I recently purchased a Solder-It PT-500 butane torch:
The PT-500 has one knob that you turn to adjust the fuel intake, and
a ring to adjust the air intake.
It is not a culinary torch, so it doesn't have a child-guard
mechanism -- you just open the air ring, then open the fuel valve,
and then push the fuel valve to ignite the fuel.
The air adjustment ring has to be all the way open to light the
torch reliably on first-try. However, once lit, the air ring can be
closed and the fuel can be adjusted down to create a very small
candle-like flame suitable for lighting incense in a still room
(should you want to do so.)
The PT-500 has a large tank -- about 200 hours according to the
manufacturer, and it's rated to 2600F/1350C. I don't have a volume
spec for the PT-500 tank (I wish I did!) but it appears to be a good
bit larger than the culinary torches I've seen.
I like the built-in base on the PT-500 -- I can just set it down
wherever and I don't have to keep track of a separate base.
The only other butane torch I have used in comparison to the PT-500
is a Solder-It PT-220 butane torch:
The PT-220 does have a child-guard mechanism and so it's somewhat
annoying to light. It appears to have a smaller tank than the
PT-500, but the manufacturer says it should go about 220 minutes on
one gas filling. It's rated to 2500F/1300C.
The PT-500 very easily and quickly fused 1" diameter 16ga fine
silver jump rings in comparison to the PT-220 torches, which seemed
very slow -- so slow that most of the people in the class would wait
for the PT-500 to be available rather than try to use the PT-220.
On the other hand, the slowness of the PT-220 worked well for me
when I used one to learn to solder jump rings with paste solder. I
had plenty of time to manipulate that paste back into position if it
wandered off the joint, and also I was very pleased that I didn't
ruin the temper of the spring in the lobster-claw clasp when I
soldered its jump ring.
However, when I was using the PT-220 to solder, and watching its use
in fusing, I didn't yet own my PT-500 and so I didn't know about the
air adjustment ring (unfortunately the local bead store instructor
failed to mention it in either class). So the performance of the
PT-220 may well have been adjustable to be adequate to the task of
fusing the larger rings in a more timely manner.
It would also be nice if Solder-It provided a BTU spec for its
In any case, I will be using the PT-500 for tasks assigned in a
Jewelry/Metalsmithing course at Pratt in Seattle this quarter, and I
should be able to report how well it fares in comparison to the
culinary torches, the acetylene/air torches, and the oxy/propane
Little Torch that are present in the classroom.
So far, I've been able to anneal brass and copper with the PT-500
just fine. Unfortunately, I didn't do the annealing with it in class,
so I'm not sure how it compared, speed-wise -- it seemed about the
same as the acetylene/air torches that we were using but that doesn't
seem logical, does it? I will try to test this in class and report
It was interesting to see that the PT-500 allowed me to torch the
zinc in the brass to make some lovely copper patterns, even. Which in
turn gave me the opportunity to implement H202 "super pickle". All of
it has been very, very kewl.