Introduction: Snowflake Chocolate Molds
Holiday crafts are fun any shape they take, and nothing says holiday crafts like making your own chocolate molds with the help of an Othermill!
This intermediate-level tutorial will walk you through making simple snowflake-shaped chocolate molds on your Othermill, using Otherplan's built-in .svg file support and some prepared .svg files. Before embarking on this project, it helps to have a few Othermill projects under your belt so you're familiar with how to set up the machine and software. Also for this project, we'll be superimposing .svg plans over each other in Otherplan, so it's key to pay special, meticulous attention to your settings and plan placement, otherwise your mold could go haywire.
Once you've gotten the basics down from this project, you'll be able to experiment with making your own custom molds and will undoubtedly proceed to knock the very socks off any recipient of your largesse.
Step 1: Tool, Materials, and Files
- Computer with Otherplan installed
- Flat end mill, 1/32'' and 1/16"
- Flat end mill, 1/8" (optional)
- Hot glue gun and glue
- Our handy Chocolate Mold Kit, which includes:
- 2-part food safe liquid silicone
- 2 spoons
- 1 stirring stick
- 2 blocks of purple machining wax (you should only need one block of wax for this project)
The .svg files you need are attached to each relevant step.
We generated the snowflake images using the superlative Snowflake Generator, originally written by Windell Oskay of Evil Mad Scientist Labs and ported to the web by Paul Kaplan.
Step 2: Prepare the Base of Your Mold
This step includes setting up your machine and importing a file that will clear a space off the top of your wax block and leave a ridge around the edge to hold silicone. This operation, known as facing, will create a solid bottom for your mold.
- Connect your Othermil to your computer, power it up, and home it.
- Make sure you've turned on BitBreaker Mode (Otherplan > Preferences > Check the BitBreaker Mode box) and installed the alignment bracket on the machining bed.
- Once that's all done, measure your wax and enter its dimensions into the "Setup Material" panel. Smaller blocks of machining wax can vary in thickness, so it's a good idea to measure even if you end up using the default values already entered in Otherplan.
- Insert the tool you'll be using for the facing plan. It should be the largest tool you have, so if you have a 1/16'', use that, and a 1/8th'' is even better.
- Download the file attached to this step and import it into Otherplan. It will render as a square on top of your material.
- In the imported plan window where your file settings are, click on the "Placement" button. Next to "Align to Material," click "Center." The plan should snap to the center of the material in Otherplan.
- Just below that, deselect the "Cutout" button.
- Just below that, under Tool To Use, select 1/16'' or 1/8'' end mill, depending on what you have.
- Click "Advanced" and set the Max Pass Depth to .05'' (1.27 mm). Click the green checkmark.
- Finally, at the very bottom, set your engraving cut depth to .1'' (2.54mm).
Now you're ready to cut! Double check everything you just did, and once you're sure things are lined up correctly, click on the "Start Cutting" button.
The machine should come to life and start hollowing out the first part of your mold.
Step 3: Import Both Snowflake Files and Set Up the Detail Layer
The .svg file attached to this step cuts out the detail of your snowflake mold pattern. We're cutting ChocolateSnowflakeDetail.svg first and ChocolateSnowflakePedestal.svg second, in the next step. This clears a layer away from the top and allows the tool to be able to reach where it needs to reach.
It's very important that these two files line up properly in Otherplan, which is why we're importing them both before we cut.
- Once the facing operation has finished, minimize its panel by clicking on the arrow to the left of the file name. To make things simpler on the machining bed, you can also hide its motion plan by clicking on the little eye icon next to the arrow.
- Click "Setup Material" and adjust your material thickness by subtracting .1 inches (2.54 mm) from the "thickness (z)" value. This accounts for the.1'' you just cut away with the facing plan in the previous step.
Download the .svg file attached to this step and import it into Otherplan. It will render as 4 lovely snowflake designs on the wax.
In the imported plan window where your file settings are, click on the "Placement" button. Next to "Align to Material," click "Center." The plan should snap to the center of the material in Otherplan. (Is this all sounding familiar?)
Just below that, deselect the "Cutout" button.
Below that, under "Tool To Use," select 1/32'' and 1/16'' end mill, and delete the 1/8'' end mill, which appears by default.
