book collections email follower instructable user
Picture of Silversmith Jewelry (Lost Wax Casting)

20 years ago, just before I proposed to my wife, she commented that she was not interested in an expensive engagement ring. So I was left trying to figure out a way to give her a ring that would have more sentimental value than market value.

Some months earlier, actually on the night of my brother's bachelor party, he removed a couple silver rings he wore and said to "I guess I won't be need these anymore since I need to make room for my wedding ring." I told him I would hold on to them, not sure why I did though. And one day while I was thinking about my own engagement ring dilemma, I saw those rings and the thought ran across my mind "Would it be possible melt those rings down and make an engagement ring?!" So I decided to give it a try.

The internet was in a much more rudimentary form back then, but I came across a site that described the basic steps to making jewelry by using the Lost Wax Casting method. And what is more, it showed how to do it with very cheap and available equipment. A few things you may have to send away for, but they are affordable.

So far I have seen some stellar Lost Wax Casting tutorials on Instructables, and I encourage you to read a few to get a more complete idea of the concept. Yet many of them involve a store bought kiln or spinner or something which can be expensive, especially if you are just getting started or you just prefer to tinker. We will use steam to make our casting.

So here we go! (And forgive some of the older looking photos, they actually came out of my wedding album)

Step 1: Gather the Goods

Picture of Gather the Goods

Here are the materials with some alternate suggestions in parenthesis:

Safety gear (goggles, gloves, suit of armor... in fact wear it all now as you read on.)

Empty Tuna Can

6-8" wooden dowel

1-Screw

Paper towels (tissues/toilet paper...)

Empty Tomato Paste can (both ends open)

6" flower pot (or 8" or so)

Wire coat hangar

Aluminum Foil

Propane Torch

Single Burner Propane stove

1/2" Hardware cloth (something to let heat come up through)

Casting Investment (I use Satin Cast 20. You might have to spring for this one as I heard plaster of paris cracks under high heat)

Clay/Silica crucible (or gouged out firebrick or small cast iron melting pot)

Clay

Silver (or any metal with a low melting point. More then the project itself will use.)

Wax (for model and for sprue channels)

Borax (cleansing agent)

Dremel

Optional:

Jeweler's file

Ring sizer


That's a great story!
posox20004 months ago
I have couple suggestions to make.
- If you want to reduce amount of smoke at the wax burning step, try to steam it out first, by heating it above boiling water. It will remove majority of wax from the Investment.
- Also 4 hours, it is a little bit too soon to start wax burning process. If your investment not dry enough, boiling inside of it water will destroy it or crack and make it unusable. I usually keep it overnight to dry after steamout wax and only then apply heat gradually with controlling "sweat" on surface. After 10-20 min of slow heating, you will see no water on surface. It is a good sign - it is ready to be heated all way thru.
cnycraig (author)  posox20004 months ago
Interesting way of removing the majority of the wax ahead of time! I assume the second part of your suggestion builds on the first?
Plaster is pretty good sustained steaming bath. Just don’t let it directly contact with water. And of cause after procedure like that it’s need a little bit more time to dry out.
audreyobscura4 months ago
So awesome to see this process!