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Houston, TX 77095-2649

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To Preserve and Promote the Art and Craft of Blacksmithing Through Education.

Welcome to HABAIRON.ORG, the website of the Houston Area Blacksmith's Association, the Internet resource of choice for the blacksmith in and around Houston, Texas. We have the technology!


November 20, 2004

Casting Aluminum
with
Dave Cruey
at
Artistic Iron and Forge

This meeting was dedicated to casting aluminum. Aluminum casting is something that can be done in the shop on a small scale. The purpose would be to create a decorative element to augment a forged piece or to create a small piece of stand alone sculpture.

Dave Koenigs cast anvil
The plan is to melt aluminum three different ways at this meeting. Dave Cruey’s self contained tilt furnace will hold maybe a half of a cubic foot of aluminum. Dave has some investment material and plans to make a lost wax mould. In addition, he will try to cast a piece made out of styrofoam that is placed in a five gallon bucket surrounded with fine loose sand.

A ‘styro’ casting is very basic. A form is carved out of styrofoam. A large riser is added and a four inch red clay potting pot is placed around the riser. All of this is placed on top of a few inches of sand in the bottom of a five gallon bucket. The remainder of the bucket is then filled with dry sand and vibrated so that the red clay pot is even with the top of the bucket. Pieces of steel or brick are then laid on top of the sand and bucket at the same time keeping the opening of the red pot open. Molten aluminum is the poured into the red clay pot and the styrofoam is replaced with aluminum.

The project for this meeting is to do a surface casting. This means carving a form in a piece of hard wood, cuttlebone, soft fire brick, large piece of charcoal, a flat piece of investment, or plaster of paris and fill it with molten aluminum. Frank Walters supplied the drawing below of how to cast a belt buckle using the surface casting method.

Casting1.jpg Casting2.jpg

Think of a design for a belt buckle or any other thing you would like to surface cast and cut that form into one of the materials mentioned above. Bring it along with you to the meeting and we will cast it.

Dave Koenig has provided a download pdf file: Aluminum Casting with more notes.


When & Where :


Saturday, November 20 :

The schedule went like this:

  • 8:00 am : Sign in and setup
  • 8:30 am : HABA Meeting and Announcements
  • 9:00 am : Begin Castings
  • 1 pm : Conclude when it all gets done


Where :

Artistic Iron and Forge
11834 Dula Lane
Cypress, TX
(just South of Cypress North Houston )


For those of you who are interested in learning more about casting, take a look at Chapter 5 of Tim McCreight’s book The Complete Metalsmith.

Dave Cruey obtained a large amount of special de-gassing pills for aluminum casting. If you would like to purchase some from him please contact him at 281-807-3440.

More information may be found at these sites :



What to Bring

Bring your face shield, welding leathers, leather aprons/chaps, spats if you have them and preferably work boots. It would aggravate a bad situation to trap molten aluminum on the top of your foot where the boot laces come together.

Bring safety glasses with side shields. This is a requirement!

Bring a chair to sit in.

You do not have to be a member to attend our meetings! Bring a Guest!

Bring your Membership Dues if you want to work at a forge and are not a current Member !

Minors are welcome but must be accompanied by a responsible adult.


Meeting Notes

MOLTEN ALUMINUM - LOWER TEMPERATURE, HIGHER RISK

While molten aluminum melts at a lower temperature than ferrous metals, it nevertheless presents a greater metal splash hazard to the foundry worker.

Small droplets of molten iron have a tendency, because of their extremely high temperatures, typically greater than 2800oF, to pop off of exposed skin due to moisture on the skin surface. Molten aluminum, however, sticks to bare skin, producing severe and possibly disfiguring burns.

Wearing proper protective clothing and equipment, including safety glasses, face shield, head and body protection and foot and hand protection is as crucial to safety when working near molten aluminum as it is with ferrous metals.

Safety professionals advise that not all protective clothing provides the same protection against all metals. For example, they report that molten aluminum sticks to some fabrics and not to others. Also, some types of aluminized fabrics ignite when splashed with molten aluminum while others do not. They recommend that splash tests be conducted to evaluate new protective equipment before it is put into use.


Photos from the projects

The thumbnails below show the different casting methods used. Click on each to enlarge.

Show and Tell


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Green Sand Molds


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The Moose Head


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Cuttlebone carvings


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Melting and Pouring : Cast Iron mold and a bucket of water


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Last updates were on November 21, 2004

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