I never really thought I'd be melting metal, but in order to do it one needs a furnace. I really wanted to get into hobby robotics, however it quickly became apparent that I would need some machine tools to build the parts for the robots. Instead of buying a cheap lathe, I researched some possible ways of building one from scratch and found a great series of books by Dave Gingery. Here are some photos of me building a small blast furnace for melting aluminum. I built it initially for charcoal, but set it up such that I could upgrade to propane later. I found that using charcoal was fairly time consuming and quickly converted it to propane before I melted any metal.