Back on the torch question

Some months ago there was a thread about advantages of the
various torches. Well, from indecision I’m still using my
handheld butane torch (works great as long as its held vertical!)
for soldering and my old acetylene rig for casting (indispensible
for burning steel but too hot for casting silver). Not perfect
but as they were cheap and accessible, I’ve not changed.

Used the school’s Little Torch all summer, it was a joy for
soldering but it would never do for casting or beadmaking. I have
no experiance at all with the Smith Versatorch system nor the
Hoke torch but it would seem that either one could be adapted for
both melting and soldering. Anyone have strong opinions one way
or another? Maybe there is a magic torch out there somewhere that
will adjust from pinpoint to 7 point rosebud, is quiet and cool,
consumes little oxygen and comes with its own toolbox?


The better quality Blazer hand held butane torch can be used in
any position. The extra cost is well worth the safety.

A less expensive one I purchased from Harbor Freight had a
recall, seemed it would not turn off. I returned mine and bought
a second. I took it along to a week long silver class and found
it would not hold a steady flame. I put in an order for a
mid-priced one and used an exact one a friend lent me. I was
soldering/fusing fine silver links on a fire brick when the whole
brick burst into flame. The torch in a position half way between
vertical and horizontal was pouring butane directly onto the fire
brick. Extremely dangerous and completely defective. Several
persons in the room were using similar torches, no two had the
same flame and several had the flame recede. Only the Blazers
were consistent and did not pour out fuel when held horizontally.

This is a design flaw and very dangerous. Not worth taking the
chance. Contenti is currently listing the Blazer at less than I
purchased mine for many years ago.


Hello Geo.!

Should probably also consider the Meco torch. It has several
tips available. I seem to recall a rosebud tip on one in a shop
in my travels. My casting set up is directly behind my bench. I
melt routinely single ring castings in the 20 gram range with a
large tip (not a rosebud). The nice thing about the torch for me
(a hoke torch graduate) is the dexterity I can put to use
adjusting the valves during my work. Real handy, when you’ve got
to go from a bushy reducing flame to a hotter flame. I always
had to stop and adjust my hoke if I needed a different flame.
That is the only two I’m familiar with. Helpful I hope.


I tried using my little torch for casting about 1 time! Yuck.
Then I bought a melting tip for my little torch–also used it
about 1 time–double yuck!!

After looking through various jewelry catalogs for the best
deals on casting torches, I concluded that they were way

So I went to my local welding-supply shop (Praxair) to see what
they had to offer. When I explained my need to the salesman, he
showed me a great deal on a special sale they were running that
included 2 valves with meters for gas and for oxy, a torch with
a built-in back flame arrester, hoses, connectors, and 4 tips,
one of which was a melting tip–all for $250!!!

So if you’re in the market for a torch, go visit a welding shop.
They also carry gloves, eye protection, hoses, and all sorts of
other goodies.



The Smith little torch seams to be about as close to a magic
torch as anyone makes. You can get it in a set with 5 tips #1
through #7. The # 1, #2 tips are too small to use with gasses
other than acetylene or hydrogen and oxygen, The two smallest
tips will not even light with propane. The #3 tip is small enough
when using propane and oxygen to do the smallest chain work and
the # 5 tip is large enough for most rings. In addition to the 5
tips that come with the torch You can get a #6 and a #7 tip. I
tend to do a lot of larger jewelry and the #7 tip gets used the
most. For casting you can get one of the Melting tips, they have
them for different gasses. I use the Propane melting tip, it will
melt up to 5 ounces. Don’t get a short one, they do come in
different lengths. They also have twin flame tips that heat both
sides of an object at once. I have not tried on yet.

Take a look in a Rio Grand or Swest catalog.

When using different tips on the torch it is necessary to change
your regulator settings. When using the #3 tip set gas and oxygen
to 3 P.S.I.

#4 tip at 4 P.S.I.
#5 tip at 6 P.S.I.
#6 tip at 6 P.S.I.
#7 tip at 8 P.S.I.

Propane melting tip #13717 at 14 P.S.I. for oxygen and 10 P.S.I.
for propane.

If your acetylene torch is one that uses compressed oxygen, then
you will want to keep it around. You can use it with propane or
hydrogen and get much better temperatures for working with

Good luck

Timothy A. Hansen

TAH Handcrafted Jewelry

Maybe there is a magic torch out there somewhere that will
adjust from pinpoint to 7 point rosebud, is quiet and cool,
consumes little oxygen and comes with its own toolbox? 

And scratches our backs too?? Seriously, has any one used the
“Little Torch’s” Melting tips, differing catalogs do or don’t
carry them, and with mixed comments or lack of comments? any
‘real world’ experience and with what type crucible used and the
amount of which metals?

