First time getting some casting done

I decided to get a few ring bands cast to save time on 4 of my more popular designs, which are very simple. Two are plain open bands, to texture & add stones to later, two are with tube settings. I got 85 total, and it didn’t cost much, since I sent them enough scrap to make all of them. I sent finished pieces, not wax.

I knew it would be a learning curve for me, I’m happy in some ways but it’s not going to save quite as much time as I’d hoped - I have to cut off the last bit of the sprue & then clean that area, which takes time, and there are horizontal lines along some of the bands from the two sides of the mold, so that all needs to get cleaned up as well. I kind of suspected it wouldn’t be quite “set, polish & go”, which would be lovely, but I hadn’t expected I’d have to do quite this much.

I looked at some other companies which do this but picked one close to home. On one website, can’t remember which, I think you could get what I got (unpolished, etc) which is cheaper, or polished which I assumes means the sprue attachment area is cleaned up.

I guess I’m just curious about whether my experience is normal? Should I have expected more? Thanks, Sue

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Think about fabrication rather than casting. Then you are in control of the entire process. Good luck…Rob

Forgive my ignorance of terminology, but by “fabrication” do you just mean making it myself?

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Fabrication is cutting, sawing, filing and soldering bits and pieces of precious metal into a pleasant shape that meets the needs of your design. Then grinding, sanding and polishing it into its final shape all by yourself. I, and many of us, have only fabricated jewelry for years (thousands of them). Designs that are fabricated are different from those that are cast. When you fabricate, you are in control of the entire process. When you cast, and decide to let others do the casting, you are at their bidding regarding time and the condition of their finished product. If you want complete control, then figure out how to do the casting yourself. About 45 years ago I bought a complete lost wax casting outfit (kiln, centrifugal arm, waxes and the whole thing). It still sits on the shelf in my shop with the exception of the kiln, I rebuilt it a couple years ago by adding a modern controller so that I could use it as a heat treating oven. I decided that I liked fabrication over casting. There is nothing wrong with either way of making jewelry, but they are different. To me, the creativity in casting is in designing and carving the wax model. In fabrication it is the entire process as each step has an impact on the next and eventually the final piece. My $.02…Rob

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Thanks Rob. I’ve made and sold hundreds of rings over the 6 years I’ve been at this, all from scratch, as it were. I am normally a one-of-a-kind maker, but there are a few things I make often so I thought I’d try this so I could up my production, I’ll try just about anything once. Two are different sizes of a textured band with tube settings (more or less like my profile pic), the other two are blank bands (flat strips, really), where the idea was just to save time on the first stage of cutting & filing, also, with less cut-off waste. Most of the rings I make are with irregular stones, and my bestselling item has to be made individually, since the one-of-a-kind aspect is important. I bought pre-made shanks a couple of times to experiment and it wasn’t “me” (and they didn’t sell as well as my own). I figured, at least these are my own design, so why not?

Anyway, given how much I have to do to deal with the sprue bits this probably won’t become a regular thing for me. I don’t have a proper studio so at this stage doing my own casting is not an option. Cheerio



a thought…perhaps send 10pcs back and have them do their “finishing” service on them…might give you a representative idwa of their quality of finishing, costs, etc…
perhaps find out exactly what processes their finishing involve…mass finishing processes may “soften” lines/ edges, etc and may need to be planned for in the future…



Thanks, good ideas. I wrote to them to see if they do that (I couldn’t remember which company offered both finished and unfinished). I’m getting quotes from a couple of different places. I don’t need anything right away, I had 85 done so they’ll keep me busy for a while, given that I do other styles as well. But if I do it again I’ll be looking for something where the sprues have been cleaned up, I think. The whole point was to save time.

Having a permanent place of your own in which you can work is something that many of us take for granted. In all the houses we have owned, I have had the room to build a shop and let it grow in whatever way my creativity and curiosity wanted to go. I am sorry that you don’t. Good luck…Rob

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There’s so many variables. It’d be great to see an image or two of the original objects and the rough castings.

It’s hard to know from your description if the casting company didn’t do a great job of making the rubber molds and injecting the waxes. Or if the pieces are complicated enough that any rubber mold maker would have created a parting line when injecting the wax.

There will always clean up where the sprue is attached, but some casters are able to limit the clean up by the size and placement of the sprue. Others put the sprue in the worst place for clean up which is always frustrating.

My guess is that your castings came out well and that your issues are with whoever made the rubber mold and placed the sprues.

Most folks think that rubber mold making and casting is easy, but there are zillions of variables, especially with rubber molds.

Some of the variables on the rubber mold side of the process are: the size and shape of the original molded object, how the rubber is placed within the mold, time and temperature the mold is baked in the vulcanizer, how the mold is cut open, the kind of mold rubber, the kind of injection wax, the temperature of the wax when it’s injected, how much pressure on the rubber mold when it’s clamped and injected, how much pressure the wax pot has injecting the wax into the mold, what kind of mold release, whether vents have to be cut into the mold or if the mold has to be multi-part mold with pull out sections.

All of those variables potentially need to be adjusted to get a perfect wax model. Good rubber molds and injected waxes are more challenging than most folks imagine.

All this said, I think your best bet is to go back to your casting company, express what you said here. They might be able to adjust things or maybe even redo them. Also, you paid to have rubber molds made for these objects, so you theoretically can ask for the molds. Then you can buy an inexpensive wax pot and inject waxes yourself. Then you can clean them up before sending them to the casting company.

