Foundry Tools

Surprisingly the corporate conglomerates that control the hardware stores haven't yet tweaked to the enormous latent market potential of home foundry workers. You won't find foundry tools at your local big box hardware store. You could buy the commercial offerings, but they are quite expensive, and besides- here is an excellent opportunity to add some smithy skill to your metalworking repertoire.

Construction of the tools requires a welder and the ability to heat iron to a red-hot state. You can use the charcoal furnace as a forge but the dimensions of it make if difficult to selectively heat the iron. An oxy-acetylene torch is more convenient and a MAPP torch can be used although its heat output is rather marginal for this task.

All of the tools are made with hot-rolled mild steel from dimensions that can be found at your local hardware store. They are made long to get some distance between your body and the heat source. The tongs are riveted together. You can't readily buy iron rivets, but they can be made from the head and shank of a steel bolt.

Here are the five tools that I have, and I use all of them on each casting session. On the far left we have the simplest of all tools, "the poker". It's just a stick of metal that can be used to poke the melt thereby ascertaining the state of metal viscosity.

Skimmer

When the crucible comes out of the furnace the top of the melt will be covered in dross and undesirable crap of one type or another. The skimmer is used to get rid of the dross prior to pouring. I copied this design from a Steve Chastain book, but have since concluded that the holes (presumably for allowing molten metal to flow through) are basically useless. The angle iron, which is cut to form up the business end of the tool, must be shaped to accomodate the internal diameter of the crucible used.

Lift-Out Tongs

These tongs are used to grip the crucible and remove it from a top loading furnace.They are necessary in the charcoal furnace because by the time you are ready to pour, the crucible has sunk into the furnace and side access is not available. They should be carefully made to grip the crucible you intend to use. They should also be tested with full weight prior to use. Clearly a crucible full of molten metal slipping out of these tongs is a Very Bad Thing.

General Purpose Tongs

These are simple tongs that are good for grabbing things. Mostly I use them for adding new pieces of metal to the melt or moving the crucible slightly while it is in the furnace. They should not be used to pick up the crucible because you will run a risk of breaking the crucible with the uneven pressure applied to the rim.

Pouring Tongs

Once the crucible is out of the furnace and has been skimmed off, the pouring tongs are used to grab it from the side and to pour it off into the mould cavity. These tongs should be tailored for a good fit to the crucible being used. They should be tested with full weight prior to use.