NSEC23 key casting - Mon, May 22, 2023 - Jean Privat & hellnia
Metal, fire and blood
In the main room of the NorthSec2023 competition, there was a shady area, with toxic fumes, meth spoons, suspicious white powder and a group of contestants looking like a mess: bloodshot eyes, famished, and their entire existence in pain.
The goal of the challenge is to forge a metal key to unlock a lock. A master key to use as a model is provided, but is attached to a brick.
Ingredients and Tools
- Metal spoon (preferably with a wooden handle)
- Note: if the handle is broken, you can try to fix it by soldering it to the metal spoon part. It will stay together for your entire forging… maybe.
- Torch (such as a butane torch)
- Fireproof surface (such as a metal tray), or a plastic table
- Gloves (preferably heat-resistant), or brown paper towels
- Eye protection (such as safety glasses), or just your regular eyeglasses
- Pieces of
- Plasticine holder
- Baby powder
- A master key to use as a model
Step 1: Put the plasticine into each half of the holder.
Chef’s trick: if you put too much plasticine, it will be hard to close both halves of the holder.
Step 2: Remove the excess plasticine using the second part of the holder as trowel. Do the same with the second half.
The plasticine surface must be flat and free of debris.
Step 3: Sprinkle the mold with some baby powder, and remove excess powder.
Chef’s trick: also put some powder onto the key. Shake the key to remove excess powder.
Step 4: Put the master key onto the plasticine in one half of the holder then cover it with the other half.
Chef’s technical vocabulary: what you have now is called a master key plasticine sandwich.
Step 5: Put the sandwich onto the floor and gently, but firmly, press with your foot.
Both parts of the plastic holder should be very tight and you should see the excess plasticine overflowing around the key at the top of your sandwich.
Note: plasticine is a very plastic material, thus the molding is done almost instantly. There is no need to squish and keep the master key in place once you step on it.
Step 6: Open the plastic holder and carefully remove the master key. You are trying to remove the plastic casing while keeping the key stable. If you move the key itself too much, you might modify the imprint.
Both plasticine part should have a sharp imprint of the master key.
Close the mold again and reserve. Take a wiff of the alloy burning in spoons all around you. Savor the smell.
Step 7: Put the pieces of alloy in the spoon and use the torch to heat the spoon from under it. You don’t want to burn the alloy but melt it. Rewatch the movie Requiem for a Dream if you need a better visualization.
The metal melts very fast.
Note du chef: beware, the hot metal part of the spoon is hot.
Random fact: melting point of tin is 449.47 degrees Fahrenheit/231.93 degrees Celsius. Field’s alloy’s numbers are less impressive (62°C/144°F) but you can still burn yourself, teammates or other contestants if you are clumsy.
Step 8: gently but firmly pour the molten alloy into the hole of the mold.
Beware of air bubbles that could prevent the molten alloy from correctly filling the mold. Shake the mold gently.
Register to our premium plan, to learn about air evacuation canals.
Wear you gloves (or paper towel) to protect your hands in case of an accident. Or live life dangerously.
If you poured melted metal in you eyes, go to 14.
Step 9: wait 10 minutes-ish for the metal to become cold
Step 10: gently remove the key from the mold.
Note that the key is very soft and will bend easily. So do not stress it too much.
Step 11: Using a file (not listed in the tools nor provided by NorthSec), polish the key to make it perfect.
No need to add patina.
Step 12: Get flag