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Keum boo and hand held butane torches

I have a potential student interested in learning keum boo using a hand held butane torch (ala one might use for creme brûlée). When I started doing metal and jewelry in the early nineties used such a torch for everything (it was all small) as my wife and I lived in a high rise and I didn’t think I coud get an acetylene tank past the doorman (attmpt at humor, I known the safety concerns).
Obviously, I’m going to do this alone before bringing the student on and my first question is any suggestions for a torch. I know Rio has 2-3 in their catalogue, I suspect that a variable flame is critical but would like to hear from people who have used this in the past.

Consider using a hot plate.

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I have made traditional jewelry for years using various gas and gas and O2 torches. In addition to these torches, I needed a source of hot air to soften pitch and other quick operations at the bench. I bough a couple hot air guns, but about the time I needed them they shut down on high temperature. Then I bought a Blazer GT2000 butane torch. It is quick, does what I ask it to do and even will do some basic torch work that I would have, in the past, used my gas and O2 torch for. I don’t know how it would work for Keum boo, but give it a try. Good luck…Rob

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Best thing for Kuem Boo is just a plain old hot plate or a stove with a coil burner. Place a little steel plate over it about 18 gauge is good enough. Let the heat of the burner ON THE HIGHEST BURNER setting heat the steel plate up. it takes about 10 minutes. Plenty of time to get the rest of your things ready. IMPORTANT tool is leather gardening gloves. the heat from the plate will burn your hands at the distance you work. Place your jewelry piece on the burner and let it heat up. Then place your gold pieces with tweezers, and burnish the hell out of it with a rounded burnisher not a pointed one. take the piece off the burner and set it on a surface to cool down that won’t burn. If you forget, and need to add more gold pieces, each separate application will get lighter until it disappears after several heatings. It’s simple once you do it, but don’t forget the gloves.

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Durston has two new butane torches that are sold by Micro-Tools here in the States. A “standard” for the usual work done with a butane torch. They call it a “Jewellers Blow Torch” - Durston Jewellers Blow Torch | Micro-Tools and a butane torch with a larger/softer flame that they call “Jewellers Blow Torch - Cyclone Flame” - Durston Jewellers Blow Torch – Cyclone Flame | Micro-Tools that would be better for annealing. I received my standard one yesterday and haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, but I’m so happy with all my other Durston tools, that I’d bet they are a cut above the usual creme brulee or dabbing torches that are often used in jewelry-making.

I find it is best to heat from below. I use a hot plate. You need even controlled heat across the whole piece. I use an agate burnisher which must be dipped in cool water from time to time. While burnishing, watch the edge of the gold as it slowly sinks into the silver. Easy to let it sink too much which dilutes the richness of the gold. Practice on tiny earring dangles

“a plain old hot plate” can be a problem in that they tend to heat up then cool off then heat again. if you have one of these what will happen is that it will reach a high temp and then fluctuate down in temp=gold failure to stick. Keum Bo needs consistent heat about 700F+ for real ease of application. the best way, BY FAR is an UltraLite kiln. yes, more expensive than a hot plate but incredibly reliable for Keum Bo. and, you can use it for enameling, fusing fine silver links for loop in loop chain, etc etc. it is helpful to use the red brass cover discs (Rio: 703-023) to support your piece as you burnish and more evenly distribute the heat. the very best advice to give your student is to tell your student to order and read from cover to cover Celie Fago’s book “Keum-Boo on Silver” all you ever need to know about this fab technique.


The burner method needs the steel plate as a way to keep the heat constant. Yes burners turn on and off, but at highest setting, it is a minimal amount it is switched off. The steel plate holds the heat and will keep it constant once it is warmed up. There are reasons for this old ladies methods. You stated a good question,one I forgot to address the reason why. Thank you for bringing it up.


Sorry if I sound mean, I got between two fighting cats last night, and spent most the night in the ER. Funny how you get shoved in a room fast and attention when you walk in with a blood soaked towel. Only 37 stiches and drugs.

I took keum-boo class last summer via Zoom, and we used a square sheet of copper, maybe 18G, on top of one of those cheap electric hot plates you can get from Amazon. Worked a treat, and very little cost!