Bronze melting part 2

I've melted bronze several times in a steel crucible with no trouble. However these refractory crucibles aren't as conductive of heat so my first bronze attempt with it was mostly a failure. This time I'll crank a few more BTUs from the used oil burner and get the metal nice a hot.

CAUTION! Working with or around burning and hot oil/grease can be dangerous, especially when proper safety precautions are not taken. Water should never be used to put out an oil or grease fire. Use dry sand or dirt. Because of the variations in materials and workmanship there are no guarantees on the information in/on this web site. This information is simply what I have been successful with in my own experiments. I will not assume responsibility for any injury, loss, or damage that may result from following the instructions, advice or plans on this web site. There are always dangers in foundry work and they have been pointed out whenever possible but it is not the purpose of this web site to, nor is it possible to mention all known or unknown dangers.

copper separating from bronze

I think this is interesting. Here is some spilled bronze. The bronze spilled out the crucible and into the bottom of the furnace where it drizzled out the drain hole.

Notice how the copper has started to separate from the bronze alloy. Maybe this is a result of the other alloying metals burning away or just uneven cooling causing the hotter metal (copper) to cool separately from the lower melting temperature metals.

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The furnace's hot interior

Here's a glimpse into the hot (to put it mildly) inner chamber with the crucible in place. If you look inside the crucible you'll see an old bronze plumbing valve with pieces f copper tubing still soldered in place.

The copper tubing melted along with the bronze so this metal must have reached at least 1900 degrees F. When melting valves be sure to remove the handle if it's not also bronze. Many are potmetal and they burn up and produce toxic zinc-fumed smoke. Beware of melting a lot of soldered copper or bronze joints for the same reason.

Lifting the crucible out

I'm lifting the hot crucible out of the furnace in this photo. This was a very bright sunny day so you can't really tell that the crucible is glowing orange.

This is the 5th melt for this crucible and it's still looking great.

Pouring some bronze

It doesn't look like it but this is indeed bronze being poured. I'm casting a personalized insence stick holder for a friend of mine. Here name is Yvette and one time she told me how she has trouble finding things with her name on it (like key chains and stuff).

Well... when you've harnessed the power to melt and pour metal that problem no longer exists! Hey... I never see my name on key chains either!

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The refractory was glazed in the heat

At bronze and iron melting temperatures typical homemade refractory mixes will FRY! Notice how the interior of my furnace is burnt and glazed.

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Cooled bronze castings

Here's a look at some of the castings after they've cooled for about an hour. I decided to cast them in smaller groups rather than all at once.

The mass of three castings on the left weighs about 4.5 pounds and the other mass of castings is about 4 pounds. The round castings weigh close to 1.5 pounds each and the rectangular ones are a few ounces less.

The bronze castings are solid with no gas bubbles

Here is a bronze casting and the cut-off gates. Notice how clean and solid the inside of the casting is. There are no gas pockets nor bubbles. Just clean bronze.

The small thing on the left is actually a small riser. It was at the opposite end of the casting as the sprue and was meant just as a steam and air vent. I tried casting this twice without the riser and the mold didn't fill. So I guessed that the steam couldn't escape fast enough from the regular vent holes and cooled the bronze. The sprue solved the problem letting air and steam flow out the mold as metal entered.

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The finished castings

Here are some of my finished bronze castings after the gates were cut off and they've been cleaned up a bit with a file. The can still use some more filing and a brushing with a wire brush.

In the center is the inscence stick holder (a hefty 3.5 pounds!) I designed for a friend with sophisticated design taste. The inscence stick is stuck in the small hole at the top end. I think she'll put it in the center of her dinner table designed by acclaimed furniture maker Lenoil Revilo. (Actually there's no such furniture maker... that's just my name spelled backwards...)

Hot babes really dig a guy that can cast metal!!

Decorative bronze castings make great gifts for hot chicks! Let's say you walk up to a girl you've been watching and hand her a nice bronze casting (especially something with her name on it!). You follow up with a line such as; "Hey baby I made this for you in my art studio!" That is pure gold! You'll instantly earn bonus points in her mind!

However there could be too much of a good thing... Suppose for example she responds with; "Oh I really like a guy who can melt metal! Can I come see your studio?" Oh no!! This is disaster if;
A. You still live with your parents.
B. Your "studio" is nothing but a ragedy furnace in the corner of the yard and a couple burnt flasks. And/or
C. Both of the above at the same time!

In such a situation you must think fast to avoid complete embarrasment. What usually works for me is one of the following lines. "Uh sure... You can come to my studio. How about the Thursday after next summer?" Or "ummm, yeah ok are you free on the 4th of August 2019?" Never underestimate the power of the foundry...

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Copyright © 2005 by Lionel Oliver II All Rights Reserved.
This site was created Sept. 28, 2000