Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Buying a new torch


#1

I’m thinking of buying a new torch. What do you use? What do you
recommend?

thanks Dick


#2

While I use acetylene, if I were buying one now, I would diversify.
Natural gas if possible, propane or MAPP next.

Depending upon what I was doing, I would also look at insurance
coverage and see if the water based torches wouldn’t work for me.

It all depends on what you are doing and the amount of BTU’s you
need…


#3
I'm thinking of buying a new torch. What do you use? What do you
recommend? 

First, you should tell us or at least decide what sort of work
you’re planning to do with this torch. A torch I’d want for fine
assembly of delicate wire work in gold filigree, or for delicate
repair work on antique jewelry, won’t be the one I recommend for
fabrication of larger silver hollow ware, or even typical fabricated
silver jewelry. And what will work for both the above, may not be at
all good if you want to work in platinum.

But for my money at least, one of the most versatile torches you can
get is the Meco midget, feeding it oxygen and either natural gas or
propane. This torch has an unusually wide range of tips made for it,
enabling quite small work, as well as larger and hotter, including
platinum. It’s perhaps my most used torch. If you mostly work small
and won’t need to work on larger or hotter work, the same gasses
feeding a Smith Little Torch is a great high precision easily
handled tool. If you’re mostly a silversmith, not working much in
gold, the Smith “silversmith” torch, which uses only acetylene and
atmospheric air is my favorite. It’s largest tips will anneal the
piece of silver you’re raising into a teapot (though that might be
stretching it’s abilities at that scale), while the smallest will
work nicely with fine silver fabrication and wire work. The
air/acetylene fuel is cheaper than torches needing an oxygen tank,
and happens to be virtually ideal for working in silver. The
Prestolite torch, and several similar air/acetylene torches do much
the same, though I’m not sure if the quality of the others measures
up as well as the Smith.

The above selection of torches are the main ones I’ve got set up in
my studio, though I also have a larger casting torch for melting
larger amounts of metal.

HTH
Peter


#4

It really depends on the type of work you do. I mostly do relatively
small things such as rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets etc, and
find that I use my water torch for just about everything. No gas to
worry about, easy to choose the correct sized flame for soldering the
tiniest chain link up to a silver bangle, and no requirement to
adjust the gas mixture - it’s always just right. It’s perfect for
re-tipping claws (prongs).

It’s easily the most useful torch I’ve used, but YMMV.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#5
While I use acetylene, if I were buying one now, I would
diversify. Natural gas if possible, propane or MAPP next. Depending
upon what I was doing, I would also look at insurance coverage and
see if the water based torches wouldn't work for me. It all depends
on what you are doing and the amount of BTU's you need.. 

This comes up a lot in the home casting groups.

Natural gas (town gas), doesn’t have the required pressure, you need
to get a special regulator added. This of course fixes you to one
place, in a studio this is not an issue, but if you rent a property
or want to go on the road you need to look at a different solution.

I went with this one :-

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/15f

Because it doesn’t need oxygen and can run on plain old propane i.e.
a bbq cylinder. It can also run on other gasses.

Regards Charles A.


#6

Hi,

I tried to message Gary Wooding directly but was unable to. Would
love to hear input from others who have had experience, though.
Gary, I am intrigued by the fact that you say you are able to use
your water torch with bangles, etc. When I was researching torches, I
really WANTED the water torch to be the one for me, but all the
feedback I was reading indicated the water torch was useful for
basically nothing beyond a jump ring (or such similar sized item =
tiny). I would love to hear from Gary and any others something I’ve
not seen mentioned anywhere else: How BIG is “big”? That is, can you
give an example, either photographic or by weight/size/gauge of
metal, of the largest thing you’ve been able to successfully solder
using a water torch? While at it, can you also provide an example of
what proved to be too large for the water torch to handle?
Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who has a water torch that I
could invite myself over to use or otherwise witness the use of, and
I certainly don’t want to spend the money on something that I would
get no use out of.

Much appreciation to everyone in advance!
Holly


#7
I tried to message Gary Wooding directly but was unable to. Would
love to hear input from others who have had experience, though.
Gary, I am intrigued by the fact that you say you are able to use
your water torch with bangles, etc. 

The following link shows a simple bangle I made yesterday; it’s
5.5mm wide, 1.4mm thick and weighs 15gms. It was soldered with hard
solder using a #17 tip on an AquaFlame 800 unit.

Another photo in the album shows a gold teddy bear pendant; it’s
30mm tall, weighs 18.5gms, was cast using the Delft system, and the
gold was melted with the same water torch and tip.

Amidst the other photos in the album there is an annotated picture
of my workbench which includes my water torch. Most of the pictures
have nothing to do with jewellery.

IHTH
Regards, Gary Wooding


#8

Holly,

I had a strange job for a few years in the early 80’s. I had a
working jewelry bench in the lobby of the historic Jeweler’s Exchange
bldg. in downtown San Diego.

As it was located in the old building’s entrance, across from the
elevators, it was considered to be in a “fire exit” and any
compressed gasses were prohibited by the Fire Dept. The fire
officials were very happy with the water torch we finally bought for
my bench, as it does not compress gas, but generates fuel as you need
it, using electricity and water. For most of the fabrication or rings
and sizings I was doing, it worked pretty well, but it definitely has
limitations. If you buy one, get the biggest model you can, as it
will produce the most heat.

But is it the safety concerns of bottled gasses that have you
considering the water torch? I would really recommend to you a Meco
Midget torch, fueled by a 1 lb. refillable propane tank, and an
oxygen tank small enough that you can carry it yourself. Get advice
from a welding supply store near you, follow basic safety
considerations, and you will be just fine. Really. With a variety of
tip sizes available, you will be able to solder a fine chain, up to
melting 5 ounces of silver, or even melting platinum. Just a huge
range of torch heat will be available to you.

Good luck with your decision!

Jay Whaley


#9

if you check out the ganoksin archives you can find lengthy threads
on the subject…many many times over! for a good alternative to the
smith little torch there is the gentec brnad- looks the same, made
sturdier, interchangebale tips with smith’s and same oxy/fuel
capabilites.

I have used a hoke brand for many years… but if oyu have small
hands it takes getting used to.I also use a room air/fuel torch as
back up for some projects or when I run out of O2… ( it has
happened!),then there is the regulations in one’s apt. or town to
consider if its an in-home studio- some allow nothing more than a
water torch…then you need to check out the thread on insurance and
torches ( 2010 archives)…if you are just starting out and work in
silver and gold most often a Bernzomatic butane torch is great-
diverse inexpensive alternative: no cylinders tobuy, rent, keep
filled, and chain down, and far less risk of explosion Bernzomatic
also makes a great oxy/fuel set up with regulators included for about
50 dollars but it uses disposable O2 and fuel ( propane or acetylene
or MAPP- but you have to pick wither propane or acetylene/MAPP as you
shouldn’t run different gasses through the fuel hose…making it more
expensive-However, if you just do a little soldering daily or less
then its great-portable, easy to learn to use, and will even melt a
small amount of scrap for pouring your own ingots, rods, or
castings…rer