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Got my oxy/propane torch!


#1

Dear Orchidland,

Well, it’s finally happened! Ten months after I purchased my oxy/
propane set-up, I finally set up and account at BOC and bought my
gas bottles!!! So hopefully by the time you’re reading this, hubby
will have set everything up for me and I’ll be testing out my new
torch and probably melting things left, right and centre - although
not intentionally! Looking forward to it though. Farewell to the
handheld butane torch - but it’ll come in handy from time to time as
a back-up.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#2

Hi folks,

I should have known better than to tell you all about getting my
oxy/ propane set-up up and ready to go - until actually having it
successfully set up. Ever had a day when you wished you’d not got
out of bed that morning? Well today was most definitely one of those
days. The jewellery making deities were having a laugh at my expense
today.

Darren set up the torch in the garage and I went out to practice
lighting it. Eventually, after the wind kept blowing it out, I
managed to get it to light to the point where I could introduce
oxygen. The knob was SO stiff that I could not turn it sensitively -
it was either off or too far on, such that it would blow the flame
out and pop. After about an hour of this, I threw my teddy out the
cot and stormed off, ready to commit some form of violence - or at
least give up the whole jewellery making lark. I was in toddler
having a temper tantrum mode. What made it even more frustrating was
the fact that Darren (having more strength in his hands than me) was
able to light it and introduce oxygen into the flame without much of
a problem. But what use to me is a torch that only my husband can
use? I’m normally capable of picking things up quickly and hate to be
defeated by anything - especially inanimate objects - so the whole
experience was rather frustrating to say the least.

Eventually, Darren came to find me, telling me that he’d fitted it
with the wrong size tip and that after changing it, it was now much
easier to light. I went and tried it and it was indeed much easier
to light and so it seems that we will be able to make use of it after
all. Now, what remains it to find the best place to put the
cylinders. The safety we were given states that it must
be kept at least 1.5 metres away from the wall, which means having
two great ugly cylinders in the garden with nothing to attach them
to? So we’re wondering whether we need to build its own brick wall to
strap them to. Of course, to get more advice from the gas company,
we’ve to wait until Monday before knowing properly what we’re doing.

So, in order that today wasn’t a complete waste of time, I decided
to go back to the butane handheld torch and continue to make a
necklace for my sister’s birthday that I started a few days ago. I
was attempting to make a bezel setting for a 9x7mm rectangular stone

  • something I’ve probably done successfully hundreds of times by now.
    To cut a long story short, I had two failed attempts and finally
    managed it on the third attempt, after about two frustrating hours
    and wasted silver. One would think that the perimeter of a 9x7mm
    rectangular stone would be 32mm - well at least it was when I was at
    school. I tried allowing extra silver to account for the loss of
    length incurred when bending it round the corners, but it was far
    too big. I removed a small amount of silver and then the bezel was
    too small, but refused to stretch up to size, despite being regularly
    annealed. Eventually, it did stretch up, to the point that it split
    along two if its corners! I then tried my usual method (which
    usually works without fail) of making my bezel the exact length I
    need (ie 32mm) and then stretching it up on the correctly shaped
    bezel mandrel. However, when I soldered it closed, it was still too
    big - if someone can explain how a 32mm length piece of silver was
    too long to go round a 9x7mm rectangular stone, I’d be intrigued - it
    was measured accurately, at least twice before being cut (you know,
    measure twice, cut once). I removed some silver and got it to work
    eventually. The whole process took me about two hours, when
    soldering it, forming into shape, forming and soldering the bearer
    in, filing and sanding and pre-finishing it usually takes me a
    maximum of half an hour. I gave up after that, hoping that tomorrow
    will be a better day. Whoops, I seem to have made the story long
    after all! Sorry folks.

Surprisingly, I managed to eat the meal that Darren cooked for me
without any disasters - good job I wasn’t cooking it!

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#3
.... Ever had a day when you wished you'd not got out of bed that
morning? 

