I had been eager to pick up a class again this semester at MATC, and when browsing through the classes this past summer, I figured I’d give the foundry class a try. We did a little bit of foundry work way back in high school shop class (I’m sure those days are long gone thanks to a lawsuit-happy society), and I’ve seen a number of Rick Chownyk’s backyard metal casting demos during past CNC Workshops.
As it turned out, the class isn’t so much a class as it is an open workshop – most of the students have been taking the class for years (two of them started taking it 28 years ago) as a way to easily make parts for their own projects (one of the fellows is a live steam locomotive enthusiast, and always has something interesting that he’s molding). Just the sort of environment I was eventually hoping to find! I quickly found that as with so many opportunities, I really didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to make – I had signed up with the intent to learn, not to do. Sure, there was a bit of learning, but weeks later, I’ve only been able to figure out a single thing that I’d actually like to cast (a fixture block for machining an upcoming project). As such, every class has started with me pawing through the cabinet of patterns, wondering what to try this week. Not that this hasn’t been helpful – I managed to screw up 2 weeks in a row by focusing so much on forming a good parting line around a complex pattern that I forgot to actually remove the pattern from the mold before the aluminum was poured in. Fortunately, the temperature difference is enough between the aluminum pattern and the molten incoming aluminum that the two didn’t fuse (my tendency to create very narrow runners also helped in this regard). Here’s a brief photo collection of some of my successes and failures.