Author Topic: How to make a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.  (Read 2165 times)

Offline Rolf

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Still waiting for parts for my mill, so I can work on the main springs for the percussion locks Iím building.
Iím going to use one of the locks on a Fleeger style rifle with sterling silver furniture. I decided to start making the butt plate by carving it in wax and have vacuum-cast by a firm in Norway. Never done wax carving before, but it was surprisingly quick and easy and seems like a good way to get parts you only want one of.  Took me only one day to carve the butt plate. But, calling it wax carving is a bit of misnomer. You canít carve wax with chisels and knives like wood. If you try, it breaks. All shaping must be done by sawing, filing, rasping, and scraping. There are a lot of good books and youtube videos on the subject. Most are about jewelry making, but the technics are the same.

The three main grades of carving wax are Green, purple, and blue.

Green is the hardest and most brittle wax but can hold the finest details.
The blue is the softest and most flexible of three, itís easy to ďweldĒ and bend with heat.
The properties of purple in the middle between green and blue.

I chose purple for the butt plate because itís going to be hollow out, and purple is stronger than blue and less brittle than green.
I drew the pattern in Qcad based on pictures and meaurments from the book ďThe american longrifle, its art and evolutionĒ and tracings of orignale Fleeger rifles, Ron Luckenbill kindly sent me.
The wax pattern is carved 7% oversize to compensate for casting shrinkage.

The profile pattern was glued on using Scotch weld spray glue and cut out on a bandsaw using a blade for wood.


The side profile was clean up with a wax file. Remember to keep everything square.


I glued the end profiles for the tang and plate to the wax blank.


Most of the tang was sawed out with the bandsaw. The plate was done with a jeweler saw with a wax blade and wax rasps.


Wax blades are spiral twisted to keep them from clogging with wax. Wax rasps and files have relative few very coarse teeth to keep them from clogging. They are not very sharp but work great on wax. They donít clog like wood rasps do. You can get a set of wax rasps on ebay cheap for less than 20$.

Hollowing out weakens the part, therefore it pays to finish the outside of the butt plate first.
The bulk of wax was removed with rasps and final shaping by scraping with a carpet knife.
The yellow butt plate is one I did in butter board. The casting firm wanted 300$ to make a wax mold from the butter board model. Cheaper to carve wax when you are going to cast only one.


The wax was then sanded down to 600 grit and polished first with denim cloth and last with a pantyhose.
The hollowing out was done with a rotary wood rasp on a foredom tool. It works great at low speed. At
highspeed, it melted the wax and clogged.



The last picture shows the tools used.
From left to right; carpet knife, wax rasps, wax file, foredom rotary rasps.


Best regards
Rolf

The casting went great. Here are pictures of the finished butt plate. There is still some clean up ang polishing to do.

Best regards
Rolf








« Last Edit: September 08, 2023, 09:16:42 PM by Dennis Glazener »

Offline 120RIR

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Unless you have a long-term relationship with the caster in Norway there are good casters right here in the Lower 48.  There is a great guy in Rhode Island that does this kind of work: Rhode Island Custom Casting.  There used to be a lot of casters, platers, etc. in Rhode Island which as recently as 15-20 years ago was pretty much the jewelry industry capital in the U.S. Then all that work started getting shifted to China and the industry is a shadow of what it once was.  Give him (Jim DiCenzo) a call at 401-623-1192.  He does production work but also one-off pieces like this.  Excellent quality, reasonable turn-around time, reasonable cost, and a great guy.

Offline 120RIR

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Oh...and for anyone thinking about taking on making your own parts in this fashion, Rio Grande has all the wax casting/forming supplies and tools you could possibly want.

Offline Rolf

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Thank you for your kind comments.

Unless you have a long-term relationship with the caster in Norway there are good casters right here in the Lower 48.  There is a great guy in Rhode Island that does this kind of work: Rhode Island Custom Casting.  There used to be a lot of casters, platers, etc. in Rhode Island which as recently as 15-20 years ago was pretty much the jewelry industry capital in the U.S. Then all that work started getting shifted to China and the industry is a shadow of what it once was.  Give him (Jim DiCenzo) a call at 401-623-1192.  He does production work but also one-off pieces like this.  Excellent quality, reasonable turn-around time, reasonable cost, and a great guy.