Thanks for your shared experience.

The Little Torch comes in two starter sets w/ 5 tips, acetylene
w/ #1-5 ande propane w/ #3-7. Rose bud tips are useful with
both fuels. In use I’ve melted both rose bud heads out of
postion. They still work okay. I’ve3 made my own melting tips
with 1/8" copper tubing and a compression fitting from a
hardware store. I removed a nut from an unused tip. File the
end square and smooth, ream opening with a broach. This makes a
super melting and brazing tip, length is your choice. You may
also forge a 3/4" long taper on the copper tubing for a smaller
orface in your tip. Finish as before. I use 25 psi O2 and 10 psi
acetylene and 12 psi propane w/ large tip. Marcus Amshoff

There is a torch from Smith Equipment the makers of the “Little
Torch” . The versa torch will allow you to use all of the Little
torch tips and also change the tip tube so that you can use a
multi orfice rose bud tip for larger work. Rio Grande has this
universal torch in the 1999 catalog on page 369.


Use both the “Little Torch” outfit and the commerical welding
outfit with a Hoke (or similar) with the rosebud tip. Use the
Little Torch for jewelry work and the Hoke w/rosebud for
casting. Your only investment will be hose forward, for you may
lease (yearly) the tanks from your welding supply house at a
reasonable price. Always use the flame arrester for safety. Ol’

I bought a melting tip for my little torch, but it was not the
right tool for what I was melting–about 70+ grams of silver.
And I’m also getting tired of my little torch for soldering
larger sterling pieces, as it just isn’t hot enough to overcome
the heat sink of a large bracelet. My flux burns off before the
solder melts, and I end up with firescale. The little torch is
best used for soldering small pieces–that’s why they call it

Virginia Lyons

I don’t think you can do EVERYTHING with the LIttle Torch,
sorry, dream on…You already have an acetylene tank and
regulator so I would get a Prestolite torch with several tips, It
uses no oxygen tank and 70 grams of silver should be no problem
to cast with a larger tip for the torch. I tried casting once
with the Little Torch with the multi melting tip and all I did
was smoke the room up with burning flux and the metal never
melted. Most silversmith use Prestolites or the Smith version of
that design. Sometimes you can find a used one through your local
welding shop as plumbers use these type of torches…Dave

Crystalguy Jewelry, the first art jewelry site on the net
Art jewelry with a mystic touch / Now accepting credit cards
Paddle Jewelry for River Addicts

I use the Lil Torch on a regular basis. If you’re used to
working with big jewelry torches, it takes some getting used to,
because the flame is so tiny, but it is also very intense. I work
with everything from a #2-#7, plus a rosebud melting tip with a
6" extension. I use the #2 for soldering tiny jumprings or
making chain repair on very delicate chains. #3 and #4 are used
the most often, and handle everything from making bezels to
light sweat soldering. I use the #5, #6, and #7 for butt joints
and heavy sweat soldering on heavy plates, such as you might use
to make belt buckles and attaching buckle bars.

There are several things you need to remember about this
particular torch. You don’t need to heat up the whole piece in
order to achieve getting the solder to flow point. The heat is
intense enough it’s not a concern drawing the heat away from the
joint from the cooler edges of the piece. But it doesn’t always
do well for annealing metal for this very reason, so I whip out
my propane torch for some of these jobs.

The rosebud casting tip will melt several ounces of silver or
bronze with an oxy/acetylene setup without a problem, but
anything more than that, you need to use a different torch. I use
it both with a small round crucible and the covered types. The
covered type of crucible will concentrate your heat more.

All in all, I’ve been very pleased with the performance of the
Lil Torch. It was quite an expensive outlay, as far as a single
tool, but I’ve never regretted the decision. It lets me do what I
wouldn’t attempt with a regular jewelry torch. It’s very
conservative on the gases, so it saves me money there. The barrel
is small and light, so you can solder all day without it beating
you to death, which is important if you have small or weak
hands, or if you have arthritis. It uses less gas, as well as the
barrel being made of plastic, so therefore, it’s cooler than most
others. There is a range within each tip which can be adjusted at
the barrel, which is at your fingertips. I’ve had mine for 4
years and never had to do anything as far as repairs;
occasionally I’ve had to clean out a tip when a new student gets
something stuck on one. Those students who learn on it have no
problem with it. Students and associates who are used to using
big torches need more time to adjust to it and tend to melt their
pieces at first.

I hope this answered some of your questions about this
particular torch.

K.P. in Wyoming

There is also a Versa Torch made by the same company that makes
the Little Torch. It has an adapter that allows you to use your
little torch tips, the tip tube is replaceable so that you can add
a large rose bud tip for casting and annealing. Liz