Tuesday, September 25, 2012

07 Carving Wax Nº 00

Currently, I am making hot-melt moulage molds of the oil-clay doll figure I made. I will be pouring carving wax into the moulage waste molds in order to translate the oil-clay doll parts into carving wax doll parts. I already have two hands, and a head cast in carving wax. So the next part of the BJD making process is to work with carving wax. This post is a little bit out-of-order. I will return to the regularly scheduled posts about making moulage waste molds tomorrow. Click on any image to enlarge it.

I do not own a commercial  wax pen. Instead, I used a low wattage 25W Weller soldering iron to weld wax parts together, and to rework carving wax. When the soldering iron is plugged in, it is ON, and at a MAXIMUM temperature, which is great for melting solder, but much too hot for working with carving wax, or sculpture wax.

I found an Instructables.Com tutorial about making a Do-It-Yourself Variable Temperature Soldering Iron Controller for about $10.00, and after reading through it, I thought I might be able to do it.

The first thing I did was to find one of the listed project parts in my computer spare parts box: a three-prong plug with a cord that has black, white, and green wires. Then I made a project parts list of the things I needed to buy at the local hardware store, so I could get help from the hardware store employee to find everything. This is what my project parts list looked like:

I needed to buy:
  • 4 inch square electrical box
  • Electrical Box Cover with switch and outlet holes + screws
  • Romex connector
  • Wirenuts
  • Outlet for two 3-prong plugs
  • 600W Push ON/OFF Rotary Dimmer Switch + screws
I already had the tools needed to make this project.
  • Flat blade screwdriver
  • Side cutters
  • Wire stripper (I used a pair of scissors)
  • Hacksaw, or a pair of sheet metal cutters

This is what I bought (total cost: $12.35 USD) at the hardware store:

This is what I bought, along with the 3-prong plug/3-wire cord that I already had on-hand:

This what the finished Variable Temperature Soldering Iron Controller looks like after I finished putting it all together. It was easy !!!

While making this project ,I actually found another old wax working tool that I made many years ago from a wood-burning tool. From left to right: Weller 25W soldering iron, a spare Weller soldering iron tip, a wood-burning tool with a custom forged tip, my new Variable Temperature Soldering Iron Controller with a night light added, as an ON/OFF indicator light, so I know when the controller is on or off. I used a night light I already had.

This is what the wiring diagram that came with the 600W Dimmer Switch looks like. The dimmer switch has only three wires coming out of it. There are two black wires, and a green wire. One of the black wires from the dimmer is connected to the HOT side of the outlet (clearly marked on the outlet). The other black wire from the dimmer is connected to the black wire from the cord. The green wire from the cord, and the green wire from the dimmer, are connected to a green wire that is connected to the green screw on the outlet. The white wire from the cord is connected to the WHITE side of the outlet (clearly marked on the outlet). In the diagram below, the circle marked Load is where the outlet goes.

This is my wiring diagram of the controller. Following the circuit, the black wire from the cord is connected to one of the black wires from the dimmer. The other black wire from the dimmer is connected to the HOT side of the outlet. A white wire goes from the WHITE side of the outlet and connects to the white wire of the cord. The green wire from the cord connects to the green wire from the dimmer, and they are connected to the green screw on the outlet. All connections are made with wirenuts.

The first thing I did was cut about six inches of cord off. I removed all but about one inch of the outer covering of the cord, and slid it to the center, with black, green, and white wires on each side. I stripped the ends of these wires and twisted them. Next, I knocked-out one of the circles in the electrical box. I chose one of the circles in the middle. Then I put a Romex connector in the hole and secured it. I removed a few inches of the cord cover, exposing the black, white, and green wires. I stripped the ends of the wires and twisted them. I stuck the end of the cord into the Romex connector and tightened it down on the cord securely. At this point, I have an electrical box with a cord coming out of the side.

Perhaps the only tricky part about making this project is getting the dimmer switch to fit inside the cover of the electrical box. The dimmer switch has an aluminum plate on it. Two corners of that aluminum plate are trimmed with the hacksaw so that the dimmer fits flush to the inside of the electrical box cover. You could also use a pair of sheet metal cutters to do the trimming.

On the outlet, I used my side cutters to bend the tabs down so that the outlet fit inside the electrical  box cover. I think the tutorial says to cut them off, but it was easy to just bend them. Otherwise, I used wirenuts to connect all the wires together, following the wiring diagram. I used the six inch wires in the middle of all the connections, so none of the wires from the cord had any strain on them.

I used a total of four wirenuts to make all the connections. There was no soldering required. Once all the wires were connected, I screwed the outlet and the dimmer switch to the electrical box cover, and screwed the electrical box cover to the electrical box using my flat blade screwdriver. Then I put the rotary dial on the dimmer switch.

I plugged in a desk lamp with an incandescent bulb in it, and pushed the dimmer switch to turn it ON.  Then I rotated the rotary dial, back and forth to dim and brighten the light. This is how the controller is tested. I made a mark on the rotary dial with a Sharpie Permanent Marker, and also marked the MAX and MIN places on the cover of the electrical box.

Finally, I plugged in my soldering iron and worked on some carving wax. This controller now makes my 25W Weller soldering iron, a WAX PEN. This was an easy, inexpensive project that did not take a lot of time to do. I am very excited about my new wax pen, and am looking forward to learning how to use it.


Instrucatbles.Com DIY Variable Temperature Soldering Iron Controller Tutorial.

Giles Precision Waxer

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  1. The dimmer switch I bought:

    Push On/Off Dimmer
    Single Pole
    Cat. 6681

  2. does this work to control the soldering iron?

    1. I use a 25W woodburning tool as a wax pen, and I am able to use this temperature controller to control the temperature of the wax pen so I can melt and weld wax without the wax smoking. It works great.

  3. Well GREAT. I have a uncapping knife for removing the wax cappings from frames of honey. I bought this thing on Amazon at an amazing price but I knoew it was being shipped from CHINA. Once it is plugged in the temp can climb to 350. I bought a dimming switch but even at the lowest setting it still went to 260. This uncapping knife could be a flat soldering iron or branding iron it gets so hot. But seriously, it is useless for wax cappings as it would scourch and carmalize the honey....So if this 600w dimmer switch works , it will be great. The merchant said the knife is 170w.

  4. My carving wax melts at about 160 degrees, and I can adjust the temperature controller so that the carving wax melts, but doesn't smoke. I do not have a way to accurately measure the temperature, so I set the dial of the dimmer switch by trial and error, lowering the temperature until I arrived at the point of the carving wax melting, but not smoking. Best of luck with your beeswax.


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