Does anyone have experience on how to salvage a damaged tip for the
little torch? I doubt that it can be restored to the original state,
but I’m thinking it could be modified to a bigger opening and used
where a much larger flame would be appropriate. So far I get too
much hissing and/or crummy looking flame.
What are some basics that will give a workable tip even if not
perfect and when is it best to throw in the towel?
Thanks in advance.
J Collier Metalsmith
I learned to do this - actually both of these circumstances - from a
friend of mine. Yes, you can enlarge the tip opening. If it has
gotten mangled, you can open it out with a hard steel probe,. I have
some antique probes I bought at a flea market. The end tapers from
about one-eighth-inch to a very sharp point in about two-inches.
Burnish the inside well with the probe, and file the tip clean and
square. The normal large size tip is an arbitrary #7. I have made an
equally arbitrary #8 or #9. Beyond that, I just use a rosebud.
The tip is made of copper, or a bronze/brass just off of copper.
Therefore it is forge-able. With very, very light blows, strike the
last one-fourth to one-half inch of the tip held on a small anvil,
or something similar. Rotate the tip to get even coverage all the way
around the tip. In this way, you can reduce the diameter of the
tubing. Clean with a tip-reamer available from any welding supply
store. Again, file the tip clean and square.
After all, the tip is just metal. Restoring the tip, or modifying
the tip, is just moving metal, something we, as a group, do all the
time! I also learned this on a larger scale through forging
iron/steel pipe to different shapes. If you wish, buy a foot or two
of small diameter copper pipe at the hardware store. Practice with
this, and then take the process to the smaller tubing of the torch
tip. You may need to anneal once or twice.
I’m shameless about altering torch tips. I have an old turn of the
20th century brass plumbers torch that I have used every day for over
thirty years. I’ve drilled out some tips for a big flame and soldered
small tubes in others for tipping. We also have home made tips for
our casting torch.
Just keep experimenting until you get the flame you like. Have fun
and make lots of jewelry… and tools.
I’ve not modified tips on the Little Torch, but have made changes to
almost every other torch in my shop. The Little Torch has a
limitation not only on the size of the tips available for it, but
the interior “plumbing” of the torch body is fairly small, as well.
That means that the torch body will only let so much gas pass through
it, regardless of the tip size you use. The hissing sound you are
hearing is a lot of gas passing through a small orifice, indicating
you are probably reaching the end of the torch’s capability. The Meco
Midget, for comparison, has much larger interior tubing, and can push
greater amounts of gas through the torch body. You can put as small a
tip on the Meco as you like, and it will give you a tiny flame, and a
bored out tip with increased gas pressure will give you some serious
heat. All torches have their advantages and limitations, and are
designed for specific heat ranges. It sounds like you need to invest
in a “larger throated” torch that can push greater amounts of gas
through the torch body (and tips).
How is the tip damaged? If the hole is slightly blocked, put a 6/0
sawblade in it and gently move it back and forth - you’re removing
the blockage, not cutting the tip. If it’s blocked with solder, you’d
have to drill it, and you’d probably spend more in drill bits than
you’d save in rescuing the tip. There are no right and wrong sizes
with tips, but the shape of the hole will make a big difference to
the shape of the flame, so you might have a hard time getting to be
the way it used to be.
I have very gently filed or sanded the end and cleaned any burr off
the inside without changing the size of the hole. I have also used a
jewelers saw and cut the whole end off to get a larger diameter hole
that would produce a larger flame and it works, hisses a bit. Ended
up with a tip that produce a flame about the size of #7. The end has
to be at right angles to the length or the flame gets a little
Torch tips 1 and 2 with ruby inserts, I just pop out the ruby, they
come out easy and this allows those tips to be useful, they become
like about a #4
Richard Hart G.G.
I have tried to communciate with Smith Co. with my torch issues and
they blew me off. Therefore, I have a hard time getting a response
from the m and I did ask very nicely. Since the Little Torch was
adapted from a welding torch to fit into a jewelry bench format many
years ago, it works like a welding torch for very small scale gas
welding. Same high temperature, just a different size torch. I do
have a Smith welding torch from the 50’s that still works perfectly.
