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Thread: Sawdust question?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Tazlaw's Avatar
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    Sawdust question?

    So it seems sawdust is about the best fluxing agent (or reducer, or oxidizer). Even one post said Pine sawdust was even better because of the pine sap. My question is the size of the sawdust. Is it better to use course or fine powder sawdust?

    My dad also does woodworking, so I have access to rough sawdust (chainsaw, planer), or down to ultra fine sawdust such as sander dust. Which one might be better?

    Taz
    Just knowing enough to do it, is not enough to do it right! -Taz

  2. #2
    I only have the hardwoods sawdust I make knife handles from. Wish I had more variety to test with. So I'm watching this thread. My stuff is very fine. maple, cherry & Beech. I reduce w candle wax, then flux w sawdust. Repeat. unclemikeinct

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    when I flux, it's all mixed from fine to course. I have a 3 hp Delta in the garage, when I need some I just grab a handful and set it in a small pan on the side of my casting table. Take a tree finger pinch when needed. YMMV but I don't believe it matters much.
    Good Judgment comes from Experience, Experience comes from Bad Judgment !

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    I use pine sawdust I got from a local lumber yard. Of course not all of the wood that passes through that saw was pine, I'm sure there is a small mixture of other wood as well.

    I will be making a visit to local friend who does a lot of woodworking with Cedar. Should make the shop smell good

    Murphy
    If I should depart this life while defending those who cannot defend themselves, then I have died the most honorable of deaths. Marc R. Murphy '2006'.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I think sawdust sucks for flux personally. I use it to remove dirt out of wheel weights, but I find wax leaves the lead more castable. Seems like it flows better and fillout is better. I know the science behind it and Fryxell's book says sawdust is the perfect flux, but i find wax is better all around in the casting pot.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I’ve used pine shavings like you purchase at feed store for bedding horses in stalls. Takes longer to start burning when used with COWW but gets to a good char after it lights. Then if needed, use bees wax, or capping wax helps also.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    I do both dust and wax, and light the smoke

  8. #8
    Vendor Sponsor Bantou's Avatar
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    Sawdust question?

    My casting pot doesn’t see any sawdust. I use strictly wax in it because sawdust makes such a mess. My smelting pot on the other hand gets a generous treatment of both sawdust and wax to help remove gunk from COWWs. My sawdust is pretty course but not as course as what a sharp chainsaw puts out and seems to go a pretty good job.

    Hope that helps,
    B


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    Last edited by Bantou; 03-01-2020 at 11:59 PM. Reason: Clarity
    Happiness is a warm .45

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    id take whatever is smaller or a mixture of sawdust, spread it out in a thin layer and pour wax over it to make a sheet. then break it up into pieces that look like little no bake cookies. makes for good easy to handle flux.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    I collected pine pitch and heated it up until it as liquid. Then mixed it in sawdust to soak up the liquid pitch. Two together make a great flux. I think I'll try sawdust soaked in wax next.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I've used both fine and coarse in my processing pot. I'm liking the coarse better since either seems to work for reducing and contaminant removal (my source material is pretty clean, and I follow up with wax anyway), and I find it easier to skim out the coarse stuff completely, and with less loss of alloy in what's removed.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    I was a big fan of dusting my lead pot, but always had problems with some of the char making its way down between the lead and the side of the pot. The inclusions became a real pain and I found myself dumping the pot to clean it all out. Plus, the smoke ensured that I always cast outdoors. Since I switched to wax, I don't get the inclusions and I've also been able to move into the basement and use a fume extractor. There is still some smoke related to fluxing, but nothing as bad as the sawdust.

    My casting life definitely got easier when I switched over to a paraffin based flux and normally I just use lubesizer rejected bullets that I saved for remelting.
    Last edited by RydForLyf; 03-02-2020 at 08:23 AM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I don't think the kind of saw dust matters, I use cedar most of the time because I like the way it smells. I would suggest that you don't us saw dust from treated wood if you can help it.
    NRA Benefactor Member NRA Golden Eagle

  14. #14
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    My casting pot gets wax only.....my smelting pot gets a whatever size sawdust is available in the shop. Mostly tablesaw or router table dust. I like pine...I think the resins in the sap makes it work better. It seems to draw out the impurities faster....but after fluxing 3 times with sawdust...I then use wax as a follow up to help the metals blend again.

    redhawk

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  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    Like several other posters, I am of the sawdust PLUS wax vein. I am careful to use 100% "pure" saw-dust -- thinking ahead, I clean out tray under my table saw blade when I'm to do some cutting, making sure there is NO pressure treated, plywood glue, and/or ???? mixed in. 'Specially the toxins in the pressure treated wood frightens me the most! In addition to this fairly fine sawdust, I have a couple of planers, and have used "planings". A while back I made lumber from apple tree branches, and recall that working marvelously as a flux. BUT -- I always complement it with wax, and while I use decorative candles, regular candle butts, or "whatever's free" -- my all-time favourite is the red cheese covering wax on Gouda cheeses. Note that some cheese brands use "imitation wax" -- kind of a (fluxing) worthless plastic; but if you can get the genuine wax -- I do believe that alloy fluxed with it actually makes "shinier" and more pleasing to the eye bullets.
    geo

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I've used both fine and corse saw dust and really can't tell a difference. Everything from the chips or flake stuff sold as pet bedding, to chainsaw chips to the fine stuff from a shop saw. It does seem like pine works better than a couple of others that I've tried.

    We were using the fine stuff the day you and your Dad visited.

    As to fluxing. I use sawdust in the smelting pot, usually followed with wax. But all I put in my casting pot is one of the waxes.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Cigar butts!

  18. #18
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    ShooterAZ's Avatar
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    I use sawdust and paraffin or candle wax for the smelting pot, and beeswax only for the casting pot. Beeswax keeps it much cleaner, and it smells good too.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Leftover bits of lube in the smelting pot, and fine sawdust in the casting pot. The beauty of leaving the charred sawdust on top of the molten lead in the casting pot is, it helps prevent oxidation of the tin in your alloy.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    Smelting pot gets sawdust, whatever is on the floor, big, small, never seen a difference.

    Bottom pour furnace? 100% beeswax, nothing else ever.

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