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Lost wax casting beginner

So I am beginning the process of making my girlfriends engagement ring
I bought wax to carve a ring out of or multiples to make sure I can actually do it.
So I have so many questions about all of it.
1.) Is there a kit that I can buy that has everything I need or is it a build it your self kinda thing and buy everything separately?
2.) Is there corners I can cut for tight on money?

I know the process somewhat if im wrong or missing any part please help…carve or mold wax, then attache a sprue. Coat in debubbleizer. Mix investment wax and vacuum chamber it. Pour investment next to ring in a flask. Do you vacuum it in the flask with the ring?
Then once dry melt out the wax in an oven or kiln
Then everything gets iffy for me, on melting the metal and the centerfuge.

hi,
wow, how exciting!

…it sounds like this will be your first time investing/ casting?

…do you have access to all the necessary equipment?..perhaps at a jewelers workshop class, or similar, on your area?

…what type of detailing will be on the ring?..is it a simple band?..if so, perhaps delft sand casting method would do well…?

lost wax casting method is straightforward, but technical regarding burnout and casting temps, etc…and safety measures should be followed…perhaps making it in a class would be best and most cost effective…

julie

Soooo yes first time.
No I do not have access but im willing to buy or work around/make them.
The details on the ring are TBD but its something like 1 gem placing 4 prong. And then simplest way to describe it is 2 spiral all the way around. So I was considering forming out of just a metal ring but that would be alot of carving on a gold band to get what j want when it would be much easier. To carve out of wax.

And if there is someone with the equipment near me willing to help would be absolutely amazing!!!

Hi,

would you consider carving the ring in wax and then sending it out to be cast professionally…? that might make the most sense…

then receiving it back to finish/ polish, and set stone?

do you know how to set stones?
how big is stone diameter?
wanna make sure it is set properly and durably…

perhap you might try contacting racecar jewelry and discussing your needs…i worked with Daniel in the past…super amazing awesome person

http://www.racecarjewelry.com/

julie

You might consider carving the wax and sending it to a casting house. It seems like a lot to try to actually cast the metal if you aren’t already set up and experienced.

You would then clean and polish the casting and set stones. It would still be something you made for her.

Yes, I agree with others that sending your wax model out for casting and perhaps your completed ring out for setting would make sense. However, if you must cast yourself, I would consider steam casting, as it’s just one ring and this would work for you and involve a little less equipment and trouble. You can look up steam casting in books, on line and on youtube, where there will be some tutorials, so you can see if this fits for you. You can also probably locate a wax model of a four prong setting of the right size so all you have to do is to design the ring and fit the wax setting into it. A lot easier and possibly more professional looking than trying to design a four prong setting first time out out of wire.

You will also find a number of books and pamphlets explaining wax buildup and carving. There are lots of homemade tools you can use and basically any old dental tools. You will need a source of heat if you do buildup and that could just be a cheap alcohol lamp.

If you were to do steam casting, you would need a burnout oven, or you might try using a clay flowerpot lined with aluminum foil placed on a hot plate.

There is a lot to this any way you slice it, so consider carefully exactly how much you should attempt and go from there. You could easily get a steam casting setup going and make a dry run with some nugold (casting brass) to see how well you could do before you go on to trying this in silver. Good Luck. -royjohn

RussellP90120,

I know how meaningful it can be for someone to make an engagement ring for their significant other, so I get that you want to make as much of it yourself as possible. I applaud your enthusiasm for embarking on this journey. One note of caution: metal art work is highly addictive. :slight_smile: Once you try your hand at it, you will probably be hooked and want to do a ton more.

Julie’s suggestion about finding someone in your corner of the world where you could be as involved as possible is a good one. If there is a maker, goldsmith/jeweler, metal art instructor near you where you could work in their studio and get the guiding hand you need would be the best way to go.

The next best option is (if you haven’t already done this) go out to YouTube and watch several videos on the whole process of making a piece of jewelry through the casting, stone setting (if you want to include a stone or stones), and polishing/finishing process(es). There are a lot of them out there and some are better than others in this respect: they include the important, pertinent details to be successful. There are also several books on the subject. One in particular I have used is titled “Practical Casting” by Tim McCreight. I have worked as a gold, platinum and silversmith for 45 years and have taught metal art students for 30 and I will tell you the same thing I tell them - details matter. If you want to be successful in your quest - and who doesn’t, then you must pay attention to the details. Again, Julie is right when she says that casting is straightforward and a little bit technical, but once you understand the basic concept, and important details, you should be able to complete it satisfactorily.

