Paint Can Furnace with Accessories, Lost Foam Casting, and More!

Picture of Paint Can Furnace with Accessories, Lost Foam Casting, and More!
When I started to cast aluminum the end goal was to build a lathe from scratch following the dave gingery machine shop from scrap metal series of books. Now that I have the lathe, I won't necessarily need to cast large parts all the time, and thus it seemed like a good idea to build a smaller furnace that would be quick to setup, would cool down quickly, and would also be portable. I was initially planning on building a small furnace from a big coffee can, but when in the paint section of a hardware store I noticed new empty paint cans for sale ( for $5 each ), and decided these would be the way to go ( more capacity and I wouldn't have a bunch of instant coffee to drink ).

For more information about this project visit it's project page here:
Paint Can Furnace with Accessories, Lost Foam Casting and More!

And for more information about my other projects feel free to checkout my projects blog from time to time:
the Morgan Demers blog

Project Video:
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Step 1: Prerequisites: Tools Required

- Hand Drill ( drill press is nice to have though )
- Hacksaw
- Basic set of drill bits
- 6-32 tap ( for burner tube locking screws )
- 1/4-20 tap ( for pipe nipple crucible )
- 5/16-18 tap ( for lost foam pressure head tool )
- Tin Snips
- Paper Punch
- Screw Driver ( Philips Head )
- Sharpie
- Straight Edge ( or ruler )
- 2x3 or 2x4 scrap wood for mashing and mixing
- Trowel ( nice for mixing refractory )
- Cheap Paint Brush
- Tarp ( at the very least needed for mixing refractory on )
- Wire Cutter
- Center Punch
- Hammer or Mallet
- Vise
- File
- Foam Cutter ( Utility Knife or Hot Wire Cutter )
- Low Temperature Hot Glue Gun
- JT539t Torch ( or equivalent )
danm_daniel11 months ago

This is the most cohesive instructable I have seen on metal casting. Thank you!

libertyss11 year ago
Very well written Instructable! I remember Dave Gingery from Lyndsey Publications my dad use to get 30 years ago. Dad never built the furnace so I sent him your Instructable and maybe he will! Thanks! Well done!
pj632 years ago
What a Fantastic instructable....Extremely well written and Discriptive ....Congrats and Keep up the GOOD work.....

I was wondering how long can you wait before curing it in the oven? Is it something that needs be done right away or can it wait a couple days as time allows?

Any suggestions on how to cure the furnace if its to big for a conventional oven? Is the fire clay mixture hard enough before curing to make a wood fire in it to cure it?

zixilplix1 made it!3 months ago

I made the furnace by your instructions. The instructions are
great and this is a very cool DIY project. The only problem I have is, I
am having trouble finding a hose to connect my JT539t torch to the tank.
All the hoses I found that connect to the 20lb tank at Lowes, Home Depot,
or anywhere else I've looked for that matter, do not connect to the torch.
I've also looked at adapters and can't find anything that'll work.
Do you know what hose you got and where you got it? This is the
last step until I start melting aluminum and I really want to get cracking.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Morgan_Demers (author)  zixilplix13 months ago
Hey, the furnace looks great! Good job. To hookup the burner to a larger 20lb tank you'll need a 'Coleman 2000005062 5-Ft. High-Pressure Hose & Adapter' - just search google, or amazon for it. Should cost between $15-$20.

not sure if the direct link will work, but here it is on amazon:

Hey, cracking video. Can't wait to get started and make one of these beauties. I was just wondering if you think there are any small tweaks you could recommend to bring it up to steel melting temps? I assume maybe just buying a more expensive higher temp burner would do it maybe, if so would it be too high a temp for the furniss to handle? Any replies appreciated.
bmatthew21 year ago
I built a furnace using most of the the techniques listed and the jt539t torch with extension hose. My refractory is only sand and plaster, which I use for blacksmithing. Works great.
jmcready1 year ago
How long do you have to let the forge heat up for with the propane torch? I bought the cheapest Bernzomatic propane torch with the simple nozzle, will this get the appropriate results?
Morgan_Demers (author)  jmcready1 year ago
I would recommend the JT539t, it has their swirl flame and is designed for brazing, hotter / more efficient flame. It also is only $28 at our local ACE hardware store. That torch gets my furnace up to 1300 deg. F in 20-30 minutes from a cold start with a charge of aluminum in it, so pretty much pouring in 30 minutes.

Other torches will work, but will take longer to get the furnace up to temperature. Also, this is not a forge for heating metal for forge work, it is a fuller contained furnace for melting metal. There may be better options out there if your intent is forge work.

NeuroPulse1 year ago
Any ideas to cast aluminum with a smooth surface? Some other material for the mold?
you can try using a two part resin with the sand, it picks up high detail, and when used with extremly fine sand can prduce a fine surface with can be lightly sanded and pollished
Pwag1 year ago
Is this only hot enough to do aluminium?
Morgan_Demers (author)  Pwag1 year ago
No, you could melt brass and bronze in it for sure ( probably silver and gold with the right burner ). At some point I'd like to use it to melt small quantities of sterling with a graphite crucible for art / jewelry projects ( if I ever get to it ).
I enjoyed the video very thorough. Could you tell me is insulite the same as fire clay? It is refractory cement, though I am not sure how to use it.
Morgan_Demers (author)  bricabracwizard1 year ago
Hey, all I could find on 'Insulite' is this information "INSULITE is a light weight Perlite based aggregate which when combined with portland cement, sand and water produces an ultra light weight concrete that is used for insulating roof decks and light weight floor fills, insulating structural rock decks, curtain wall systems and for a variety of permanent insulating applications.", which doesn't sound like a fire clay substitute, however if you go here:, and look at his '2 buck furnace formula' recipe, he uses perlite, sand, portland cement, and water so you could possibly use insulite as a 'perlite' replacement in that mix.
I'll see how it goes with insulite, the packaging says it's for kilns and pizza ovens. Thanks for your input. This is a very inspiring instructable, just to see your step by step process...more detailed than I've ever seen before and on video!
mutantxgene2 years ago
Wow! What a great and thorough instructable! I just got into backyard foundry and in the process of moving up from using charcoal to propane. Your video was very helpful to a beginner like me.
sleeping2 years ago
Thanks for all the work putting up this great instructable.
thebear12 years ago
thank you for sharing this lots of good info nice job on putting this together