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Back to casting my own heads

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Cecil, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    With at least $25.00 a pop not counting shipping, and one supplier refusing to sell to me, it's time to go back to casting my own. Hell, with the number of fish I do and trophy fish on the premises I can cast, maybe I should make master molds and start selling heads and blanks?

    There was a time when casting my own heads wasn't cost effective for production work. Now just like carving my own fish bodies, it's become cost effective you make my own.

    How many of you cast ALL your own heads? How many of you have come to the same realization I have?
  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    I typically only use cast heads on cold water fish and I have only ever bought one and I still have it. Maybe some day I'll get another laker in that it will fit. Casting the head of the fish insures that it will fit, as long as you know how to, that is and the materials I use, I can get locally and don't cost that much.

  3. duxdog

    duxdog Active Member

    cast all of my own. only time I buy them from a suplier is when redoing and old mount
  4. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Just to be clear I use cast heads on all my coldwater fish too. The question was how many cast ALL their heads themselves.

    Yes casting is a more sure thing for fit, but there are enough of them out there you can make them work if they are close.
  5. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Not cost-effective for me to cast my own. But, I am not very good at casting and molding either. On a good sized salmon or trout it'll take me a good three hours when it's all said and done if I include all of my time. Including clean-up work on the final cast and installing teeth. Teeth installed thru Caribou Taxidermy/Leach heads costs like a buck I think. And the teeth look better than I can do. Crunching the numbers it might cost me $40-$50 bucks for a good sized salmon or trout head from Bill and that includes shipping. On the flip side to cast my own I'm looking at about $12-$15 bucks in materials to mold and cast. Then add in those three hours at my shop billing rate of $45 an hour and you'll see it's not even close on which is more cost-effective. Even if it only took me an hour to mold the numbers just don;t warrant it. Plus, I also get to write off $50 vs $12 bucks - another net tax savings down the road of a few more bucks - lol!

    3Bears I have never ordered a head that didn't work. You just have to know which dimensions are more important than others. And the trick is to carve your body after you receive the head to ensure proper fit-up.

    Sure, IF you just look at the bottom line Cecil it is indeed cheaper to cast your own. But, what is your time worth? Include your time and the dollar amount you want to make an hour and I'll bet it ain't even close on which is more cost-effective. Can you lop a head off for molding all the way to completed cast head ready to install with teeth in an hour??? I certainly wouldn't be making any production molds unless you plan on selling heads to other taxidermists. I've used one Laker head twice in twenty years of business. The rest have all been one time only. Just a thought to consider!

    P.S. DougP casts all his heads himself and I've asked him what he'd charge me to do a good sized salmon head (in a pinch)? he quoted me $125 plus a ten dollar materials charge. The real reasons you mold and cast your own are for the obvious perfect fit you're seeking. But, also so that you're not reliant on outside distributors to provide and to keep the flow of your work going. Eventually, you're going to run into a size that the aftermarket doesn't have. And it's a great skill-set to have. I do it when I have to. But, I'd rather let the pros do it!

    P.S.S. For the record, I've never thought purchasing aftermarket bodies was cost-effective either though - lol! Different strokes eh?
  6. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Ok got it Cecil, didn't mean to piss in your cornflakes. I cannot see it being cost effective to cast all heads but, after you have a system down pat it may just be. A lot less rebuilding on the finish side of things and that for me is where most of my time is spent on fish.
  7. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    Cecil if you start selling blanks of your trout, I want some! :)

  8. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    No problem 3bears. You didn't piss in my cornflakes. It takes a lot more than that to piss in my cornflakes. LOL
  9. What Marty said.
  10. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    If you mold your heads in alginate and then cast them in Bondo you might be able to meet the cost of buying a head, but you will be doing a lot of finishing. I'm with Marty, it's not worth it unless you are going to be "Custom Fish Guy" and charge out the nose.
  11. duxdog

    duxdog Active Member

    to me, the time i spend defleshing then rebuilding plus having a great fit is well worth it.
  12. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I thought you cast your own Duxdog???
  13. if you cast your own heads and carve your own bodies, do you still have to tell uncle sam what you got paid for the mount ?? no paper trail !!
  14. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    michael j .............

    The gov't keeps a close watch on how many fish eyes you buy.

    One eye or two eyes per mount ................ they will find you.


  15. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    ROFLMAO Welcome back to the dark side bud
  16. JerseyJays

    JerseyJays Well-Known Member

    I cast my fish heads and carve the bodies.. but I only do 1 or 2 skin mounts every 5 years. Most fish i order replicas from Lake country..

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
  17. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Well not so sure casting heads is so cost effective now. I cast a large brown and steelhead head today and it took quite a bit of my day. And like a moron I didn't wear gloves and have bondo all over my hands. I also forgot how messy high fiber is.

    Been a while since I did it. Got the job done and I suppose I will get faster.
  18. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    Cecil (respectfully) I saw your post about the alginate, perhaps you should use silicone instead and start to build a 'library' of molds that you could use multiple times. Eventually a fish will have a head similar to one in the 'library' and the molding step can be skipped saving time and money!

    Also, watch the 'auto-correct', it does not always say what you would have it say. Don't trust the machines! ;)

    Your buddy.
  19. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member


    Yes will be using silicone in the future or go back to purchasing heads from McKenzie.

    Funny how I don't see the autocorrect changes until I come back.

    Thanks for your response.
  20. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Guess I'm one of those high priced fish guys who casts every clients head, carve every fish body and replaces all nasty looking cut up shrunk disgusting looking fins with my cast ones lol.
    For me it's cheaper to cast my own but I don't use alginate that often any more. I'll set my heads up and make a silicone plug, cast a mother mold of bondo and cast a head from there.
    After saying this my mold I made can easily cast a bunch more heads just from that for those who like to save money and are able to use that head on other clients fish. But you can also make a mold from there just by casting it like above make all or any repairs and then make a platinum mold that will last you for a hundred heads or more. WOW money saver big time. Folks we just don't think around here as much as we should on how that sometimes spending a bit more will make you more in the end when doing fish or even other mounts
    All my molds I make I save and give them to a good Greek brother if he wants to so that he can use them and save money till he learns the steps and gets a good business going and then do like me cast them and throw them away.
    Oh yes I do get paid for what I do and so should you no questions asked and I also may add you do have to price accordingly to your area if your full time part time guys should be much higher priced cause you can spend more time on a mount. JMO
    Don't sell yourself short.