Bells and CNC Thoughts
I have found a niche for my casting and CNC machining desires. It is the designing and creating small custom bells to be cast in silver, brass and bronze; also using bell metal if I can find or make it. Bell metal is high tin content brass.
I am currently working on obtaining the correct wax for CNC detail machining of the designs. My two Taig mills, one of which set up for fourth axis millings are perfect for the size of bells I am considering. That is, bells with a diameter between one and two inches at the open end. I figure they may be one to two times the diameter in height for the bell section. Then whatever is used as the handle or bell mount.
I will pocket mill the bell interior from the end of the wax cylinder, probably using a ball end 2 flute tool. Tool size will depend on the bell diameter and depth. Perhaps 0.250″ on larger size bells down to 0.125″ on small bells. No interior details, just hollow out. The 2nd set-up to do the exterior will be milled on 4th axis rotary, roughed with perhaps 0.25” ball end before details. As far as the detailing I have used as small as 0.003 tapered wax milling bits Like an engraving bit (many hours of run time) making medallions. That is probably not typical for my bell project but could be the extreme. Most likely I will use 0.010-0.020 mill end sizes. I buy my wax bits from Bits&Bits and they are especially made for detailed wax carving, spiral open flutes, etc. Initial trial runs will not be detailed. Just get something basic to carve then cast and see results.
I am thinking this is a perfect combination of my skills and the tools that I have. I am very excited. I can see that this has the possibility to become a long term specialization. I don’t believe there are a lot of “Made in USA” people doing CNC/LWC bell design and creation.
I also see that there can be an unlimited variation in the bell design and the decoration. I could design and make scale replica bells of famous places, ships and trains. The Liberty bell is an obvious example but extremely overdone and not on my current list of potential designs. The decorative bell handles provide unlimited options of what can be created above the bell itself.
The setup to carve bell masters is also perfect for any other type of CNC 3D cylinder wax carving. The mill can handle up to two inch diameter wax which provides a huge working volume for any type of small design.
Yes, I have found a good base product to utilize the CNC machine shop and my lost wax casting. I love to machine wax and now I have a wonderful product idea for what to machine the wax into.
Using CNC means the design is never lost and can easily be run again to make additional copies. If I ever get into multiples, then I can make rubber molds to make the wax burn out masters. Wax casting will be a cost and time consideration over wax machining.
I am thinking a Christmas bell chain as a family tradition as one example.
I have started to implement this idea. I have spent a long time thinking on where I could find a perfect niche product that fit my interests and abilities. This truly seems to be the best idea yet. It needs to simmer in the hot grease of enthusiasm for awhile to make sure it is not like an ice cube dropped in the hot fry pan doomed to vaporize in the heat of passion. (How’s that for a simile!) That doesn’t mean I have to stand around and watch. I am ready for launch and all lights are green!