Dental probes and knives make good wax tools. Your local dentist or dental
hygienist or school for the same can supply you with used tools for free.
If they don't sterilize them for you the procedure is to soak them in laundry
bleach (Javex®) for twenty minutes and follow by baking in your oven at
a very low temperature (200°) for about half an hour or so. This is supposed
to kill all the nasties one might encounter.
A good general purpose wax tool I use at times is made of bronze, which
holds it's heat for a while yet does not conduct well enough to burn one's
hand. The tool is made from brazing rod (thick stuff) and is about 10
inches long. One end is a long narrow tapered point and the other a small
Serious wax working and especially production spruing for casting needs
an electric wax tool which is made easily by installing a light dimmer
switch in the line for a pencil type soldering iron. For safety and looks
install the assembly in an 'experimenters box' from Radio Shack. Get someone
who knows simple wiring to help you do this if you are unsure of how to
proceed. Shape the point of the tool to a long narrow taper. Some soldering
tools have replacement tips that can be made into different shapes. Not
all soldering tools can be used for this. Like any home-made electrical
tool you must have a licensed electrician look at it before you use it
in a home or business. Insurance people don't like them unless they are
approved-not to mention the chance of injuring or killing yourself. Plan
in all such things for the worst case such as spilling your coffee across
the table and onto the tool and you. Wood burning tools cannot generally
be reshaped-the end is a thin copper coating on a ceramic tip and is ruined
by any abrasion.
Because filing wax is soft it can be carved with almost anything even
if the tool is not hardened steel. Many tools can be made from nails,
forged out coat hanger wire and old files. For burrs any coarse tools
will work, such as rotary rasps intended for wood and various milling
and machining bits; even those which are no longer of use to machinists.
Dremel® has several coarse burs that are very good.
If one takes a tapered broken burr or tapered rod and grinds or files
half of it away it becomes a drilling tool for wax or plastic that does
not gum up.
I also use various other tools for working wax such as gears out of broken
alarm clocks as burrs. Often they have an spindle attached to them already
to fit into the flex shaft. Even nails can be filed into toothed burrs
A professional wax carver in Calgary named Gary McMillan uses a Bernz-o-matic®
type propane torch for all his work because of its quick temperature control
options; heating up a leaf-bladed hot wax tool for spooning wax on and
building it up and a needle held in a pin vise for almost everything else.
The pin vise enables him to adjust the length from the pin vise jaws easily
and so alter the rate of temperature loss in the needle by using the jaws
as a heat sink. This provides rapid control over a number of different
temperatures of the wax when on a tool or being mixed in a spoon. The
rapidity of use makes this the best option for speed and production applications
of working wax. The torch is set into a wooden frame so that it is tilted
to about 10 degrees up and with the tip pointing upwards.
McMillan uses a large white Magic Rub® eraser as a sawing platform for
cutting wax. This prevents it being broken from the pressure of sawing.
Another McMillan innovation is to use ordinary nails as wax gravers. They
have all the same end shapes as regular engraving tools but are rapidly
made and stay sharp forever because one is only working wax. No handles
are used, instead one pushes gently with the crook of the index finger.
This makes a lot more sense than using metal gravers and handles on wax
which is what most goldsmiths automatically do. It may also be quicker
than using scrapers to shape the wax.
For carving a flat bottomed hole into a filing wax to fit a cabochon stone
(one cuts the hole first and then files wax down towards it to make a
bezel) I have found that grinding a standard drill bit off flat at the
tip gives one a burr that sinks to the depth required if tipped and then
when held at a right angle to the wax being worked does not sink further
but only carves outwards so that one can create perfect flat bottomed
holes to fit cabochon stones and also make channels for channel setting.
Wax Injector I have seen several wax injectors made from a electric pressure cooker,
fitted with gauges and the Jelrus® replacement injection nipple. A fridge
compressor can serve as a compressor to run a wax injector with a gasoline
filter in the line to filter the air going in to it. Jeff Demand has constructed
a small wax injector intended for file-a wax type waxes which operates
at higher pressures (30-40 psi) and enables him to inject his molds with
wax which can then be filed and further worked.
There is an orange injection wax available for regular injectors which
is soft and flexible, has good memory during removal from the rubber mold
but hardens after three days into a material that can be filed without
gumming and clogging the files. Rio Grande is the source I've heard quoted. Rubber Mold Vulcanizer This is basically a commercial heavy aluminum rubber mold frame, two steel
plates and two C-clamps. The frame can be laboriously sawn out of thick
aluminum sheet, be cast, be a cut-off a thick rectangular pipe or purchased.The
model and rubber are laid in as usual, and then the steel plates are clamped
as tightly as possible to the frame with the C-clamps and the whole assembly
is placed in the oven at 350-400o F for an hour. Preheat the oven. Check
instructions. It is a good idea to tighten the clamp periodically if you
have used excess rubber. Jeff Demand uses a small toaster oven for his
vulcanizing heat source with clamps similar to those pictured below for
the frame. These days too one can use other molding compounds, for short
runs the alginate systems and for permanent ones compounds such as the