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Want to Learn How to Cast Fins

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by slabbandit, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. slabbandit

    slabbandit Member

    Don't know the first thing about doing it right now. Any help will be appreciated.
     
  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Silicone or Bondo and hot melt glue are all you need to get started. Make a mold of the fin with either silicone or Bondo and use the hot melt glue to pour the fin cast. It does have a learning curve but it is cheap enough, once you have it down pretty good you can maybe move onto using a more expensive 2 part substance to pour your fins.
     
    Multispeciestamer likes this.

  3. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Easypeesy...go to UTUBE and watch it being done.
     
  4. Jimmy Lawrence

    Jimmy Lawrence Well-Known Member

    Do not, and I can't stress this enough..... do not use hot glue for fins. That's one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas . Ask old school folks with the Dennis Arp hot glue fins...... they melt. Sag. Bend. Distort. Your paint will be distorted . It's just not good. There are many articles in breakthrough and taxidermy today on it. As well as YouTube.
     
  5. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Jimmy, are you saying it can't be done? Don't be so quick to judge another's advice. You have not had the same experiences as I have. It is not the best substance but I know damn well it has worked. How about advising him as to what is a better media to cast them with. I recommended that he move onto a better 2 part plastic but to use cheap hot melt glue while learning. All fins made with hot melt glue.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
  6. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    3Bears, I'm with Jimmy on this one. You're probably okay in Minnesota with your cold weather. But, a customer in Phoenix, Arizona will probably experience at least some sagging if their AC goes out - lol! Especially on smaller, thinner fins. I tinkered with it once and was unsure of it's longevity too. And could see problems down the road for thinner fins. I didn't think it picked up detail as well as other products too.

    I've used some clear Fin molding stuff - can't recall the name of it, but McKenzie sells it. I think it may have been Aves/Fin Magic??? Two part. Easy to work with. Only have to watch for air bubbles and it worked pretty well. I'll defer to Jimmy and his experience here as I'm sure there's plenty of other products out there that are better than hot glue. Hot glue maybe okay for a beginner to tinker with, but I think his time would be better spent exploring with better products that he is more likely to use down the road. I do very little molding so JMO based on slightly more than beginner's experience - lol....

    P.S. 3Bears the Crappie isn't hot glue right?
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
  7. Jimmy Lawrence

    Jimmy Lawrence Well-Known Member

    oh no, it can be done. hell, melt parafin wax and pour into it instead. why not. make them out of gummy bears. Dennis Arp did that a long time ago with hot glue fins. They had fine detail, as that's what the mold captures, not the casting materials per say . And they looked super nice. I have some down stairs in my basement, You can bend them every which way, and its super fun. I'm saying that's a horrible idea, they don't hold their shape, and are DRASTICALLY affected by temperature and other factors. Why go to all the trouble of making a nice mold, and casting them in junk? I think i might get a super duper mega hot glue gun, and inject one of my big bass molds, and go around slapping people who give poor advice on the internet. Luckily, the hot glue should come right out of the mold, and not tear it up. I'll be able to cast a bunch, as they're surely going to wear out, what from all the beatings and what have you....

    If you make the molds out of bondo/resin, go ahead and lay the fins out of the same materials. or even just resin. At least you'll know they won't droop on you faster than a hound's ear.

    Clearly when I referenced Arp doing that, that was an obvious acknowledgement of it being done. So I'm not sure what you missed. The taxidermy school I went to had binders of fin molds on stiff cardboard. They were made from cheap tube silicone and labeled in the book . Glove mold style. You found your page with your fin, and squirted it full of hot glue. Out popped a nice detailed fin, flexible as well, which isn't a bad quality to an extent, if that's your preference. I personally hate even the flex-resin fins sold by many replica companies, and request them to be made stiffer, or even out of plain bondo/gelcoat.

    Whatever gets you across that finish line I suppose.... Just some might be hanging lower than others.

    Enjoy.
     
  8. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Jimmy I've done some older restores where the taxidermists "back in the day" used wax to coat the fins. Apparently they weren't made to fix/change in the future. What a biotch to work with concerning fixes! You can't get it off and not much of anything will stick to the wax!!
     
  9. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    No Marty, those are original fins.
    Jimmy, I have no idea of what Arp did and I cannot comment on them but, I'm guessing it wasn't good in your eyes.
    That carp's fins are fine but, I will say that I used rigid spines to combat what you say. Some were not entirely hot melt glue, but were still flexible to an extent. Like I stated, there is a learning curve. I prefer transparent, flexible fins, not rigid and damn sure don't want any cardboard on the back. For the exact reason of what happened to Cole in his seminar there in Iowa. I always end up breaking them. I have a system that works well for me on natural fins, but I do use both bondo and resin at times for casting replacements of bigger fins.
    My original post was to get him started down a path, not to tell him exactly how to or not to go down it.
    Go ahead pour away with your bass, I'm just north a spell.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
    FishArt likes this.
  10. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    I agree with the above comment, worse product you can use for a fin. Include all of the above, but also add they break in cold temperatures like an empty fishing lodge in the winter. I had to repair a fish that I used them on one time.....never again.
     
