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Best torch for inside the house


#1

I’m presently using a Little Smith on Oxygen/Acetylene in the garage
and a Blazer torch (butane) inside the house in my studio. Because I
live in Northern Canada, my use of the Oxy/Acetylene unit is limited
to use between late April to mid September before it starts getting
too cold for the metal (and for me) in the garage. I love my Little
Torch and when I can use it, it meets all my metalsmithing needs
including casting and works beautifully, apart from the greasy sooty
mess it makes throughout the garage when first lighting it and while
adjusting the O2. I’ve had pretty good success with the Blazer torch
and it meets some of my metalsmithing needs, however it’s
ineffective for annealing larger pieces or large scale soldering and
a vast array of other limitations. Fortunately I work primarily with
Argentium Sterling Silver so I can get away with a lot more that I
couldn’t with 925 Silver as oxidation isn’t an issue, but constantly
running low on gas is. So, I can’t use propane in the house,
oxy/acetylene is too dirty to use in the house and am wondering what
the other options are, besides things like the H20 welder and natural
gas that can be used in the home. Is the Smith Silversmith Acetylene
unit with ambient air less mess than oxy/acetylene or am I looking at
the same problem. I’ve gone through most of the posts and everyone’s
got some valid thoughts, but I have seen a lot metalsmiths on Youtube
using the Smith Silversmith inside the home, not in a finished
basement though. Looking forward to some feedback on this.

Sonja Reschke


#2

Why can’t you use propane in the house?

I have no issues with insurance here in Australia using propane
inside so I use a Smith’s little torch in my inside studio space on
oxygen and a 4.5 kg propane cylinder. I’ve been running on the same
propane cylinder for a couple of years so running out of gas is not a
problem. I run out of oxygen more often.

I leave the crucible furnace with its 9kg cylinder in the shed along
with the kiln and casting machine.

Cheers
Jen


#3

You might want to check out the Miniflam torches.
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/miniflam

I don’t have any experience with these torches but just went to a
demonstration by Wayne Werner who is a jeweler currently consulting
with them - Wayne was also had a jewelry booth at the Atlanta
American Crafts Council so he is a very experienced professional.

From what I understand these torches have been used for years in
Dental Offices so can be used indoors. They are small oxy-propane
units with heads that go from pin point to large enough to work with
4 inch squares of metal. The propane is very clean but must be
obtained through the supplier.

I am a beginning metal worker so you may want to contact Wayne at
[email masked] or check their website for the most accurate details


#4

Why not use an oxegen propane tourch. It is plenty hot enough.
However you will have pipe it into your house, since it is too
dangerous to have in the house, a 5 gallon tank.

You will need a propane regulator.

Vince, Oakridge, OR


#5

Hi Sonja,

I use the Smith Silversmith with ambient air in my basement
(finished) and love it. No mess at all. Except if you count what my
bench looks like right this second (very messy).

Amy C. Sanders - raine studios
http://www.rainestudios.net


#6

For the past 15 years I’ve used natural gas and compressed oxygen in
my studio in my home - in a finished room. The gas is at normal
pressure, about 3 to 4 oz. The Meco Midge torch worked fine. Recently
I purchased a G-tec natural gas compressor and like it better. I use
it with the same oxygen bottle and have splitter (“Y”) things on both
the G-tec and the oxygen so that more than one person can solder at
the same time. With different torches, I can cast with natural gas
now which replaces my Oxygen/acetylene system for casting.

If you are having trouble with the acetylene making black ickies, try
turning the gas on with a smaller flame and secondly, get some kind
of exhaust fan to suck the stuff out of your studio.

Judy Hoch


#7
However you will have pipe it into your house, since it is too
dangerous to have in the house, a 5 gallon tank 

Actually, you will need to check with both the gas folks and your
insurance folks, as what is allowed varies widely! I have a friend in
the next state who has her propane piped in; in my state they said
"no way!" BUT I’m allowed to carry my 5 gallon tank in and out.
However, you are allowed to keep the smaller camping tanks in your
house, and frankly once I use up the big one that is what I’m
switching to… much lighter and easier!

Just know that what is ok one place is not necessarily ok another
place, and what is ok for business is not necessarily ok in a house.

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#8

Hi all,

I use a mixture of oxygen with a regulator and “Easigas” is what it’s
called here which I buy from a petrol station. It is liquid propane
gas. Comes in 9kg & 19kg. Do you guys have that in the US? Perfectly
safe, I’ve been using it for twenty years.

Good luck
Leza
Leza McLeod
www.elementalstudio.co.za


#9

Hi All,

I am surprised Noel has not posted on this topic yet. She wrote and I
edited an extensive article for Art Jewelry magazine a few years back
on torch and fuel choices.

I have been using the little Smith with 1 pound oxygen/propane tanks
in my kitchen/studio for years. They are the “disposable” tanks even
though now they are recyclable and can be purchased at most hardware
stores. I do go through about 3 oxygen tanks to every one propane.

The great thing about them is they are too small to be a gas
leak/explosion problem. What has me worried is Ms Reschke use of
oxy/acetylene. I hope you are wearing protective welding goggles when
you use that combo! If you are not you can burn your retinas by
looking at it.

