First attempt at sand casting antlers

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Jason Wheeler

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A long way to go, and lots of processes to refine, but pleased with my first attempt at an antler cast in Pewter - aim is to eventually work up to Silver but that is months away!!
 

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Very impressed! I'm guessing you lost some detail with undercuts and so on...

What will you use to power your furnace for silver?
 
Yep - tried to fill the Pedicles with clay around the sides to stop it dragging the sand out but the clay was too soft and the sand got stuck to it so going to dip the whole base of the antler in hard wax and carve the wax off the top and the bottom so the sides should pull cleanly - then it’s Dremel time! Had too much undercut on the sides as well and didn’t spend enough time on prepping the mould so that needs to be dealt with - more time getting the sand in the drag very compressed will help I think - and also not dropping 500g parting powder on it!

Have a propane furnace so eventually will try brass first (the casing from the bullet that shot the deer plus another kilo!) and silver is a similar melting point - albeit need to learn about firescale and pickling!
 
Yep - tried to fill the Pedicles with clay around the sides to stop it dragging the sand out but the clay was too soft and the sand got stuck to it so going to dip the whole base of the antler in hard wax and carve the wax off the top and the bottom so the sides should pull cleanly - then it’s Dremel time! Had too much undercut on the sides as well and didn’t spend enough time on prepping the mould so that needs to be dealt with - more time getting the sand in the drag very compressed will help I think - and also not dropping 500g parting powder on it!

Have a propane furnace so eventually will try brass first (the casing from the bullet that shot the deer plus another kilo!) and silver is a similar melting point - albeit need to learn about firescale and pickling!
I realise it adds a lot of work, but have you thought about making a silicone mould, then from that getting a wax cast of the antler, then using an investment mould for the actual metal? (You'd have to make a supporting shell for the silicone as well.) Like I say, loads more work, but all the detail should be picked up that way. I seem to remember that if you compress the sand too much, you'll have to add loads of fine vent holes for the steam to get out, but it's a very long time since I tried sand casting, so don't take my word for it...
 
Venting/sprues definitely key but there is so much detail on the antler it’s really hard to do properly.

I have made a silicone mould and wax casts from it but whilst good for pewter and lead it isn’t heat resistant enough for brass and sliver - am going to try lost wax/investment casting too, as have a vacuum chamber I use for resin/turning but I don’t have a kiln so will need to rely on BBQ (Kamado type) to burn out wax/get and hold mould at high enough temp so safely cast.

Lots of PPE has been purchased!
 
little one, rarely used, wax burnout - large one, used a lot - can get to 500C so as long as have investment in a steel tube and am careful I think will be able to hold hot enough and then shove it on top crucible in furnace to get really hot before I pour - well, that’s the theory!!!!
 

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Venting/sprues definitely key but there is so much detail on the antler it’s really hard to do properly.

I have made a silicone mould and wax casts from it but whilst good for pewter and lead it isn’t heat resistant enough for brass and sliver - am going to try lost wax/investment casting too, as have a vacuum chamber I use for resin/turning but I don’t have a kiln so will need to rely on BBQ (Kamado type) to burn out wax/get and hold mould at high enough temp so safely cast.

Lots of PPE has been purchased!
I was thinking of putting a shell of investment on the wax you take from the silicone mould and pouring the metal into that, butas you say, you'll have to heat the shell and burn out the wax, which means another heat source. If you're making a furnace, you could make a burnout oven at the same time...
 
little one, rarely used, wax burnout - large one, used a lot - can get to 500C so as long as have investment in a steel tube and am careful I think will be able to hold hot enough and then shove it on top crucible in furnace to get really hot before I pour - well, that’s the theory!!!!
Sorry, was writing when you posted that. I'll keep an eye on this thread, I'm partway through building an electric furnace - a lot slower than gas, but we've got solar panels, so in the summer it should be very cheap to run. Wish I was better with wiring though, I'm having to put it all on hold while I wait for someone qualified to wire it in...
 
