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Hard wax fixture?


I’m working on a new knot (well, it’s probably ancient, if one but
knew) and I need to find a material that will do certain things for
me. What I’m looking for is something that is hard and durable, but
capable of being removed from inside the work with a minimum of
trouble. It occured to me that some of that requirement describes
lost-wax production, where you have to hold a shape long enough to
make another shape around it, then get rid of it.

I haven’t touched the type of wax used in lost-wax casting in so
long that I can’t remember what it’s like, but it seems like a good
possibility. It has to be really hard, though, so I can bend wire
around it and pull it tight.

Are there grades of wax, in hardness or melting point or solubility?
I want to be able to get it out without going anywhere near red
heat, so I won’t have to go back and temper the metal after getting
the wax out of it. The last traces have to come out and leave the
metal clean and bright, preferably, so maybe something that would
yield easily to an appropriate solvent?

What about something that can be tough and unyielding, but which can
be made frangible and broken into dust with minimal effort? I don’t
know if anything like that exists, but it’s another notion that might

I hope this makes sense . . . if anyone has suggestions, I’d be
very grateful.



I don’t know what sort of wire you use, but if it is silver or gold
you could use aluminum or iron and dissolve it in acid. If it
would be strong enough there is a water soluble wax. Just have to
try. wood charcoals at +/- 800 F and you could pick it out. Paper
mache that is dissolved in water.


First Loren, let me say I love your work. This appreciation comes
from a Welshman by heritage who loves the intricacies of Celtic
interlace and a marlinespike seaman who as a child was not a Boy
Scout, but regularly TAUGHT knot-tying courses for Boy Scouts.
Anyway, to answer your query - I would highly recommend Jet-Set from
Rio Grande. It is a ceramic thermoplastic. This means that when you
place it in water that is between 150 and 160 degrees F it becomes a
flexible clay like material similar to Sculpy clay. After it cools
it becomes hard. To soften just drop it in the hot water again.
Truly remarkable technology. It is also one of those tools that you
are constantly finding new uses for: file handles, holding stones
for carving, custom mandrels, open backed molds for wax, and custom
wedges to hold work at just the right angle. I even heard that one
Orchidian once used it for a temporary crown for her tooth

Epaul Fischer
Gryphon Song Creations


Loren, You might try “jett sett”. It’s a plastic which comes in
granular form and which can be made workable in hot water and formed
into whatever shape you need, then softened again in hot water and
removed. It’s available from Rio Grande. Jerry in Kodiak

  What I'm looking for is something that is hard and durable, but
capable of being removed from inside the work with a minimum of

Hi Loren, Have you tried any of the new thermo-plastics introduced
for jewelry use? Rio has a brand called Jett-Sett (or something like
that). Some other vendors have similar products. It is heated to a
soft and pliable state by heating in water. You can then insert
things into it, it insert it into things. When cooled and hardened
again, it is rock hard and very stable. When your work is done, you
drop the whole thing in hot water again to soften the plastic, then
remove your work piece.

I used some yesterday to fill a hollow form that needed stamping
without being deformed. Worked like a charm, except for disclosing a
seam that was not completely soldered… ooops!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

     . . . What I'm looking for is something that is hard and
durable, but capable of being removed from inside the work with a
minimum of trouble. . .  if anyone has suggestions, I'd be very

Hi Loren. This suggestion assumes that you’ll be making one of your
amazing rings.

The Bench Mate vise is a wonderful tool and a highly recommended
accessory is their inside ring holder. Mounted to a solid and
stable surface the Bench Mate should take your manipulations.

The sleeve of the ring holder is usually expanded to fit snuggly
inside a ring while working on it. Your approach would be to expand
the holder to the size desired to make your ring then back out the
screw wedge to remove the ring.

The sleeve surface is a bit slippery but you might cover it to get a
bit of friction to work against. Maybe masking tape or old-fashioned
cloth adhesive tape.

My endorsement is free of any personal gain. I have no connection
to the company (GRS, Emporia, KS) but I wouldn’t be without my Bench
Mate. :slight_smile:

Pam Chott

 What I'm looking for is something that is hard and durable, but
capable of being removed from inside the work with a minimum of

I don’t know if this will fullfil your requirements, but the thought
I had was the use of a plastic ball which could allow the buildup of
your knot, and then could be burned out (outdoors) at a temperature
which would be low enough to satisfy your other requirements. PS May
I say I enjoyed viewing the various Turks Head rings you created.