- This time, click "Advanced"to open the Advanced Settings panel. In the panel that appears, find the "Invert" setting and select "Yes, within Cutout."
Finally, set your engraving cut depth to .03'' (0.762 mm).
Don't cut anything yet! We're going to set up the second part of the mold first.
Step 4: Set Up the Pedestal Layer
Now that you have the snowflake detail set up, set up the pedestal file so it lines up with the detail file.
- Import the .svg file attached to this step.
In the imported plan panel where your file's settings are, click on the "Placement" button.
Next to "Align to Material," click "Center." The plan should snap to the center of the material in Otherplan.
Just below that, deselect the "Cutout" button.
Below that, under "Tool To Use," select 1/16'' end mill.
Below that, click "Advanced" to yet again open Advanced Settings. On the first line, "Invert," select "Yes, within Cutout."
- In the same menu, further down, set the Max Pass Depth to .05'' (1.27 mm).
Now set the engraving cut depth to .12'' (3.048 mm).
The detail and pedestal .svg files should align with each other perfectly. The outline circles should look like one circle when both plans are visible and should not overlap in any way. You can make extra sure by zooming in close to the circles. If both plans are visible and aligned properly, you'll only see one circle.
If they don't align, click on the "Placement" button for each file and make sure the numbers for plan origin match.
Step 5: Cut!
Once everything is exactly as it should be, go to the ChocolateSnowflakeDetail.svg window, and click on "Start Cutting."
- If you haven't already changed the tool in the machine and run the tool-locating sequence, the machine will prompt you to do so. The machine will start with the 1/32'' end mill, and then prompt you to change to the 1/16'' tool when it's time.
- Settle in with a glass of juice or a good book, as this job will take an hour or so and you should never leave a running mill unattended.
- After the detail file has finished cutting, you can click "Start Cutting" in the ChocolateSnowflakePedestal.svg window.
- When both files are cut, you should have a lovely positive image of your chocolate mold.
- Vacuum all the wax chips from the machine bed and your model.
- Pull the wax off the machine bed and gently remove any residual tiny wax pieces.
- The mold will have a small, vestigial circle around each of the detail pieces. Gently remove these with an X-Acto knife or similar tool.
Step 6: Pour the Silicone
Now that your wax positive is cut, it's time to make the silicone negative that you'll then fill with chocolate.
- Open up your OMC Chocolate Mold Kit and take out Part A and Part B of the silicone.
- Measure out equal amounts of each part into a separate container and make sure you use a different spoon for each part.
- Mix well with the tongue depressor but try not to create too many bubbles.
- Once the silicone parts are mixed, you have about 10 minutes to pour before it starts curing!
- With the soft brush or toothpick, carefully dot the center of each snowflake with liquid silicone until the design starts filling up.
- Again with the toothpick or fine brush, gently poke the silicone into all of the snowflake's nooks and crannies. Poke in each corner of the snowflake to pop any hidden bubbles.
- Once the design has been saturated and you're sure there are no errant bubbles, pour more silicone into the mold until its filled to the rim.
- Tap the bottom of the whole mold gently on a countertop or table to get rid of any bubbles that may have resulted from the last pour of silicone.
- Put the mold aside on a flat surface and wait 4–6 hours for it to set.
Step 7: Pour the Chocolate
Once the mold has set, peel it off the wax. Give it a wash in warm soapy water and dry well. You're now ready to pour your chocolate!
- Melt your chocolate wafers according to the instructions on the packet. Mix well. The wafers should be very liquid, but not burned.
- With the tip of a spoon, dollop a bit of chocolate in the center of each mold.
- Spread the liquid chocolate, pressing down with the spoon so the chocolate permeates the mold.
- Dollop the rest of the chocolate on top, filling the mold completely. A little extra overflow is fine—you can trim it later.
- Put the chocolate into the fridge or freezer and wait for it to solidify.
Step 8: Enjoy Your Sweet Finished Product
Once the chocolate is solid, take it out of the fridge and gently peel the mold away from the chocolate. You should end up with lovely coin-sized decorative chocolate pieces.
If you want to get fancy, you can use two different types of chocolate for each part of the coin, or dye white chocolate with food coloring to make a bunch of different color combinations.
If you make this project, show us your chocolate! Or if you you have questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help!