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Wax casting vs hand crafted

Hi. Today I come up eith another question for the more skilled of us. I’ve seen wax castings and you can mimic pretty easily any real object or easily create a wax mold by sculpting it. Going with hand craft pieces, I assume they are more difficult to be achieved.

My actual question/curiosity is the following: is it possible to hand craft everything that is wax casted? Is there any limitation? It might be easier and less time consuming but is there any limit?

How much of your work is wax casted vs hand crafted pieces?

There are several posters on this site that are going to be able to provide more than I can, but since i’m the first the to the party, I’ll add my experience. First, I see no reason, given enough skill, why you wouldn’t be able to fabricate everything that is cast. You could sit down and carve a block of metal just like you would a block off wax.

Secondly, the major limitation you’ll run into is the ease with which you can use additive methods to build-up areas or correct mistakes. There is an amazing fabricator on YouTube, scaffoal, who doesn’t use wax and is able to fabricate complex shapes that I personally would have done in wax. But, he’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch and I’ve stolen more than one technique from him.

Lastly, the majority of the pieces I create are fabricated. I find I am able to achieve better symmetry in metal than I am in wax. My lines are cleaner and I don’t have to take into account shrinkage. I enjoy it more than I do wax. Wax is faster, though. I’ll often start carving a piece in wax to get a sense of the design and then switch to fabrication because that’s where I’m able to achieve a higher quality piece.

The important thing is to make sure that you don’t get caught in the mindset of this way is better than that way. It seems like I see that too often in our industry and have been guilty at times of furthering that sentiment. A mentor of mine always said, “there are nine ways to do it and they’re all right.”


I know about scaffoal and you’re right, it’s a pleasure to watch him doing his magic.

Hi Andreit

After decades in this trade I have learned to use many tools. Fabrication was how I apprenticed. Then wax work. And now CAD and CAM. I blend all for the task at hand.

If you learn the fundamentals, it should not be a question of either or. The drive to be excellent will push you forward.


When I did my apprenticeship back in the 1960s, I was taught to hand craft items that would now be castings. When making high relief heraldic crests and such like I was taught to hammer shapes, file and carve shapes using files and gravers, texture the carved shapes using chasing tools. At the end of my apprenticeship I had to make an item that showed the skills I had achieved, this was called my masterpiece and was a 5 inch heraldic badge, made entirely from flat sheet silver, no casting involved.


Hi James,nice to see what we Brits can do when push comes to shove. congrats!! See you used many diffwerent metals etc.
Heres one for you, My heraldic shield, as a clock in the Salters Co city of London Livery Co, was not 5in but 50in wide!!. Just a question of scale. Yr. 2000. Their milennium clock.
Can do larger of course, tho not smaller to your scale.
Im down in Dorset, remaking everything ive ever made for my super major exdo for my 50th yr in this game next year… All are welcome.
Ive followed the rennaisance path where the craftsman/artist/maker is one with his enviroment, ,lives and works in one place,
Its great for me but hard on the better half. I in her absence call her
“Her indoors” that surely will upset someone on this chat show.
, She has her own business in the medical profession and employs 15 staff.
Help her all I can of course.
now, how do I
attach a pic?
bloody s/ware.
Pic will have to come later when ive help.


Mr. Miller, Purely out of curiosity whose arms are those?
Also, your book has given me many hours of joy and wonderment.

Hi Ted, if you want to add a picture to your reply just click the 7th, icon across the top of the reply box, the one with the upward arrow on a horizontal bar, when you click this icon it asks what file you want to upload.

Hi Elliot, my badge is the arms of the National Association of Goldsmiths, which is now called the National Association of Jewellers. This design was a rejected design for their president’s badge back in the mid 1960s.
I am pleased that you like my book.

Well said!

Thanks, James,

Here it is.

  1. back is 1/8in thick steel sheet. copper plated.
  2. clock face is 1/8in s/steel laser profiled, then hard gold plated
    3 lepards are carved lime wood. Black gloss enamel paint. Put this out to a wood carver friend
  3. salts are cast aluminium
  4. M M is laser profiled s/sgteel gold plated.
    6.What looks like clouds is Israei dead seasalt. They wanted it in white, Cheshire salt is pink, I had to carve this!! to suit their design.
    7.Chains on lepards are brass gold plated.
  5. Clock hands titanium fire oxidised.
  6. Clock mechanism electronic, nowt to do with me I must add. .
  7. did all the metal work, pulled it all together, cost in excess of £10,000.
    2 months work.
    whole lot was digitised A0 full size.
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Dang! Ever time I look at your work I’m ready to just chop my hands off at the wrist and burn all of my tools.


I’m a lucky gal. I love to fabricate. I can carve waxes but I’m slow. My sweetie Timothy Green loves to carve waxes and dose an amazing job of it. He’s a great fabricator too. So depending on the job we choose the best method for the task at hand. That said we pretty much always fabricate prongs rather than cast them.

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When I had to make a model of a stag for a restoration job, I did model it in wax, but I did hammer the two halves of body shapes in copper before adding the wax to create the body shapes. It was cast in silver and I soldered the two halves together before using my chasing tools and a hammer to add the fur textures. I made the stags antlers from silver wires and soldered them in place.

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Wow! I never even realized what you can do with chasing before… I am naturally a (wax) carver, but this has inspired me greatly to learn about chasing!

When I need small texturing I use my hammer head attachment to my pendant drill, I shape the changeable hammer heads to give me a range of different textures, I use my chasing tools for heavier textures and shapes. This photo shows my Faro hammer head attachment, the changeable heads and some examples of the textures I can achieve using this tool


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