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More about Carving Tiny Figures


#1

Several people suggested that carving pewter would give better detail
and finer lines than wax. I am fascinated by the idea and eager to
try it. However–I know nothing about Pewter and need some help. I
looked at a brick of Pewter and it seemed too hard to carve. I also
spoke with Rio Grande’s tech person and he assured me that Pewter is
too hard to Carve. So here are my questions:

  1. Can it be carved as is, or does it need to be melted down, or
    softened somehow?

  2. Is it toxic to handle?

  3. What kind of tools used to carve it–can hand tools be used? Wax
    carving tools?

  4. What else is there to know that I don’t know I need to know?

  5. Do you like the way it handles?

Can’t wait to hear about your own experiences in using it.

Many Thanks Sandra


#2

Jean Lowrey at Trenton Jewelry School
(http:www.trentonjewelryschool.com) teaches a class called “metal
model making” that includes carving with pewter. She has two very
nice models with excellent detail as examples for her classes. You
might give her a call Monday thru Friday at
800-868-9439. She can probably give you some suggestions.


#3
   Several people suggested that carving pewter would give better
detail and finer lines than wax.  I am fascinated by the idea and
eager to try it.  However--I know nothing about Pewter and need some
help.  I looked at a brick of Pewter and it seemed too hard to
carve.  I also spoke with Rio Grande's tech person and he assured me
that Pewter is too hard to Carve.  So here are my questions: 
   1. Can it be carved as is, or does it need to be melted down, or
softened somehow? 

Pewter is a lead/tin alloy; modern pewter (britannia metal, american
pewter, and other names) is mostly tin and antimony. It’s soft
enough to work and carve with something like a sharp handtool, but for
removing large amounts of stock, power tools will be better. I do
detail work on it with x-acto knives.

Either version is a sticky metal that will clog bits and files, and
you do not want the tools contaminated with the tin alloys anywhere
near anything that will be hard soldered later (it will bugger up
silver and gold at proper soldering temps). I use the el-cheapo flea
market files to work the stuff.

   2. Is it toxic to handle? 

Traditional pewter is a lead alloy; use common caution and wash your
hands and don’t breathe the dust. The new version is still a heavy
metal, so, again, use common metal handling precautions.

   3. What kind of tools used to carve it--can hand tools be used? 
Wax carving tools? 

Anything that will cut wood will work these alloys. Again, buy
cheap, disposable tools for the roughing out process at least.

   4. What else is there to know that I don't know I need to know? 

You can melt it to do a basic casting on a propane stove. You can
use plaster of paris for mold material as long as you bake it to drive
out residual moisture.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
afn03234@afn.org OR @Ron_Charlotte1


#4

I have never made models with pewter but have done some forming with
it. I worked it like any non ferious metal with the exception of not
needing to anneal it. It is mostley tin and melts around 400o. It can
be soldered with a flame and using shavings of pewter as solder. The
flux is different and I would have to look that up for you. It can be
hammered, sawn, filed, sanded and buffed.

Marilyn Smith


#5

I am a jewelry modelmaker and primarily use pewter (white metal) for
most of my work. I most often start with a line drawing of the
object to be made and use rubber cement to stick it on a piece of
white metal flat stock of the proper thickness. You can get white
metal flat stock in several different mm’s from the Contenti Co. in
Providence, RI, (401) 421-4040. I use a jewelers saw to saw out my
piece and finish by filing the edges up to the drawings line before
actually removing the paper drawing from the metal. Next I use a
Foredom type power tool with interchangeable burs to “carve” my
design. I finish with files, hand engraving tool, etc as needed and
finalize the piece with sand paper and a final “polish” with steel
wool. White metal can also be “added” to a piece using a soldering
iron and soft-solder flux. You can solder pieces of white metal
together using a small hand-held Blazer butane torch, soft-solder
flux and pieces of 60/40 solder or 60/40 solder paste which is
pre-mixed with flux.

Hope this helps!

Susanne Roberts
East Side Concepts, Inc
econcepts@aol.com


#6

Several people suggested that carving pewter would give better detail
and finer lines than wax. I am fascinated by the idea and eager to
try it. However–I know nothing about Pewter and need some help. I
looked at a brick of Pewter and it seemed too hard to carve. I also
spoke with Rio Grande’s tech person and he assured me that Pewter is
too hard to Carve. So here are my questions:

  1. Can it be carved as is, or does it need to be melted down, or
    softened somehow?

Pewter is a lead/tin alloy; modern pewter (britannia metal, american
pewter, and other names) is mostly tin and antimony. It’s soft enough
to work and carve with something like a sharp handtool, but for
removing large amounts of stock, power tools will be better. I do
detail work on it with x-acto knives.

Either version is a sticky metal that will clog bits and files, and
you do not want the tools contaminated with the tin alloys anywhere
near anything that will be hard soldered later (it will bugger up
silver and gold at proper soldering temps). I use the el-cheapo flea
market files to work the stuff.

  1. Is it toxic to handle?

Traditional pewter is a lead alloy; use common caution and wash your
hands and don’t breathe the dust. The new version is still a heavy
metal, so, again, use common metal handling precautions.

  1. What kind of tools used to carve it–can hand tools be used? Wax
    carving tools?

Anything that will cut wood will work these alloys. Again, buy cheap,
disposable tools for the roughing out process at least.

  1. What else is there to know that I don’t know I need to know?

You can melt it to do a basic casting on a propane stove. You can use
plaster of paris for mold material as long as you bake it to drive out
residual moisture.

You can also cast it in High Temp RTV or vulcanized silicon rubber
molds. Roto Metals in San Francisco in a good West Coast source.

John


#7
        Several people suggested that carving pewter would give
better detail and finer lines than wax.  I am fascinated by the idea
and eager to try it.  However--I know nothing about Pewter and need
some help.  I looked at a brick of Pewter and it seemed too hard to
carve.  I also spoke with Rio Grande's tech person and he assured me
that Pewter is too hard to Carve.  So here are my questions: 
    1. Can it be carved as is, or does it need to be melted down,
or softened somehow? 
    2. Is it toxic to handle? 
    3. What kind of tools used to carve it--can hand tools be used?
 Wax carving tools? 
    4. What else is there to know that I don't know I need to know? 
    5. Do you like the way it handles? 

They’re absolutely right about metal holding the detail better- I
also know nothing about pewter: I do my originals in sterling, using a
flex shaft with heavy sanding discs(cut-off wheels) for rough shaping,
thin cut off discs for sharp line detailing, diamond bits and dentist
bits for fine detailing. Clean them up and do final shaping/detailing
with craytex or similar- it’s amazing what you can do. All of my
dragons and such like are cast from originals carved out of sterling-
and the fingertip can still feel the scaling! (www.golddreams.com)


#8

I am a jewelry modelmaker and primarily use pewter (white metal) for
most of my work. A0I most often start with a line drawing of the
object to be made and use rubber cement to stick it on a piece of white
metal flat stock of the proper thickness. A0You can get white metal
flat stock in several different mm’s from the Contenti Co. in
Providence, RI, (401) 421-4040. I use a jewelers saw to saw out my
piece and finish by filing the edges up t o the drawings line before
actually removing the paper drawing from the metal.

A0Next I use a Foredom type power tool with interchangeable burs to
"carve" my design. A0I finish with files, hand engraving tool, etc as
needed and final ize the piece with sand paper and a final "polish"
with steel wool. A0White met al can also be “added” to a piece using a
soldering iron and soft-solder flux. A0You can solder pieces of white
metal together using a small hand-held Bla zer butane torch,
soft-solder flux and pieces of 60/40 solder or 60/40 solder paste
which is pre-mixed with flux.

A0Hope this helps!

Susanne Roberts
East Side Concepts, Inc
econcepts@aol.com


#9

i have read with interest how everyone else in the world seems to use
white metal to make their models instead of sterling. is there a
reason for this? i have a small amount of experience in this work and
it always seemed to me that white metal had many down sides to it. as
a production model maker the company i worked for expected precise
wt. on finished models. this was so the shrinkage in casting could be
estimated with a strong degree of accuracy so the target wt. could be
achieved with consistency white metal tends to have a very loose
definition as to amounts of alloying material. whereas sterling has a
set definition as to amounts of alloying material and the specific
gravity and wt tend to be fairly precise. i found that by using
sterling the math on shrinkage became very precise and consistent
thus making the target wt. of the finished castings accurate to the
hundredth of a gram on the first try. this easily offset any
additional cost in materials that was incurred by using sterling.
perhaps the models being made by other companies don’t need this
precision. can anyone tell me? also it always seemed to me that the
hassle of adding metal to pewter was not to be taken lightly. a
small amount of hesitation with your torch could destroy your work.
and while it machined pretty good it did tend to foul burrs pretty
fast which are always a hassle to clean. sterling always at least to
me … was easy to work with, impervious to molding temps. cleaned
up well, and was easy to repair if something wasn’t right or needed
to be added to the model. finally anyone making models is completely
aware of how “a flaw that is overlooked in a model will be endlessly
repeated and increase final finishing costs unless corrected.” that
is the actual mantra the people i used to work for would profess. so
it always seemed to me that sterling was superior to white metal as
it was less easily damaged when the moldmakers got their hands, or
should i say razors on it? anyway I’m just wondering and maybe one or
many of the model makers out there could help me out with an answer
or two to these question. thanx ahead of time and

Talk to you later Dave Otto