View Full Version : Crucible furnaces pricing
10-26-2003, 06:50 PM
I'm new at pretty much the entire area of pouring bronze. I'm very excited about finally getting started (I've wanted to do this for over 30 years).
I've been surfing the web for over one and one half years now and I'm starting to get a little discouraged. I'm very interested in obtaining (purchasing) a crucible furnace. However, the cost of all the ones I've located for a small studio is blowing me away. I've found units ranging from $4,000.00 to $12,000.00, which seems to me to redefine the term of starving artists (HaHa).
I'm very interested in learning and creating with the lost wax process. So, am I to understand that not only will I need a crucible furnace but a kiln to burn off the wax and to heat up the mold before pouring the bronze into it. If so, I'm trying to keep the initial costs down for both units.
Any information would be a blessing.
10-26-2003, 09:38 PM
Joe - Yes, you will need both a kiln to dry the molds for casting and melt or burn away the wax, plus a separate furnace for melting the bronze. However as with much in this field, it is better to build it yourself than to buy.
Most kilns I have seen are handbuilt affairs of brick, which are partially disassembled and reassembled around the molds for each cycle. However, I did once see a kiln with metal walls and roof which could be pulled apart more easily. The melt furnace for a small foundry typically is a reinforced ceramic cylinder with similar, removable top. Both kiln and furnace are best powered by gas if this is available, or perhaps oil if not. (Iíve only seen gas.) Several jets of flame, with fresh-air blowers, encircle the melt crucible, or flow between the double walls of the kiln.
Iíve always had someone else make my casts, but instructions are available for building these small foundries on your own. Unfortunately, I canít give you a specific source. Maybe someone else can. As always, itís best to see a similar operation before you get too deeply involved.
10-26-2003, 10:04 PM
I am a Joe in the opposite corner of the country; upper left. Yes, you will need all that. I would strongly suggest you find a University Art Dep't with a casting facility, and take some classes there, to learn the process, and/or find a bronze foundry nearby that you can tour. But if you really want to do it, you can build a perfectly good melting furnace yourself, for very little money. I've seen several built from old oil burners, out of house furnaces, which here you can get free as they are being thrown out by people converting homes to gas. (I guess furnaces are unheard of in Florida. Maybe you'll have to trek north to find one. ) Anyway, you line the inside of a 55 gallon drum with about 3" of fire-clay, with an opening poked in the side for the nozzle of the burner, and another for the nozzle of an air blower (as these things create too much smoke without some "excess" air). You need a lid for this, also lined with fire-brick, with an opening in it, through which you can stoke the melt, skim it, etc. The crucible itself you'll need to purchase, and they're not cheap but nothing like the figures you quoted. And you'll need a good overhead hoist and safe devices for lifting the crucible in and out. And all of this assumes you have a good, legal and safe location for doing this. As discussed elsewhere on this site, making bronze sculpture is a multiple step process. Melting and pouring the metal is the exciting part; but making molds, waxes, and some kind of investment shell; and de-waxing, not to mention knocking off the investment shell after casting, and then removing all the gating, are all un-fun and time consuming processes in themselves. I hope this isn't entirely discouraging.
11-04-2003, 03:50 PM
Check out www.pioneer.net/~carlich/webdoc15.html. They sell a 35 lb capacity bronze melting furnace, complete with crucible, tongs and a lifting device, for $1600 US. (Better yet, the nice photos they provide of their unit, together with what I've already said, above, provide a pretty good how-to for building one yourself). 35 lbs is quite small, but it can be scaled up easily to accomodate 150 lbs or so, which is a lot. If you want to get real primitive, here's a site that details a "bonze age" way of making small but beautiful castings: www.angelfire.com/me/ik/picsbt.html. Best regards.
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