Yeah, lots of em. But I get up anyway, at least most of the time…:-
)

... Eventually, after the wind kept blowing it out, 

Try to avoid an actual wind, including fans blowing across your
soldering/torch use area. Many jewelers torches get really hard to
light in any sort of actual breeze. If you’ve got the garage door
open for ventillation, close it enough so there’s no actual breeze in
your work area. That will help a lot. Barring that, you’ll do best to
set up some sort of wind screen so you’re at least lighting the torch
in mostly still air.

I The knob was SO stiff that I could not turn it sensitively - 

when new, the torch valves can be pretty stiff at first. But you
might also try very slightly loosening the larger hex nuts at the
base of each valve. I don’t recall if this is the case on the Little
torch, but on many, that net, actually part of the valve body where
it screws into the torch handle, is also part of the packing/sealing
system to keep the valve stem from allowing a gas or oxygen leak. If
that’s the case, slightly unscrewing that from the torch body will
ease the tightess with which the valve turns. Don’t overdo it, or
you’ll get the leak the packing is intended to prevent. If it doesn’t
help, then I’ve remembered the torch construction wrong, so tighten
it up again. Either way, it WILL loosen up after you’ve used it a
bit.

it was either off or too far on, such that it would blow the flame
out and pop. 

It also sounds as though you’ve got the tank output pressures set
too high. The little torch uses gas an oxygen pressures a good deal
lower than most other torches. Try unscrewing the regulator handles a
bit to get lower pressures. That should help a lot with the torch
flame blowing out.

Eventually, Darren came to find me, telling me that he'd fitted it
with the wrong size tip and that after changing it, it was now
much easier to light. 

If you’ve got the usual standard little torch kit, they usually
supply it with the same set of tips no matter what fuel gas you’ll be
using. With propane or natural gas, the first three tip sizes,
1,2,and 3 are pretty useless. You can, with low tank settings, get
the 3 to light but it’s good for only the tiniest of soldering jobs.
The 1 and 2 are almost impossible to light at all with any flame
stability, though sometimes you can get a faint tiny flame useful
for polishing details on wax models. But that’s about it. In general,
for actual work on metals, you’ll be using the #4 and larger tips
with propane and oxygen.

One would think that the perimeter of a 9x7mm rectangular stone
would be 32mm - well at least it was when I was at school. 

It would be if the metal you were making the bezel out of had no
thickness. Because it does, the 32 mm perimeter would give you too
small a bezel, since that measurement ends up as about the
centerline of the bezel wall, not it’s interior measurement needed if
the stone will fit. Measure your bezel wall thickness, and add twice
the metal thickness to your 32 mm length, and it should come out
right. Or in other words, add the metal thickness to each of the
dimensions before doing the math. Works for round stones the same
way. Add the metal thickness to the diameter, then multiply by pi,
and you get the needed circumference. Ovals, take the average
diameter (length + width /2), add the metal thickness, and as with
rounds, multiply by pi.

It’s pretty easy to get this wrong. Some people forget that when
bent, the interior surface is compressed and shrinks, while the
exterior surface stretches, so the effective length of the blank
remains along it’s centerline. That can be confusing. Plus, with
sharp corners, wider stock sometimes tends to flare/stretch
differently from narrower bezel stock, so you may have to adjust
slightly

If your bezel is being made of slightly thicker material, another
method that works easily for square and rectangles is to make the
bezel of two pieces, not one. Each is one corner and two legs. On
each, one leg is cut so when held up to the stone, it ends exactly
at the far corner, while the second leg is left a bit long. The two
pieces can be then set up so each longer leg forms a T joint with
the short leg of the other piece. If you set this up accurately for
soldering, you can get an exact fit without having to worry so much
about premeasuring the blank. it does mean you have two corners that
are soldered shut instead of being bent metal, which has to be taken
into account when setting, as those corners may end up a little
stiffer than the unsoldered, bent corners. But then, for sharp
corners, you’ll have filed a groove into the stock prior to bending
it, so the outside of the corner ends up nice and crisp and square,
instead of rounded. That way, there’s solder in all four corners, all
four also are nice and crisp, and they’ll all behave the same in
setting. Oh, and the trick for getting the two pieces set at the
right postion for soldering is to scribe the desired position for
the joint on the inside surface of the long leg of each L shaped
piece, and then, using a graver, raise a stitch or two right up to
your scribed line so the graver mark will be inside the solder joint.
Now you’ve got a raised spur that the ends of the short legs can rest
against during soldering, so they don’t slip out of position.

cheers
Peter


#4
The jewellery making deities were having a laugh at my expense
today. 

