Casting your own pewter belt buckle can give you a one-of-a-kind, personalised piece of craftsmanship that you can treasure for years to come or give away as a gift. Your design will be more successful if you have some basic sculpting skills. This process can be dangerous due to the possibility of burn risks involved with working with molten metal and the chance of explosion when putting plaster under vacuum pressure, so be sure to use safety precautions to avoid the risk of injury.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Carving tools
- Tin can
- Dust mask
- Investment plaster
- Can opener
- Baking tray
- Propane torch
- Metal ladle
- Lead-free pewter
- Heat gloves
- Vacuum suction machine
- Face shield
- Small metal grinder
- Metal files
Use the carving tools to carve and shape the desired belt buckle design out of wax. The finished belt buckle will be an exact replica of this mould, so put in the amount of detail you want the buckle to have. Shape a small tube that will become the buckle's ring. Melt the ends of the tube with a lighter and press them gently against the back of the wax buckle once they are melted.
Melt some excess wax into the bottom of the tin can. Set one end of the belt buckle into the wax and hold it in place until the wax hardens. The buckle should stand upright on its own in the can.
Put on the dust mask. Mix up the plaster in a separate container by following the directions listed on the package. Gently pour the plaster into the tin can. Fill it completely to the top. Tap the sides of the tin can gently and continuously until the plaster begins to set up and harden to allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
Allow the plaster to harden completely. This may take 24 hours. Cut off the bottom of the can with a can opener. The bottom of the tin can will now be considered the top of the mould, so flip the can over.
Heat up the oven to 93.3 degrees C. Put the tin can in the oven on a baking tray. Cook at this temperature for 2 hours to begin the wax melting process. Gradually turn the temperature up over the next 4 to 5 hours until it reaches 287 degrees C to ensure all the wax has completely burnt out. During the last 1/2 hour of cooking the mould, heat up the pewter carefully in the metal ladle with the propane torch.
Put on heat gloves and transfer the mould to the vacuum suction machine. Set it on the vacuum pad and turn the vacuum on for 10 seconds. Put on the face shield. Pour the melted pewter into the mould while the vacuum is still running to help pull the pewter to the bottom of the mould. Fill the mould with pewter until it reaches the top. Allow it to harden. Turn off the vacuum.
Place the mould in a bucket of water to allow the plaster to disintegrate. Remove the pewter buckle. Use a small metal grinder to cut off the shape at the top of the buckle that used to be the melted wax anchor in the can. Use the metal files to smooth and shape any rough edges.
Tips and warnings
- Use a picture as a reference or inspiration during the carving phase of the mould to help you visualise the belt buckle design better.
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