A long way to go, and lots of processes to refine, but pleased with my first attempt at an antler cast in Pewter - aim is to eventually work up to Silver but that is months away!!

That looks really good. Thanks for sharing.

Were you melting the Pewter in a saucepan, on a gas hob? I didn't realise that was possible.
 
I’m impressed, the last time I did this was a very log time ago, melted lead on the stove, into a mould and out popped a little Spitfire airplane.
Probably not a very safe thing to do with lead but people either didn’t know or didn’t care back then.
 
I was thinking of putting a shell of investment on the wax you take from the silicone mould and pouring the metal into that, butas you say, you'll have to heat the shell and burn out the wax, which means another heat source. If you're making a furnace, you could make a burnout oven at the same time.

That looks really good. Thanks for sharing.

Were you melting the Pewter in a saucepan, on a gas hob? I didn't realise that was possible.
Yes - it’s an old steel saucepan - Pewter melts at around 200C (depends on the alloy, some melt lower some higher). The burner is a relatively inefficient butane double burner.

Just don’t use an aluminium pan or one with a non stick coating!

I don’t melt on the hob inside - partly because my wife would kill me but mainly because I don’t like carrying pans of molten metal around and wouldn’t want to pour inside as the fumes from the oil sand are quite strong.

I bought some pewter ingots online - you can buy old pewter tankards and melt them down but most contain some lead - as Cabinetman says above, I wouldn’t have worried when I was younger but I care a bit more now!
 
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Yes - it’s an old steel saucepan - Pewter melts at around 200C (depends on the alloy, some melt lower some higher). The burner is a relatively inefficient butane double burner.

Just don’t use an aluminium pan or one with a non stick coating!

I don’t melt on the hob inside - partly because my wife would kill me but mainly because I don’t like carrying pans of molten metal around and wouldn’t want to pour inside as the fumes from the oil sand are quite strong.

I bought some pewter ingots online - you can buy old pewter tankards and melt them down but most contain some lead - as Cabinetman says above, I wouldn’t have worried when I was younger but I care a bit more now!

Thanks, some food for thought there.
 
proof of concept at least, but the amount of time cleaning up around the pedicles has lead to a slight change in plan - going to continue trying to refine the casting (lots of issues as you can see in the pic) and it’s way better than my first few goes however when I have made a decent couple of these from different antlers going to start trying lost wax investment casting (Heaven help me!)
 

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proof of concept at least, but the amount of time cleaning up around the pedicles has lead to a slight change in plan - going to continue trying to refine the casting (lots of issues as you can see in the pic) and it’s way better than my first few goes however when I have made a decent couple of these from different antlers going to start trying lost wax investment casting (Heaven help me!)
interesting thread brought back childhood memories when my brother and I visited our mothers friend Mrs Newington who made lead soilders. Watching her process of melting down lead in her saucepan on her electric stove. All the different moulds and here paint desk and tables were they all got processed before being boxed up and sent to who ever was buying them.
 
A long way to go, and lots of processes to refine, but pleased with my first attempt at an antler cast in Pewter - aim is to eventually work up to Silver but that is months away!!
Looks good. What sand are you using?

My son and I have just starting mucking around with a charcoal furnace to melt aluminium, but other than creating a few billets have yet to cast anything. Ideally we would use green sand, but it's not easy to get hold of small amounts.
 
Looks good. What sand are you using?

My son and I have just starting mucking around with a charcoal furnace to melt aluminium, but other than creating a few billets have yet to cast anything. Ideally we would use green sand, but it's not easy to get hold of small amounts.
I bought my a couple of bags of this - Green Sand Foundry Casting Bromsgrove

For my purposes 2 bags is probably a lifetime supply!

I also bought some parting powder although it’s basically just talc so I could have saved a few quid there.

the copes and drags and the tray I sit it all in were all from scraps of ply I had lying around - I turned a couple of rollers, sprues and a cone for the pouring hole but could easily have used bits of dowel and chopped up an old broom handle!
 
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