When I have this kind of a day I refer to it as “being blessed with
the Inverse Midas touch.” Every piece of gold I touch instantly turns
to crap.

Dave


#5

Hi Helen,

The safety we were given states that it must be kept at
least 1.5 metres away from the wall, which means having two great
ugly cylinders in the garden with nothing to attach them to? So
we're wondering whether we need to build its own brick wall to
strap them to. 

From the discussions I’ve had with welding suppliers, gas suppliers
and the local Fire and Rescue Service, all seem to make a strong
distinction between ‘storing’ and ‘using’.

Bear in mind that this is only a summary of what I have been told
the rules are (in the UK!) I’m not suggesting that there’s no need to
go further than this.

A cylinder which is ‘in use’ really seems to mean that the
regulator, hoses and torch are attached. In that state, everybody
seems to suggest that there’s no need for paranoia, and that the
cylinders can be situated together [I’m specifically avoiding using the word ‘stored’ here!], near the workplace, and even in the
building itself, rather than left outside. The big concern seems to
be to chain the cylinders to the wall to prevent them falling over.

Another piece of advice was to avoid fixed (metal) piping unless
absolutely necessary, as that changes the rules, making them
stricter.

The rules about keeping cylinders in certain areas seem to be
limited to storage – and are mainly aimed at large businesses where
they may have several cylinders stored for later use. For those of us
who would expect a single cylinder to last for several months, and
don’t have a major problem with the time that would be required to
refill it when it runs out, there’s no need to have a stock, so no
need to worry about such rules.

I’ve not actually set up a system yet as I’m still looking for an
insurance company that are willing to cover use of cylinders. So far
they’ve all panicked at the very mention of the word – without even
going into any rules about how the cylinders are located. So your
insurance company may have additional rules which they want to
impose. As a start, though, I’d suggest having a chat to your local
Fire and Rescue Service, particularly the Fire Prevention Officer.
They should know the relevant laws, and the ones I’ve chatted to have
seemed very helpful and understanding.

As an aside – do any UK Orchideans have any suggestions for
insurance companies? I can get the liability insurance without
problems, it’s just building cover (for a standard residential
garage) that’s proving difficult to find…

Ian


#6

Hi Peter,

Try to avoid an actual wind, including fans blowing across your
soldering/torch use area. Many jewelers torches get really hard to
light in any sort of actual breeze. 

The regulations and what my insurance company are happy with, are so
ridiculous that I’m having to keep my cylinders outside and put my
hoses and torch through the open window in order to use it, so
drafts may well be my enemy. We closed the garage door to eliminate
the draft but then had to open it as we could smell too much unburned
propane in the garage.

when new, the torch valves can be pretty stiff at first. But you
might also try very slightly loosening the larger hex nuts at the
base of each valve. I don't recall if this is the case on the Little
torch 

I don’t have a little torch. It was someone else who was asking
about the little torch in the UK. I bought mine from a welding supply
company. If it proves too big and cumbersome, I’ll get a smaller one
and use this one for melting metal. But yes, you’re right, the
valves are very stiff indeed and I’m hoping they will loosen up with
use. I’m going to have another play today.

If you've got the usual standard little torch kit, they usually
supply it with the same set of tips no matter what fuel gas you'll
be using. With propane or natural gas, the first three tip sizes,
1,2,and 3 are pretty useless. 

See above re not having little torch. The welding supply company
gave me whatever tips they had lying around, which were 3, 5 and 25!
The 25 worked the best of all.

