As a beginner, Since I have not yet set up a torch, I am curious what
are the capabilities and limitations of a butane 'jewelers' torch
that one can buy in a beading shop? Is it hot enough to anneal?
Can be done but it takes a lot longer in my experience. For
annealing, I prefer mapp gas. you can get the cylinders at most
hardware or"home improvement" stores. They are bright yellow.
Experiment and see what works for you. Remember to have fun. Sheri
The small butane torches work well for flaming creme brule and
soldering small objects like jump rings. It will anneal small bits,
but that's it.
If you want to buy a torch, but find the price out of your reach,
consider the ol' plumber's propane torch. That's what I used to
start. Cost is low, but you do have to keep buying bottles of
My plumber's torch did not have a hose and handpiece, so it was a
bit awkward to use. Still, I could use it inside without needing
oxygen or giving the fire marshall a heart attack. ;-)
Judy in Kansas, where the snow is falling - really it's being driven
by a harsh wind.
small piece of metal, yes. can even melt sterling in very small
The butane torches usually are capable of only very small work,
including annealing. Butane doesn't burn very hot and the torch
doesn't put out a lot of heat. For soldering links in a chain,
filigree, balling up the end of a wire, and other small tasks, they
are usually fine. For anything else, you need more heat.
I live in an apartment, so I'm still using a butane torch. I dream
of the day i get a house so i can get a real torch!
I've never invested the money in a blazer torch sold through most
jeweler stores, i've just bought "cheapie" butane torches at the
hardware store (they're orange and self ignighting and last me about
6 months if i don't drop them, then they start having issues with
filling or starting or... and for $10 i replace 'em).
I also bought this butane torch from Rio and love it
I find i'm able to anneal small pieces of sheet (1" or so) without a
problem. I've never tried annealing large coils of wire.
Soldering wise, I'm able to make pieces in 18 ga sheet up to 2"
large, but sometimes have to double up the butane torches (one above
and one below) on a tripod to get the solder to flow well - with only
one torch from below the tripod acts as too much of a heatsink to get
the whole piece up to temperature.....
I also think that a "real" torch, in allowing better control of the
flame, would probably have less oxidazation - i don't have much
control over how bushy my flame is - just how big it is... but i've
gotten along well and can make most of the pieces i dream up. I just
can't make belt buckles, or bracelets out of sheet... or large items
I hope this helps!
There are many discussions in the Orchid archives. but Bernzomatic
butane torches that have a base are the best in my opinion (beats a
blazer brand). Not teh pencil style, nor pen types. Other than that
the only thing the butane hand held models won't do is melt platinum
or any quantity above a few grams of gold or silver. They anneal just
fine, solder ordinarily, fuse, granulate, melt glass, and yes, if too
concentrated a flame in one place will burn right through sheet
metals! Buy good triple or quadruple refined butane refills, and keep
the orifices cleaned .Bernzomatics have lasted longer than other
brands for me and I've used them for many years while Blazer's have
given me many problems and are more costly. Bernzomatic also make a
50 dollar portable Oxy/fuel torch that will melt Pt, or any metal and
cut steel and do everything a Smith or Gentec "little torch" will do
- the only drawback with them is the cost of the disposable
cannisters of O2 and MAPP or Acetylene (the propane is generally
cheaper with less heat capacity), The added heat from the oxygen
"boost" is great for melting and pouring while travelling *: *good
for classes and places away from the studio where you want a
lightweight easy to use set up. The regulators are fixed as is the
flashback arrestor in the unit so you must treat the threads with
care. The fixed regulator is perhaps the only "con" other than
disposable cannisters, for the Oxy/Fuel set-up. The butane torches
are about $25.00 at home and hardware stores, so compare that price
to the beading store's model/brand and cost and shop around for the
best product for your purposes. I always have a butane torch on hand
for quick fixes and the hot air attachment that comes with the
Bernzomatic set is good for wax work. Many may put them down but they
do almost anything an Oxy/fuel torch will do quite capably and at a
very reasonable price if you are just getting into metalsmithing as a
full torch set up represents a big outlay of money initially. Again,
check the Orchid Archives for numerous discussions on the topic!!!
hope this helps. rer
I have a single stage acetylene plumbers torch, little torch and Meco
(propane or Acetylene/O2) and have used them for years. As an
experiment to get the big cylinders out of the house and reduce the
potential for a code violation, I bought an EZ torch (propane) from
Otto Frei and use disposable tank (you can get adapters for both gas
grill style and disposable tanks). It does all I ask it to do but
melts for casting ingots. I will do these outside where I am less
likely to get in trouble with the fire marshall. The hose is only
about 4' long, so you need secure the tank to something so that it
doesn't move around as you move the torch. A couple hose clamps on a
bench leg or some other vertical surface works well. Give it a try. I
do still miss my Meco as it is the best torch for everything that I
do. Good luck. Rob
I;ve gone through many different brands of butane torches. It was in
2006 that in frustration on a Saturday I went to Sears and bought yet
another one to hold me until Monday when I could get my acetylene
tank swapped out. It was the best purchase i ever made. But it is not
any of the torches sold in the jewelry supply places. It is not one
you can get at a beading store. It is not even carried by places like
William Sonoma. It is a larger heavy duty plumbers hand held butane
torch. It does have umph. It can do annealing very well for all but
my largest projects. It will melt silver in the couple ounce range.
In fact there are very few things I can't do with it. It is
adjustable, and both types of flames. I can turn it down and do very
fine work, on 26 gauge wire. It is Lenk LPT 500 Ont one you have
heard of. Todays models are not like the one I got.
Now they have all sorts of saftey switches on it. Those new switches
drive me nutso when I help out people I teach, since I'm not use to
them. The torch can also be filled with enough butane to run it on
high and have it last a full hour on one load. If you use it with a
soft low flame, it lasts for many hours. It has a more stable base
than most the other butane torches. It is my favorite of my five
different torch types. On the other end I have a big Bertha one as I
call it, that has an opening of about 3 inches across. It shoots a
flame about 6 feet, and sounds like a canon being shot off when lit.
Oh and best of all it works beautifully doing the Russian Filigree
And it is very beginner friendly.