Remember that in order to have perfect castings, you have to have perfect waxes.

Finally, not every casting company is equal. You might have to shop around a bit to find one that meets your needs.

I hope all that helps!



As my dad always said, you do the best you can with what you’ve got. :slight_smile:

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I don’t do a lot of casting myself. But I do like to cast in Delft Clay. I have a few pieces where I limit the number I make. There are components that I cast and then add to fabricated parts. I have singular pieces that use to be the master or plug that I put the clay around and form the mold. This makes every piece of jewelry a one of a kind piece. And I can alter or modify as needed. The Acorns are the cast elements. Cast from acorns found in my daughters yard in Indiana.

Don Meixner


Thanks Jeff, it does help. I didn’t know what to expect & knew little about the process, so it’s just a learning experience. If the sprues had been placed at one end of the open blanks, instead of in the middle, it would have been a lot better. If I decide to get this style done again I’ll just get them to make a new mold, make it a tiny bit longer, and put the sprue at the very end so I can just cut that off & only have to finish a little bit.

They did send the molds & the originals back. The pic is what I got, for one of them, the originals were perfectly smooth. These are adjustable rings which I either texture or set a stone on. Texturing will work fine because it will cover up the sprue area (even when I file it down there’s a mark, if I do it too much I start losing silver around the sprue area, it’s pretty much impossible to return it to perfect). And if I want it smooth, with a stone, I can just use the other side; there will be a slight mark on the inside but oh well.


I always tell my kids, “Row with the oars you have.”


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Exactly, Don. Given the limitations I have, I’m happy with where I’m at.

One limitation is only having butane torches. I live in an apartment, and I have no doubt that even that is against the rules. I do it beside the sink (or in the sink :sweat_smile:). I have felt guilty about this, but recently a market jeweler friend bought the local silversmithing school, and she rents out benches for $10 an hour, so I’m in the process of organizing things very tightly so I can go in and do all my torch work there. I have some little plastic compartmented boxes, each compartment will have, for example, a stone with bezel wire already cut & the backplate, so I do that there, then come back here & clean them up, then go in the next day & solder them to their shanks or whatever. Everything else I can do here, all the cutting and filing and polishing and setting etc, but I will feel better about this and I suspect it will be both more efficient and more productive. Plus it’ll be nice to be around other creative people. Cheerio

Just a thought…I don’t know any one who is using these newish Bernzamatic hot point torches. They look OK at Lowe’s altho’ I am not a fan of those very short hoses.

That would give you more heat and not take a ton of additional space.

The school sounds like a possible solution.

Be well,

Don Meixner

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I will do the school thing, because I would rather not be using any torches here at all.

The other good thing about the school is that once I’ve used up my butane stock I’ll learn how to use proper torches, and will then be able to do finer work that I haven’t been able to do yet. I’m doing alright now, but most of my selling is in markets, and I don’t want to be lugging my stuff around to markets and craft fairs forever (I’m 60 now), so the longer term plan is to get better at this, do higher-end work, and increase the amount of retail I’m doing (and more online too, I do sell some online but haven’t devoted much time to it).

I definitely see what you mean. I wouldn’t be happy with those results either. To make a parting line that deep go away means that you’ll have to thin out your ring a fair amount. (that doesn’t get into the filing, sanding, and polishing labor time as well.). Whoever cut the mold could have made the parting line happen on one of the outside edges, which would have been way easier for you to clean up.

The sprue being attached in the center of the front of the ring is definitely inconvenient, but I understand why they did it. Since you essentially have a “C” shaped object that has two unconnected back sides, the front is the best place to sprue for metal flow.

I’m a big fan of spruing from an edge of a wax as that’s a relatively easy way to clean up after casting. Here’s an image that I shot for you with an old unfinished wax carving that was sitting around to demonstrate what I mean. They could have done that in the front of the rings which would have been better for you.

Another thing that you could do in the future is to bridge the open gap in the back by soldering an 8 ga rod then soldering another 8 ga rod section to create a T shape. They could make a the mold off of that with no sprue on front of your rings. I can draw a picture if that description doesn’t make sense.

I’m not sure what’s best for you, at this point, but it’s good to know that there are options and casting those rings can work.



Thank you :slight_smile: I have figured out what to do for the next batch. I had written to them to thank them for the fast service and said while I was mostly pleased (the sprues on the other designs, with the tube settings, were easy to deal with), these ones were not what I’d hoped - he called right away and we talked about better ideas. I think we’ve figured it out. He offered to make a new mold for that particular design at no charge.

I will use these ones, no problem, as I was planning to add bits & pieces for texture to some of them, I’ll just wind up doing that on all of them. Next time they’ll be cleaner & I can use them for the other designs I’d wanted them for. I was pleased with his attention to it, and of course it wasn’t all their fault, since I didn’t know what things I needed to consider - now I do.

I prefer doing one of a kind and will mostly still do that, but I do repeat this particular design (below), so it seems okay to work with a cast of my own design. And man, it’s a lot faster!


That’s great! I’m happy you were able to work things out your caster. It’s the sign of a good business person that they’re willing to what needs to be done to keep their customers happy.

Unrelated to the casting topic how are you texturing the rings now? It looks like you have a variety of textures.

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The ones in the photo were done with a texture plate for my rolling mill. But for those long blanks it will be the addition of fine silver, mostly, in a variety of ways.