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Stay Safe, Metalcasting Hobbyist

It’s staggering the number of people that want to give metalcasting a go on their own.

The latest incident we found was regaled in an article in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. According to the story, a high school science teacher built a furnace in a hole in his lawn and somewhat-successfully cast trinkets out of scrapped soda cans. It’s a fascinating story, but you’re on the edge of your seat the entire time waiting for this unsupervised, improvised project to go terribly awry.

The most common metalcasting hobbyists we come across (or more appropriately, come across us) are enthusiasts who want to rebuild something from the past—a marine or automotive part that has been lost to history. Most of the time, these hobbyists want to build something that no one else will build for them, either due to the component’s lack of profitability or because it would take too much time to develop the know-how to produce it.

There’s an allure of self-sufficiency there that metalcasting hobbyists simply can’t ignore. These men highlight the mystical draw of the metalcasting process—the glowing metal, the sparks, the completed component emerging as if a Bundt cake from a pan(which are themselves cast, by the way).

Men like the high school teacher from Lancaster, on the other hand, highlight the strides the metalcasting industry makes on a regular basis. According to the article, the tinkerer produced what “looked like crumpled wads of aluminum foil rolled in sand.” Professional metalcasters produce parts that are critical to the operation of an airplane at 30,000 ft.

The article goes on to say that the untrained science teacher scared passersby and his wife with the potential for an injurious accident. Professional metalcasters have decreased the number of accidents that occur on their watch for two years in a row, according to data published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In 2006, the year for which the data is last available, the industry reported 11.9 injuries or illnesses for every 100 full-time employees, down from 13.5 in 2005 (a 12% improvement) and 14 in 2004.

The general public may think that metalcasting is an antiquated, dangerous industry that produces nothing but manhole covers, but for many modern casters, that is simply untrue. We thank the metalcasting hobbyists whose amateur attempts highlight this fact…as long as they stay safe.