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Melting torch


#1

Hi Everyone!

What kind of torch [large] would you advise for melting?

At present I use the Smith Little Torch [Propane/Oxygen] with the
additional “Melting Tip”. It is good for medium sized pieces/melting
2-3 oz but can’t cut it on the larger amounts.

I also have a certain dislike for the large torch we use here in the
workshop. I believe it’s a Hoke Torch, but I am unsure. It’s quite
ancient and does not use any screw in tips.

Any hints, tips or tricks are much appreciated.

Thanks,
Gian.


#2

Gian,

I’m sorry for saying this AGAIN, but I am no fan of the Little
Torch. I think it’s a toy. You may have their “melting tip” but as
you’ve discovered, you just can’t heat anything of real size, even
with that “melting” tip. Are you trying to pour ingots with that
little torch?? I’m a big fan of using propane and oxygen as torch
fuels, as they are quite versatile, and easy to find. The propane is
a hot burning gas, coupled with the oxygen, and can solder or even
melt platinum. Household (natural gas) works for most soldering or
melting, but hasn’t enough pressure or inherent heat to melt
platinum.

I’m also using those little 1lb. propane cylinders (for camping
stoves, etc.) for my propane torches and I refill them at home with
a 5 ga. barbeque-type tank. Those little 1 lb. cylinders last a
surprisingly long time unless you are fabricating with platinum and
are annealing for 2 min. and longer. I have med. sized oxygen
cylinders and regulators, small enough to carry one handed, for my
torches, as well.

One of my favorite torches is the Meco Midget, super versatile, as
long as you bore out one of your screw-on tips to over 1.5 mm, as I
have, which lets me do most silver soldering and even platinum
melting. The Hoke torch, which I have the most years of experience
with, is a really great torch, pretty inexpensive, except that the
newer models have been made with not so great valves. However, they
make a quick-change tip set for the Hoke torch, which is terrific,
and makes a very nicely shaped flame. Largest tip in set, about 1.6
mm.

The Swiss Torch, from Frei and Borel, is expensive, but very cool,
with all the accessory tips. The knurled knobs are a bit tight for my
taste, but it works beautifully. The long “platinum tip” melts
platinum with ease, and makes a great casting torch, with its length.
It also has a mini tip set, on a swiveling attachment, and other tips
that set up fast for any soldering or melting job you have.

The Little Torch (way too small for me, as I said) has big brother,
called the Compact Torch. It has a larger body and bigger tips, but
its internal plumbing is too restricted to push out larger flames
(say normal silver soldering). It will solder smaller items, but will
frustrate you to death if you’re trying to develop some real heat to
say, pour an ingot. Hope that helps…

Jay

Jay Whaley
Whaley Studios


#3
I'm sorry for saying this AGAIN, but I am no fan of the Little
Torch. I think it's a toy. 

I get really annoyed with this opinion. I would counter that if you
can’t do most bench work with a Little Torch, you must be an amateur.

I have used the Little torch for over 25 years for bench work.

I make my living with a “toy”.

I use the Little torch for what it is good for and meant for, and
larger torches for what they are good for and meant for.

I have torch for melting 350 grams of sterling for casting and I
would not re-tip prongs with that torch. But I do use it to solder
thick sterling shanks with stones in them, takes about 1 or 2
seconds with a rosebud tip.

Within the context of using the right torch for the right job, it is
not the size of the torch, it is the skill with which you use it. I
do repair and custom, as well as casting and alloying.

The Little torch is not for soldering large bracelets, it is not for
melting metal for casting.

But I can melt a small amount of metal on a charcoal block for
rolling out a ring shank. I can do most annealing with it. Size
rings, solder heads to shanks, solder heads together, re-tip, repair
broken ear wires, posts to heads for stud earrings, replace broken
posts for pearl pegs. I fabricate bezel cups in gold and/or sterling
for all sizes of cabs.

So, Jay, if you are ever in Denver, come by and I can do a workshop
for ya for what a Little Torch can be used for to make jewelry. I
don’t want to change your mind. I would like to show you how skilled
someone can be with a toy. Here is a picture of a ring, 18kt yellow
gold band with settings and celtic elements welded all around and 14
kt white gold rails welded to each side, set with tsavorites.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#4

Hi Jay,

Ok, I’m gonna need to pick your brains for a few hahaha!

Yes I was using the “melting tip” for the Little Torch, and it makes
me feel to cry every time I use it. It is good for annealing pieces
quickly, but I would not use it for anything else. And yes, I was
using it to pour ingots [huge mistake].

Where I am, I am looking for a torch that can do it all, anneal,
solder and most importantly melt. I hate having to switch my torches
all the day long. I mainly use the 20lb container of propane and the
regular larg oxygen tank, which are booth FAR off in a dark corner
of the room.

Which type of torch would you reccomend? I have heard rave reviews
about the Midget torch indeed, but what’s your take on this? I think
I could run over to the store and pick one up tomorrow. But I have no
clue as to what size/kind of tip to buy for it, how to bore out the
whole for the tip [like you suggested] or how to set up the propane
and oxygen regulators. Again, please advise. I am just accustomed to
the “Little Torch” as that is the one I learned on in school.

