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Do small butane torches work?

I’m confused. You sound very defensive. What do lapidary and torch
choice have in common? Are you heat treating your stones? My
experience is that no one torch does it all. Period. For silver
soldering, A benzomatic propane is great (not for gold- they conduct
heat differently), for casting I like oxy-acetylene (I’m sure there
will be protests), for gold soldering- the smith little torch, etc.
You should have kept your other torches, limiting yourself to one
torch limits the things you can do. An entry level jeweler looking
to get a torch, whos concerned about costs, can certainly buy a
benzomatic propane torch. As they progress in their craft and life
they’ll find other uses for it, outside to studio.

Ciao Gail

Hi Gail, In my 35+ years of experience with the Meco torch - with ALL
of the various tips available - and using propane/ox for fuel -
this torch comes as close to being “perfect” as any I’ve ever
worked with.

I do prefer a larger (and longer reach) torch to cast with, but I
have also cast with the Meco. We have every brand, make, and model
of modern torch available in the studio for students to try. (11
different torches:) All fuels, with or without oxygen. Natural gas,
propane, acetylene, and hydrogen. Meco has been hands down the
domestic winner in the opinion of the majority of students. Hoke
comes in second. Smith 3rd, Little Torch about 5th or 6th. Judged on
both versatility and price. Covering the range of platinum welding
to bismuth soldering.

In the late '60’s, when I first tried to braze some silver with a
hand held propane torch - waiting for the metal to come up to minimum
heat to solder, or worse yet - melt - drove me nuts for the first
couple of weeks! I might’ve quit if I hadn’t discovered the Meco
back then.

(Yes, brazing is the correct term - technically “soldering” is
reserved for combining metals by melting a different and much lower
temperature metal to bond the parts together.)

Use the little butane and hand held propane torches to get enough
work done (they do work) to make enough money to purchase a quality
torch. In the long run you will find it cheaper, faster, and far
more precise.

I you need another reason, the larger tanks are (legally)
refillable and don’t add to the landfills.

I think you can buy the little butane torches for $5.00 or less at
Harbor Freight nowadays when they are “on sale”. I do use 'em…
but for wax modeling/polishing.

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts
Stockton, CA 95209 USA
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio/