In college, I majored in Sculpture and minored in Jewelry… I started out with a minor in Logic but that just didn’t make any sense to me. Casting metal was a huge part of my curriculum, I loved melting metal and pouring it, seeing the sparks fly as the molten metal burned out the mold! Recently I saw an article about a group that made a portable furnace and goes to neighborhoods, collects discard aluminum and casts it into works of art using sand molds. How Cool is That!?
An old fire in me was sparked and the Melt-O-Matic was born.
Logic says to start with a plan, detailed drawings, weight, balance, and volume figured out… supplies on hand before you begin construction, the usual preparation that makes a project go smoothly.
SO, I did some research, watched a few videos on youtube, then I called a welder friend… that’s all the logic that I needed.
I had a can left over from another project that was a good size. My friend works in a welding shop and they have tons (literally) of scrap cut off pieces in piles here and there around the shop. They also had every tool that we would needed. BONUS!
We started out with a concept; making a furnace to melt aluminum. How big to make it was our first question to answer. I wanted it deep enough to put a decent sized crucible but not too big to be too heavy to lift. So I wanted to reduce the height. We’ll be using the cut off piece for the lid and I wanted a bit of a lip for it to set into so I decided to center the cut in a rib of the can, so there would be a flanged rim. Once it was cut Brian cleaned up the edge and made it smooth using a wheel grinder.
The cut off piece that we will use for the lid was deeper than I wanted it to be so we cut it down to 4″. Which will allow for about 3″ of “refactory cement” or “insulation” to line the lid. The interior of the entire container is lined with this to retain the heat.
We’ll talk more about that later.
After we cut the lid to size and cleaned it up it was time to design the opening for the burner. Off to the scrap pile to see what we could find… “hey, this looks like a good size!” We know we wanted 2″ on the inside so that it went all the way through the refactory lining. And we wanted it long enough to support the burner, we decided that 11″ would work well (Hey, who needs detailed drawings?). The pipe needs to go in at an angle because you want the heat to flow around in the furnace to heat it more efficiently. A circular swirling motion will accomplish that.
With the pipe welded into place (2″ in, 4″ from the bottom, and at a 45 degree angle) it’s time to look at the lid. I found a pipe cut off about the size I thought looked wide enough to drop metal into; 5″. The scrap that I found was a little longer than 4″ so I decided to just attach it to make it easier to pack with refactory.
Because the can walls are thin, Brian was concerned with it carrying the weight so he added heavier metal straps to the inside and outside of the lid where the hinges will go. He also added a plate to the base.
In our design as you go style, we found a piece of pipe, cut it in half with a 45 degree angle. Then we found another piece, a little longer and did the same thing to that. Drilled a hole into each one to fit a 1/2′ threaded rod. Now, this is where a “solid plan” would have come in handy! We wanted the hinge arms to be long enough to hold the lid open just past a 90 degree angle… we had to adjust that a bit until it rested correctly. Which meant cutting a 45 on the other end of the arms too. Keep that in mind when making your own! Another thing to remember is that the 45 degree angle sitting flush on the curved surface will throw your hinge arm angle off… basically, fudge with it until it fits level and true 🙂
With that done, with the lid fitting perfectly, moving freely with the added washers, we are almost finished. Yha!!!!
The last welding to do is adding a base because we plan to build a dolly for it at a later date, so we want it off of the ground. Back to the scrap pile and we have legs and a handle for the lid (which was bolted on).
Next step is to line it with refactory, build a crucible, some tools for removing slag and lifting the crucible out to pour our ingots.
From start to finish, this project took us 6 hours to complete. I’ll be back with photos of the next projects. Thanks for watching!