    Jimmy Lawrence likes this.
  11. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    JL how did they break? I'm betting under the circumstances it wouldn't have likely mattered what they were made of.
    I get it that some of you don't like hot melt and I understand why. I admitted there are better substances to use for pouring fins.
    All of this crap and very few if any answers to the guy's question, other than mine, which some of you disagree with and that's fine. I'm a big boy, I can handle it. Now how about enlightening those of us in the dark on what is better.
     
  12. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Hey 3Bears, I recommended "Fin Magic".
     
    3bears likes this.
  13. JHardman

    JHardman Member

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    FishArt,
    I have used the EpoGrip fin Magic in the past with good results, It is easy to work with an can be shaped with heat when full cured. SlabBandit, The Fin Magic could be a good option to play around with for a casting material; It is forgiving with a fairly long working time. I would use bondo or silicone for the mold media. Remember to use a parting agent both making the mold and casting the positive. With thinned Bondo I typically use johnsons paste wax at least 2 coats being sure to polish the second coat to a nice gloss sheen. If you were to use the Fin Magic it must be painted completely opaque as it will yellow over time and it does seem to get fairly brittle. I do still use this method sometimes for a proof cast to make a permanent silicone mold from as it is easy to work with, it does pick up nice detail and I already have the materials in the shop for other things (their both handy). Please keep in mind the Bondo will likely cook the Fin so don't experiment with something you can't afford to waste.
     
    slabbandit, 3bears and FishArt like this.
  14. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Casting fins in bondo won't cook them if you do it right and use ice water to kkep the mold cold as it sets up.
    Following simple steps that are in old breakthrough magazine will tell you how its done. I wont write it here cause it takes to long to do it but the molds last ions and I have molds over 15 years. As for casting I use innovative polymers 3025 or use smooth on products.
     
  15. I'm in agreement with Jimmy... don't use hot melt fins. I've seen them snap in cold temps... bad news. And if they get too warm, they take whatever shape they damn well please. Also, you can go ahead and use that EpoGrip fin magic, but beware. Your customer may notice in a year or two that the fins will turn a nice bright yellow if they don't have a 1/8th inch of primer on them. I don't think there's any UV stabilizer in that stuff. As Frank mentioned IE3025 is excellent (IE3080 allows for a little more work time), but you'll get bubbles unless you are pressure casting. There's a lot to learn if you want really nice fins.
     
  16. Jimmy Lawrence

    Jimmy Lawrence Well-Known Member

    Every fin magic fin I've used has flattened out. And every fin attachment has turned yellow as well when used as an adhesive. Fin Magic is junk. I use 325 or 326 from Smooth On normally. Or Bondo, or resin depending on fish/application.
     
    3bears likes this.
  17. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

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    Arp is getting a bad rap here as he was one of the most innovative guys in the industry at the time. He was the first to produce replicas in the fashion that Mckenzie and Lake Country now use and was the first to attempt to get very nice symmetrical bodies. The hot glue fins were the weak link of that process as they do sag and break if subjected to cold temperatures while shipping. If you doubt this take a fin and put it in the freezer and drop it on the floor and it will shatter into smaller pieces. At the time that Mckenzie bought him out he was converting over to urethanes that were more durable. I give him a lot of credit for trying to find a better way.
    There are some very specialized, very good quality hot glues available that would probably work great for this process but nobody I know has gone down the list to find the appropriate product. There are ones specifically for use on wood and other products that may have properties that would make them good for fins. Many of these are amber instead of clear.... but....
    Manufactures that use a lot of glue use granulated hot glue in a hopper with a feeder gun. Others require a gun that takes ribbed hot glue sticks. I'm not trying to bore you with details just that most of the better hot glues available require something other than a cheapie hot glue gun. The better guns will feed glue as fast as you can work without the gun cooling down. There are silicone rubbers that will hold up to higher temperatures well so the process would be valid if the right hot glue was found.
    The point that Jimmy and others are trying to make is that the standard cheap hot glue will make a fin that can capture nice detail but the finished product will cause you problems down the road. At the very least, flexing the fin and popping paint or gloss. There is lots of other things that can be used.
     
    John C, Ron Kelly, Cecil and 3 others like this.
  18. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Now there we go, thanks guys. I have not experienced the issues that you have all brought to my attention. I'm sure I am not that good or that lucky but for whatever reason the few I've done with glue, have worked. I did coat them with a flexible but stable coating, that holds paint well. I have have not yet dove into the other casting media available but plan to in the future and I will look into your recommendations.
     
  19. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    If you use the real fins they won't yellow over time! ;)
     
    3bears likes this.
  20. Brian W

    Brian W Active Member

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    Yep.....I use 3025 also.....