Thank you for the tip, but I live in Norway. The silver I'm using is from a pile of silver tableware I inherited. Had it check out and has no antique value. It's already melted down and refined.

Best regards
Rolf

Offline Bsharp

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Rolf, are you going to make a silicone mold from this so that you can make more?

Or is it just one and done?

Nice work!
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Offline Rolf

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Rolf, are you going to make a silicone mold from this so that you can make more?

Or is it just one and done?

Nice work!

One and done.

Best regards
Rolf

Offline Rolf

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What is this Fleeger style rifle? English style or a Kentucky rifle with a fancy lock ;D.Can you pot pictures,
Bob Roller

It's a western Pennsylvania longrifle. I tried yesterday to take pictures from a book, after I upgraded to windows 11, I can't get my phone to download the photos to my pc. I really hate upgrades, but support on windows 10 is ending so there is no real option.

Best regards
Rolf

Offline 45dash100

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That's really cool.  I'm really impressed with the finish you got on the wax.  Seems like you'd have to be really careful not to scratch or dent it.

I have some parts I'm thinking about casting myself.  I have access to multiple electric kilns, and a propane burner I can use to supercharge one to make it suitable for melting metal.  I figured I would do lost PLA (as I can very quickly draw and 3D print my own models).  Maybe wax isn't so scary, or you're just very skilled.

I'm very interested to see how the surface finish on your part turns out with such a clean wax model.

It's a western Pennsylvania longrifle. I tried yesterday to take pictures from a book, after I upgraded to windows 11, I can't get my phone to download the photos to my pc. I really hate upgrades, but support on windows 10 is ending so there is no real option.

Best regards
Rolf

I ran almost completely away from Windows after they started focusing more on tracking peoples every move and thoughts rather than building stable software.  Linux has been very nice for the last couple years and plays well with all my electronics.  Any windows stuff I need done, can be done in a virtual machine.

Offline Bsharp

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2023, 06:19:39 AM »
Rolf, how much over size is the wax to allow for shrinkage?
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Offline Rolf

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2023, 09:20:37 AM »
Rolf, how much over size is the wax to allow for shrinkage?

7% oversize

Best regards
Rolf

Offline Rolf

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2023, 10:47:10 AM »
What is this Fleeger style rifle? English style or a Kentucky rifle with a fancy lock ;D.Can you pot pictures,
Bob Roller
Figured out how to download pictures. This rifle is my main inspiration for this project, but I am not making a strict copy







Best regards
Rolf

Offline alacran

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2023, 03:45:08 PM »
Rolf this is an excellent tutorial.
I have a question, you allow 7% for shrinkage, do you put any shape, that is curvature on the flat parts of the comb return to prevent the flats from becoming concave while shrinking?
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Offline Rolf

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2023, 01:46:59 AM »
Rolf this is an excellent tutorial.
I have a question, you allow 7% for shrinkage, do you put any shape, that is curvature on the flat parts of the comb return to prevent the flats from becoming concave while shrinking?

No,the casting firm did not think that was a problem.

Best regards
Rolf

Offline Rolf

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2023, 01:54:06 AM »
I made a mold of every wax model I carved. I learned that one the hard way a long time ago.

A mold be have nice, but the casting firm wants 300$ to make one. Cheaper to carve a new one, if needed.
I don't plan to mass produce castings.

Best regards

Rolf

Offline Rolf

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2023, 07:35:33 PM »
The casting went great. Here are pictures of the finished butt plate. There is still some clean up and polishing to do.

Best regards
Rolf







« Last Edit: September 02, 2023, 09:29:20 PM by Rolf »

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: How to carve a Wax carving for a butt plate for a Fleeger style rifle.
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2023, 04:47:36 PM »
That's pretty darn nice and is going to be a beautiful rifle!  One small suggestion...  I think you would find it better to wait until the rifle is stocked up to file and polish your hardware..

Jim