Footprint Casting

June 2020

ForensiKit by Crime Scene - Footprint Casting

The ForensiKit: Footprint Casting box includes
  • One 5-pound container of casting compound
  • Two 2-pound bags of Traxtone casting powder
  • One plastic casting container
  • One 5-pack of 2” x 2” evidence labels
  • One 2-ounce bottle of dirt hardener AKA hairspray
  • One activity insert (Download another copy [PDF])
  • One packing list (Download another copy [PDF])
Contents of the ForensiKit by Crime Scene - Footprint Casting box

How to make a casting frame

Using Traxtone & casting compound

Activity – Identify a tire track

💡 Tip: We’re starting with something already known, as opposed to something you need to find out.

Materials needed:

  • Casting frame
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Camera or cell phone to take photos
  • Pen and paper or digital alternative to document your findings

Steps

  1. Have an adult use a car or other vehicle to create a tire track
  2. Follow the Traxtone Casting Procedure on the activity insert included in your ForensiKit to make a cast of the tire impression.
  3. Use the Evidence Labels included in your ForensiKit to document the date, time, place, etc.
  4. Take multiple images of the tire used to make the impression.
  5. Compare the cast to the photographs.
  6. Make a list of specific observations that would help you prove the cast has the same tread as the tire.
    • Are there any specific identifying characteristics such as a patch or wear pattern?
    • Does measuring parts of the tread help?
Example tire track in soil
Tire track in soil

Did you know?

Forensic examinations of tire tracks and footwear impressions result in one of four findings.

  1. Individualization — the class, wear, and unique characteristics of the unknown impression and the known shoe or tire sufficiently match with no unexplainable differences.
  2. Elimination — the class, wear, and/or individual characteristics are not sufficiently similar between the unknown impression and the known shoe/tire, and the known shoe/tire is excluded as a match.
  3. Inconclusive — the quality or quantity of information from the unknown impression is insufficient to reach a meaningful scientific conclusion.
  4. Association — the class, wear, and some unique characteristics agree between the unknown impression and the known shoe/tire, but are not sufficient to be certain of a match. Findings can vary from likely to could have, to similar but lacking sufficient detail to be conclusive.

For more information, see the A Simplified Guide To Footwear & Tire Track Examination via http://www.forensicsciencesimplified.org/

Activity – Identify tool impressions

Materials needed:

  • Spare piece of wood, preferably pine, like a 2×2 or 4×1 board
  • Assorted tools (e.g., hammer, wrench, etc.)
    • 💡 Tip: If you don’t have hand tools, you can use scissors, a kitchen mallet, a pepper grinder, a bottle of steak sauce, etc. The items just need to be heavy enough to leave an impression and do some damage as a weapon.
  • Clear tape or masking tape
  • Marker or pen that will write on the tape and the wood
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Camera or cell phone to take photos
  • Pen and paper or digital alternative to document your findings

💡 Tip: To make this activity more challenging, choose multiple hammers, wrenches, etc., that might leave similar impressions.

Steps

  1. Use the tape and marker to number each tool.
Assorted hand tools, numbered
Step 1 – Assorted hand tools, numbered
  1. Place your board on the ground.
    • 💡 Tip: You may want to do this outside if you have downstairs neighbors or are concerned about accidentally hitting your floor with the tools.
  2. Strike the board with a significant blow using the tool you numbered 1.
  3. Write a “1” on the board near the impression you made with Tool 1.
Step 4 – Impressions on a board, numbered
  1. Repeat for each numbered tool, making sure the number on the board matches the number on the tool.
    • 💡 Tip: Be careful NOT to make the impressions too close together. Make sure you leave at least an inch between them.
  2. Bonus Challenge — Have a member of your group secretly select another tool and use it to make an impression on the board.
    • Number the impression on the board but not the tool itself.
    • Do not add the mystery tool to your collection of numbered tools.
  3. Photograph the numbered board and the numbered tools for reference.
  4. Follow the Traxtone Casting Procedure on the activity insert included in your ForensiKit to make a cast of the impressions on the board.
  5. While the cast sets, remove the numbers from the tools.
  6. When the cast is ready, compare the tools to the cast of the impressions.
    • Can you match each tool to its cast impression?
      • 💡 Tip: Use your reference photos to check your findings.
    • Bonus Challenge — Can you determine what kind of tool made the mystery impression? Can you identify the specific tool?
      • 💡 Tip: Ask the group member who made the mystery impression to check your findings.

Need more evidence labels?

Evidence Labels

Small evidence label with fields to complete for identification

Need more Traxtone?

Traxtone Footprint Casting Powder

Plastic bag of Traxtone powder with a bottle of dirt hardener
Want to level up?

AccuTrans Kit

Contents of the AccuTrans casting kit

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