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Metal Kanohi (from the past)


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21 replies to this topic

#1 Offline Flintsmith

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Posted May 17 2015 - 04:53 PM

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Gonny just found my old 2003 instructions for making metal masks.  I thought I'd post them here.

 

If you want to see a minute and a half of the process, it's the same that was used to make the gold masks.

 

I'll also post some photos of my favorites.  They're usually the ones where something went wrong.

 

IMG_0754.JPG

Why did parts of the mold break away?  Don't know, but it look great!

 

Sure, I'll tell you guys again. With LOTS of detail. 

Ready?

1 Choose the mask. Attach several wax wires to it in places where it will be easy to grind away unwanted metal. Do this to several masks and connect the wires together like tree branches with the masks as fruit. The wires are called "sprues".

2 weigh the sprued masks. Write it down. Go home. You used up all your time spruing the masks.

3 atttach the main sprue (like the trunk of the tree) to a rubber sprue base. This has a cone shape bump in the center and the tree comes out of the top of the cone. The whole tree goes inside a short section of stainless steel pipe called a "flask". The sprue base has a rubber lip around the edge to seal onto the end of the flask.

4) Take the flask and fill it one and one half times with powdered investment. This is a special high temperature plaster. Sift the investment to remove any chunks. rinse the flask and attach it to the sprue base.

5 Add water to the investment to make a pancake-batter consistency. Put it in the vacuum chamber and turn on the vacuum pump to remove air bubbles. while waiting:

6 pour debubbelizer into the flask to wet the masks. This helps prevent bubbles from sticking to the masks. Pour it back into the bottle to be used again on the next batch. Put a piece of masking tape around the top of the flask so the investment doesn't overflow when you:

7 Pour the investment into the flask. It is best if you have sprued your masks so they won't trap airbubbles when you fill the flask. since that's impossible, put the filled flask into the vacuum chamber again and turn on the vacuum again. This makes any bubbles get much larger so they are more likely to escape and float to the top. When the bubbling stops or you get tired of waiting, release the vacuum. Any remaining bubbles will shrink back down.

8 Let the plaster harden, remove the tape and scrape away the excess. Remove the sprue base. You should see a nice cone to pour the metal in. At the bottom of the cone you'll see the base of the sprue tree.

9 go home. You're done for the day. It takes a while for the plaster to fully harden and dry out.

10 Come back to the shop and plug in the kiln. Put the flask in the centrifugal caster and adjust the weights till it is balanced. 

11) Put the flask into the kiln, opening downward. Wait several hours for it to reach 1100 degrees. While you're waiting take the weight of the sprued masks ( you can find it right?). Multiply times 9 for copper and brass or times 11 for silver then add 5 grams extra. That's how much metal you'll need. Weigh the metal on your gram scale. If it's copper, strip some wire or sort some old pennies, till you have enough.

12) Wind the caster three turns and engage the locking pin. Put the metal into the crucible. Ready the Oxy-Acetylene torch, stirring rod, flux, tongs, goggles, and gloves. Wait.

13) After the wax and plastic are mostly burnt out and the kiln stops smoking, turn the flask cone-up (with the tongs and gloves, duh) and continue waiting.

 

 

IMG_0751.JPG

Didn't burn the plastic out completely.

14) When it reaches 1100 degrees, wait another 20 minutes then transfer the (bright red) flask to the sling in the caster. Wire it into place to avoid a flaming meteor. Light the torch and melt the metal. Put a little flux on the metal when you start and another pinch when you're almost done. This helps prevent excessive oxidation of the metal. Use the stirring rod to test if the metal is really melted all the way to the bottom.

 

 

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This is 10% aluminum so it doesn't tarnish.  Don't use flux or you'll ruin your crucible.

15) Put the covering board over the tub containing the caster. Rest it on your torch-arm. Reach under with the other hand, take the torch out, release the lock, release the caster arm, pull your hand out and slam the board down before molten metal flies all over you. The caster spins, throwing the metal out of the crucible and into the flask then spinning fast to force it through the holes left by the sprues into the holes left by the masks. Take the board off with your fingers crossed.

16) If everything worked, you'll see that extra 5 grams of metal sitting in the bottom of the cone glowing brightly as the arm spins. If you don't see the button, look around to see where your metal has gone. It often seems to miss the flask somehow. It can burst through the bottom too. There are many ways it can fail.

17) When it slows down, the button will glow less and less, eventually getting dark. Take the flask with the tongs ( you probably won't need the gloves) and dip it into a bucket of water. There will be a satisfying gurgling-boiling sound and the plaster will melt away until the masks just fall out of the flask.

 

 

IMG_0752.JPG

Oxygen attacks the hot metal.  It got to the bottom part more than the top so it's both red and brown naturally.

18) With a toothbrush, remove as much of the remaning investment as you can. Put the masks into the pickling (acid) solution to dissolve copper oxides. this turns the black castings into whitish silver or pink copper. If it was over heated, there can be problems like black marks that won't dissolve.

 

 

IMG_0744.JPG

This one was lost down the drain.  I found it when I turned on the garbage disposal! 

19) cut the masks off the sprues. File, grind and sand away any remains of the sprues. Sand the masks to remove surface marks if you want "shiny". Using the buffing machine, buff away the sanding marks with Tripoli. Bring to a bright polish by buffing with red rouge.

 

 

IMG_0729.JPG

Sprues still attached.

20) If it's a kanohi, you're done. If it's a krana, you have to grind down the mounting peg so it will fit a Toa head. If it's a two-part silver-brass kraata, you are half done and ready to start over at the beginning.