Problem is, gas welding is hard on the tips and you have to increase
the oxygen a bit more than it is for conventional welding. I do
gas-weld small steel sculptures and sometimes steel jewelry. There’s
quite a gap from the Little Torch to the standard gas welding
oxy/acetylene torches and so I tend to stick to the Little Torch,
choosing to work a little smaller.
All I ask is that if the little threaded tube that goes from handle
to torch tip can be replaced, and that torch tips can be made from
another metal that tolerates the high temps better. Airgas charged me
$130 to “fix” my two Little Torches, and let me tell you, they were
not really fixed. The same leakage problem still existed, so I had no
choice but retired those two torches and get a decent used one off
Ebay. Do you know the Little Torch was made by Tescom but then Smith
Co. bought the rights to the torch and market it under their name.
Since I found the Little Torch a bit top-heavy, it would always fall
to the floor, so I got into the habit years ago to make sure I have
something to hook the hose around ( water bowl, firebrick, Torch
Mate) and therefore, the torch doesn’t fall to the floor. Saves
having to constantly get off my stool, get the torch off the floor
and get back to my soldering. Since I have a tiled surface for my
very long soldering bench, it is not possible to put screws into it
for a clip to hold torch, so I either hang the torch from the
regulator at night, or leave it on bench, with a weight on hose to
keep it from sliding to floor. That also reduces the deformed tips.
Just second nature to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’m
automatically turned on the tanks or turned off tanks at schools
without thinking, and then students are asking, what are you doing?
My muscle memory is so good, I actually have to stop and think to
explain to jewelry students what I am doing. I do the same thing day
in, day out at my studio. I’ve been in my profession too long.
All I ask is that if the little threaded tube that goes from
handle to torch tip can be replaced, and that torch tips can be
made from another metal that tolerates the high temps better.
If you are welding and not soldering (brazing) the tip really must
be considered a consumable item. The copper tip is the best
available material for torch tips, it has a relatively high melting
temperature and more importantly it draws heat away from the orifice
to keep it from melting. For the tips that have the corundum orifice
I suppose a diamond would be better but the cost would be
That threaded tube in not replaceable on most torches as it is
integral to the body of the torch. When not abused there should not
be any wear to that part of the torch, I don’t understand how that
part would be damaged in normal use.
James Binnion Metal Arts
I also have students who use my torches, so yes, they do get
manhandled a bit. I have one student who always manage to have a
problem with my Little Torch every time she comes over. She’s really
good at making me work extra hard on my torchs. No matter how many
times I double-check my torches, she always has a problem. I’ll have
to give her yet another tutorial on troubleshooting. Sometimes I
wonder how many times it will take before it really sinks into her
I close up the outer tips by peening them closed and use different
silver tubing for different sizes of flame. clean off any roughage
for a smooth flow of gases. If the mixture keeps popping the flame
out, Back off the gas flow with no air use, Very slowly start your
gas, mix air very slowly and make adjustments a little at a time
untill you get the correct flame for the job. Cell - 210-260-0662
No matter how many times I double-check my torches, she always has
a problem. I'll have to give her yet another tutorial on
troubleshooting. Sometimes I wonder how many times it will take
before it really sinks into her mind.
I’m guessing it will take her right up to the point when it is HER
time or HER pocketbook that is used to fix things. Then she’ll learn
I have taught hundreds of students, and there are a few for whom
nothing has higher value than the opportunity/right to claim the
teacher’s attention. These few will always be “pills” as long as they
get that attention by screwing up or failing to understand. I have
one currently who continually comes up with question after question,
far beyond what she is ready to absorb, for fear she won’t “get me
back”, even though the class is small and I am readily available.
Sometimes one has to be firm…
Thanks for all the input on salvaging a Little Torch tip. In fact, I
salvaged two. One was cut off and re-drilled; the other had a small
tube inserted. Both work fine providing a larger flame. Trying to fix
these just seem the right thing to do for a jeweler who digs
modifying tools. I appreciate the help. j
J Collier Metalsmith