanted to try it. I did buy a bag of high temperature refractory cement for the hot face.

The shell is filled with insulation leaving an airspace of roughly 2" on all sides between the crucible and the inside of the furnace.
I have a made my first home made foundry.. It's a charcoal fueld foundry and has worked great so far! Question I have and hope someone can give me advice on is, what is the best charcoal/coal to use for my foundry? The current charcoal I am using burns away too quickly and because of the blower, I am getting a lot of ash falling into my crucible. I'm sure I can use some sort of a "kid to put over my crucible but would like an opinion or two on what experienced, charcoal foundry users prefer. Thanks yall!
Could i use the sawdust Fireclay mix for the hot face
Yes, but it will break down over time faster than if there is a more heat resistant coating on it. How long will it last? I don't know. One would have to experiment.
<p>Looks great! Did you get to melt bronze with this set up yet?</p>
<p>Great write up, thanks.</p>
Is there any substitute for fire clay in this ible?
You could try a different clay but I would make sure it can handle high temperatures without breaking down.
Did you get the clay online, or do you have a supplier near you. Great 'ible by the way.
<p>you can get a 95lb bag of fireclay at home depot, free shipping to store, if you can't find it anywhere else. </p>
Great tip!<br>Thanks
I went to a ceramics supply house. Look for the kind of place that professional potters go for their supplies.
You also can get clay stronger with adding some pig hair (belive or not) , I use that method when I need to repair broken clay in furnace. It holds pretty well, try and see at your self. :)
Great idea but where does one get pig hair?
<p>paintbrushes? </p>
<p>do you think this furnace design could handle glass? that would require around 2-3000 degrees at most. I'm interested in learning primitive glassworking so a furnace that's easily home built would be very valuable </p>
I used to be a glass glassblower so I've given this some thought. The short answer is yes. In fact it's on my list to set up a small glassblowing studio at some point. That said It will take some work to get there from here.<br> <br> Generally for glassblowing you don't need to go higher than 2000 f. The refactory materials will tolerate the heat. In theory my burner will generate enough heat but in practice I don't think it does. I've seen glass furnaces that run quite happily on waste oil though.<br> <br> The set up for a glass operation requires more equipment than this furnace which is basically a hot can. You need a place to reheat the glass (glory hole) as well as a place to cool it down (annealer). Most small furnaces have a dome over the tank for reheating and then run the exhaust gasses through a secondary chamber for the annealer. You will also need to come up with a crucible to hold the glass in which is very corrosive when molten.<br> <br> Check out <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZA7prJ72UQ" rel="nofollow">this movie</a> for a very primitive but effective set up and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6U2rOXt75I" rel="nofollow">this one</a> for a more modern take.<br> <br> Good luck on your project. PM me if you have more specific questions. I've built a couple glass furnaces and would love to see a low cost glass blowing set up get built.
For a crucible, i had seen post by a guy who was making his own pots from hand mixed clays and whatnot, so I've at least got a recipe for that. My thought on annealing was that once the work is done and the furnace is shut off, place a simple wire rack with multiple levels into the hot furnace to pee heat, then shut in the glass pieces on the rack, maybe with a small wood or charcoal fire in the bottom to keep everything warm, but not hot enough to slump the glass. Then just let the insulated burn chamber slowly cool to anneal the contents. The glory hole is a design element I hadn't thought of yet. My first thought though would be to basically take another matching barrel cut to half height and turn that into a topper lined with refractory and with a hole or door for reheating parts. I'll have to continue my research, ultimately I'd like to end up with a furnace I can use for metal casting, and then reconfigure for glass working. Of course for me, the fuel of choice is charcoal, gas is just too expensive compared to hardwood lump charcoal, and naturally that would have been the fuel of choice for centuries before modern processes and fuels were available.
