Casting a metal helmet (Or: Help me decide NOT to do this!)

Nightfall

Well-Known Member
...what would be the best option for making a functional armor helmet? Practicality-wise...

As far as functional goes...likely the only function it will be serving is to be trooped in. So, metal serves no real purpose and is not practical at all. Ask yourself a few questions before proceeding...

1.What is the purpose of the helmet? Is it to be trooped in, a show piece, what?

2.What is it going to cost me? Materials, time, effort, paying for others time and effort.

3.Is it worth it? Can I really justify all the trouble and expense?

As far as the Cold Cast stuff goes...$150 or there abouts. I'm willing to bet a full metal one is going to be more. Especially if your not a metal worker/welder/blacksmith. And yes, it would be very cool to have a real steel bucket. We've all thought about it. Most of us just come to realize it was more trouble and money than it was worth.
 

ht403685

New Member
Just looking at the Fett helmet, you could definitely hammer this out cold. Having worked at some armour pieces, the main bucket and grooves in the front would be not too difficult even to teach yourself. I know people have been discussing aluminum but 18ga steel is very sturdy, not ridiculously heavy, but also easy to work with when smacking it out. It's also not too hard to outfit yourself for cold forming. A ball-peen hammer and a solid stump with some deep hollows is really all you need.

For the smaller, more detailed pieces, you could potentially cast and attach them later. The only thing about casting those pieces is that the finishing work required is extensive. I'd suggest lost wax casting, carving it in wax then coating it in plaster or ceramic and heating it in an oven to have a hollow cavity. You could get very detailed pieces that way.

All in all, a Fett helmet in metal would be fantastic, and definitely plausible I think. Good luck on whatever you decide! :)
 

Wicked

Active Member
Glad to be of help! Like I said before I was planning on casting small gun parts using that method, and I don't know how good it would come out, but for the $50-$75 investment it seems it might be worth giving it a try. If nothing else afterward you'll have the foundry for other projects, and you can always cut the rough cast helmet up and remelt the aluminum if it goes awry.
 

BGHUNTER

Well-Known Member
Just looking at the Fett helmet, you could definitely hammer this out cold. Having worked at some armour pieces, the main bucket and grooves in the front would be not too difficult even to teach yourself. I know people have been discussing aluminum but 18ga steel is very sturdy, not ridiculously heavy, but also easy to work with when smacking it out. It's also not too hard to outfit yourself for cold forming. A ball-peen hammer and a solid stump with some deep hollows is really all you need.

For the smaller, more detailed pieces, you could potentially cast and attach them later. The only thing about casting those pieces is that the finishing work required is extensive. I'd suggest lost wax casting, carving it in wax then coating it in plaster or ceramic and heating it in an oven to have a hollow cavity. You could get very detailed pieces that way.

All in all, a Fett helmet in metal would be fantastic, and definitely plausible I think. Good luck on whatever you decide! :)

If only it was so easy there are somany compound curves in a fett helmet you couldnt just bash it out, we have seen people try and i dont think any one is yet to nock out a dome sucsesfully
 

Malueram

New Member
Have you seen this video?
YouTube - Steel Mando Helmet

Thin gauge steel is not very expensive and can be hammered into a dome rather easily with a trailer hitch ball in a vice and a ball peen hammer. Will take some time but can be done cheaply. You will need to have someone weld the end product. As you have made helmets before, you know the pattern necessary for the project.

As mentioned an SCA armorer would be very valuable for advice on this project. I make my sculptures out of brass and solder into place vs. weld. Would not be too overwhelming a task. Brass can be obtained fairly cheaply as well if you use "shim" products at about .o25 thickness.
Would be nice to see the finished product. All my helmets (Janga and Stormtrooper) are plastic or leather so far. Might need to consider a steampunk brass Fett helm for the future!
 

Hand-Schaub

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Neat to see people still intrested in dong metal Fett helmets. Ah - the good ol' days.

anyways - the helmet I use is around 5lbs and honestly very comfortable - funny how weight distribution works. anyways, one reason to go with cast items is that your master sculpt can be in anything you want while doing a one up from sheet will require metal smithing skills such as what was discussed.

I actually think if I was going to do another helmet just for myself I would learn to bend metal and do a one up.
 

Atlanthia

Sr Member
I for one would LOVE to see this happen! I think that everything was impossible at some time until someone achieved it, so go and do it and blow us away with the results. There are certainly a lot of people already on this thread alone that have a wealth of experience for you to tap into.
 