Please be safe!

Nanz Aalund
www.nanzaalund.com


#10
I have been using the little Smith with 1 pound oxygen/propane
tanks in my kitchen/studio for years. The great thing about them is
they are too small to be a gas leak/explosion problem. 

That isn’t quite right. A 1 lb propane tank has the thermal energy
equivalent of 21,591 wooden kitchen matches and when ignited propane
expands to a volume 270 times its original size. Just because it is
small doesn’t make it safer. You should always, always have a UL
Listed flashback arrestor on your fuel gas and oxygen sources for
safety but even then, respect the power of a cylinder of propane.

Ed Howard
G-TEC Natural Gas Systems


#11

There is a good reason for not having inside your house and that is
where it to leak (propane is heavier than air and sinks to the
floor) and there was any kind of spark there would be an explosion.
Also you have to chain the oxygen tank to the wall. (If that should
leak it would be a big rocket.) These possibilities are extremely
rare but why chance it.

Vince, Oakridge, OR.


#12
have been using the little Smith with 1 pound oxygen/propane tanks
in my kitchen/studio for years.......The great thing about them is
they are too small to be a gas leak/explosion problem. 

I have to echo Nanz’s opinion. I also use the Smith little torch
with oxy/propane with the one pound disposable bottles in my home
studio. In Calgary, Canada, where I live, the one pound bottles are
legal to use in the home.

Regardless of what may or may not be legal in your area, the one
pound bottles are a good idea as they limit the amount of combustible
gas that you bring into your home and thus limit the amount of damage
caused if one should have a leak that goes unnoticed.

Regards
Milt


#13

There seems to be more than a bit of irrational fear of gas tanks
here. Yes there is a lot of potential chemical energy in even a small
cylinder of propane. Yes if you drop an oxygen cylinder and you
manage to bust off the top valve it can take off like a rocket.
However let’s consider the odds. The oxygen cylinders I use come with
a protective ring around the cylinder top. I expect I would have to
drop the cylinder from a great height and have it land in an unlikely
way for this potential to be realised. Similarly for propane. I am
probably more at risk of having an explosion in the kitchen from
leaking gas cook top.

As a jewellery artist I do a lot of potentially dangerous things. I
have used various dangerous chemicals such as nitric acid, sulphuric
acid, cyanide based plating solutions, fluoride based fluxes, silica
in investment powder etc.etc etc. I work with a kiln that can reach
temperatures of 1200C, handle casting flasks at 450C and red hot
crucibles full of molten metal and of course use a oxy-propane torch
with a flame temperature of 2400C. More broadly I have used
chainsaws, arc welders, a plethora of power tools and sharp knives
and climbed up ladders.

We learn to handle the dangers and minimise the risk as much as we
can by learning how to use our tools, take the appropriate safety
precautions, treat dangerous chemicals with the respect they deserve,
use the appropriate protective gear. Have learned how to use my torch
and treat it with requisite respect of a potentially dangerous piece
of equipment. My cylinders are held upright in a caddy: I have fitted
flashback arrestors: and I turn off the gas at the cylinder as soon
as I have finished using the torch.

The riskiest activity I undertake with my gas cylinders, because the
risk is substantially out of my control, is when I have to drive on
the road get a refill. People get killed in car crashes every day.
When people get killed by an exploding gas bottle very rarely.

Let’s just have a bit of perspective.

All the best
Jen


#14

I use a water torch…much more expensive, but very safe.

Catherine Schratt, Cate Jewelry


#15

Thank you, Jen.

I’m a lot more worried about inhaling nitric or muriatic acid fumes
than I am about exploding my soldering gasses.

But then, anyone who doesn’t use regulators & flashback arrestors
isn’t very smart, especially since they aren’t that hard to acquire
these days.

Basic safety and common sense are a lot smarter than being scared of
it when it comes to any tool.

Best way to get hurt with power tools it to be working scared, and
the same goes for torches and the gas that goes with them.

A torch is a tool, just like any other in the shop. I think a lot of
folks forget that you can get hurt with most of the tools we use -
I’ve done a few mildly nasty things to my fingers with high speed
cutting burs in a flexshaft on occasion when carving, even with being
careful, and I know that if I was careless I could easily do more
than give myself little nicks and chewed spots. A buffing wheel can
lose you a hand at the right rpm if you get a glove caught, and I’ve
actually seen a woodworker who was missing an eye from a snapped bit
of bandsaw blade.

Just be careful and reasonably safe, and be sure you get all your
connections tight.

A torch and it’s gas is nothing to be scared of.
Lindsay Legler
Dreaming Dragon Design


#16

I am shocked by the number of people posting that propane is
"perfectly safe." It is not. True, a small bottle will not blow up
your entire house, but it can certain pack a BIG punch if it does
explode.

A leak can be problematic as well as a full bottle explosion. At
least in the U.S., propane has an added garlic smell, so you should
notice the smell if you have a leak. If you do, remove the tank from
the house and open doors and windows. Do not turn on any lights or
other things that may spark until the smell is gone.

