If you have been thinking about making a start in hobby foundry work in your home workshop, you may be forgiven for thinking that the tools and equipment are going to cost you an arm and a leg, this need not be. Sure, you could trot off to the downtown industrial tools supplier and take home an arm full of expensive tools.
But if you take a good look at some of the tools, you'll discover that the design principles and fabrication could well be undertaken in the home workshop if you have metal fabrication skills and a reasonable amount of basic metal working equipment.
Take for instance "crucible lifting tongs", once you understand how these tools operate; you could quite easily make a set or two over a weekend. The basic design action operates on the "scissor principle" but they do not cut anything, they are designed to "clamp securely" onto the crucible to lift it out of the furnace when the metal has melted. Great caution needs to be taken while carrying out this operation, as one slip due to faulty or badly designed tongs, and you could have a disaster on your hands.
The best way to design and build a set of tongs is to copy a well made set, or to follow directions set out in a textbook or ebook downloaded from the net, we'll give you some links a little more on this article.
Some of the most frequently used basic tools you'll need in the hobby foundry are; Bench ramming moulders tool – Tube sprue cutter – turned wood sprues – slick & oval spoon – hand riddle or sand sieve – draw pins, screws & hooks – rapping bar and spike – gate cutter – strike off bar – sand carving tools (made from old hacksaw blades).
The tools mentioned above seem to be the ones that will be most used in your hobby foundry … and all of them can be home made if you have metal & wood working skills, it will take time and effort to make the tools required but they wont cost you a red cent if you make them from scrap materials, and if you are like most hobbyists you will know where to "scrounge stuff".
You may have to experiment with different ideas before you arrive at the most satisfactory design, but you will learn a great deal about why things have to be made in certain ways.
Do you own a wood lathe? Even a most basic machine will suffice in the home workshop, you could even make your own if you were sure enough, I guarrantee there are tens of thousands of home made wood lathes sitting in hobby workshops the world over. A wood lathe will repay itself many times over when you start to make patterns for your hobby foundry.
Your bench-ramming tool can be quickly turned to shape on your wood lathe, in fact, while you're at it, make two or three of them in different shapes & sizes, they will all come in handy when ramming and molding patterns of varying sizes, you could get away with a single tool, but you wont regret making extra tools.
After a pattern has been completely rammed in a sand mold, and before the metal is scattered, the pattern has to be removed without disturbing any of the surrounding sand. Draw pins and spikes are used to remove timber patterns from sand molds.
Simple draw pins can easily be fabricated from long slender wood screws, particleboard screws are ideal. The easiest way to convert woodscrews into draw pins is to braze-weld a short length of 1/4 "dia mild steel rod onto the head of the screw … that is all you need to do … make a set of them with different gauge screws as well long and short ones and you should have the field covered as far as lifting pins or draw spikes go … simple is not it.
Blunt hacksaw blades are usually thrown in the bin, from now on you should save them, as many useful little hobby foundry tools can be made from old saw blades, quite often small sand carving tools can be quickly made by grinding and shaping using a normal bench grinder.
By being resourceful and thinking how you can use scrap materials, you should see now that there is absolutely no need to spend large amounts of money to get the tools and things you need for your hobby. If you are not sure about your own building & fabricating abilities then you should always ask advice.