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Pewter Casting – Make Your Own Coins

( * This post has been updated since the master post go steady )
I first gear saw this concept in action at Moxi, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, in Santa Barbara. Like a mini translation of the Exploratorium, Moxi provides visitors of all ages with hands-on science experiments, arts and crafts, and workshops ranging from high-tech tools to no technical school at all .
While I was exploring the museum during one of the slower times of the day, a kind docent approached and asked if I wanted a tour of the maker space. He had seen my MakerCon jersey and gathered that we must have some common interests .
He guided me to the space, and as I perused the equipment, I chanced upon what looked to be laser-cut molds for making coins. I asked what they were for, and his eyes lit up.

These are some of my first laser-cut coin molds. “ This is pewter casting. I can show you how it works if you like, ” he said as a way of invitation .
I couldn ’ thyroxine spend up this opportunity to learn about something new, so I obliged his enthusiasm .
Reaching into the cupboards, he removed a Hot Pot, plugged it in, and threw a few pewter scraps into the washbasin. Pewter is a metallic element admixture with a humble dissolve target, making it ideal for casting into molds .
While we waited for the pewter to warm and finally melt, he showed me how the mold worked. Using five layers of wood ( I believe his were made from MDF if I remember correctly ), the inmost layer holds the pour pewter. The layers on either side of this central layer contain the design of each side of the mint. finally, the two outermost layers provide support and keep the pewter contained as it overflows from the top. Place them all together with clamps, and they are quick for pouring .
My coin mold layers are laser-cut from maple plywood. With the pewter reaching its melt luff in less than ten minutes, my guide proceeded to pour the melt pewter into the mold. After cooling for another ten minutes or so, we peeled the layers to reveal a newly minted coin .
That experience occurred about five years ago, but I remember it vividly. As a maker of things, I have several coincident projects in action while allowing myself the mental space to put early projects on the bet on burner. I inquiry and think about how I might approach these latter projects when the clock time is right. Pewter was on my back burner .
This month, I decided to dive in. I purchased a Hot Pot II from a fishing equipment store and an IR thermometer and stainless steel brushes from Amazon. I besides bought a two-pound pewter ingot. I gathered a few early existing accessories from my godhead space. Below is a arrant number .
Materials list :

  • Hot Pot II
  • Pewter ingot
  • IR thermometer
  • Steel brushes (to clean any residue from the newly minted coin)
  • Clamps
  • Spoon
  • Pliers
  • Metal spatula (I used one that I had for removing 3D prints off the plate)
  • Baby powder (release agent)
  • Small paintbrush (to spread out baby powder)
  • Dremel or similar sanding tool
  • Workman’s gloves
  • Face shield

Hot Pot II with thermometer & ingot
Accessories
Safety Equipment

I designed the coins from previous artwork I had done for laser-cut acrylic earrings. Borrowing from the enliven series, Avatar : The death Airbender, I created Earth, Fire, Water, and Air symbols. This artwork seemed promise as a symbol for coinage, and I was eager to take a test run .
Below is an case of the revised artwork in Adobe Illustrator created for the coin mold .
From left to right; one central mold, two imprints, and two outside support layers. The Process
After designing and laser-cutting the five layers :

  1. Prepare to assemble them in order.
  2. Sprinkle a bit of baby powder on the areas where the coin design is imprinted and on the pour channel.
  3. Use the soft paintbrush to spread the baby powder around in a thin even layer.
  4. Apply clamps to keep the layers in place and prop the entire mold upright.

fireplug in the Hot Pot and place the pewter ingot into the basin. It should take less than ten minutes for the pewter to liquify. Test the temperature using the IR thermometer. The pewter is likely around 350° Fahrenheit .
With gloves on your hands and a face harbor in stead, use a spoon to remove any surface impurities from the clear of the liquefy pewter. nowadays, lightly pick up the hot pot from its floor and lento pour the fade melted into the pour transmit at the top of the determine, as seen below. Stop when you see the pewter at the coat .

Once heated to a liquid state (about 450° F), the pewter is ready to pour
Allow the pour pewter to cool to about 75 degrees, using the IR thermometer to measure the temperature on one of the outermost support layers .
once cooled, use the alloy spatula to separate the layers. Remove the overindulgence pewter from the mint with pliers. There will be pewter in the pour distribution channel and possibly in the air vents. If necessity, apply a sandpaper act on a Dremel or early joyride to sand down any acute edges from the coin. Use the steel brush ( or steel wool ) to remove blemishes from the coin ’ s open .
What I enjoy about pewter casting
There is something inherently gratifying about transforming bare-assed materials into a new object you have designed. Whether this comes in the shape of 3D printing, laser cut, or build with world power tools, the creative feel is the like. Melting metallic element, a normally inflexible means, feels about like magic, alchemistic. The iterative work, which generally generates thriftlessness, is unique here. You can remelt the pewter, so there is much no fabric loss. The laser-cut templates are reclaimable deoxyadenosine monophosphate farseeing as they are integral .
What to watch out for

Take precautions such as heavy gloves and a face shield when working with pewter. You can never be besides safe. It may besides benefit you to have an previous cutting board on hand as a platform on which to place the cast and pour the pewter. Regardless of what you use, perform this procedure on a come on you don ’ thymine take care damaging .
My early results left divots at the top of my coins, even with tune vents in the shape to prevent pockets of vent from accumulating. The baby powder seems to have helped, along with pouring lento, but I am uncertain of the accurate cause and effect .
Extensions
This natural process might integrate well with a social studies whole on ancient civilizations and currentness. Rather than coins, you might design an amulet while researching religions or cultures. possibly you need custom weights for that next mathematics or science project. Move beyond laser-cut templates to more three-dimensional objects using high-temperature silicone .
This is the beginning of my travel, and there ’ s a long road ahead. I am looking ahead to the unexpected twists and turns, and the occasional bumps in the road .
Recognition
Thank you to @ noiseprofessor on chirrup for the helpful blog post on your pewter vomit experiences. It served as a helpful springboard for my work .
Resources
Hot Pot II
Pewter Ingot ( lead-free )
IR Thermometer
Steel Brush
Laser-cut charge for the Air Nation mint
Update:
I have discovered a few best practices in the last month :

  1. Baby powder is essential as a release agent but also to keep bubbles from forming.
  2. MDF is thus far the material with the cleanest results.
  3. I have modified my template so that I can reduce the amount of material per cut. Using a slot-like outer layer that I reuse, I can simply place a thinner centerpiece per each art work. Here is the template with directions.

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