Ganoksin bench tips survey - Torch work snapshot

Hi All,

So far 43 people have responded to our Bench Tips Survey. This email
is a snapshot of the answers to date (on torch work) from the
Ganoksin/MJSA survey leading to a new Technical Tips book I am

Please add your brilliant ideas to our group mind. A special
strength of our/your Ganoksin project is breaking down secrecy,
erasing barriers, enabling each other to succeed. I look forward to
your singular contributions!

here is the survey link:

And now, have a look at some of the answers, these ones dealing with
torch tips.

best to you all,
Charles, Hanuman, and Ton

I have one tank with two hoses connected with a “Y”. I put two
different torch heads on each feed; that way i do not have to
change torch tips when I need a different type of flame while
working on the same piece. I make many soldering pads into
special soldering jigs by digging in a form that will hold the
object when I make it time and again in production. I do not have
to rethink each and every time I need to solder that object. just
pick the correct “jig” and start soldering. Of course, I always
use paste solder; so much faster and efficient.

Adding hard silver solder as ‘filler’ for balled up sterling if
it has a pitted surface.

I love to work on K-23 firebricks – shape them, carve them,
Machinist’s Scribes for solder picks (heavy enough to not bend
when mashed on) LOTS of white paste flux – too much flux=harder
to see through – too little flux=no solder joint Modifying the
standard hoke type torch tips by welding in hypodermic needles
or setting watch jewels in for clean small flames.

After firecoating with Cupronil, I wait for the piece to cool
and then carefully mark the placement of the item to be soldered
with dividers or a scriber. I use a water torch only, and so have
very little in the way of flexibility in terms of set-up. I have
found that Didymium safety glasses are amazing at helping me see
metal colors, particularly when using the water torch, whose
flame is an intense green color. I collect washers and steel nuts
I find in the street and use them to prop up soldering tweezers,
create heatsinks and so forth.

For silver, making sure ALL the metal is thoroughly warmed
before focusing the flame on the solder.

Having difficulty seeing without magnification through your
welding goggles? Tape an optivisor lense to your welding goggles.

To help make a good soldering space on a tight budget, go to a
brick supplier and buy fire bricks. You can lay these down for
your base surface, and stand them on end for a safe backing for
your soldering. They can be laid free, or using Liquid Nails to
hold them together. I have mine set in a homemade flat wooden
sink coated with boat laquer, then with a heavy wooden grating
laid in. Then the fire bricks. This contains any pickle spills,
is fire resistant, and is easy to clean. I prefer to solder
standing, so this is raised to the correct height for me.

I use a round pizza board(ceramic/stone) to solder on…It’s
round & can be turn around easily… I also use & reycle meat
trays to carry my soldering tools at the side of my bench…

I use a mouth blown torch for much of my work - this gives
better control and less firescale/better joints. Keep tips clean
and well maintained

For soldering from underneath, rather than a steel screen (which
is a huge heat sink), I use a pair of strips of titanium sheet
bent into V’s. I set the work on them, then bounce the flame off
the surface of the soldering block, up onto the workpiece. They
are not a heat sink, you can’t melt them, and you cannot possibly
solder them to the work. I use strips about 5cm x 1 cm, 26
gauge, but it isn’t too important as long as they are the same
width. You can use copper, too, but titanium is better.

any and all - I like tips that are based on fundamental
soldering skill - how to do the fiddly or complex things with
much greater ease. Also any tips that let me know how to achieve
something more simply and more efficiently. I like seeing how
people set up their work to hold together complex or awkward
parts etc. and also how people arrange small working areas on a
budget - for example, in a small room with the soldering area
located next to the window (no other alternative) how would one
go about creating a small efficient dark area? So that metal
colour and temp can be seen…

Precut solder so it is ready to use and keep separate in well
marked container.

the one tip I will share with you involves enameling: instead of
using any other substrate like mica which is toxic, or any
"space-age: material,coating, etc. in plique-a-jour enameling,
simply using an highly polished (and dedicated to no other
purpose ) sheet of platinum is best for creating a non-stick
surface in the kiln when enameling gold or silver given the
melting point of the workpieces versus the melting point of Pt…

Ok, one more- keeping a small butane torch (my favourite are
the bernzomatic industrial type hand held torches with removable
bases ) on hand has come in handy a number of times in soldering
high karat golds and silvers as its temperature capacities exceed
2400 degrees F…and keeping the can of refill in the studio too
is equally handy!

I also have found a coconut shell based charcoal block ( intended
for grilling or bar-b-ques) product on the market that I saw down
from its 3 inch thick state to make “tiles” which I then connect
together with a heat proofing paste used as “caulk” and create 3
sided screens that go around whatever the soldering base I am
using for a specific piece and the whole works well in torch
soldering to concentrate the heat somewhat but moreover absorbing
oxides and virtually eliminating firescale entirely.

FOR SMALL MELTING JOBS, i like a burno type crucible with a
hole in the back end, once glaze dwith borax properly it is very
accurate in always hitting the target on the mould, which is not
always the case in open crucibles…another thing most don’t know
is that the cheap wire tongs available are not meant to be just
squeezed together, but rather cross locked upon themselves to
hold any crucible with a ledge round at least two sides.The tongs
tines remain crossed over themselves and ready for use with any
small-ish crucible that is not round. 5)Sal ammoniac is
invaluable in purifying scrap- mixed with powdered charcoal 1:5
and stored absolutely airtight, the stuff produces a bright tough
ingot that defies splitting even when the ratio of scrap to new
grain exceeds 50%…

I have three torches. My “creme brulee” for quick and easy work,
the plumber’s special, (small propane tank with self-igniting
tip) for heavy duty melting and flame patinas, and my traditional
Acetylene/Oxygen for regular soldering.

The GRS soldering clamps are useful.

The best tip is to have good control of fire. you have to know
when is ready or not. the best trick for me is my piece to be
clean, my solder to be clean, to put flux not only to my piece
but you putting flux on the solder (to dip the piece of solder
into the flux before you put it on the solder area.)

have your torch on the side you use ie. left side for right
handed person, have any possible tools needed and ready for you
to use.

And, again, a link to our survey for your additions: