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Wood Patterns for Metal Castings

contractor1977

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Last Subscription Date
10/13/2012
I just wanted to draw a little bit of attention to something new that I will be getting into here at my fabrication shop. Some people have already approached me on this subject and said it may turn out to be a promising thing for the future of what we do here. I have started to build wood patterns for people who my want to have metal castings done. Take the picture of the sign you see as an example. I am able to make the pattern for this sign for someone in the field of making the actual castings. I can do this same sort of thing with parts that might be hard for people to find as long as they were not too complicated to make out of wood. I have heard that this is sort of thing is a lost art and I will be getting into it a little bit more as time develops.

This might be something that would be of a good assistance to those in the scale modeling?

Thoughts anyone?
 

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Pete LaBelle

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11/15/2013
I've made several patterns for missing parts on my tractors. Kinda fun, actually.

Regarding your sign, I have made several plaques in the past. My need for letters is smaller than yours in your photo. What I've used is to head to the local office stationery store, and buy a set of the plastic letters you see on the signs that many businesses have in their lobby. The black felt type with small horizontal lines that can be easily changed. They typically say "John Smith Welcome to Acme Company" or something like that.

Clip off the tabs on the back and glue them to your pattern. They have ample draft, and can be purchased in several sizes and fonts.

Good luck !

Pete
 

cyberbadger

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Last Subscription Date
11/13/2013
contractor1977,

By the photo I think you just got or made a CNC router. (X and Y, and limited Z)

This is becoming increasingly cheaper and cheaper to do or or buy. You can buy a full kit on Ebay for $2000 or less from China to make that pattern.

Or you can make your own if you follow the Maker movement.

You keep trying to offer services for $ on threads were it is not allowed or insinuate as much.

I also think you are trying to pursue the wrong market. US Traction Engine owners are not interested in replica steam whistles nor patterns.

You should look for a different market for your talents - which you have and are getting better and better at.

-CB
 

Ed Bays

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Last Subscription Date
12/14/2013
There's a lot to making patterns. Most foundries won't work with loose patterns anymore, but some will. You will have to learn about core boxes, match plates, and if you get into bigger stuff shrink rulers. A sign is pretty easy compared to real pattern making. If someone needs a part made, it isn't too large, and there is an iron or ductile foundry that will work with loose patterns nearby, the smart money is usually on borrowing an original part, having it cast, and do some machine work. I suggest looking at this thread to see some patterns and cores:
http://www.smokstak.com/forum/showthread.php?t=127514 There are several photos of patterns, but post #57 and #64 are two.

A friend and I combined talents to make the pattern for the column of the little Otto in the picture. We just modified an existing flywheel to cast them. We built five of them. One for him, one for me, one for the guy that had the blueprints, and two for his grandsons. If it would have been just one or two, the smart money would have been on machining them. Sorry, but I doubt that you will get rich at it.
 

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len k

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Last Subscription Date
12/12/2018
With CNC machining (end mill) it's real easy to make signs. In fact 35 years ago when CNC became popular that was one of the programing examples they gave you when your company bought a CNC machine.

The machinist could program one up at night to make his name. It had the side benifit of motivating you to learn CNC programing because you were making "your" sign as a side project.
 

TractionEngines

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Last Subscription Date
11/09/2020
Shrink rulers... There was fun.... Give the "new guy" in the shop one of them when they asked for a ruler, when they should be using mic's. Wait until the part was done then see how long it took them to figure out why noting fit, or the "thing" was oversized, etc.... :O :bonk: :shrug:

The good old days. May have to go dig my shrink rulers out.
Mike.
 

contractor1977

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10/13/2012
Well first of all I would like to say thank you to all who have been watching this forum. My apologies for not getting back on here sooner. I have my hands in 5 or more projects at the same time here at my own shop.

Anyway, enough of me blabbing about my shop. The picture of the wood sign that I first put on here was done simply by me using a router with several hours of work. I do not have any CNC machines here at my shop. I did that sign with a steady hand and lot's of patients to go with it. I can do other stuff as far as patterns made out of wood. I just haven't had the time nor the funds to show much of what I can do. It's hard starting off but I feel the ball is rolling now better than before.

For CB, you may be right about the traction engine community not wanting replica steel whistles for any antique equipment. But I have met a few people along the way who own steam tractors, stationary boilers and such who don't mind what material the whistles are made out of just as long as they sound pleasing to everyone.

I have hired a part time CAD programmer who will be assisting me with writing the programs for a CNC lathe or mill so that one day here soon I could offer a full size brass whistle with the same specs in mind as the replica steel ones I make currently. I might even get frisky and one day try my hand at making a wood pattern for a full size 6 chime whistle so that it could be cast as one solid piece. I have been taking advise from many others on the wood patterns, particularly in making whistles. My biggest mentor right now is Michael Daugherty from MD Whistles. He and a couple others have been a tremendous help in getting me to where I am today.
 

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contractor1977

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10/13/2012
Not looking to get rich at making wood patterns, just something to add as an extra service to others.
 

cyberbadger

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11/13/2013
contractor1977,

If you can (or have someone) can make a digital model it can be easier to have it easier now days to have that model be 3D printed, and cheaply into a form that any descent foundry can cast into a solid real metal form.

And now days it is easier and easier to make a digital model by some really cool laser scanning techniques.

I LOVE the lost arts, don't get me wrong. But I feel the US folks who are into are into hand fired steam are totally neglecting new technologies.:rant:

-CB
 

Lester Bowman

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Last Subscription Date
07/09/2019
Lets say a man "into" hand fired steam needs a cross head pump for some unique one of a kind really early and desirable steam engine.All he has is a picture from some early treatise on steam engines.He scales the image and creates a working print.

From that point he takes mahogany and laminates it for strength and stability.It's a split pattern right? So he manages to attached the two halves and goes to work cutting and turning the bits and pieces.For some insane reason he wants the pattern to last so he tenons and dowels and uses different joints in construction.

Maybe he used his Grandfathers spoke shave or block plane in the process.Most likely he used his lathe and calipers to turn the rounds and maybe a belt sander to "get" the draft.It is even possible he cut the casting number from thin stock (if it be known) and carefully filed draft and individually clamped each one into position with a special jig...one by one until the glue set up.

He read beeswax can be used to fillet corners so he tries it and it works! He also likes the smell of shellac so fills the pores until the pattern is smooth as silk.

When the foundryman saw the pattern he was impressed..nice job here son.I think this will come out just fine.Well done!

Or maybe it didn't happen that way.Maybe after the print was made two pieces of marine plywood were screwed together.Then the programmer sat down and created the program and perimeters to cut the pattern while he had a smoke break and waited for the sawdust to clear.Each side perfection..a mirror image of each other.He sprayed it with clear coat and was glad it hadn't taken much time.

The foundryman looked at it and said this will do.So in both cases a usable pattern was made and the desired result achieved.

But which pattern maker developed a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship of the past? Which pattern maker walked in the shoes of those who did marvelous work with mostly simple hand tools? Which pattern maker knew his material better..the grain,the fragrance,the silky dead smooth surface left by a razor sharp chisel?

There is more to it than meets the eye.Wonderful secrets are revealed doing things the old way.So very much to learn and appreciate and treasure in getting to know your material and the secrets of the masters.Pattern work is the beginning of every casting and every casting tells a story.What kind of story would you like your pattern to reveal?
 

tharper

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I am a proponent of modern technology I teach Drafting & Design Technology including modeling for rapid prototyping, and BIM using Inventor Professional, Revit and Civil 3D. Prior to that I spent over 30 years in the engineering and design world.

I constantly stress to my students the need to maximize the value of the software and technology they are using. However, when I walk out in my shop all that falls away with the familiar scent of fresh worked pine and shellack.

When I had to have castings made for my old engine project I taught myself how to make traditional wood patterns and core boxes. Part of it was the need to stretch the dollar but mostly because I enjoy learning new skills. I think about a problem, read about potential solutions than do it. If I fail than I am only out my time and I have learned from the failure. As one person told me - when you learn a trade or skill it cannot be taken away. It becomes money in the bank when things are not going quite right. There is a lot of satisfaction knowing you have created a gleaming brass or cast iron part from a chunk of wood. It has a story, it has soul.

Its sort of like why I build kayaks - whenever I come in contact with a plastic kayak all I can think about is some dissatisfied, uninterested worker stewing about his ex while pour pellets into a roto-mold machine that cranks out plastic garbage cans on the off days. Anyway That's not to knock a modern technology that has revolutionized the design and foundry industry. It has its place and offers amazing potential and I am sure as the technology develops the costs will adjust as well. In the meantime...back to making pine shavings!