Thanks,
Gian.


#5

Gian,

I’d buy that Meco Midget torch. It is a fine torch, without a doubt.
I’d take its biggest tip and simply drill a 1.5 mm sized hole through
the opening in the tip with a normal drill bit. Super easy to do. With
this tip, and adjusting your propane and oxygen pressure, you’ll be
able to melt several ounces of silver for pouring an ingot, or even
melt platinum with it.

Mostly I run about 5 lbs. pressure on the oxygen and propane
regulators, but I increase that as my heating needs increase.

The smaller tips should do most of your smaller work. If you need
even tinier tips, you can draw down tubing to the interior size you
need, drill out a torch tip to the tube size, and then solder this
tiny tube into a torch tip. You’ll get a very tiny flame with these.
They make a wonderful quick-change tip set for the Hoke torches,
which I love, but they don’t fit the Meco, unless you are willing to
do a little modification to your Meco.

Jay Whaley
Whaley Studios


#6

Richard,

I’m sorry for saying this AGAIN, but I am no fan of the Little
Torch. I think it’s a toy.

I get really annoyed with this opinion. I would counter that if
you can't do most bench work with a Little Torch, you must be an
amateur. I have used the Little torch for over 25 years for bench
work. 

I have to agree, I’ve used a little torch with both propane and
acetylene for decades. It can be sort of small using propane but I
love acetylene. Granted a home made #6 tip for melting. No problems.
If I want to pour a 1/4 kilo ingot I will drag the welding torch in
from the garage, but it is heavy and I try to avoid extra work…

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#7

Hey Richard,

I have no argument with what you are able to do with the Little
Torch. You’re a pro, and know what that torch can and can’t do. You
also have larger torches specific to your needs, as you’d be required
to have in a professional goldsmithing shop. I too, have an
assortment of torches here in my shop, from Hoke, Meco, Swiss Torch,
to Prestolite. From micro-work to casting, I have a torch for that.

My issue is that most of the people I work with are students, and
most of them work with silver. Many of them ask me for my
recommendation for torches in their home studios, and I don’t
recommend the Little Torch. It just won’t develop enough heat for
most silver work, and especially for melting and pouring ingots,
which I am a big advocate of, as you are probably aware.

The Little Torch has been highly advertised as THE jewelers torch to
buy for beginning goldsmiths, and many jewelry supply houses and even
welding supply shops recommend this torch to customers. I just think
it is over-promoted without the knowledge of its limited range. Most
of my students can’t afford to go out and buy one torch for
micro-soldering and repairs, another for larger silver bracelets and
rings, and still another for pouring ingots or even casting with.

So, I try to recommend a torch that has the ability to not only do
the tiny soldering, but the capability to do larger jobs, as well.
Calling the Little Torch a “toy” was not a smart thing to say, as it
insults master craftsmen like you who use it to make their living.

I need to apologize to you and any other metalsmith who uses that
torch everyday with great results.

Please accept my apology.

Jay Whaley
Whaley Studios


#8

Mr. Jay Whaley, I agree with most of what you said in your last
email with a very few exceptions. I believe that the little torch is
not the best FIRST choice. But for what it does, it does very well.
Meco Midgets torches are my FIRST choice for general work.

A recommendation I was given involves drilling out a spare Meco tip
to accept the stainless steel needles from large, big gauge
veterinary needles . I found that the Meco torch accepts a S.A,E. nut
to which I have silver soldered very large, all steel veterinary
tips. A tap works well to clean out any solder remains. It works
well and is cheep.

I have used Natural Gas for platinum welding, and a Big Victor
Journeyman Torch with a Natural Gas head for melting and general
casting. It would melt fast enough that there was fewer problems with
oxidation or fire scale. I could adjust to a very slightly reducing
flame, and still have plenty of heat. The Natural Gas was not at
household pressures. I use a Victor Super Range torch for casting
using propane and oxygen. It is a little smaller and more
controllable. I still adjust that flame to be very slightly reducing.

I entirely agree with You about using the little 1 lb. propane
cylinders and refilling them from a 5lb. or 20 lb. barbeque type
tank. A good quality regulator for the 1 lb. propane tank is
available from most larger suppliers. The adapter for refilling the 1
lb tank is available from Harbor Freight which stocks a good quality
all brass adapter. I do this on my open back porch.

9 years ago a huge ice storm downed power lines in East Texas for up
to 3 weeks. I was without power for 10 days living in town. These
little propane cylinders are great for lights and cooking. I got
mine. Let there be light with hot coffee and soup.

Do not cut corners with your torch and tanks.

Robb.
l little 1lb. propane cylinders ittle 1lb. propane cylinders


#9

I have to agree with Richard Hart… The Little torch is very
versatile. We have used this torch for jewelry assembly, repair and
annealing for over 30 years.

I’ve used it for very fine platinum repairs… Gold, Silver and even
a few automotive projects.

