Day 40 Investing (Casting)

Wow, where has the time gone? Today I have been making a blog entry with jewelry tips for 40 days in a row. As you probably know, I kicked off with the goal of writing everyday for 90 days straight. So far, so good. There might be a hiccup for the next week or so while I am changing up the website, but I will try to keep on track.

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So let’s get going!

Today I will not so much talk about Jewelry “Tips”, but more of a “procedure”. I am in the midst of a casting project, and today I will show my investment process. Before I do anything, I must get a weight of the wax I used. I have a weight marked on each Rubber Base I use, I weigh the wax tree and subtract the two. (total weight from base weight) Depending on the metal you use, you will have to do the calculation to find out how much metal to use.

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I have a Vacuum Assisted Casting Setup, so my investing will be a little different than Centrifugal Casting. I am using a Steel Flask that is 6×4 inches. When I “treed” up the waxes, I made sure there was enough room between the edges of the waxes and the walls of the flask. I try to leave a minimum of 1/4″ to 1/2″. I also am casting 2 flasks, and it is a good idea to mark the flask to identify them since they have different metal weights used. I mark the flask with a piece of chalk.

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Since I am using a vacuum assisted casting process, I need to add some “venting” to help the metal fill the tree. I have used a product called WaxWeb before, but I am out of it, so I will show you another way to vent the flask. I take ordinary Plastic Straws and cut them about 1 inch shorter than the flask height. I plug up one end of the straw with wax. I add a Large “Bobby Pins” into the straw to hold it on the flask, leaving the top of the straw about 1/4″ to 1/2″ above the top of the flask.

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Now comes to what I believe is the most dangerous aspect of jewelry making, “Investing”. Anytime you work with dry investment, you MUST wear a dust mask!! Investment contains SILICA, and if you breath this, the silica dust can cause fluid buildup and scar tissue in the lungs that cuts down your ability to breathe. Silicosis cannot be cured, but you can prevent it if you take specific steps to protect yourself and your family.  Sorry to scare you, but this is real!

OK, off my soap box….. Next, mix the Investment and water as directed by the manufacturer. Once the water is added to the dry investment, you have approx. 9 minutes of working time to mix the investment (3 min.) vacuum the mixture, (3 min.) and pour into the flasks and vacuum the flasks (3 min.) After the investment hardens, I scratch the flask # in the top of the investment as well.

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There you have it, Tomorrow we will try to turn these waxes into silver.

Have a great day, go make something in your world Shiny!!


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4 Responses to Day 40 Investing (Casting)

  1. Beth Millner July 10, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    Hi! I have been really enjoying you blog. I found it in the Facebook group The Metalsmiths Coffee House. We are just getting started casting in my studio. Are you saying in your post above that you are vacuuming the investment for a whole 3 minutes each time you vacuum? Thanks for your time! ~Beth

    • July 10, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

      Hi Beth, I mix the investment and water for 3 minutes, then I vacuum the mixed investment for 3 minutes, then pour into the flasks and vacuum the flasks for 3 minutes as well. (Keep in mind it takes a few seconds to pour into the flasks. Once I add the investment to the water, I start a 9 minute timer. I better be done when the timer goes off.
      Thanks for the question.

      • Beth Millner July 11, 2014 at 5:46 am #

        Hi Doug, thanks for the info! What brand of investment do you use? I am using kerr brand. We are getting some bubbles on pieces in tree bases and I am thinking we could just vacuum longer. 😉 ~Beth

        • July 11, 2014 at 7:40 am #

          Beth, I use Kerr SatinCast as well. I have 3 suggestions:
          1. Make sure your vacuum pump is working good. It should pull around 26-27 lbs of vacuum, depending on where you are living. Altitude affects this.
          2. When you tree up your pieces, make sure that any areas that can catch air are either facing up or in a way that they catch as little air pockets as possible.
          3. if this does not work, add just a few drops of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent to the water when you invest. This will make the investment a little more slippery and give it a little more bubble releasing power.
          Hope that works.