Instructables

How to cut hard microcrystalline wax

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I did this at TechShop Menlo Park. http://www.techshop.com

A large chunk of microcrystalline wax is not easily cut or broken. We had to get creative with the solution.
 
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Step 1: Tried using a saw

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And it gummed up the blade right away.

Step 2: Introduce electrical heat

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We figured we would use a car battery charger to introduce heat to the blade.

Step 3: Charged saw

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It worked for a second but didn't get too far. Maybe because the blade surface being too big to send an even charge.

Step 4: Wire cutter

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Using conductive copper wire and two sticks of wood we created a cutter. It didn't work by itself but charging it helped.

Step 5: Cut

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Electricity provided heat for the wire which cut through the wax nicely and easily!

Step 6: Chunks of wax

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The smaller chunks of wax are much easier to work with. I am using them for lost wax casting.
Enjoy!
macrumpton2 years ago
Yow! that looks like a real PITA.
When I was using that stuff I just put it in the freezer overnight and then put it in a trashbag and whack it with a small sledge hammer. It shatters quite nicely. Also I would use a soldering iron to "score" it to break off parts. BTW soldering irons also work well for welding wax parts together.

Oh, and I just remembered that I would melt the shattered chunks in a pot and pour it into shallow baking trays to make easy to manage 1/4" slabs.
Miss Cabbit (author)  macrumpton2 years ago
He he.. yeah pita! Thanks a lot for your suggestions. They all work quite well, freezing worked great, soldering iron was good for sprues and shallow trays work well too. I was working in a huge rush so I needed to melt some chunks stat. This is why I came up with this unorthodox but weirdly fun method.
freeza362 years ago
Sorry, I didn't realize that it was instructables itself that had changed the picture viewing format. My bad.
freeza362 years ago
How did you get the pictures they way they are?
sethcim2 years ago
We used to score & snap. I'm not sure if you'd call it easy, but it worked.
Miss Cabbit (author)  sethcim2 years ago
Scoring and snapping didn't work for this particular slab until it got frozen. It does for beeswax and hard paraffin and cutting is easy with red french wax. :)
The problem here would be that the blade is too big and conducts too well, so the amount of electrical resistance it is offering is low, and resistance is required to convert electrical power into heat energy. The thin wire you used later is small, has a much higher resistance, and gets quite hot as a result. Clever idea with the hot wire cutter.

Do you use this wax for lost wax casting because it is easy to carve without it melting or warping when being worked, or for some other particular reason? Seems like a difficult substance to work with.
Miss Cabbit (author)  mattthegamer4632 years ago
I use this wax to pour it hot into a silicone mold. Dispite it being hard to cut, it has a low melting point and doesn't hurt the mold so I can make many wax replicas of chicken feet and heads. :0 The soft paraffin is too soft for this but beeswax worked just as well and is easier to cut but its more expensive.