If a propane bottle were to fall over and the valve break off, you
would have quite a projectile that could kill you or anyone in its
path as it flies at high speed expelling the gas. This suggests that
the tank should be secured in some fashion so that it cannot fall
over - especially in your car.

I have had propane stoves and furnaces in my house for many years,
and I have had a couple explosions from the pilot lights. They were
certainly not fun, and they were just from a small amount of the gas.
One burned off my eye brows, singed my hand, and ruined a good
sweater. The other simply gave me first degree burns all over my face
and hand. Now, mind you, these happened prior to the advent of modern
equipment which has many more built-in safety features. Nevertheless,
they gave me serious respect for the power of the gas.

Take care with it in any environment.

Susan
Sun Country Gems LLC
http://www.suncountrygems.com


#17

I also agree that the one pound propane canisters are the way to go,
if you’re soldering indoors. Fire Departments are NOT keen on having
those 5 ga. propane tanks used indoors. The small “camping” propane
cylinders are just not considered that much of an indoor hazard to
the authorities. Those small cylinders, advertised as "disposable"
are actually quite easy to refill yourself. I bought a refill
coupler online that I use to refill those small cylinders from my 5
ga. propane tank. In that way, I’m not putting those empty cylinders
in the landfill, just refilling them at home.

Jay Whaley


#18

As to torches and safety, I had a first time accident in the studio
this week. I took a butane cigarette lighter from a drawer to light
an alcohol lamp that I use to heat tools when working wax. When I
tried to light it, it REALLY lit. It exploded in my hand. It burned
hair from my wrist and caused a couple of very minor burns. I dropped
it to the floor and tried to extinguish it with no luck, I finally
resorted to kicking it around so that it had little opportunity to
set my floor afire (a few scorches). I don’t know how long it spewed
flame but it seemed like minutes. Probably lasted about 30 sec.

Some of you may be familiar with my comments urging safe shop
practices. This just goes to illustrate that following all the rules
does not guarantee safety. There are always ways to be blindsided
and I guess that is what happened to me. Many times we will call an
event and accident when, in fact, our inattention to procedures and
the presence of distractions simply provided an opportunity to get
hurt. In a fashion this is not really an accident, but something
that should have been expected.

I don’t like it when something like this jumps out and says, “Boo”.
A lighter. Who would guess. (By the way, I will not quit using
butane lighters because this is not likely to happen again…I hope)

Gerald Vaughan


#19
I am shocked by the number of people posting that propane is
"perfectly safe." It is not. True, a small bottle will not blow up
your entire house, but it can certain pack a BIG punch if it does
explode. 

All fuel gases are potentially dangerous, be they propane,
acetylene, natural gas, hydrogen or any other hydrocarbon gas. If
you have a leak it is possible to have a fire or explosion with any
of them. There is no safer fuel gas there are only safe working
habits with a fuel gas. They are all explosive they are all
flammable, do not be lulled into complacency by thinking your fuel
gas is safe. Some sink others float it doesn’t matter there are
ignition sources high and low. Get in the practice of leak testing
all your hoses, and fittings or a regular basis. When you change
tanks check the tank to regulator seal and the tank valve. Get a
bottle of Snoop or similar leak checking fluid and use it.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#20

Jen Gow’s response to the torch question is well reasoned and to the
point.

Risk assessment is a difficult process. Jewelers use dangerous tools
and equipment. Prudence dictates that a jeweler appreciate these
risks and take steps to control or mitigate them. In my opinion, a
properly maintained torch with sound hoses and gas tanks secured
upright is one of the less dangerous parts of what we do. Far more
likely to hurt you are the acids, bases, solvents and particulates
generated by grinding and polishing. These dangers can largely be
avoided by being attentive to the necessary precautions and using a
torch with the safeguards Jen proposes. Check for leaks when setting
up (soapy water will work. bubbles mean a leak.), secure the tanks
upright, use backflow preventing valves, take care where you direct
the flame. When finished or when you leave the work area, extinguish
the torch (shut off the oxygen first, then the fuel gas) close the
tank valves, and, if you are finished for the day, don’t forget to
bleed the hoses and regulators. I prefer oxyacetylene or oxypropane.
Any of the torches people mention can be safely used indoors. Your
choice depends upon the size of your work pieces and how much heat
you need. Most things, short of melting metal for casting, can be
effectively done with a refillable butane torch.

I use the Smith Little Torch with oxyacetylene or with disposable
oxygen and propane tanks for most work but switch to a full sized
oxyacetylene torch for casting. There are many possibilities but,
using the safety measures so often outlined on Ganoksin, any can be
safe to be used inside. More dangerous than the torch are the gases
and fumes liberated by heating metals and flux It is imperative that
you employ an air handling or ventilation system to get rid of these
materials. Always have a fire extinguisher handy.

I hate to mention it, but things can happen anyway. We call them
accidents. A couple of days ago a standard butane cigarette lighter
exploded in my hand when I lit it. How about that! I didn’t need
hair on my wrist anyway.

Just take care.
Gerald Vaughan