Bitsmith? Nah, but I am getting a foundry going!

3 min read

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jgallaway81's avatar
So by now many of you will be familiar with Grant Thompson, better known as "The King of Random" (Facebook:…; Youtube:… ).

If you haven't seen the video "Melting Cans With The Mini Metal Foundry", then you seriously need to jump through that link and spend the best 5 minutes of your life with your kid in your lap. Even my 3yo loves this movie and idea.

Okay, now that you are back and have seen the movie, you might realize this doesn't look that complicated. And with the video on how to make the foundry, it gets even easier. Yesterday I started my foundry, installing the industrial handles to the sides of my fairly large ~25gallon steel keg, and re-enforcing the sides where the bolts come through with three 1/16th plates of mild steel.

Today I began the next step.... pouring out a test cast of the recipe I designed for the cast-in-place firebrick. Grant's foundry uses sand & plaster. Another gent on youtube built a propane-fired forge out of a 5lb coffee can using Sodium Silicate as a binder with Perlite as the material. I decided to try a hybrid approach since I didn't want to deal with the chemicals to make the Sodium silicate. I have a small batch in a container right now (about 1 inch thick) curing to be tested. If right, this should have better thermal insulation properties over the pure plaster/sand version while also not requiring the Sodium Silicate.

Have rules class tomorrow, then off on Wed. We'll see what happens. I'm SO looking forward to having a metal melting capable furnace.

Oh, as an aside, unlike Grant's furnace which uses a single 1" pipe to provide combustion air, I developed a means to provide two opposing streams of air into the furnace. Once I get the last elbows, the piping arrangement will fit perfectly into the foundry (by pure chance there) and will be submerged and buried by the cast-in-place firebrick. This should provide the ability to get a hotter fire with a lower temperature differential in the "cold spots" furthest from the air streams. I was stuck on a bellows device, trying to figure that out nearly derailed the plan, however a stop at the local salvage dealer provided a vintage steel-bodied hand-help vacuum cleaner. I'll remove the bag and vacuuming fixture to provide a constant flow "air-pump".

-Lite the fires & melt the tires! :-D

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SD80MACfan's avatar
Nice. Do you plan on posting pictures of your finished products?
jgallaway81's avatar
Not sure if you mean the things I make with the forge, or the forge itself, but the answer is yes either way.

One of the things I want to do is number plates for different steam locomotives as well as the logo for my model railroad company
SD80MACfan's avatar
Nice. Looking forward to seeing them.
jgallaway81's avatar
Hey, its been a while, but a small update.

I've run my foundry many times, so far producing just pure aluminum ingots, but learning how to make each burn more efficient. I'm currently in the market for property to open an actual foundry business.

If you would like more information, and are on Facebook, you can search my DA username over there and it will bring up my personal profile, but you can also search for "JDG Industries" and find my maker projects page which has a lot of information on projects I've made lately.