Bronze Casting - Help Needed

Hello Makers

I need help obtaining refractory equipment. I’ve been looking to do replicas of chinese bronzes. I’ve done research and I think I’ll have access to all the materials required except rafractory equipment i.e. furnace, crucible, tongs. So I’m hoping someone will be able to point out any Australian sources I might be able to get information and supplies from.

The current plan is to do a lost wax process:

  1. Create 3D model of artefact
  2. 3D print model
  3. Touch up model
  4. Create reuseable mould - silicon, urethene
  5. Make wax replica
  6. Plaster mold wax and melt out wax
  7. Cast Bronze

I’ve also considered sand casting but since the plan is to make smaller ornate objects the sand casting process may lack the required surface detail.

Most materials for the processes can be reasonably obtained from online suppliers in Australia. However, I’m having difficulty finding somewhere with an available furnace for bronze casting. It maybe possible to build our own furnace and import a crucible but this seems like a large investment of time and money given our limited project and scope but if other memebers would find use in having foundry equipment available e.g. for metal casting other 3D printed objects.


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I am in need of exactly the same sort of process for some prototypes for what I am working on. Some sort of plaToAluminium process for me. I’ve been thinking about a machine that prints the sand or plaster and the core all in one go that I can then load in to a furnace for a lost wax type method. I’ve done the making of cores and things before and done casting manually. Built a furnace in back yard. Was enormously labour intensive process. Would like not to repeat that. It would be great to get a refractory furnace at the workshop but not sure what the OH&S might be around that. Building an electric furnace isn’t that hard and you can also get the smaller ones off ebay. One I built in my backyard was propane fired with the typical air compressor etc.

Dear prospective bronze casters,
I have done some bronze casting at NSW TAFE - about 10 years ago. And as a result of the move to the ACT, was unable to complete the course. That said, we used a few different methods - lost wax, displaced foam and greensand. I set myself up, at home, to be able to do some casting with a view to building a lathe. I have not done much in the way of `hot stuff’, at home, but I did manage a couple of copper castings (to make heavy soldering irons for my father). The lathe project hit a snag so I’m rethinking the whole thing.

My furnace is home built, as is the forge that I constructed more recently. The burners are propane-burners and get hot enough to melt copper - I have not tried to take anything beyond the mp of copper. The refractory is home-made. I’d suggest that a solid fuel - coke - would be preferable for hot stuff. And you need proper refactory, crucible, crucible tongs and shank, face shield + helmet, leather apron and spats. A dry area to work, preferably with a sand-covered area. Hot metal hitting concrete can, and usually does explode violently. Hot metal hurts!!!

I was permitted to keep some Al and Bronze castings from when I did the course at TAFE. I can provide pics to show the level of detail that is possible. What I suspect that you will need is fine alumina and, possibly some sodium silicate to use as a binding agent and carbon dioxide to initially set the mix. Once you have a lost-wax mould, it needs to be oven dried and carefully supported in a matrix such as sand. I tend to prefer greensand 'cause it’s less involved.

I have never attended MHV but was contemplating taking a squiz at some point. Happy to offer pics and sad tales of past experience;)

Cheers, Spiro.


Welcome to MHV! We have a bunch of members somewhat curious about metal forging/casting; the new place even has an area that might potentially be suitable for experiments (perhaps, we don’t really know). Feel free to drop in!

Tuesday & Wednesday nights are best, there’s also a Saturday working bee of sorts next month 12 November, 10:30AM: MHV Gardening Saturday

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Cool, thanks Paul:) I should point out that my experience is a bit limited and it is not helped any by a lack of funds - hence my need to get creative in finding alternatives for commercial resources. But I’m happy to share what I’ve done. I usually photograph things at different stages, too, so some of that might be of interest. My current project is a partial restoration job on a heavy, old, cast iron wood lathe (ie. I want to use it for pattern-making, not for admiring as a museum piece:). I’ve made a few parts for it and have had to bodgy-up a fix for a serious misalignment of the tailstock.
Chris Small (Spiroketal;)

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Just as afterthought, coke is good but charcoal is also good - reasonably expensive if you have to buy it, as is coke. I have plans that I purchased, about 20 years ago, for a charcoal burner for making suitable material for use in a furnace. The other thing that I have not tried is waste oil or diesel oil. The TAFE had a diesel-oil furnace that was the backup for a big old induction machine and they also used big diesel blowlamps for preheating crucibles. I’ve seen a few designs for waste oil burners but they require an air compressor. Propane works well enough for what I’m doing so I’ve not needed to consider other options for the time being but I’d like to look at doing some cast iron in future.
Cheers, Chris.