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Casting is the process of melting metal and pouring it so that, when the metal cools, the desired object has been made.   There are a variety of methods that were used to cast metal.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The ones we are covering are:

All casting methods share the same problem of producing sufficient heat to melt the desired metal(s).  They must also find a way to contain the molten metal until it is time to pour the metal into a mold.  Each uses a mold that will shape and contain the molten metal until it cools.  The methods differ in what the mold is made out of, how the mold is made, and the technical issues that result from those differences.

Ingots are chunks of refined, purified metal that are then hammered into the desired shape.  Obviously, one can pour an ingot into a generic shape or use one close to the desired size and general dimensions of the piece to be created.

Cuttlefish casting is inexpensive to start with and fast to get going with.  There are serious technical limits to the size and shapes that can be cast using this technique.  The cuttlefish mold imparts a very distinctive texture to the cast item.

Sand casting is inexpensive to start and continue with, flexible, fast to get going with, and very forgiving.  There are technical limits to the shapes that can be cast using this technique (though with skill and knowledge, those limits are not as serious as one might expect).  In addition, the sand imparts its own texture to the cast object, so the process loses a bit of fine detail.

Stone casting is inexpensive to start and continue with and flexible.  It is not forgiving because a single mistake made in carving the stone mold may destroy the mold's usefulness, which would then require one to start carving all over.  Once the mold is carved, casting can proceed at a very rapid pace.

Lost wax casting is expensive to start with and the most flexible of all the techniques.  For one-off production, it is slow.  For mass production, it is very fast using modern techniques.  It has the major advantage of producing an exact match with no added texture.
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Diagram of Metal Skill Hierarchy
Link to Metallurgy Skill page.Link to Anneal Skill page.Link to Alloy Skill page.Link to the Cast Skill page.Link to Pour Ingot Skill page.Link to Sand Cast Skill page.Link to the Stone Cast Skill page.Link to Lost Wax Cast Skill page.Link to Cuttlefish Cast Skill page.Link to Cuttlefish Cast Skill page.
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Ammen, C.W., The Complete Handbook of Sandcasting, 1979
 
 
No
Yes
Until I read this book I thought that sand casting was very limited in the shapes that were possible to make using the technique.%26nbsp%3b I quickly found out how very%2c very wrong I was.%3cbr /%3e %3cbr /%3e This book is chock full of useful information about the craft of sand casting.%26nbsp%3b So much so that I believe it will take me about 10 readings to get it all.%26nbsp%3b I%27ve read it%2c casted a number of batches%2c now I%27m ready to read it again - because now I%27m ready to grasp another 10%25 of the material.%3cbr /%3e %3cbr /%3e This is the single most useful book on sand casting I%27ve found.%3cbr /%3e
Gingery, David and Vince, Dave Gingery's Green-Sand Casting Techniques, 2008
 
 
No
Yes
DVD
Gingery, Vince, Making Crucibles, 2003
 
 
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Yes
This book covers making crucibles for metal casting. Crucibles are fairly expensive and this provides an inexpensive way to make crucibles.
Gingery, David J., The Charcoal Foundry, 2000
70
 
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Yes
This is part one of a seven book series called "Build Your Own Metal Working Shop From Scrap". It provides clear, detailed,instructions on building an inexpensive forge for melting metal and for doing sand casting.