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Old 10-22-2016, 05:45 PM   #1
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Default Home made foundry question

I want to build a small foundry with my 2 oldest sons. My intent is to melt aluminum and occasional brass (bullet cases).

I was thinking of using a clay chimney liner as my inner chamber,Steel pail as my outer form and sand/plaster paris as my filler between the 2. It would have a 2-3 layer of sand/plaster paris layer in bottom of flue piece.

I have searched on line for top temperature limits of clay flues and it looks like it is in the 1800f - 2000f range. It has the same range as refractory cement.

As a young teenager I used to help a elderly neighbor cast hit and miss engine mufflers. So it is not exactly a new thing to me. His set up was a 35 gallon steel barrel with 2 layers of recycled chimney bricks.

Is this a ok set up?


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Old 10-22-2016, 06:07 PM   #2
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One good source of info is the book by Michael Porter " Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces & Kilns" isbn 1-879535203


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Old 10-22-2016, 08:29 PM   #3
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Jon, see if you can find the Steve Chastain books. There are 2 on building everything for your home foundry. And I mean everyting. they are inexpensive, easy reading, and have an enormous wealth of information.

Good luck on a great hobby,
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Old 10-23-2016, 06:06 AM   #4
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I Jon
If I remeber right normal operating temp for clay chimney liner is something like 600c and up to 1000c in case of a chimney fire so that should be fine for aluminum. I’m not sure that the sand/plaster filler would be of much benefit and I would be concerned about the plaster absorbing moisture. Most furnaces have a metal outer shell, an insulating layer and then a durable hot face on the inside. Personally I think you’d be better off using perlite available from garden centers It’s cheap, light weight, a good insulator and can take the heat. My first furnace was a mix of perlite and fire cement for the hardware store.

Some free books (I like free)
Though the scale of some of the things they discuss is a little on the large side for the home user. A good reference is the “US Navy Ship Foundry Manual”
I would also highly recommend the “The Hobbyist's Guide to Casting Metal--2nd Edition”.
It has a lot of good practical information at a hobbyist level. Like how to test if that great scrap aluminum you found is actually magnesium. I’ve seen videos where someone drops a piece of magnesium into an aluminum melt . . . bad . . . very bad.
Alberta, Canada
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Old 10-26-2016, 06:12 PM   #5
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Hi Jon,

I have some photos of my casting equipment on my homepage.

Best regards,

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Old 08-17-2017, 06:05 AM   #6
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I designed and built an oil burner as well as furnace. My burner can reach temp of approximately 2500 degree celsius.
Designed my own sand mixture (greensand)
Doing aluminium and brass casting. You are welcome to e mail me with any questions.
E mail :
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:25 AM   #7
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Jon , it is quite feasible to melt aluminium in an open wood fire using a crucible made from a piece of steel pipe , no fancy burner , furnace or chimney required just a source of dry wood.
There is no noise and sitting around the fire waiting is a very pleasant experience.
Most other metals with the exception of iron can be melted using coke ( hard to source now in the UK) and draught provided by 10 feet of chimney.
The equipment required is down to how much you intend to do.
Why waste time making a sophisticated foundry if you only want a couple of castings .
If you do get the bug I would recommend the use of a castable refractory concrete for your furnace and propane as fuel .
The concrete is not expensive , is easy to use and is reliable so why re-invent the wheel to save a couple of dollars .
waste oil and agricultural diesel can be more trouble than it's worth with smoke , smell and noise.
Casting is a very satisfying process , producing a useful or artful piece from a handful of scrap gives you a sense of elation but much can go wrong between the start and end , keep it simple and learn as you go.
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Old 08-17-2017, 11:06 PM   #8
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I tried to melt shell casings for casting many years ago. 1985! The brass alloy is designed for hot pressing, I believe. The brass melts in a cruicable bit stays a plastic mass rather than becoming a fluid. Old taps and other scrap brass melted fine but I never had any success with shell casings. Perhaps somebody else has had better experience with them.

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