My Aluminum Melting Furnace!
(Page 2)

OK, change of plans! I decided to use this lightweight fire brick instead of castable refractory. It makes it much lighter and is less expensive (but the trade off is that it's much more fragile). I calculate that I can finish off the bottom for less than $100!

Here's a stack of these lightweight bricks.

I cut them to fit using my table saw for the straight cuts and rough angles and then finished them using a knife.

The bottom pieces fit very snug! Oh yea, here's my frame and wheels that I welded up that same day. This thing will roll over just about anything and plows through my dirt driveway like it's nothing!

Here are my tools for the job. I cut cardboard with my pocket knife for a pattern and used the big kitchen knife to shape the bricks.

First level nearing completion...

Working now on the second level. I tried to get the same angles cut on each brick on both levels. The last two thinner pieces required a different angle than the other bricks (all cut on the table saw using a plywood cutting blade).

Here the brickwork is finished!

I used a drill to put a hole in the side to insert the burner. I used a smaller drill bit and 'wiggled' it around until it was close to the size of the burner. Then I inserted the burner and twisted it to finish the hole which is a snug fit now.

Here's a photo of the burner in the firebrick.

Now the lid..... I drilled some holes, added some metal handles and bolted them on.

I marked the hole I wanted to cut (approximately four inches in diameter, using bailing wire and a sharpie marker).

Then I used my dremmel to cut the hole out and polish the edges up.

Then I tried this to make the top lighter, not sure if it will work or not.... I mashed up the remaining firebrick chunks left over from cutting and added it to the refractory. In theory this should increase it's heat resistance and make it lighter. I hope it doesn't make the lid blow up when I apply heat! This is a photo of the mashed up firebrick before I added the cement. I think that firebrick is actually Magnesia (Magnesium oxide), a ceramic! This was once thought to be the mineral element in the 'Philosopher's stone', the mythical substance that could convert lead into gold! Of course it didn't work!

I used a 1 liter pop bottle for the hole. I had a weird preforated ceramic piece (not shown) that I put against a hole in the side. There were several slits in the lid that I covered with paper towel so the cement wouldn't leak out and used the hanger for 'rebar'. This actually wasn't the cover of the smoker, it was the bottom that it set on! The actual lid was thicker and I didn't want the lid that thick.

I set the whole thing on another project that I have in progress (my forge blower frame).

Then I poured the cement. I had way too much water in the mix and it formed a puddle on top. The guy who sold me this stuff said I should have had it rather dry.

I had some extra cement that I put in a cardboard box. This will be used to set my crucible on when I remove it from the furnace.

I also poured some in the bottom of the pop bottle. I can use this as a crucible stand inside the furance.

Here's the top with the dried cement and pop bottle removed, two days later.

Here I am in a practice run to see how easy it is to take off....not bad at all. I can use my inner thigh for leverage.

Here's the whole setup complete.

I first attempted to dry things out using a votive candle in the crucible. This lid is really thick, five inches!

Here's a photo of the door from the top. As you can see, the bricks almost come to the sides of the furnace and there is still room for the door to close and the door latch to be latched.

Here my preliminary attempt to make a crucible tongs (not complete yet). I may have made them a bit too long. I may shorten them...I have a different idea for the hinge.

I forged the handles using my acetylene torch and a wide flame. I have an attachment that throws out a flame wider than a fat cigar! I used a table vice to make the bends here. I am holding the whole thing together with hose clamps so you can get an idea of what it's going to look like when complete. I still have to work on the hinge and the 'grabbers' on the ends to wrap around the crucible.

Now I got a little smarter, here I'm drying the lid with a portable heater set on low. After a few days this should be ready for some flammage!


Copyright 2005
Site posted on August 10, 2005
Chris Hardwick