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How to use a blow torch?


#1

Hullo All,

Could some please tell me the rudiments of how to use a blow torch!.
I am doing Kent Raible’s granulation workshop in at the Revere
Academy in San Francisco in April and would like not to feel as
useless bumbling as I possibly can! Many thanks

Felicity in sunny West Oz
www.felicitypeters.com


#2

Dear Felicity,

Using a blow torch is actually quite simple. It requires (well,
maybe not “requires”, but it is certainly very helpful) the use of
circular breathing… This is a technique familiar to most wind
instrument players. It basically works like this: (quick caveat,
this is much easier to demonstrate than it is to write about!)

  1. While keeping your lips together, you puff up your cheeks with
    air (kind of as though you were blowing up a ballon). This allows
    you to inhale through your nose while maintaining a small amount of
    pressure in your mouth… Make sense? Or put another way, puff your
    cheeks up and find a way to hold it while continuing to breath
    normally through your nose.

  2. Next, slowly let the air escape from your mouth (using the mouth
    piece from the blow pipe of course). You do not need to let a large
    amount of air out!! It only requires a little bit of air from you to
    use the blow pipe effectively.

  3. As the air in your mouth runs out, periodically puff your cheeks
    back up again in between breaths to maintain the pressure.

Okay, so in retrospect, that is not a very good description of the
technique… However, you can rest assured that Kent will show you
how to do it and it won’t be hard to pick up.

As a side note, if you want to be able to practice this in advance,
just get a small coffee straw or one of those other useless, tiny
straws. Stick it in your mouth and treat it like the mouth piece of
the blow pipe.

ABOVE ALL REMEMBER THIS: The use of the blow pipe is not dependent
AT ALL on the use of your diaphragm to physically blow out the air.
It is entirely the pressure that is built up in your mouth from your
cheeks. So, if you find yourself trying to blow air out in the same
manner as you would blow out a candle, you are doing it wrong! :slight_smile:

If this isn’t helpful, please let me know and I will try to come up
with a better way to describe it. Otherwise, have fun with your
class. I took his class in 2000 as well as his terminations class in
2005 and have been doing granulation ever since. It can be highly
additive (though equally tedious) :slight_smile:

Erich C. Shoemaker

Erich Christopher Designs, LLC
www.ErichCDesigns.com


#3

Dear Erich -

I’ve been following the blow-pipe/torch threads closely, and yours
is the best description of how to do it that I’ve seen. Thanks for
using the right words that bring the image to mind.

FWIW, watch the videos of Giacomo on BenchTube, he uses a
blow-torch. Can’t remember which shows the best technique; watch them
all for best effect!

Kelley


#4

All of this discussion of mouth-blown torches has got my curiosity
up. I am considering making one, just to fool around with. Would
anyone here who has one care to post some rough dimensions of a
"real" one? Not an engineering drawing, mind you, just an idea of the
diameter of the burner tube, length, etc. Even a photo of one next to
a ruler would be plenty to give an idae of the proportions, etc.

Thanks,
Al


#5

Al,

It’s been so long since I’ve seen my blowpipe torch that all I can
do is describe it. I had a Bunsen burner hooked to a propane tank,
which would work just fine as a Bunsen burner, of course. I took
some very small copper tubing and wrapped it around the tube of the
burner, just to anchor it, and brought one end up to aim across
where the flame came up. The other end of the copper tubing was
connected to a piece of rubber tubing that was long enough for me to
hold it in my mouth. I blew gently through that tube and it sent a
jet of air across the flame from the burner, and I held the work up
on the other side, moving it into and out of the hot part of the
flame as needed.

Very primitive, very effective. I like my Smith oxy-propane rig lots
more, but I could probably manage with the blowpipe if I had to, and
it would cost me very little to reproduce it.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com


#6

I actually have one or two of these I got from my late husband…it’s
what I learned filigree on…neither of them is in a functional
state as leaks have developed along the joints…I took a picture of
it for my book a couple of years ago, but the only image I have on my
computer at the moment is a thumbnail. I posted it at
http://www.jeannius.com/torch.jpg . The larger image is probably on
my book backup DVD somewhere. I will try to take another picture of
it later this week when I’m back at my studio.

Jeanne
jeannius.com


#7

It’s been over twenty, twenty-five years since I used a blow pipe to
size a ring. Still got one in the drawer of my home bench. We used it
with an alchahol lamp and could produce a very hot flame.

When I was at Bowman Tech in the mid 70’s it was one of the tools
and techniques you needed to learn, that were meant to get a student
back to the very basics of what it takes to do jewelry work. Like
hand filing 5 or 6 brass rod sections so they wouldn’t "box-car"
when pushed together end-to-end (in random order).

