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Thread: Help needed to cast human skeleton out of aluminum

  1. #181
    Hey everyone! Senior projects concluded yesterday and I wanted to share what I have completed in the last couple months.

    "Casting So Far" and "Rough Bones" has most of the bones while my Imgur account contains photos from the build.

    http://imgur.com/a/cpfSR

    http://imgur.com/a/moQWJ

    Learning to cast metal has been an incredible learning experience and I have enjoyed almost every moment of the process; it's painful to watch a 6 hour mold fall apart in your hands. Thank you all so much for your help and guidance thus far! This project was a lot more difficult than I anticipated but I am still determined and have almost the entire summer to finish. I only have a few bones to cast and a couple redos and then I will be ready to begin assembling the final piece. I'll be back here a lot to ask questions! I still need to polish everything as well...

    This is the piece that I really wanted to complete to show off what I've learned and what I am able to create.

    http://imgur.com/QqaoA7I
    IMG_3815.JPG

    Thank you all for your past and future support!

  2. #182
    You're making great progress. Please be sure to wear a respirator and GOGGLES when polishing aluminum. The dust you will create from the long hours of polishing aluminum is horrible for your lungs and corneas. A nuisance dust mask and some safety glasses are not enough. I try to do as much wet sanding work on aluminum as I can before moving onto the buffing wheel. A couple drops of dish soap aids in lubrication and makes the work easier.
    Visit me: WWW.HandcraftedLanterns.com
    "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war"
    -- Donald Trump --

  3. #183
    Quote Originally Posted by jagboy69 View Post
    You're making great progress. Please be sure to wear a respirator and GOGGLES when polishing aluminum. The dust you will create from the long hours of polishing aluminum is horrible for your lungs and corneas. A nuisance dust mask and some safety glasses are not enough. I try to do as much wet sanding work on aluminum as I can before moving onto the buffing wheel. A couple drops of dish soap aids in lubrication and makes the work easier.
    I couldn't agree more. My chemistry teacher wouldn't let me go near the dremel until I had bought a proper face mask to go along with the air tight googles I already had; lab googles that cover your eyes entirely and can be air-locked by closing the vents. To anyone attempting polishing, sanding or dremeling, WEAR PROPER SAFETY GEAR. Please. Its so easy and will save you a lot of pain in the future.

    Dishsoap? Is this just for the buffing wheel or will this also help with sanding? Thank you!

  4. #184
    Dishsoap... like Dawn. I run wet/dry sand paper, the black stuff. water is not for the buffing wheel. This is for the massive amounts of sanding necessary just to get it ready for buffing. I know this sounds odd, but I use a small 3"x3" electric palm sander with cut out sand paper to fit it. I keep dunking the aluminum piece into a bucket of water with a heavy dose of soap added to it. Note I did not say sudsy. Then I get comfortable and start sanding with a low grit and work up to 400 or higher before moving on to the buffing wheel. An air tool would be safer, but getting enough sanding disks will be expensive, that's why I'm just real careful with an electric palm sander. As you sand, keep dunking your part into the bucket, NOT THE PALM SANDER.... This will rinse the aluminum you cut off and reduce the sanding pad from filling up. I've been sanding aluminum babys ass smooth like this for 25 years. My old Jag etype engine is covered in polished aluminum. I've spent hundreds of hours on it through the years.
    Visit me: WWW.HandcraftedLanterns.com
    "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war"
    -- Donald Trump --

  5. #185
    Quote Originally Posted by jagboy69 View Post
    Dishsoap... like Dawn. I run wet/dry sand paper, the black stuff. water is not for the buffing wheel. This is for the massive amounts of sanding necessary just to get it ready for buffing. I know this sounds odd, but I use a small 3"x3" electric palm sander with cut out sand paper to fit it. I keep dunking the aluminum piece into a bucket of water with a heavy dose of soap added to it. Note I did not say sudsy. Then I get comfortable and start sanding with a low grit and work up to 400 or higher before moving on to the buffing wheel. An air tool would be safer, but getting enough sanding disks will be expensive, that's why I'm just real careful with an electric palm sander. As you sand, keep dunking your part into the bucket, NOT THE PALM SANDER.... This will rinse the aluminum you cut off and reduce the sanding pad from filling up. I've been sanding aluminum babys ass smooth like this for 25 years. My old Jag etype engine is covered in polished aluminum. I've spent hundreds of hours on it through the years.
    Here's one of my questions about the sanding portion, do I have to sand the entire piece or just the areas the that were rough from dremeling? Most of my pieces came out very shiny and smooth aside from their defects which I dremeled off and then used 120, 240 and 400 grit paper on the dremel to sand down those rough areas to a shine. Do I have to sand the entire piece before polishing?

