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Should You Cast or Fabricate That Metal Work Project

By Colin Croucher

During the design phase of some metal work projects you will be faced with the question of how you should tackle a project, some projects have a fine line between the decision of whether you should fabricate from steel or sheet metal, or to cast metal in a sand mould.

It is possible that you already may have had a project where you cannot decide between making a complex pattern to sand cast the project. Or to leave the foundry equipment in the corner, and attempt to fabricate the component from steel or sheet metal.

Now, once you learn the tricks and techniques of sand casting, you are normally hell-bent on casting everything in sight. But have you ever thought that the one off part or project you are about to embark on may be produced much quicker through fabrication, than it is to make up a new pattern, then go through the entire foundry processes of: Making of patterns, Making Sand Moulds - Charge & melt a crucible of metal, and then pour the molten metal.

There's often been times in the workshop where the latter, (to fabricate) has been the most economical, and the quickest way to produce an item in steel, instead of cast aluminium or bronze. One of the major problems with most hobby casters, is the lack of machine tools & equipment to carry out proper fabrication operations.

Now, there's no need to feel as though you are an inadequate metal worker just because you do not possess general workshop fabrication skills or equipment, because you may never have had the opportunity to learn them, but with a little guidance and proper instruction, it is not that hard to learn how to operate the following machines.

Bench or Pedestal Drill: Equipped with drill table vice, plus a good set of high-speed steel drills.
Collection Of General Workshop Tools: The usual workshop hand tools, engineers hammer, hacksaw, various grades of files, center punches, engineers rulers, vernier callipers, etc, etc.
Welding Equipment: Oxy Welding Outfit, ideal for light sheet metal fabrication and brazing or bronze welding, an electric arc welder ranging between 150 to 200 amps.
Bench Grinder: Bench grinders are designed to accept various other pieces of equipment such as belt linishing tool, drill grinding and sharpening jigs,
Hand Held Angle Grinders: These great workshop tools come in 4", 6", 9" size, handy for finishing the edges of metal, cleaning up weld beads or cutting light sheet metal, various resinoid discs can be mounted on the grinder, Last but no least, is the bench lathe, probably luxury item to a lot of home workshop people but worth its; weight in gold if you can afford to buy one.
Screw Cutting Bench Lathe: Keep a look out for a good econd-hand lathe from dealers or private sales. A lathe will pay for itself many times over in a very short time.

If you are really serious about building your own gear, or fabricating special tooling etc, then why not use the vast resources offered by the technical colleges right in your own community.

Your taxes help to equip these institutions so why not reap some benefits from your community contributions.

Enrol in some night classes; to learn welding, machining or whatever it is that takes your fancy, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gear sitting idle in many of these colleges, so make some Inquiries, enrol, and get to use some of the gear bought, and installed by you're hard earned taxes.
Col Croucher.

Need content? You may use this article at your website, or in your newsletter. The only requirement is inclusion of the following sentence - Article by Col Croucher of http://www.myhomefoundry.com - the definitive source for hobby metal casters of all ages. While at the web site you can download a free ebook to learn about, & understand hobby metal craft.


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