<p>The glass needs to go right into the annealer after it is formed. You can't cool it down and then anneal it later. I would make an oven that sits above the furnace and gets heated from the exhaust of the furnace. You use a damper to control the temp of the annealer and then seal it up when you are done. For the glory hole you can cast a dome top like a wood fired pizza oven. Use that when you are melting glass and just a ring when you are melting metal. The rocket mass heater seems like a good approach for wood firing a furnace. Here's another couple links to some old school glassblowing for inspiration.</p><p><a href="http://www.romanglassmakers.co.uk/index.htm" rel="nofollow">http://www.romanglassmakers.co.uk/index.htm</a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PMNIEfo6vZY" width="500"></iframe></p>
well, I don't know how is in your country, but here by me we sometimes slaughter a pig (to make sausages, bacon and other) so it left behind. I don't know where else would you find hair, try to deal with some local butcher, he could have one. :)
You learn something new everyday. I would love to learn more about <a href="http://justintimefurnace.com/heating.html" rel="nofollow">furnace repair in Calgary</a>. I had no idea they used cement in furnaces.
That looks like it would be such a fun experience. We've been wanting to get a nice <a href="http://www.knightplumbing.ca/index.php/2011-08-02-17-36-30/furnace" rel="nofollow">furnace in Calgary</a> for stuff like that. Where is the best place to get them?
instead of using the clay you could also use refractory cement that is rated up to 3000 degrees F
The clay is $12 for a big bag and the refractory cement is $95 for a small bag. I did try it with some left over refractory cement and it just made crumbles rather than holding together. There are other lower temp refractories that would work but they too are awfully expensive.
Great instructable, saved it for future reference. On the 100 W. light bulbs, LOL. I'm certain that 100 W. incandescent bulbs that meet the energy efficiency standards are available
I don't know....<br>I think I might start stockpiling a few. Can't get much heat out of a led :P
I was just wondering what you used for a burner. The only thing that comes to my mind is a propane blow torch, but I doubt that gets hot enough.
I used<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Dual-Fuel-Furnace-Burner/" rel="nofollow"> this burner</a>. &nbsp;Works great :)
look at his other instructable, the dual fuel furance burner. a little propane torch wouldn't melt diddly shit in a furnace that big. i used a waste oil burner, it burns oil from oil changes and could melt up to 10 pounds of aluminum. if you are interested in the hobby, go to backyardmetalcasting.com
This is a great 'ible. Your eye for detail in writing this one made it very useful. Keep up the good work!
Looks awesome, great 'ible<br>
What a Great Instructable....I've been waiting for a while for this to come up...I have Bricks,Fire Cement and a 25kg bag of Fire Clay to try to build a Smelting/Foundry in my Garden..I needed some final information and your Instr was Brilliant..Thanks and well done very informative...
Sounds like you're ready to go! <br>PM me or put any questions that come up in the comments<br>Post some pics of your project. <br>We want to see....
thanks for the tips, been wanting to try melting<br>and casting metal for ages...this looks easy enough<br>I've got no excuse not to !
Gold melts at around 1800. Whoo Hoo!
Loved this instructable on creating a metal melting furnace! Thank you!<br><br>BTW, your website address is incomplete at the end of the instructable, it is missing the .com.<br><br>Here is the complete link for people that want to see Mike and Molly's house :)<br>http://mikeandmollyshouse.com/
Do you think it would help with the cracking to dry the insulation before pouring the liner?
Probably some. The trouble is that the clay is going to shrink no matter what. The commercial stuff is formulated with parts that expand and contract for a zero net change but it costs more. I don't think a few cracks will really affect the performance of the insulation in this application. You could fill the cracks with mortar if you wanted too.
Awesome, looks like fun!<br>
it looks Great , Im going to make plans to build this one
GENIAL, thanks for sharing.

About This Instructable


578 favorites


Bio: I have a compulsion to make stuff, all kinds of stuff. I'm glad to be here...
More by spike3579: Dragon Scale Shingles I Love Papercrete A Big Sister for Bertha
Tags: Metal furnace
Add instructable to: