Backyard Aluminum Melting
Yeah, that teensy-weensy little pool of molten metal in arc welding was cool, but it was time to move up to the next level. A big glowing pot full of silver liquid awesomeness. Oh, yeah.
I have been reading about other people's exploits in melting metal and sandcasting with it for a year or two, both in books and on various websites. It all sounded rather complicated and intimidating, until I came across a particular Instructable on the Pizza Sauce Can Furnace. It advertised "Melt Aluminum for $3 and some begging!", which just coincidentally matches my ideal price range.
By all descriptions, aluminum was one of the easiest metals to start with, and is certainly readily available as scrap. It was my first objective.
I dumped the tin can (ahem, I mean crucible) of aluminum into a simple mold I made from a piece of steel angle-iron, to get a nice triangular bar. That's an "ingot" if you are one of those fancy-pants foundry guys. After the charcoal cooled, I found the secret magician's trap door where all my aluminum went from my magic crucible. Under the coals, between the two steel buckets, was strange rounded chunk of aluminum. Oops, rather, I mean, look at the fascinating sculpture I formed from my special aluminum drip art process. Yeah, that's it... Yeah...
The shop vac was too much, so I replaced it with an old hair dryer, which was much better. I also replaced the air-gap steel bucket with a better fire-brick bucket. More on that to come later.