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Wax Carving


Casting Waxes

There are a wide variety of wax types used in the lost wax casting process. Generally they fall into three main types, soft, hard and injection waxes. Injection waxes are made and intended to be used for injecting wax under pressure into rubber or other types of molds. They can be carved and worked otherwise, but they are not specifically designed for that use. Their properties more often target good injection properties: flow, low shrinkage, pot life and etc.

Soft waxes are sometimes called sculpting waxes, and generally have a consistency resembling clay. Generally the techniques used in working soft waxes are similar to those used with clay and involve the use of wooden or metal spatulas, direct molding with the fingers and the like.

Carving Wax

Carving wax is a smooth, non-brittle wax designed for carving and/or machining. Although the formulas for most commercial waxes are proprietary and secret, most suppliers will say that the hard waxes are some blend or mix of waxes and plastics. In any case, this family of waxes has a hardness and consistency of plastic or softer wood. They can be cut or carved with knives, files and rotary or machine tools. To illustrate the usefulness of this type of wax, if one were to get a candle, mount it on a lathe and feed a tool into it, the wax would slough off like butter, stick to the tool and in general make a huge mess. Hard wax, on the other hand, will machine more like soft aluminum, giving fine edges and a fine finish if worked properly.

Wax Carving

It is obvious that the topic of wax carving is dependant on what item or object is being carved. The word "carved" is somewhat of a misnomer, too, because more often the wax is shaped using tools usually associated with machining: rotary tools, saws, files and burins or gravers. Actual knives can be used and most certainly are, but the hardness of the material is such that they are not the ideal tool, generally. One of the largest manufacturers of carving wax is Ferris, and their file-a-wax line comes in three hardness grades: purple is the softest, blue is next, and green is the hardest. The hardness is apparent in carving, but another factor in the grades is that the purple is somewhat flexible in thin section, while the green is not. The waxes come in a wide variety of shapes: blocks, sheets, rods and tubes, and in recent times there are even extruded shapes available. The rods are useful for lathe turning, among other things, and the tubes are useful for making rings in jewelry work. The tubes are available in various sizes, and also with a flat top, which is useful for signet rings.

This article does not presume to teach the subject of sculpting or carving in detail, but in general terms the proper size and shape of block or tube is chosen, in the preferred hardness, and cut to a rough size, as needed. Then the design is generally drawn or laid out on that, and saws, files or machine tools are used to work the wax into a finished product. The wax is easily taken to a fine finish in the end using a bit of nylon stocking or steel wool. After the wax product is finished, it may be molded or used in the lost wax casting process to create a final cast product.

External Links

  • [1] Manufacturers of Ferris Waxes
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wax_Carving". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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