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Creating wax letters

How can I create legible letters in Wax to get cast into a ring?


carve them from jewellers wax
or pay me to do it for you


Is there a particular type of font? What size are the letters? Is
the ring flat or domed? How wide is the ring? I’ve done this many
times but it does depend on the ring dimensions.

I made a broach out of a needle that is inserted into a pin vise to
scribe the lettering.

Margie Mersky

Hello Amanda,

My sister who is a potter, uses alphabet pasta to spell out words by
impressing them in clay. The pasta burns out in firing. Those
letters are probably too large for your purpose, but it’s another way
to think about your problem.

Maybe you could use metal letter stamps. Impress them in something
like modeling clay, to create the negative. Then pour melted wax into
the impression to get the positive. OR, just order metal letters from
Stuller and solder them on the cast piece.

It’s fun to think about a project in a different way.

Judy in Kansas, where it froze last night. The fruit trees were just
beginning to flower - maybe not all the buds were killed.

How can I create legible letters in Wax to get cast into a ring? 

Being a lazy bugger with too many tools I’d CNC them in hard wax.
Other wise hand carve them in hard wax. Standard collection of sharp
and pointy tools required. Nothing too fancy

Try to keep letters connected at least at word length for the
minimum or you will add new words to your vocabulary :slight_smile:

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

Sydney Australia?
Cad is the way to go. Or Emma fielding in Parramatta.
or ask Caity Cairns
Or learn to engrave.

Others have described various ways to do this, including the most
modern, CAD/CAM carving of your wax from a computer file.

But before computers, there were also some tricks beyond simply
being a good wax carver.

Here’s one I always enjoyed (though I like the thought if it more
than I actually used it. Only actually did it a couple times, but it

The deal is you simply get yourself a rubber stamp made. Not the
self inking fancy ones, the old style, simple red rubber type to use
with a stamp pad. You get it made in reverse, so a stamped image is
backwards, but looking at the stamp itself, the image is right. When
you have it made, tell them NOT to glue the image portion of the
rubber to a backing and handle, but instead, just give you the rubber
image part. It’s flexible, and can be super glued to a wax model. It
takes longer to burn out than wax, but it DOES burn out and cast,
giving you the image and shape of the rubber in your metal. Since the
image, or outer surface of the rubber is quite precise (assuming your
initial paper printed image you gave the stamp maker was good), the
outer surface of the letters will be as well.

More accurate in some senses, and good for production, is to take
your printout to a graphic arts place that still does etched zinc
printing plates, and have them make an etched plate of your image.
Two ways to use this. If you have the plate etched so the image
"reads right" on the metal (it would print a reversed mirror image,
like the rubber stamp idea), you can incorporate this piece of metal
into your model and mold it, or mold it seperately. Either way,
after wax injection, you’ve got a wax injection with the correct
lettering showing. As with the rubber mold, the letters have a sloped
surface, not a vertical carved edge, so this is not as crisp as can
be done by CAD, or as is done in the rather more complex methods that
used to be done for class rings, but it can still be attractive. I
know at least one company that offers a whole line of wedding bands
with Celtic designs on them who’s master models were made this way.

In a variation on using the shape of the zinc plate directly, which
produces the image of the letters on the outer surface, you can also
do another variation. Here, take a single layer of saran wrap plastic
wrap, placed on the zinc plate. Now with a couple support pieces of
steel plate, and a bench vise or other suitable pressing method,
press that zinc plate down into a sheet of sheet wax. The saran wrap
acts as a seperator, so the zinc won’t stick to the wax, and the thin
sheet of plastic wrap can be gently removed from the wax. What this
gives you is different from the other methods. Like a simple metal
stamp, now the image plane, ie the precise shape of the image, is the
bottom of the impression visible as the bottom flat surface of the
pressed in image. This has a distinct advantage of being wear
resistant. The outer surface of the jewelry can wear down all it
likes, but the image will still be clear and clean until the whole
impression is worn away. The sheet wax image can be cast directly,
and the casting added to your jewelry item in fabrication, or the wax
sheet can be added to a wax model and incorporated that way.

