I've seen them in use twice. The first was in a video on making silver watch cases. After every soldering operation the worker popped the piece into his boil out pot, picked it up with a pair of pliers, walked over to the fireplace and gave it a blast with his torch to bring it to a fast rolling boil, the fumes going up the chimney.
The video Kevin is referring to is a truly remarkable - it is called
’Martin Matthews, Four Generations of Watchcase Makers’ and is
available through the Antiquarian Horological Society
Martin was the last of the ‘real’ watchcase makers and made his
living making gold and silver cases for mainly antique pocket
watches. His workshop was also truly and ‘antique’ and, whilst many
of his methods would definitely be frowned upon by today’s health and
safety ‘experts’, most of whom have no background in, or real
understanding of, the practicalities of handworking, the video
clearly demonstrates a wide range of jewellery or silversmithing
techniques. I was fortunate in visiting Martin’s workshop several
times and always came away inspired and a little wiser.
One thing which Kevin didn’t mention and which always amuses me is
the gold-melting furnace made from a watering can!
Ian W. Wright