Only really had to use my blow pipe a couple times since, when O2
was out, and that rush job couldn’t wait for the replacement tank,
but it’s always there, if for no other reason than it is a reminder
of basics of the art.


#8

Hello Al,

here is the one that I have (and love)
http://tinyurl.com/dgecky

best wishes
Judy
France


#9

Tune in to The Bench Tube Network and if you go to Lily Necklace,
part one, about 7 minutes in there are some very good shots of the
set-up that Giacomo is using… kind of a Rembrandt in my mind.

http://www.ganoksin.com/benchtube/video/126/Lily-Nacklace--Part-1
http://www.ganoksin.com/benchtube/video/127/Lily-Nacklace--Part-2
http://www.ganoksin.com/benchtube/video/129/Lily-Nacklace--Part-3


#10

I am attempting to attach 2 photos. My blowpipe is about 12 inches
long, tapering the entire length to an end flange with a tiny hole
that appears to be about 22 ga in size. A piece of non tapered brass
tubing, burnished nearly closed on the end , with such a tiny hole
as this would probably do the same job. Can’t see why a simple
homemade version wouldn’t work just as well. good luck.

http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/JewelersBlowpipeAprox 12inches.jpg
http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/JewelersBlowpipeEndflange-22ga-hole.jpg


#11

Hello,

I have pictures of the ladies working using a blow torch to make
bracelets with very fine gold wire. I am sure many of you have seen
these pictures in my website. I have tried it and it works…

http://www.birdamlasu.com/wovenbraceletsofTrabzon.htm

Kind regards,
Oya Borahan
http://www.birdamlasu.com


#12

Oya,

I have pictures of the ladies working using a blow torch to make
bracelets with very fine gold wire. I am sure many of you have
seen these pictures in my website. I have tried it and it works.. 

Amazing. Here we are discussing Prescolite, Little Torch, Propane,
MAP, etc., etc., etc. And they’re making beautiful gold jewelry with
a candle and a copper tube. For more perspective on the level of
blessings that we enjoy, I’d invite any of you to read the article
’Panning for Gold; the True Cost of a Global Obsession’ in the Jan
2009 issue of National Geographic Magazine. One picture shows a
woman panning for gold in the alley of a city’s Jewelry District in
India. She collects about a gram a week.

Regards,
Jamie


#13
I have pictures of the ladies working using a blow torch to make
bracelets with very fine gold wire. I am sure many of you have
seen these pictures in my website. 

Thank you so much for sharing this extraordinary art form with us. I
am an amateur cultural anthropologist (it was a supporting field in
my PhD studies), and I found the description and photos to be
fascinating. Thanks again. This is one of the special things that
make Orchid and The Ganoksin Project such a joy to be part of.

Del Pearson of Designs of Eagle Creek
http://www.eaglecreekcs.com


#14
Amazing. Here we are discussing Prescolite, Little Torch, Propane,
MAP, etc., etc., etc. And they're making beautiful gold jewelry
with a candle and a copper tube. For more perspective on the level
of blessings that we enjoy, I'd invite any of you to read the
article 'Panning for Gold; the True Cost of a Global Obsession' in
the Jan 2009 issue of National Geographic Magazine. One picture
shows a woman panning for gold in the alley of a city's Jewelry
District in India. She collects about a gram a week. 

I was going to make a similar comment when I saw that same picture
of the women with the candle and the blowpipe. Amazing.

And thanks to all here who have either posted or sent
photos, etc., in response to my question on these torches. You
replies are much appreciated and I have all of that collected info
stored away to percolate in the back of my (tiny) brain for a while.
Thanks to all for taking the time to respond.

Al


#15
Amazing. Here we are discussing Prescolite, Little Torch, Propane,
MAP, etc., etc., etc. And they're making beautiful gold jewelry
with a candle and a copper tube. 

As a slightly off-topic reference on the subject of technology and
happiness, I offer this clip entitled “Everything is amazing and
nobody’s happy”. http://barefootmeg.multiply.com/video/item/56

Noel


#16

I have been reading all comments on this subject with interest.
Firstly I would like to elaborate on the terms used, the Blowtorch
is a handheld gas torch which was powered by blowing into a tube
attached to the torch to create the required flame. The Blowpipe was
a length of brass or copper tapering tube that was held by your
teeth at it’s widest end and the narrowest end was in a soft flame,
by blowing down the tube a suitable flame for working was made. When
I first started in this trade, I was taught to anneal and solder
using one of the blowpipes, the flame was produced using what was
called a Birmingham Sidelight. If you take a look at No 64 photo on
the bench exchange, a photo of me back in the 1960s, you will see the
Birmingham sidelight on a bench to the right of the first craftsman.
This sidelight was a brass horizontal tube that was on an upright
gas valve and the flame would increase in size when the tube was
turned toward the benchpin. I have attached a photo taken of that
same craftsman using the blowpipe and sidelight. For larger torches
we used foot operated bellows attached to blowpipes for the air
pressure supplies. It was only in the 1970s that we introduced
electric blowers and oxygen / natural gas torches to the workshop,
this was when I was the workshop manager.

peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG in the UK


#17

James,

Thank you for the picture. What really blows my skirt up is the fact
that the older fellow in the front is wearing a TIE!!! At the
bench!!! Take note all of you Orchidians! Time to clean up your act!
:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Oh my goodness, I would die if I had to work at any job dressed up
ever again!

But the question I need answering is whether or not the blow torch
is better, or not as good as having the oxygen tank? I have an
acetyline/oxy set up (with Little Torch) and hate it. The regulator
on the acetylene tank is starting to go and I hate the black snow I
sometimes get. We are talking about switching to propane and I am
thinking about the mouth blown torch, like the one they have at
Cookson’s and at Fischer’s. Do you get better control with the mouth
blown torch? I like the small tips of the Smith’s Little Torch, it’s
the scariness of that acetylene that keeps me from using itmore. I
lean more toward wax carving as a result but want to get better at
fabrication.

If any of you use the mouth blown torach, what exactly do you have
in the set up?

Nel


#18
I have been reading all comments on this subject with interest.
Firstly I would like to elaborate on the terms used, the Blowtorch
is a handheld gas torch which was powered by blowing into a tube
attached to the torch to create the required flame. The Blowpipe
was a length of brass or copper tapering tube that was held by your
teeth at it's widest end and the narrowest end was in a soft
flame, by blowing down the tube a suitable flame for working was
made. 

And I have written…

I have pictures of the ladies working using a blow torch to make
bracelets with very fine gold wire. I am sure many of you have seen
these pictures in my website. 

How careless of me. You will think that I don’t have any idea what
is a blow torch. I apologize… But I was corrected by James Miller
very promptly. It was an opportunity for me to show you the talented
ladies in my country.

Kind regards,
Oya Borahan GG. FGA. DGA


#19

Hi Nel,

I am glad you liked my old photo. I took this photo in 1966, I was an
apprentice at our workshops in Soho, London and the guy sitting at
the bench wearing a tie was my master for six years. There was a
reason why he allways wore a tie and neat clothes, as workshop
manager he was regularly called downstairs to the company showrooms
to meet customers. At that time we made special goldwork for Garrard
the crown jewellers and at any time or day our workshop manager
could be chatting to royalty. My master, Mr. Herbert James Jones was
a great goldsmith and he actually made the most recent piece of our
English Crown Jewels, which are all on show at the Tower of London.
When the current Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953, the members of
the Commonwealth gave her a gift on her corronation. This was of a
pair of Amulets (bracelets) and my master was the goldsmith who
those amulets back in 1952. When my master retired in 1969, I became
workshop manager of the goldsmithing workshop and so I had to
occasionally wear smart clothes when I was the one called down to the
showroom to see customers. I regularly had to deal with the then
Crown Jeweller and in my time I have met a few members of the royal
family also. You ask about the control of a mouth blown torch, such
as the ones sold by Cookson. Well the knob on the torch regulates
the gas flow and the rest depends on how hard you blow down the pipe.
The only difference is that you can never get the needle sharp flame
that compares to that from the Little Torch, but unless you are
constantly working with platinum or white gold settings the mouth
blown torch works fine for most jobs. If you want to use both methods
may I suggest that you switch from acetylene/oxy to propane/oxy. This
is the set up I use regularly these days and the propane torch leaves
a lot less soot than the acetylene does.

Best regards
James Miller FIPG


#20

Nel

If any of you use the mouth blown torach, what exactly do you have
in the set up?

There’s very little to it. I bought the whole set up except the
propane cylinder from Cooksons. It is a handpiece, a length of rubber
tube that you cut to the lengths you require, a regulator that comes
with it’s own spanner and a mouth piece, which is just a little
plastic nipple-like thing that pushes into the tube and a jubilee
clip to fix the tube to the regulator. Altogether it is a relatively
inexpensive way of setting up for a small studio. It is very
controllable as you control the flame size with your thumb and
forefinger at the valve on the handpiece and the heat by how much
wind you blow into it. It’s nowhere near as scary as acetylene. It’s
not so good if you’re working on anything large scale. So I guess it
depends on the sort of work you do.

Give it a go.
Collette
www.collettebatho.com