HOBO Casting
Metal casting is easy and can be done almost free! We show how easy by digging a hole and using it for a furnace, the dirt from the hole sifted and used to make a mold.

Tools needed: Shovel, molding flask, riddles (screens), fuel (wood and or charcoal), pile of used bricks, pipe, can, wire, plastic food wrap and scrap metal.

*Bentonite: see below!*

Bentonite is used for: farm feed additive, well drilling, patching dry lakes, roofing, construction, health food additive and kitty litter. It is available everywhere, just look!


Dig a hole 1 foot wide by 1 foot deep.

Place soil on a clean dry surface.

Lay pipe so air goes to the bottom of hole and line the outside with bricks. Then backfill with soil leaving the top of the pipe exposed and a clear air path to the bottom.


The dirt in your backyard can be used to make a mold. If I can do it, anyone can.

Sift out large rocks with coarse riddle and add a cup or two of bentonite.

*Some soils already have a high clay content and no bentonite is needed.*


Mix and mull the sand.

Make a mold and gate properly as shown on the "original 101" link.

Parting dust can be substituted with plastic food wrap. Cover drag section of mold with plastic before ramming cope, remove completely when replacing cope for pouring.

Finished mold made from sandy soil and bentonite.

Close up.

Casting is a little rough, sand (soil) in your area is probably different and results may vary.


Place crucible (can) with scrap aluminum into pit and fire it up. Takes about 20 to 30 minutes to melt a few pounds of aluminum, be patient!

Covering the pit with a larger brick holds in the heat. A bellows is used to deliver sufficient air supply.


A vacuum cleaner or other air source can really speed things up. Does not do the grass much good though.


A can with two small holes at the top and wire work well for a temporary crucible/tongs.

Some low melting alloys can be melted with a candle and spoon.

Technique for pouring. Use hooked rod to tip crucible from bottom lip.

Heck, you can place the can in an ordinary barbeque with a wood fire and have molten aluminum without the bellows or anything! Melt small, thin aluminum scrap for faster results, it takes longer to cook a turkey than a steak. Wood or charcoal.

Fire and molten metal are dangerous, be careful!

Melting lead can be done on a stove.

 After you do it the hard way, check out the affordable propane furnaces from Lost & Foundry!