One would think that the perimeter of a 9x7mm rectangular stone
would be 32mm - well at least it was when I was at school. It would
be if the metal you were making the bezel out of had no thickness.
Because it does, the 32 mm perimeter would give you too small a
bezel, since that measurement ends up as about the centerline of
the bezel wall, not it's interior measurement needed if the stone
will fit. 

I was referring to the actual perimeter of the stone being 32mm, not
the metal length. And as I said, I did both, allow extra and I tried
the actual length (which often works well for me as I stretch it up
on the bezel mandrel and end up with a really crisp looking setting).
I was using 0.5mm silver and so tried making it 33mm (ie adding twice
the thickness) and it swamped the stone so I had to remove metal.
Then I tried 32mm and it was still too big - go figure. That’s why I
posted. I wasn’t asking for advice on how to make such settings as
I’ve done them hundreds of times. I was at a loss as to how a piece
of silver cut to exactly 32mm (which was measured more than once
before being cut) could be too big for a 9x7mm stone when it had
been bent round and soldered closed - there’s no explanation and it
was just one of those daft things that come along to confuse us at
times. That was the thing, 32mm was not too small yesterday, it was
too big! Any other day, 32mm would be too small, obviously, but
yesterday it was too big - I don’t understand it either.

Some people forget that when bent, the interior surface is
compressed and shrinks, while the exterior surface stretches, so the
effective length of the blank remains along it's centerline. 

I have a science background (chemistry degree) and although we’re
talking more physics, I have a brain which can do the 3D thing, so
this fact about the inside compressing and the outside having to
stretch is something I’d figured out for myself before I ever read
about it. My post regarding the perimeter of a 9x7mm stone was just
to demonstrate how something I normally have NO trouble with
whatsoever, was causing me major headaches yesterday because the
powers that be decided to throw the laws of physics/maths or
whatever away for the day. Hopefully they’ve gone to torment someone
else today! :wink:

Thanks for the advice.

Helen Hill
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#7

Helen,

Darren set up the torch in the garage and I went out to practice
lighting it. Eventually, after the wind kept blowing it out, I
managed to get it to light to the point where I could introduce
oxygen. The knob was SO stiff that I could not turn it sensitively
- it was either off or too far on, such that it would blow the
flame out and pop. 

Depending on the type of torch that you have, you may find a hex nut
beneath the gas nob. This nut can be loosened slightly to allow the
gas knob to turn more easily. It is getting way too late.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler
goldwerx.us


#8
Depending on the type of torch that you have, you may find a hex
nut beneath the gas nob. This nut can be loosened slightly to allow
the gas knob to turn more easily. 

Someone else suggested this, and there is indeed a hex nut, but they
also said loosening it could cause the torch to leak. Unfortunately,
I’ve spoken too soon about being ready to use the darned thing, as
hubby’s not yet made the promised brackets to chain them to - which
he was supposed to do while he was on holiday. The ready made
brackets were so pricey that he said he’d make them himself. I hate
to nag him too, so will have to wait. I will NOT be using them until
they are chained in position. Hopefully it’ll get sorted soon, but he
doesn’t tend to do anything in a hurry - unless it’s for his use! :wink:
And whilst I’m capable of tackling plenty of things, I’m not about to
go drilling holes in the back wall of my house or welding bits of
steel together to make brackets. I don’t know how to weld.

Thanks for the advice Bruce. I’ll have a look at the torch again and
see if loosening the hex nut is something that can be done without
causing a leak.

Helen
UK


#9

Hi Helen,

You can put the tanks inside of a milk crate and strap it to a bench
leg or such, You don’t need an elaborate bracket system. The idea is
that you don’t let them tip over and damage the regulators or snap
off
the head of an oxygen tank…wouldn’t be good…

Mark


#10

Helen

No need to get to fancy here with the chain, just take a small chain
wrap around the tank and screw the ends into the wall. I used my
tank for 15 years without it chained to anything, it sat in between
two benches that were angled into each other so there was no way it
was going to fall. On the hex nut loosen it a little until knob turns
easier and see if it leaks, if it does just tighten slighty until it
stops leaking, it should still be easier to turn.

Good luck
Bill Wismar