    Also, would a palm sander be an appropriate tool for this project? Thank you!

  6. #186
    What and how you sand depends on your end goal. When ever you polish a surface, the resulting reflection comes from it's absence of scratches and surface imperfections. Suppose you have a small scratch.... You must start with a uniform finish and remove that scratch, it might take 120grit. It may take 60 grit due to flashing. This is part of the skill required when polishing something. Each time you progress up to the next finer grit, it must remove the "damage" caused by the lower grit... and so on and so on it goes... It's a long arduous task I'll give you that. An air powered DA sander would be the best tool probably to use, but the cost and the amount of sanding discs you'll burn through will not be cheap. The level of polished perfection is entirely on you. There is no shortcuts or quick way. Sore hands, an aching back and neck are all part of this. Perhaps after you remove the big nasties and knock those down aggressively with say 60 then 120 grit, a bead blast finish then clear coated might be the quickest way to go to call it done. I'd like to see it in high polish, but unless you can go spend a month in a third world nation and hire 30 people to help you polish bones, it's going to take a while as a one man show. Pouring bones in metal honestly was the easy part and no one will see or care about the work in that. What they will see is either a liquid shiny skeleton or an unfinished polish job. Not trying to pee on your parade, but this stage is where you will make it or break it. Decide what you want it to look like and go with that. Personally, I would be tempted to sand smooth everything and get it to 120grit and then pay a shop to POWDER COAT that sucker with the most glossy high shine mirror looking silver they have. Taking that amount of CAST aluminum to a high shine (the kind where you can see freckles on your face in it) is a HUGE JOB! I don't envy you one bit bud, but I do want to see photos when you have had enough with it. lol
    Jason

    just thinking aloud.... A wire brush finish is quick and easy and might be another option.... wire wheels for bench grinders and die grinders come in various grits too. Just something to help confuse you even more.. ;-)
    Visit me: WWW.HandcraftedLanterns.com
    "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war"
    -- Donald Trump --

  7. #187
    Hello everyone! Just returned from vacation and am unemployed for the summer so I have plenty of time to finish this skeleton!

    I am patching my forge tomorrow and starting the brutal process of dremeling and sanding down the finished pieces. I also need to cast the cervical vertebrae and these, awful, shoulder blades; these just won't come out nicely . I also need some help brain storming a stand for this thing. I don't want to just do a simple hanging skeleton and am thinking more of a statue supported by a metal rods running through the vertebra in the spinal cord and two more running along the inside curve to support the spine and the rest of the piece.

    I want a rod going through the first 17 vertebrae with a metal rod since they are thick enough to support for hole for a large metal rod and then holding together the last 7, the cervical vertebrae, by a metal cord because they are too small to drill a thick supporting rod. For additional support for the statue, a was thinking about running two more rods against the inside curve of the spine to support the spine and the rest of the statue. This is a rough sketch of the idea.

    http://imgur.com/8EUn6Ci
    IMG_3856.jpg

    Also, I bought this really cool skull while I was in Sicily and was interested in trying out lost wax casting since I got some spending money from graduation!
    The skull is six inches long. I was thinking about making a silicone mold into a lost wax process. I understand the general process but require some help going about this complex piece. You all got some good ideas about going about this?

    http://imgur.com/CUJVGFs
    IMG_3854.jpg

    http://imgur.com/sMJM9uw
    IMG_3855.jpg

    I hope everyone is having a great summer! I'm excited for more casting.

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