 

 

IMG_0757.JPG

Bimetallic kraata.  I sawed it in half, cast the copper part then reassembled it and cast the other half.

Edit: I marked all the expensive equipment in red. This is why you can't do this at home unless you're ready to plunk down some serious $$$. 

This post has been edited by Flintsmith on Sep 23 2003, 07:35 PM 

 

Thanks Gonny!


Edited by Flintsmith, May 19 2015 - 08:33 PM.

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#2 Offline Naota Takizawa

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Posted May 17 2015 - 05:33 PM

It's good to see you back on BZPower! These masks are pretty cool and I was wondering, do you have a way to cast transparent Kaukau or paint over them while leaving the visor transparent?
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#3 Offline Arzaki

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Posted May 17 2015 - 08:29 PM

This seems quite interesting.


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#4 Offline Ghidora131

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Posted May 17 2015 - 09:14 PM

Wow, this is impressive!


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#5 Offline Mr. Lightning Bolt

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Posted May 18 2015 - 11:26 AM

will you be selling any of these?


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#6 Offline IXRollOutIX

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Posted May 18 2015 - 02:36 PM

That Vahi looks ace.


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#7 Offline doodleloot

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Posted May 18 2015 - 06:21 PM

The Matatu looks amazing, some seriously impressive stuff right here.


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#8 Offline Prowl Nightwolf

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Posted May 19 2015 - 01:24 AM

Wow these are really cool and pretty to look at. the Naturally two-toned Hau and the Kraata I think are my favorites even though I'd have no use for the later. Have you thought about going into the Gen2 era of Masks? Also di these work well as actual set masks or are they simply display pieces? I would think being metal over plastic they could make their wearer's a bit heavy in that regard yes?


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#9 Offline Akavakaku

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Posted May 26 2015 - 01:39 AM

These are incredible! Could it be possible to convert all the metal-toned parts on a set to metal? That would look amazing...
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#10 Offline Prowl Nightwolf

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Posted May 26 2015 - 09:31 PM

Oh wow, that would have some heft to it unless you had a really light alloy.  Still a fully metallic armored Toa would be cool to see. Would they maybe be of one of the metallic elements, Sonics, magnetism, Iron?


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#11 Offline Akavakaku

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Posted May 26 2015 - 10:21 PM

I was thinking more like replacing the parts of an actual set, like maybe Takanuva.


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#12 Offline Prowl Nightwolf

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Posted May 26 2015 - 10:48 PM

Polish it to a fine shine? Yeah tried to make a pun on the Light element, how well did it go over?


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#13 Offline Toa of the Blazing Inferno

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Posted May 29 2015 - 07:43 AM

It'd be cool if you made the Ignika and the Mask of Creation (once it comes out) in the same color as your Vahi.  Then you could have a collection of all the legendary masks in gold.  That'd look awesome.  :)

 

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#14 Offline ToaGhost

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Posted Jun 09 2015 - 10:30 PM

This is really cool. I've wanted to try this for a while but I never got around to it. Also I never would have thought about using the actual mask instead of a wax pattern.


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#15 Offline Munty

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Posted Jun 10 2015 - 03:24 AM

Amazing stuff, you know I'm a huge fan of your work and it's good to see you bringing the process back to the forum as your sig link has been broken for a long time! Sorry to see the flawed Huna is missing, that was always one of my personaly favourites ;)


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#16 Offline Darkchampion

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Posted Jul 04 2015 - 10:41 PM

If you start work making metal versions of the current masks, I definitely may have to take you up on one!  The hardest part?  Picking the mask!


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#17 Offline Ta-metru_defender

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Posted Jul 26 2015 - 10:42 PM

Dude, Flintsmith. This takes me way back. Always been a fan of your stuff and I really like how worn these look.


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#18 Offline Steve the Squid

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Posted Jul 31 2015 - 02:08 PM

Hey Flintsmith, I'm the co-owner of Modalt Masks, one of the current leading bionicle customization services. I've been hugely impressed with your work for a long time and have tried similar projects before (both mask color changing and metal mask making), and I'd really appreciate if we could PM a bit so I could ask you some questions!


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#19 Offline Heir of the Chronicler

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Posted Aug 02 2015 - 05:07 PM

Wow, blast from the past. Very cool to see your work again, Flintsmith!

 

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#20 Offline MrSciFiGuy

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Posted Aug 04 2015 - 04:22 AM

I NEED to do this. Just built an aluminum forge!


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#21 Offline Naota Takizawa

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Posted Aug 04 2015 - 06:47 PM

This is off topic, but your link to the transparent purple Kaukau doesn't work.
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#22 Offline Gonny

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Posted Aug 05 2015 - 12:22 AM

Thanks Gonny!

 

You're welcome and I appreciate the shout out. I saw this topic a while back but forgot to post. I really like these masks. I feel like they may not all look perfect, but that sort of rough texture makes them look like more like they could have been worn by the characters in the story throughout their adventures. I find the process really interesting and am glad you took the time to describe the process in detail. I'm sure there are many people who'd like to attempt something like this if they had the right equipment.

 

 

This is off topic, but your link to the transparent purple Kaukau doesn't work.

 

That can also be viewed via webarchive. There's some interesting discussion of the mask there where you can see most people assumed it was molded and you can see what some of the original batch sold for in the B/S/T topic linked in the first post of the above link. I recall at one point, Flintsmith stating that the mask was not molded but had been made purple by applying certain chemicals. Bzpower member, Omega12, was able to achieve similar results.


Edited by Gonny, Aug 05 2015 - 12:23 AM.

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