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Acetylene & Oxygen Torch for Argentium Silver


#1

Good Day!

I would like to purchase a Smith Little Torch and am having
difficulty determining which would be the best system.

I have been working exclusively with Argentium Sterling Silver
(which has been excellent) for almost two years with a small
Bernzomatic butane torch. I work with wire and sheet as well as chain
maille. I would also like to experiment with granulation. I have only
ever fused things together (which my butane torch has been able to
handle) even though it runs at a low temperature of only 2500F.

I want to purchase a Little Torch so that I have more control and
pinpoint accuracy when I am fusing, especially small areas. Although
the flame on my butane torch can be turned down quite small, it has
a much wider orifice hole than the Little Torch set-up. As a result,
I feel I am melting a larger area than necessary to achieve the fuse
and perhaps loosing some detail.

My wife called the makers of the Little Torch and they recommended
the Acetylene/Oxygen set-up although the person she spoke with did
not have a working knowledge of Argentium. She also called Rio Grande
technical support who suggested that the Propane/Oxygen set-up would
be the best for Argentium.

The Acetylene/Oxygen System is the hottest of the gasses running at
6000F. It works with all the tips from the smallest #2 and up.

The Propane/Oxygen System runs cooler at 4780F but only works with
tips #3 and up. When speaking with Rio Grande technical support, they
warned that the #3 tip is hard to light. I read yesterday in the
Orchid archives that others have had this same problem.

My preference is to purchase the Acetelyne/Oxygen System so I have
the widest range of tips to choose from but I am worried that this
high temperature flame will not be as conducive to working with
Argentium as Propane. I wonder if working with the smallest possible
flame for the area to be fused is beneficial even though the flame
temperature is hotter? Perhaps the flame temperature can be lowered
somehow?

I would greatly appreciate the advise of those of you using
Argentium and comments from anyone currently using an
Acetylene/Oxygen set-up.

Thank you for your time and Happy New Year.

John
Western Canada


#2

I work exclusively with the argentium sterling. I use the oxy/propane
set up and have never had a problem. It works great and I have no
problems lighting any of the torch tips. I also use a Smith
acetylene/air torch for most all my soldering work and the tiny torch
for tight work and balling wire and working on small items and tight
areas.

Susan
http://web.mac.com/SusanThornton


#3

John

If you don’t mind the input of a hobbyist, buy the Smith, get and
follow the recommendation of your local gas supply house on how you
should setup your rig and safety equipment. You will find things to
do with this torch you could not imagine with propane, from balling
wire near extremely sensitive objects to reticulating in patterns.
What you had to learn with propane, you will have to relearn with
the Smith and Oxy/Acet. That is speed, temperature control and flame
placement. There are ways to control the temp by the proportion of
the gases, and there are 3 types of flame, each will affect the
temperature with this device and controlling the heat by simple
placement of the object within the flame. Get a book on the subject
of oxy/acetylene and keep the material you are working with in mind
and I think you will do fine. (Check the archives there is
considerable discussion on certain metals and reactions with this
type of heat source.) When you get your set-up they also sell goggles
that wear like sun glasses, they work pretty good and mine have
enough space I can get my regular glasses under them. The radiance
from a oxy/acet torch is much brighter than the propane.

P.S. The number 2 is hard to light and keep lit on oxy/acetylene, and
it is possible to fuse one side of a jump ring and not the other :slight_smile:

Have fun
Terry


#4
I work exclusively with the argentium sterling. I use the
oxy/propane set up and have never had a problem. It works great and
I have no problems lighting any of the torch tips. I also use a
Smith acetylene/air torch for most all my soldering work and the
tiny torch for tight work and balling wire and working on small
items and tight areas. 

Susan, may I ask, why don’t you use your Oxy/Propane Little Torch
when soldering Argentium? Do you feel you are not getting enough
heat? I would assume the Oxy/Propane setup would get hot enough
considering the lower temperature necessary for use with Argentium?
Thanks, I’m just curious why?

What you had to learn with propane, you will have to relearn with
the Smith and Oxy/Acet. 

Actually Terry, I’ve been using Butane, not propane but you are
right, I will have to relearn.

There are ways to control the temp by the proportion of the gases,
and there are 3 types of flame, each will affect the temperature
with this device and controlling the heat by simple placement of
the object within the flame. 

That is just excellent info. I thought each tip had a specific gas
settings and didn’t realize you could do some “tweaking” to change
the flame.

Check the archives there is considerable discussion on certain
metals and reactions with this type of heat source. 

Terry, I have read pretty much every single post in the Orchid
Archives containing the word “Argentium” (there have been quite a
few)! There hasn’t been that much discussion however on which gas is
preferred. I’d guess that many already have a set-up when they
started using Argentium and just continued with what they had.

I also check info on the Socieiy of American Silversmiths website,
Cynthia’s Eid’s technical paper, Trevor’s blog and the Argentium
Silver website. In most cases, the words “propane”, “acetylene” or
even “gas” rarely show up if at all. All of these sources taught me
SO MUCH about Argentium and I am so thankful for that. I refer to
these all the time.

Cythia Eid who I consider one of the Argentium guru’s uses
Oxy/Acetylene (or at least she did when she started out with
Argentium). In a past Archive post she wrote the following about
fusing jumprings:

" I use my oxy-acetylene Little Torch with a number four tip,
and a medium sized, reducing flame. So, depending on what torch
you are using ... To me, I'd categorize it as a small, intense,
local, very hot, neutral flame". 

Hey Cynthia, are you ears ringing??

I’m trying to figure out what system is the best and most efficient
specifically with Argentium. If you were buying from scratch, which
system would you buy? I’d really love to hear what others using
Argentium have to say.

Thank you,
John


#5
may I ask, why don't you use your Oxy/Propane Little Torch when
soldering Argentium? Do you feel you are not getting enough heat? I
would assume the Oxy/Propane setup would get hot enough considering
the lower temperature necessary for use with Argentium? 

You know John, I guess it is just habit. It might be that some of my
pieces are large and I think I need the bigger flame, but perhaps I
don’t need that big of a flame. Argentium doesn’t need heat except
for the joint. I am going to try to use the baby more often. The baby
is faster for sure and that is a good thing.

Have a good day,

Susan
http://web.mac.com/SusanThornton


#6

Hi John,

Thanks for the kind words! Always appreciated!

Sorry for the delay in response—I’m traveling a lot lately—just
visited family, and now teaching in New Smyrna Beach, FL, so I’m
having a hard time keeping up with Orchid…

Part of the reason you are confused is that all the gases work, and
they each have advantages and disadvantages, which have been
discussed previously. So, this is my personal opinion: I am
accustomed to acetylene, and I do prefer it to propane. Since it does
not get as hot, I recommend oxy-acetylene. If you are fusing, there
are times that the oxy-propane does not get hot enough for my taste.
I tried to use an oxy-propane Little Torch in a workshop once, and it
was ok for small things, but not for larger ones.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com