Tools for Finishing Sand Cast Projects

Let's turn your sand castings into beautiful pieces that you can show off and wear!

These are my favourite tools for cutting off sprues, cleaning up around the edges, and polishing the metal.

tools for cutting sprues and cleaning up sand cast items - bolt cutters, saw frame and blade, files, old toothbrush, wire brush

  • Wire brush or old toothbrush to remove the last of the sand from casting. This is most easily done under running water.
  • Bolt cutters to cut as much of the sprue off as possible. It can be difficult to balance a cast piece on the bench peg to saw the sprue off if the sprue is large, so removing most of it with bolt cutters makes life easier. Mine are 350mm Draper bolt cutters, available from any good DIY store.
  • Jewellers saw to remove the last of the sprue and any metal that has flown down the air vents.
  • Files of various shapes and sizes to remove the last of the excess metal. Pictured above are a cut 0 6" flat file that speedily removes large amounts of metal, plus cut 2 needle files in various shapes that get into all the tiny spaces! Casts often have lots of detail around the edges and the needle files will help you to remove the last of the excess metal while still keeping the shape.

tools for finishing sand casts - sanding rolls, silicon rubber wheel, frosting wheel, radial discs

This next set of tools are used with a pendant drill or Dremel. Remember your eye protection!

  • Sanding paper rolls to smooth the casting. I love these ones from Cookson Gold. They are particularly useful inside rings and are available in three grades.
  • Silicon rubber wheels to smooth and refine the casting. These are available in a range of grits, and shown above is a black course wheel. Although it is coarse enough to remove excess metal is still leaves a beautifully smooth texture.
  • Frosting wheel to add a “sand cast” texture back into areas that have been smoothed out. I always want the insides of rings to be smooth and comfortable to wear, and often like the edges of some flat casts to be a smooth contrast to the sand cast texture on the front - have a look at the examples in the ebook image below. However, when I cast ammonites and shells I don't want to see filed and sanded areas, I want a sand cast texture all over. The frosting wheel gives a surface finish that mimics the sand cast texture. Having tried a few I've found the 20mm green coarse frosting wheel from Cookson Gold to work the best. I use it quite lightly on the metal, changing directions to match the sand cast texture the best.
  • Radial discs to add a polish. I use these so much in my studio! Shown are two from a set of three grades that are an excellent "starter" set. The third one is green, and the finest of the three. I usually just use the yellow and then the blue.

Now that you've found out what you need for cleaning up sand casts, get started and create your own wonderful cast work!

My Sand Casting ebook takes you though everything you need to know,

and includes all the tips for adding textures and stones that I share in my studio workshops,

plus two methods for adding bails to casts to turn them into pendants.

Click here to find out more!

Sand Casting: including adding stones, textures and more

Categories: : casting, getting started, jewellery making tips, jewellery tutorial, tool talk

Joanne Tinley

Tutor and Founder of The Jeweller's Bench

The Jeweller's Bench is run by Joanne Tinley. She has been making her own jewellery for as long as she can remember and left her first career as a school teacher to set up business as a  jewellery designer and tutor nearly 20 years ago. She is
self-taught and like many people started with wire and beads. Learning how to solder, however, opened up a whole new world of jewellery making,  one that she is keen to share!