Hello and good afternoon,
I normally fabricate from stock metal or Delft cast the few items
that I make for my small line that goes to only one retailer in
I am now at a point where I need to have a few things professionally
cast in order to reduce metal waste or porosity from Delft casting.
I want to try making my own wax trees and was wondering if anyone
could share any improvised wax sprue attaching tools for me to try
before investing more? I heard of people using low temperature
soldering irons and glue guns, but does anyone have any advice on
creating their own tips? Model RC makers have used brass tubing to
attach to their glue guns for example.
I could try the alcohol lamp to heat up an instrument but I assume
this would "dirty" the wax?
As you can tell, I've not yet been professionally taught wax
working. I normally making things directly from my drawings.
The old standby trick for cheapo wax tools is to get a cheap pen
style soldering iron, where the tip is a solid rod that screws in.
Figure out the pitch of the thread, (probably 10-32) then make up a
couple of dummy tips out of heavy copper wire. Thread the ends so
that they screw in, and then forge the other end out into a pointy
leaf shape, and you're half way home.
The other half is to rig up a light dimmer switch to an electrical
socket, such that the dimmer controls the power to the socket. (put
it in a wall box with a plate, and get a real electrician to help
you if you are at all unsure about how to do this.) Plug the
soldering iron into the dimmed socket, and you can now control the
The drawback is that the soldering iron units are *very* sluggish by
the standards of real wax pens. Adjust the dial, wait 10 minutes
until you're sure the change has carried through. That does make
them good for spruing though, as you don't normally fuss with the
temp much. Start with it down low, and then slowly dial it up until
it's hot enough to melt your sprue wax. A handy reference is to find
an old incandescent nightlight, and plug that into the spare socket.
The relative glow will give you some sense of how much power's
coming through the dimmer. Once you get it dialed in the first time,
I used to use a range of stainless steel probes and blades for
I heated them with an alcohol burner. Alcohol is a very clean
burning fuel so there are no problems with soot assuming a bit of
soot is a problem, which I don't expect that it is. The main tools I
use now are Pepe Tools wax pen. I use this for fabrication and
sprueing I expect that it might be possible to work with a soldering
iron connected to the power through a dimmer but this wouldn't have
the same quick heating and adjustment of the wax pen but it probably
would work and it might be possible to make a range of shaped tips
out of heavy copper wire. The other tool I use as much as the wax pen
is a scalpel with ready supply of No. 11 blades. You could also use
craft knives which I still have and use occasionally but the scalpel
is more responsive to use and a fresh blade is extremely sharp I also
use a rotary handpiece with a set of wax burrs for drilling and
My final piece of must use equipment is a hot air gun. This a device
that originally intended for tasks such as heating shrink on tube,
welding plastic and unsoldering circuit boards. The temperature of
the hot air can be adjusted from 100C to 400C and the flow rate is
also adjustable. For wax work I set it to 150C at the lowest flow
rate and use it to soften or heat polish my waxes. I also use a D
limonine based wax cleaner for a similar purpose. I also have a ring
reamer which I use sometimes but most of the rings I make now are
fabricated rather than carved. I also use a range of mandrels and
jigs for producing specific shapes. Some of these I have made out of
cardboard and hot glue. Otherwise I use fairly conventional ring and
You really need to figure what works for you and the forms of wax
working you find most congenial.
All the best
I don't think dirtying the wax is much of an issue, because the wax
from the models and their sprues will flush past the tree wax,
anyhow, and all the soot in the tree will be long gone by the time it
all burns out. My two cents...
Richard - not exactly the answer to what you asked. Rather than
cobble up an attempt at traditional casting, it might be more
productive to make a master in metal, have it molded and cast
professionally. To make a living at this stuff, I've found that
finding some pieces or parts that you can cast greatly improves your
If on the other hand, you are doing one of a kind pieces, make the
model in wax - not an easy job - and send or carry it carefully to a
professional who will sprue and cast it beautifully. I've found that
Altoid tins with a bit of cotton or kleenex to keep them from
bouncing around work very well for inside shipping boxes.
Judy Hoch, G.G.
I think I may have found what I'm looking for in this youtube video.
It appears someone made their own electric wax knife/pen that seems
to work really well.
If you skip to 2:20 in the time stamp of this video you can see what
looks like a very simple but effective electric wax knife.
Has anyone made their own like this? I would suspect you would want
now more than 40 watts of juice. Would be neat to make your own. I
have heard that one can use an electric light switch dimmer to
regulate the watts for heat control.
We have a number of wax irons, soldering irons with different tips
(paddle, point, knife, etc.). a dimmer switch works ok but a "flex
shaft speed controller foot peddle" makes for another way to have
variable heat. You can also get soldering iron controllers that have
a temp feedback wire and you can set the tip temperature and that
temp is maintained pretty well. Also can get soldering units (the
common ones come in a "gun" looking configuration) and the heat is
changed by pulling the "trigger" the tips are usually wire, each end
of the wire plugs into their respective plug, ,,,, the heat being
generated at the middle point of the piece of wire. My favorite wax
pen is about the size of a pencil, about 6-7 inches long and uses
wire tips. Wire tips heat and cool VERY FAST and work great with a
foot peddle. The pen I use used to have a rheostat temp control
(constant heat at the set temp) but I by passed it (took it out of
the circuit) and I now use a foot peddle for variable heat. I make
my own tips with kiln element wire. You have to figure out what
resistance you need and get that wire. I then make my tips in any
configuration/shape that I want. I really like the unit. Have been
thinking of selling plans or units but to date have not sone so. I
also have a great patina torch that I am thinking of making and
selling. If you need more specific pictures or such, let me know. I
am not a great electronics person, I just know enough to get into
trouble sometimes. ahhhhh then I guess I real don't know enough,
,,,, otherwise I wouldn't be in trouble. Anyway, if I can help,
would be glad to...
Dude. I think that's a real wax pen. Why not buy one. By the time
you make one and get frustrated and wreck a nice wax you will have
surpassed the cost of a decent wax pen. I have a cheaper one and
hooked it up with a foot switch for Xmas tree lights and it's great.
Click it on with your foot and off with your foot.