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Little Torch - Help!

Hi all - I posted a question about which gas is preferred for the
little torch last week. I did get some response - thanks so much.

However, I am still stuck on which gas to use. I currently use
acetelyne/air with a prest-o-lite torch. I’ve been told that using a
little torch would be helpful in some of my work. That includes:
chain making, small connections on bracelets, bezels, etc. I work
with sterling with 14K accents.

My questions aRe: What are fellow orchidians using? Propane or
acetelyne? What is your experience with both? Are you using the
little torch for everything - including annealing?

Thanks so much - Sarah Philbeck

Hi Sara,

That includes: chain making, small connections on bracelets,
bezels, etc. I work with sterling with 14K accents. 

Assuming you use paste solder (both gold & sterling) for chain work,
you should be able to get by with propane & air. You could also use
propane & oxy, but it’s not a requirement. Since you already have an
acet tank you could stay with oxy & acet. There’s really no need to
get the extra tank (propane). If however you plan to start working
with platinum soon, it might be advantageous to go the oxy/propane
route. Propane burns cleaner (less carbon)than acet & platinum
doesn’t like carbon.


My questions aRe: What are fellow orchidians using? Propane or
acetelyne? What is your experience with both? Are you using the
little torch for everything - including annealing? 

Sarah, when you light a little torch with acetylene, you get soot
floating around. The bigger the tip, the greater amount of soot.
This doesn’t happen with an acetylene/air torch because the fuel is
mixed with air in the correct amount prior to lighting. When
lighting a little torch, or any other gas/oxy torches, you light on
the pure gas, then add the Oxy in to obtain the correct flame. You
will get a little too much Oxy and get a small explosion, a lot POP.
Not damage done but to your nerves the first few time. A last
point on the acetylene, it burns much hotter than propane. This can
be either good or bad, depending on what you are doing.

I have both in my shop. I use propane almost always, but there are
the big pieces that need the kick of the acetylene and I just switch
red hoses and I’m off to the races. The funny part is that you some
times need the additional heat at both ends, IE larger pieces and
the very small ones. With the little torch, you can use a #1 tip
with acetylene and get an extremely small and very hot flame.


Sarah, Seems I put my two cents in on a similiar discussion
previously but here it is again. I used a mini torch up until about
4-5 years ago with acetelyne and oxygen and now I use a Hoke with
propane and oxygen and haven’t looked back.

The only difference between the two gases, I can tell, is as Sam
said I don’t have black carbon floating around my studio everytime I
light my torch and the pieces don’t oxidize as quickly when
soldering. I too do lots of pieces with silver and gold combinations
and a lot of carat gold work and can see no reason to have a mini
torch. Silver conducts the heat so well that sometimes I think the
mini torch is a disadvantage because of the small localized flame.
When I first started using the Hoke I thought that the slightly
larger flame would cause me problems, but this didn’t happen even
with bezel seams, multiple solder joints ( including gold pieces) on
the same piece etc.I always use my smallest tip (2a I think ) for
all soldering.

So I’m not saying buy a Hoke, I’m saying seriously consider if the
mini torch is the way to go.Propane well I like it as a fuel, and I
like the small refillable 4lb tank which lasts forever doesn’t
pollute the enviroment or waste our resources.

Doug Frey

Sarah - My preference is a MECCO torch. I utilize multiple tips
(very small opening for small findings and larger openings to none if
I am annealing). I prefer Propane and O2 as it allows enough heat to
work platinum, silver and gold. You can purchase the MECCO torch from

Sandy Moon
Sandy Moon Jewels
The Woodlands, Texas

Hi Sarah- I too have gone through the hassle of many gas changes and
I was working with ox/propane switched to little torch with
ox/acetelyne Pro’s- very exact flame for fine work and can get very
hot, can use for melt to annealling with varieties of tips for
everything, smallness is like working with a pencil, safer gas
because lighter and will dissipiate faster Con’s- a bit of time to get
adjusted to the intense heat and too dirty (acetelyne) for plat.
work, heating up huge pieces with even the widest tip is major time
and a charcoal block My (humble) opinion is if you are working small
and exact, nothing beats the little torch , but keep your other stuff
for the bigger things -jess

I have an oxy/acetylrne Little Torch with tips from 2 to 6 and an
aditional tip for casting and melting. As I’m a goldsmith I rarely
have to anneal very large pieces but the torch works very well for
me. I like the veruy high temperatures I can get that allow me to
weld easliy.

I think if I were buying again I’d choose propane however - simply
because it’s cleaner.


which gas is preferred for the little torch  

I use the little torch with disposable oxygen/propane tanks and I
really like it for smaller work. I use it with the #6 tip. I solder
a lot of mini bolts to bezel cups and it is great for the delicate
work. For larger pieces and annealing I use a whale torch set-up on a
camping sized disposable tank. I’m living in a rented place and the
owner didn’t like having an acetyline tank in the basement. The Smith
acetelyne/air was what I normally used and is my favorite. When I’m
back in my own studio, I’ll go back to that. With the system I’m
using now, if I travel and want to work, it’s easy to take the
torches minus the tanks, which I pick up at Home Depot.

Donna in VA

Hi Sarah, I’ve been using the little torch for years. I use propane
and oxygen. I think I use a Tip#4. And yes I use it for everything,
chainmaking, all types of small connections, and bigger items also
like bracelets, mini-sculptures, everything. I used acetelyne and
oxygen in school, but I like the little torch w/ the propane because
I get as much heat as I need, and I do not think I’ve changed a
propane tank in a year. It works for me. Hope this helps you. Best,


Sarah, I use Oxy/propane.I have used acetylene in a large set up to
cast years ago but it was way too dirty.I used the prestolite for SS
work for years also.Now I work in gold and do very little SS work.I
have dug the old prestolite out occasionally to do a large SS repair
or bracelet.It heats evenly for SS . I use the little torch for small
SS pieces also.I feel it is more versatile.Allowing you to do either
gold or silver.I cut the end off of a #6 little torch tip to melt
gold for sizing stock to pour in my ingot mold…It is cheaper than
buying a rosebud tip and works better.Regards J
Morley Coyote Ridge Studio

Sarah: The little torch designed for propane comes with 5 tips that
are all large enough to pass the gas. [this is not a bad
thing]Propane is more dense than acetylene so if you do not get the
right size tips with your torch [matched to the type of gas you will
have some of your tips that will not pass the gas and you will have
no flame. So then you buy more tips. I have a lot of tips for my
Little Torch, I have used it for over twenty years and have
replacedthe hoses three times due to old age. Iuse the same torch
with Propane, acetylene, and hydrogen and it works Great Art

There have been several previous threads and discussions with a lot
of helpful about torches and fuels. Check out the Orchid
archives by looking for some of those postings under the following
two subjects (for a start):

[Orchid] Advice on torches and fuels
[Orchid] [Beginners' Corner] Little Torch

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_David_Sturli

Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA

Hey yall: Just my 2 cents. I use both and have them hooked to a y in
line… the little smith in invaluable for doing small localized
work and my larger torch works well for the larger tasks. I use
majicflux and that stops the oxidation fine… as far as soot goes,
try turning on a little oxygen first… works for me, I believe
there is more heat in acetylene and if your putting carbon into the
metal than your using the wrong flame… Ringman