Expectations from Casters

Hello, everyone, but especially those contract casting folks on the

I have only done business with two casting firms so far, and both of
them are very small operations. I want to know what I ought to be
expecting in terms of quality from a contract caster. I recently had
a batch of castings made - 62 of the same small piece, which is a
lot for me. I know this is nothing for big casting companies (maybe
even under the minimum order), but it seemed to be a lot for my
contractor. I paid extra for magnetic tumbling to save me some
finishing time, and I’m happy with the finish that came back, but…

The pieces were crisp and lovely on the decorated surface, and the
sprues were undetectable, but there were mold lines on the sides of
the pieces. I’m under the impression that a few seconds with a
scalpel trimming up the sides of the wax before it is treed up would
fix this. I’d be happy to pay a tad more to get back pieces that
require no grinding - that’s why I wanted the tumble-finish. (the
fact that he raised his prices on me weeks after placing the order
and long after I had quoted my customer a price based on the
caster’s previous prices didn’t thrill me either, but I was stuck at
that point)

My question is, am I being unreasonable in my expectations? I don’t
feel that I should give my customer pieces with still-visible mold
lines, so I’ve been grinding them off and re-polishing. What do you

Laurie Cavanaugh
Acanthusleaf Designs
website coming soon, I hope!

  Perhaps, your contract caster does not do "real finishing" ...
to do so may require more of a labor force than they may have or ,
a process that they did not use... any number of reasons can come
to mind... 

Does this mean that you do think that a piece should not come back
to me with mold lines? Or do you consider removing mold lines part
of the ‘finishing’ process, and I should pay separately for that?
(which I am willing to do - I just want to know what to expect and
how much it’s going to cost before I place a big order)

      Asking them to magnetically polish some pieces will not
remove parting lines.. In many cases, the lines may need to be
removed first on a wheel... perhaps a 3mm fiber wheel which is what
we use, a rubber wheel etc... (this is all extra labor ) 

That’s why I thought it could be taken care of in the wax stage
where it’s much easier. On these pieces it would have been easy to
scrape the mold lines off of the flat sides with a scalpel or x-acto

A while back AJM had a good article about working with a contract
caster, and the several people they interviewed also seem to think
that a great many casting problems are really problems with the wax.
I certainly had that experience as well, with a previous caster
(nobody who posts or advertises here).

Thanks for the feedback,

Laurie Cavanaugh
Acanthusleaf Designs

Hi Laurie, We are a contract caster, but more importantly we are also
a finished products manufacturer that can do many things that a
contract caster cannot do. There is a difference. Perhaps, your
contract caster does not do “real finishing” … to do so may
require more of a labor force than they may have or , a process that
they did not use… any number of reasons can come to mind…

Asking them to magnetically polish some pieces will not remove
parting lines… In many cases, the lines may need to be removed first
on a wheel… perhaps a 3mm fiber wheel which is what we use ,a
rubber wheel etc… (this is all extra labor ) then, the item should
be vibratory finished for many hours and check that the surfaces
are smooth and all parting lines are gone before going to the next
process… finally, a magnetic finisher is good for brightening, but
does not impart a smooth polished look… this… it does better
with gold.

Perhaps you should give us a try… we are a medium sized casting
and finishing company that does not require you do 60 pieces… We
want to work with our customers and help them grow their business
Please contatc us at our factory email/ tel: below.

Daniel Grandi Racecar jewelry Co. Inc. email:
sales@racecarjewelry.com Tel: 401-461-7803

Hi Laurie, A poorly cut mold adds a lot of finishing to any cast
piece. Also, a well cut mold can be poorly injected causing similar
problems. Our casting company does as much or as little as the
customer wants. We charge first for the mold (but we do use customers
molds if adequate for the job), then charge for the casting, which
includes the wax injection and then the metal. We do some complete
hand finishing, but this is usually too expensive for production
work. We do mechanical finishing with a variety of finishes. To get a
quality mechanical finish, it requires some hand prep work to get the
best results. We charge separately for the finishing depending on
the degree of difficulty and the desired finish. Hope that helps
some. John A. Henkel, J.A.Henkel Co., Inc., Moldmaking Casting
Finishing, Producing Solutions For Jewelry Artists

I guess I’m not really sure what to expect from a caster. I have
always used one source, and they will mold my pieces if necessary and
cast in any of the metals I ever need. I found them a number of
years ago, and I don’t even remember how. Up until recently, all of
the work I sent them was one or 2 of a piece. Sometimes molding
something to duplicate, most often carving a wax and sending it off.
They always send back the pieces simply cut off the tree, with a
piece of sprue remaining. Because of the limited number of pieces,
finishing was never a major factor for me.

Recently, though, I have started producing the items in my line in
larger numbers. It sure would be nice to have the sprues cut off
closer, perhaps ground smooth, and perhaps tumbled to some degree of
finishing. All of this would cost extra, I’m sure. I guess I need
to hunt around both with my current company and others to find out
just how much, and whether I can more easily absorb the extra cost or
the extra labor of doing it myself. At retail, I could certainly
afford a bit higher cost without having to drastically adjust my
prices, but for the large runs of wholesale pieces, I am working
awfully close now.

I have also seen the differences made by the wax. The degree of
mold lines varies frequently, usually from one batch to another
rather than within a batch. There are sometimes small bubbles of
metal, and these will often be the same size and position from piece
to piece. Time to do some research, I guess. Jim


I can understand your frustrations with casters. Your story sounds
similar to mine, except that now I have begun to increase my casting
runs from a couple to over one hundred.

I have used many different casters, and have found different results
in each. Either they are too slow, make poor molds, try to add too
many sprues so they can charge more, uneven casting, bubbles,
porosity, etc. Until I found my last caster who I found on Orchid.
I cannot say enough nice things about Daniel Grandi at Racecar
Jewelry. He is a total professional, will do tiny runs to large
ones, takes off my sprues, grinds the gates down and helps me to
make better masters for production runs. My last group of pieces were
the best I have ever seen cast.

I am lucky in that I don’t live far away and was able to talk at
length about my needs. I brought my class down from Metalwerx and he
and his wife Susan spent nearly four hours taking us through the
entire casting process.

Please give Daniel a call. I think you will be very satisfied. He
is on the web, www.racecarjewelry.com

When it comes to production each customer of ours has something
different in mind. Some will want us to do the work from casting to a
finished product. some only casting and graining and some only
assembling and finishing. Price depends on amount of labor involved
and quantities of unites. Communication will be the key to match
expectation with production. Haim