Given the price of Aluminium in large pieces and the problems with shipping I decided to build a cheap “flowerpot” / “coffeecan” furnace from scrap and cheap materials to make some simple castings which could then be machined.

I did some research into the tools needed for this and looking at the prices of those decided to make some by modifying some cheaper items, a bar tenders spoon, a couple of pairs of fire tongs and a poker that was split then heated in the furnace to allow me to bend it into a lifting tool.

Hand made furnace tools

Furnace kit, tools etc.

A few key purchases were the appropriate safety gear, a flameproof welders boiler suit, leather apron, boots, face shield, welding gauntlets.  You should plan your casting process by making sure your tools are easily to hand, that you don’t trip over anything and that you give everything time to cool down after casting. If your casting process is relaxed (that’s calm not sloppy) then you are less likely to make mistakes and hurt yourself.

My first pour used some home made “green sand” made from clay kitty litter, sand and a little water. However I’ve since purchased some petrobonded sand and that’s much easy to work with.

I’ve experimented a little with different types of charcoal and have yet to come to any significant conclusions, some people suggest that the lumpwood charcoal burns hotter but I do find the brickettes are easier to use.

Casting aluminium in the flowerpot furnace

The furnace was made to a tried an tested design of a ceramic liner (aka flowerpot) surrounded by a concrete jacket to support and insulate the furnace liner.
Making the furnace

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