3D printed parts are spectacular for quick prototypes that don’t experience large amounts of stress, but they eventually fail at higher loads. Curious about casting my own metal parts, I was inspired to build a small aluminum forge after seeing a few tutorials online.
An old propane tank served beautifully as the body of the forge after the top was removed with an angle grinder. I cut a small hole in the side of the tank near the bottom, and welded a few feet of one inch diameter steel tubing over the hole. This is for airflow, making the charcoal much hotter than it would be under normal conditions.
I attached a thrift store hairdryer to the other end with some trusty duct tape. This will blow air through the tubing to increase the forge’s temperature. The next step is to fill the forge with charcoal and a thick steel soup can for a crucible, light the charcoal, and turn on the hairdryer!
Once the hairdryer had been running for a few minutes, I checked the charcoal. Although the charcoal was red hot, the can wasn’t glowing yet. I gave it a few more minutes until most of the bottom of the can was at least a little orange. Then, i started putting aluminum cans into the crucible, and pushing them down as they melted.
One by one, the cans got swallowed up by the molten pool of metal, resulting in a half-full soup can! Using a bit of Sugru, I made a makeshift mold of the greek symbol Pi. After clearing the impurities off the surface of the molten aluminum, I poured some into my mold. Aluminum Pi!