Tommyfilth

Well-Known Member
Do some research on Back Yard Metal Casting, there is a lot of info out there. I know the shrinkage for Aluminum is 10% so keep in mind that what ever you sculpt would end up at least 10% smaller, which can become a significant ammount.

TL
 

Honus

Sr Member
If I was to make an aluminum helmet I'd definitely make it from sheet and gas weld it using a torch like a Meco midget w/hydrogen gas and flux the joints. The beauty of a gas welded joint vs. TIG is that you are much less likely to crack a weld if you have to do any forming after welding.

You want to anneal the aluminum first and then form the dome using a large round plastic mallet and a sandbag and then move to a large mushroom stake and a planishing hammer. It would be an awful lot of work but it would be spectacular to see.
 

Levy

New Member
Do some research on Back Yard Metal Casting, there is a lot of info out there. I know the shrinkage for Aluminum is 10% so keep in mind that what ever you sculpt would end up at least 10% smaller, which can become a significant ammount.

TL

Aluminum shrinkage is closer to 1.2%
Ive recently begun casting as a hobby, if you are interested check out the AlloyAvenue.com forum as well as books by Dave Gingery.

I have not cast much yet the only thing ive made besides ingots is a pair of "aluminum knuckles"
4db9d35c.jpg

You can follow my progress here

Aluminum is extremely light, the original brass knuckles are quiet heavy, the aluminum ones weigh much less than half that of my iPhone.

My roommate and I have been joking about casting an ironman suit but lately im thinking it might be a fun project. Lost wax/ investment casting is definately the way to go. "Handbook of Lost Wax or Investment Casting" by James E. Sopcak has a great deal of good info. Lost foam would require countless hours of sanding because of the rough surface. If you think sanding bondo is hard try sanding Al. Lost wax is used for jewlry because it requires akmost no finish work, though harder than sand casting all of the equipment can be home made.

When/ if we pursue this ironman suit I will update here as well as my alloyavenue thread.

Thanks for reading,
Levy
 

Tommyfilth

Well-Known Member
Aluminum shrinkage is closer to 1.2%

I think your 1.2% is a little conservative, my statement of 10% was based on my reading from about four years ago and I had never measured from my castings that I had done, so I did some quick looking on the interwebs and It looks like the shrinkage percentage is debated everywhere. I saw 6.6%, 4%-8%, 2% and twice I saw 1/4" for every foot. I only brought up the shrinkage because in a helmet sized object even a small percent can be significant.
 

digger2307

Active Member
theres lots of factors that affect shrinkage. if its pure aluminium if its an alloy, if its got some crap filler in it etc. how its being casted, how its being cooled. Ive had 3 years of lectures on manufacturing of both metal and plastic (not exactly the funnest lectures ive ever had) but for low melt temp metals shrinkage is generally minimal, bt it is good to double check your sizes before doing it. Ide like to give it a try one time jsutfor the experience.
 

Honus

Sr Member
I do lost wax investment casting every day and it still requires a lot of finish work- ultimately your casting can only be as good as your pattern. The most important part to getting a good casting is the sprue design and watching wall thickness transitions.

You're going to need a big burnout oven!
 
i could do these at my foundry super easy!!! we have a HUGE burnout kiln, i was actually planning on making a bronze rocketeer helmet... all i would need is a good clean helmet and make a mold for the wax... i do bronxe, brass, aluminum and have access to stainless steel... its easy peazy!
what helmets do people want?
 

lmgill

Sr Member
Casting this helmet is the wrong way to do this. If you want an aluminum helmet, forming it from sheet metal is much simpler and far less exspensive even if you buy the tools to do it. It will result in a much light piece, in fact because castings can only be so thin, I will bet you could hand form a steel Fett helmet lighter than a cast aluminum one.
Seriosly, casting a helmet is quite silly. Go here The Armour Archive • Index page
and you will find all the information you could want on how to form metal. Aluminum is quite easy. As an example this helmet was hand formed in 14 ga. steel.
my_helmet_2_by_Ugo_Serrano.jpg

Myself and 2 others built this helmet in 2 days from sheet aluminum for an Xbox commercial.
All hand formed with hammers and stakes from 0 tempered aluminum. Oh yes, and NO welds!
helm899_hi.jpg
 
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