When I introduce my students to making jewelry through the lost-wax casting process, because it is so novel to them, I break it up into 7 stages: wax carving, sprueing, investing, burn-out, casting, tooling/finishing, polishing/cleaning. In each stage there are important details, and each subsequent step builds upon the successful completion of the previous step or steps. For example, you could follow all the steps in the process, but if you incorrectly calculate how much metal you need, you could wind up with a partial casting and not understand why. Another example: you may go through all the stages correctly, but if you use the wrong temperatures while doing your burn-out, again, you could end up with a failed casting. In either of these examples you would have to start all over again at the beginning.

Before you embark on this task, you should have a clear idea of what you want the end product to look like. Here is a checklist of things I expect my students to know if I ask them:

  1. Do you have a sketch of your piece? Even a crude sketch/drawing is better than nothing because it is your road map. You don’t have to stick with it exactly as you progress, but it helps guide you.
  2. What kind of metal are you casting your jewelry in? Silver? Gold? Don’t even think about casting in platinum as a newbie. Waaay too many additional important details to attend to ranging from safety to procedure for someone new to the process.
  3. Will there be a gemstone or stones in the completed piece? If so, how will they be mounted in the jewelry? This is an art unto itself. So many different ways to set stones in metal.
  4. What additional work must be done after casting? If all you have to do is file/sand the rough casting, polish and clean it, then go for it.
    5.If additional pieces must be added to complete the piece, how will they be attached? Cold connections (like rivets, or tabs, etc.)? Or will they be connected by soldering/fusing/welding.
    (This will require using additional equipment of some type. Most commonly a jeweler’s torch.)

The moral of the story is do you research, find an experienced person to guide you (if you can), and carefully follow the steps in each stage of the process. Sorry for the length of this response, just trying to help you avoid all the pitfalls and be comprehensive.

Good luck and welcome to the journey of a lifetime.
Mike

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Is there a date by which you want the ring finished?

Time goes slowly - until there is a deadline. Then it flies. You may need to factor that into your plans.

hi,

if you mention what city and state you are near, perhaps someone can suggest great classes, workshops, private studio/ tutoring, continuing ed programs and/ or adult education classes at high schools, community colleges or centers…

also, i highly recommend the below website…with Peter Keep…excellent…the free videos and paid videos are worth the time and money to view.

you can watch the free videos, and possibly buy a few single courses that show what tools your project entails and learn how to make it.

this website has very comprehensive videos for fabricating, stone setting, the whole kit and kaboodle.

https://www.jewellerytrainingsolutions.com.au/

another website to check out is:

https://www.atthebench.com/

andrew berrys projects are often broken into a few segments

you can view all the free videos, and possibly join up for a month or more at a time, if the projects behind the paywall align with your project

one of the most interesting take aways i got from andrew berry was that he uses one of two sizes of a handheld butane torch (ie: the blazer) for most of the soldering in his projects…i dud not realize how versatile and effective those torches were…opens up opportunities for people that do not have/ want bigger torch setups…

julie

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I’m above knoxville Tennessee if anyone could point me in the direction of someone near me would be amazing!!

Hello Russell,
I am near Knoxville, TN and could meet with you to discuss your project. I am a hobby silversmith, but I am not a caster at present, altho’ I do understand the process and have most of the equipment…it’s just that my interests are in different directions right now…casting is something I will get around to at some point…

Something you should consider at this point that I didn’t cover in my previous post (and no one else did, either) is the cost of all this. You might be able to get away with a “flowerpot burnout over” if you do a steam cast…if you go for a vacuum casting setup, unless you are very handy, you will need to spend about $1200 for a casting setup and burnout oven. This is not counting tools for finishing and buffing, wax work, stone setting, etc. You’d have to decide whether this is in your budget. I know that there is a maker’s shop in Knoxville, but IDK whether they have jewelry making equipment. I do know some local people who could work with you on casting your model…

You can email me at rkerseyATtdsDOTnet if I can help. -royjohn

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If you go the class route, The Appalachian Center for crafts near Smithville is a way to go. All the equipment and a teacher at your elbow to help. I took lots of metalsmithing classes there and drove twice a week from Nashville to the center. You will learn all and more that you need to know. Saves big bucks on costs of equipment and heart ache if you make a mistake.

Aggie

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If you have a teacher that can communicate easily. “Then, that is half the battle”! Go for it!

“Gerry, on my iPhone”

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Hey Royjohn what’s that email?
Mine is russell.ch.peterson@gmail.com