Joe Dule


Loren: I suggest you try termoplast from the Aquaplast corp. The
plastic is hard and firm enough to use for wrapping and if backed by
a hard surface it is hard enough to form metal over. It is easly
shaped by heating in hot water or with a hot air gun. When you are
done forming you can soften it again in hot water and then remove it
or you can burn it out in a kiln. 1-800-526-5247 or WFN Aquaplast corp
on the web.


Pam, This time I’m not exactly working on a ring, no. I was asked to
try to make a torus knot for a young lady out in Houston, a math
major apparently, and before I got around to actually looking up what
a torus knot was, I had come up with a toroidal knot that would be
even better.

She likes the design, which is actually two torus knots tied in
opposing directions in an over-one-under-one pattern, and I’m only
going to charge her for the silver one I’ll make after I figure out
how . . . so she won’t be paying me for fifty hours of development
and sore fingers and no sleep. I’ll come out ahead anyway, since I’m
going to make some in gold and market them to someone besides
poverty-stricken students.

My dilemma is that I have to tie it on a core, and I have to remove
the core without disturbing the wires.

This is going to be fun . . .



Tom, I’ve had another person suggest paper mache, and that sounds
interesting, but I’m also exploring water-soluble wax. I’ll have to
cast it in a ring shape before I tie the wire around it – I’ll know
in a week or so, it should be here by Monday or Tuesday.



Epaul, I use the Jett-Sett plastic stuff for all sorts of things, but
in this case it won’t help – unfortunately, I have to get the core
material out through any number of tiny holes, probably a millimeter
or so at widest, and I’ve never seen the stuff flow easily.

Thanks for the suggestions, and the praise. :wink:


      What I'm looking for is something that is hard and durable,
but capable of being removed from inside the work with a minimum of

How about plaster of Paris, can be moulded to any shape (very cheap)
then can be broken with not much effort.

Have fun… Paul Townsend in Dubai where it is raining for the
second time this year !!!

    My dilemma is that I have to tie it on a core, and I have to
remove the core without disturbing the wires. 


You might try using Plaster of Paris as a core for your knot. When
you are ready to remove it, just soak it in water to soften it up.
Timothy A. Hansen

TAH Handcrafted Jewelry
Phone: 909-920-3909


Hi, Loren-

Would a metal or alloy with a super-low melting point (like gallium)
meet your needs? – Lee Einer


Dear Loren, Here is a completely off the wall suggestion. You can
make quite a hard shape with, yes laugh, pressed squished bread.
Simply wet it and squish in until dense and shape it into the inner
core shape and let dry well. Shape your wires around it then soak in
warm water. It will soften and come out easily under a strong spray
of water. I think it might be a cheap version of the other RIO
plastic material. Whatever, please let us know what works best, it
sounds like a new method to expand our boundaries!

Good Luck!!
Sharron in Bahrain


A hint which was shared with me was to do the knotwork in leather
shoelace material . Then after sprueing extensively, give it an
extended burn out cycle.

Hope that this helps.
ROBB - Retired Old Baby Boomer

My dilemma is that I have to tie it on a core, and I have to remove
the core without disturbing the wires.

This may not work at all but I had an idea about creating an ice
core using the appropriate diameter plastic tubing. After freezing
the tubing could be cut away before the tying began, then of course
the ice would melt away.

An improvement on the above idea may be the water soluble injection
wax sold by Rio on p.62 of the 2002 Tools catalog “Ideal for
creating cores to reinforce hollow wax models that will be carved or
engraved. Dissolve the core in water when the model is complete.”
Any wax (such as the sculptuer
wax) that is too pliable at room temperature can be made more rigid
by a little time in the freezer.

Good luck!

Epaul Fischer
Gryphon Song Creations


Loren after seeing your knot problem posting I have a little better
idea of what your problem is. I suggest you try a plastic ring. Most
plastics will dissolve in acetone. Styrofoam would work if it will
hold up to the stress of tying the knot. Styrofome dissolves rapidly
in acetone. Frank Goss


The gallium suggestion leads to the Bismuth based low melting metals
Check out :

You should talk to them . They would be your best source. They could
be used as a cast or machined mandrel and some are available as wire
that possibly be made into other sizes etc. These are considered to
be solders but are quite hard. I am sure they will work as a mandrel
as they are used in press dies. Since they are solders you
probably should consider using the surfaces a little contaminated
to prevent contamination of the fine metals. The lowest melting
alloys might be easily removed in a hot ultra sound. pickle
cleaning should also leave a good surface.