Author Archives: bladesworks

Casting Classes 2016

Casting Class 2016 058For the last few years over the summer I have run weekend casting classes as an introduction to Lost Wax casting. I found that it was getting difficult to get everything into two days, so for 2016 I have decided to extend the classes to three days over a weekend , Friday to Sunday.

The dates I am running classes are as follows.

1st -3rd April 2016                                         3 places left

5th -7th August 2016                                    5 places left

30th September-2nd October 2016          5 places left

To secure a place contact me and I will send details, 50% deposit required.

There is a lot to get through in three days, it took me a lot longer than that, so think of the course as an introduction. We will be going through all the processes, carving a wax, investing it in plaster, casting, finishing and making a mould so that more waxes can be made. With the extra time I plan to show you various methods of room temperature rubber mould making. It would be a good idea if you had a design already in mind, it doesn’t have to be a fabulous working drawing, a sketch will do, just so that I can get you all started as quickly as possible. I recommend that is not too complicated, better to start simple and progress to more intricate designs later! I just thought it would be relevant to your work. Don’t worry if you haven’t got anything particular in mind, I will show you some ideas.
I will provide all the tools and equipment that you will need, please bring an apron, notepad and pen, and your glasses if you wear them. Sorry to be obvious, people do forget!
 Casting Class 2016 051
When we are casting you MUST do as I say. It is not particularly dangerous, but molten metal must be respected. I will cast for you if you like, some like to do it themselves, some don’t, it’s not a competition.
My aim is to show you the whole process, setting up to be a caster is a big venture, but it is straightforward and low cost to carve  a wax and send it off to a trade caster for a modest charge.  You don’t need to be a jeweller already, When I started running these classes I aimed them at jewellers who had perhaps never done casting, but I soon found that anyone who had some craft skills could pick it up.
 Casting Class 2016 060
I will tell you where to get more information, there is one particularly good book, and where to get tools and supplies. Depending on what you do you can often make your own tools, I will show you what I have made and you will make the tool I use the most. I will have a small selection of the most commonly used tools for sale, my aim is to put you in a position to carve your own waxes and start making cast jewellery!
If you have any questions do please ask. I will provide lunch and drinks and snacks during the day.
The cost of the class is £400.00 for the three days, 9.00am- 5.00pm. I have space for five people.
This includes all materials up to 15 grams of silver, if you want to do something larger I will have extra supplies at cost. You can cast in bronze if you like, to give you some idea, silver is about 40p/gm, bronze is 2p/gm.
My workshop is in the countryside in the very south of Gloucestershire, there are Bed and Breakfast places nearby if you are coming from a distance. Contact me if you have any questions.

Sawing jig 3

Most of the patterns I do for casting are carved in wax. Many years ago I bought a microscope (which is another story for a different post) and straightaway it was so much easier to see what I was doing. As well as the waxcarving I do find it very useful for stonesetting and other fine work. I have made quite a few tools for working under the microscope to cope with the restricted space. A couple of years ago I decided to make some patterns for snowflake stud earrings that were sawn out with an 8/0 sawblade. There is just enough space under the microscope to get the sawframe in, but the top of the frame gets in the way, you have to peer around the side and it’s not easy.

It occurred to me that if I tilted the sawing jig forwards at the top, as long as the saw was still at right angles to the top of the bench pin I could follow the pattern on the metal.



This is the first one I made, a bit rough but it does the job.


Checking that it is a right angle with the top of the bench pin


I got an adjustable height bench pin holder from Rio Grande, an extravagance, but it does stop you hunching over your work.


And here is the result, a five pence piece shown for size, 18mm for the coin. All sawcuts are vertical, and a slight advantage is that you can only see the sawblade not the frame so all your cuts are on the line!

Sawing Jig 2

Here are some more pictures of sawing jigs I have made over the years. IMG_4965IMG_4967

I have modified this one so that the saw cannot be rotated, when you are sawing pancake dies the angle of cut through the die has to be kept consistent, the die is rotated and the saw kept straight.



This is a jig I use on my bench pin every day, it means that all cuts are at 90 deg to the metal you are sawing, saves a lot of time and trouble when you come to filing up the edges. If you look closely at the first photo there is a line on the pin which is at a right angle to the sawblade.

Ever had trouble fitting a piece of inlay into a contrasting sheet of metal? Look at the photos below,

these were a sheet of brass and a sheet of copper glued together, then cut at an angle, it can take a little experimenting to get the correct angle, but the cut out piece from one sheet will fit exactly into the body of the other sheet.  If you look closely you can see the drill hole in a corner, drilling this at an angle would have been better!




This only works one way, this is what you get with the remaining pieces. Remember to work out which colour is the body and which the insert!


Sawing Jig

This is a tool I developed to cut Pancake dies. There is a commercial one but I was so used to using a piercing saw, I found it easier to control. The original still has the piece of cardboard pushed into the top to shim it to the correct angle. You have to rotate the work rather than the saw,

I found it had a lot more uses and I have developed several variants over the years. The pic below is adjustable, it can be used to cut at right angles, this is useful if you want to cut a stack of silver so that the pieces are all the same size, It can also be used to inlay a complicated shape into a different piece of metal. If you set the angle correctly and glue two different sheets of metal together, the kerf you cut will let the cut out piece of the top sheet fit perfectly into the body of the bottom sheet.