And back to the rubber stamp method. If you have, or know someone
who’s got one of the old style pantograph engraving machines, with
the motorized spindle, which is used to cut lettering into plastic
for things like name plates, etc, then you can have them use that
machine to cut letters or an image into phenolic. That, unlike the
usual engraving plastic, is heat resistant, so you can then take
ordinary vulcanized type rubber, place it on top, and into a
vulcanizer, and cure it. When the rubber is pulled away, you’ve got
essentially the same thing as having a rubber stamp made. This is
essentially how they’re done, or used to be done, before photographic
methods took over. In order for this to work, you have to use a
typeface in the pantograph that reads in reverse. That takes a bit
of doing, since such typefaces are not the norm. The way I did it,
the one time I tried this, was to first use the engraving machine to
engrave my lettering the right (usual) way, quite large, only going a
bit too deep on thin plastic. That was then flipped over and glued to
another piece of plastic (the glue is needed since some bits of the
image will be cut free, like the middle of the letter O, for example.
This back side is then used as the engraving template to make the
piece of phenolic you’re going to vulcanize the rubber onto. The
advantage of doing this, if you’ve got the equipment available, is
that you can get the rubber surface behind the letters a good deal
thinner, so the result is then easier to conform to 3D shapes for a
model that’s not just flat. You can also try pressing sheet wax (with
the saran wrap) into these engraved pieces, but they don’t work quite
as well as the etched zinc plates do. Different effect though…

Hope that gives you some ideas.

Peter Rowe

While I probably have not read all the thread postings on forming
letters, I have not seen anyone mention photo-etching. I usually
print out what I want through my printer, send the copy to my local
graphics art company, and a few days later I have a magnesium image
in the mail that I can then reproduce with a rubber mold. The model
cost is around $10, plus the rubber for the mold, and I have the wax
letters complete and ready to cast.

Jon Michael Fuja

Being a lazy bugger with too many tools I'd CNC them in hard wax.
Other wise hand carve them in hard wax. Standard collection of
sharp and pointy tools required. Nothing too fancy 

Try to keep letters connected at least at word length for the minimum
or you will add new words to your vocabulary :slight_smile:

Jeff is right about the computer part, but it’s no reason to go out
and buy CNC, either. If you have it already… This is so obvious to
me that I haven’t replied before. I guess it’s obvious because I
know how, as happens :slight_smile: Step by step:

I used to know a wax carver who could carve a school ring or similar
that looked like the ones you buy. He would actually carve the
lettering into the body of the ring, with an uncanny perfection that
was just plain scary. Since most of us don’t have that ability, this
is the ~other~ way.

First you need: your text or numbers, the font and the size. If you
are drawing (writing) it, then do that on tracing paper, preferably.
If you want a real font and you’re not a calligrapher, as most of us
aren’t, then you need to do something else. Pre-computer, I used to
get a couple of books I have that have fonts and trace out the
letters on a base line, on tracing paper, and then reduce or enlarge
on a photocopier if necessary. Nowadays I use the computer - you can
use a graphics program or you can use Word, even. Type your text and
assign it a font. Since your going to print a whole page, what I do
is scale it and maybe try a couple of fonts and scatter it around
the page. So you’ll have 8pt, 10 pt. and maybe freeform scaling,
too. Several to choose from in your hardcopy. Then print it.

There are various ways of transferring patterns - I like mine the
best. I use white glue (Elmer’s) thinned with a drop of water. Get a
thin sheet of Carvex and glue your paper down on it. It won’t
actually stick to wax (metal is WAY better) so you need to be quick
and careful. Use an Xac to knife or scalpel and trace out your
lettering, then remove the paper andsaw pierce and file them…

As Jeff said, leave some little bridges that keep your text together
as a whole word or even more. Don’t saw out each letter, you’ll
never get them straight again. After soldering you can remove them
and nobody will know. From me - after all that work it doesn’t
really make sense to do it in wax at all. Just do it straight into
metal to begin with. It’s easier, faster and cleaner.