 

Firetube

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At the early age of 17, I was chosen for an apprenticeship position from 3 local area high schools at a local Steel Foundry, to work 1/2 day in the pattern shop while attending high school 1/2 day. After graduation, I was granted a full time position, along with 100 employees at the steel plant, making foundry boards, heading and gating, drilling match plates,and repairing old patterns, some were over 100 yrs old. These steel castings, could be up to 6,000 lbs, were shipped around the world. After working there several years, I decided to start my own Custom Millwork Sole Proprietorship. Upon the closing of the foundry, and the relocation of the pattern shop, the foundry boards were then subcontracted to me. After 28 years, Custom Millwork including, wood turnings, custom molding knives made in-house for any pattern, wood flooring, custom rosettes, tongue and grove 2x6's, 2x6 log siding and quarter-round, one piece 9ft custom porch posts on a rotary back knife lathe, custom lathe heads are created as needed (any job can be completed - from small to large). I know my apprenticeship, gained at an early age, was a unforgettable experience that granted me the strength, knowledge and stability I have in my business today. I agree, it is a shame it is a lost art.
 

jaw123

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Last Subscription Date
12/17/2019
It is only recently that I have been reading on how to put the pieces of technology we use at work to use for my hobby. I work for a sheet metal fabricator and installer. We have six CAD guys, draw in 3d and perform our own 3d laser scanning of job sites. It is the 3d scanning technology that is incredible. At some point I will convince one of the CAD guys to draw a piece for me from a scan

James
 

OTTO-Sawyer

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Age
57
Last Subscription Date
07/15/2019
Guess I should have kept better track of this thread as I loved the scenario given by Lester Bowman and tharper's post and wish I had been able to thank them both. At least I was able to thank Firetube for his post.

While I can see the benefits of modern technology making everything easier, and I may dabble in it myself sometime in the future, there's nothing as admirable as a well made wooden pattern and all the work that went in to making it. They are truly a work of art compared to something modern that's just 'neat to look at'.
 

Benjamin Roth

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Age
30
Last Subscription Date
01/06/2014
Lester Bowman's post reminded me of this pattern I made in 2009. It is the first serious pattern that I made. It is about 28" long, made of entirely of mahogany, and contains 100 individual pieces. Because of the amount of time it took I have never made another pattern that looked as nice.

 

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Pete Spaco

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I wouldn't say that the "old ways" are dead. Around here I can go to at least 3 or 4 metal casting classes each year where
"the old ways" are the order of the day. My son and I just attended a bronze casting workshop in St Paul Mn that has been going annually for about 4 years now. We both did sand casting. I used a broken original fence quadrant from a jointer, adding draft with thin strips of masking tape and he used lost wax to make 10 ignition cams for an old Cushman ATV.
Nobody around here, on a hobby basis, at least, is casting in steel. But you can do aluminum, bronze and cast iron. There were a total of 12 students in that class, using plasticine patterns, wooden patterns, etc..

Pete Stanaitis
---------------
 

Frank46

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Company I used to work for had a pile of old wooden patterns and I even recognized some of them. There was an area where they stored stuff prior to disposal. Which usually meant two things, junk to be gotten rid of or recycled. Those patterns back then were works of art and the wife would have had a fit if some came home. We had a small house and storage room was limited. I asked the guy in charge what were they going to do with the patterns. Garbage was his answer. Joints and sections built up sections were finished like you wouldn't believe. No gaps, splits or anything. Seemed a shame at the time more so even now. Frank
 

J.B. Castagnos

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Last Subscription Date
01/01/2006
Here's a couple I'm working on, a water pump and connecting straps for a 2 1/2 hp Lockwood Ash inboard. I'm putting two straps on a board, reduces the cost. The stock was glued together with newspaper in between so it could be split to put on a board. I'm working on the core box for the pump.
 

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tharper

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That looks great!

Keep us posted. I can't wait to see the core boxes!

I know in the old days they crafted core boxes out of wood. When I tackled the castings for my Wisconsin I fabricated male masters then used those to cast core boxes in Plaster of Paris. Since most of my castings will be one-offs, the durability of the plaster boxes isn't an issue plus if they get damaged its easy enough to cast new ones. I seal the plaster with shellac and prime and paint with automotive paint - I use thinned Durham's Water Putty to fill any defects.

This photo shows the pattern, core boxes and male masters for one of the lower water manifold castings.



Best regards,

Terry
 
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