Many old time model makers in Rhode Island that worked for me in
some large model making departments used the Little torch to assemble
hand made Pewter models… They liked the fact that this small torch
could work in any metal. Now, Again, Like Richard mentioned. It’s not
and never will be a production casting torch.

Sure, with the rosebud tip, you could melt 2 or 3 oz. of silver…
eventually. If you are going to melt and pour ingots or Cast with a
torch, you need a much bigger torch to be efficient…

and that big torch will not be any good for doing fine work.

For Casting, I use a tank of Hydrogen and a tank of Oxygen hooked up
to a welding torch using a large Rose bud torch. On an average, I melt
500 to 700 grams per melt of S88 Deox sterling silver in about 3
minutes.

I have melted 1100 grams of Sterling for a large pour with the same
torch. If Hydrogen is not available, the next best gas to use is
Propane… Very inexpensive and very clean.

If the issue you have is that you don’t want to go all the way back
to your tanks to change the torches over… then use a splitter (Y)
adaptor in each line with a shut off valve on each side of the
splitter so that you can shut the gas and oxygen off to 1 torch and
turn the gas/Oxygen on to the other. Problem Solved! Don’t forget to
use Back flash arrestors on each torch connection for safety.

Currently, we cast in Regular Sterling, Argentium, S88 Deox, Pink
Silver, Platinum, White Bronze,Yellow bronze, Brass, All the
different golds from 10K to 24 K and in almost all colors available.
All done with a torch…

Daniel Grandi
http://www.racecarjewelry.com


#10

Hi all,

I don’t know why this doesn’t get mentioned more often, but there
are quick-change adaptors available for various fuel and O2 lines. So
I’ve got quick change/flashback arrestors on both my O2 and
acetylene regulators, and all my torches, and then just swap out
whichever torch I need for whatever I’m doing at the time.

Oxy-acet mini torch for small things, Acet/air prestolite for
general large things, and my welding/cutting torch for really big
stuff. Takes more time to uncoil the hose than it does to swap the
torches themselves. (The funny part is that the O2 reg came from a
giant oxy- acet flame lance cutting rig, so it’s this absolutely
monstrous old two stage reg…with this teeeeeny little mini-torch
hanging off it most of the time. )

I’m reasonably sure that there are QC fittings for propane and
natural gas as well, although I haven’t checked specifically.

As far as a dedicated melting torch, I’ve got an O2/hydrogen rosebud
out at school that I’m very fond of. Very, very clean, and hot as
blazes. A little expensive to run, and the learning curve’s brutal
when you first start out, but once you get it down, it works well.

Who said you could only have one torch? I’ve got at least 5 that I
can see from here, and they all serve different purposes.

Fwiw,
Brian.


#11
I'd buy that Meco Midget torch. It is a fine torch, without a
doubt. I'd take its biggest tip and simply drill a 1.5 mm sized
hole through the opening in the tip with a normal drill bit. 

You can enlarge tips for Little Torch as well. Incidentally, I have
been using Little Torch for 35 years, even for casting small ingots.
Never had any troubles. One feature that Little Torch has, that
unique to it, is lightness. When spending long days at the bench, it
really makes a difference.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12
It just won't develop enough heat for most silver work, and
especially for melting and pouring ingots, which I am a big
advocate of, as you are probably aware. 

Jay - I don’t melt and pour ingots, so can’t speak to that. But I am
floored by the first part of this statement. I use my Little Torch
on silver and copper, and I do jump rings, bails, bezels, prongs,
bracelets, pendants, rings, sculptural constructions…what part
of “most silver work” is it that I supposedly can’t do with this???
Whatever it is, it is apparently something I have not had any need
or desire to do, or awareness of…

The only times I switch to my big acetylene Presto-lite is when I’m
doing a really honking big solid piece of something - or when I’m
teaching and going to be annealing lots of large bracelets. The
Little Torch does the annealing when I’m in my studio doing one, but
I find if I’m annealing for a class that the Presto-lite is much
faster.

And truthfully, if I wasn’t too lazy to try the biggest tip I have
on the Little Torch, I could probably do the honking big things with
it too… but I have my favorite tip on it and mostly just leave it
alone…

I respect your opinion on lots of things, but just have to agree to
disagree with you on this one. Take up Richard’s offer - I’ll bet he
can give you a new view of the Little Torch! With the influence you
have, it is a real shame that you are so vehemently steering people
away from what many of us find to be a wonderful torch. I bought what
I learned with - the Presto-lite - and it was NOT the best solution
for me. I’m sorry where I learned didn’t have other torches -
including the Little Torch - for me to try and compare. I really
strongly recommend that anyone buying a torch try to use a variety
first. I’ll be happy to show off my Little Torch to anyone in the
Carolinas.

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#13

Hi everyone.

Ok, so coming down to the nitty gritty…

As far as a melting torch for between 3-7oz, a safe bet would be the
Meco Midget?

I have never used it you see, so I am unsure. Should I also consider
a Hoke Torch?

Please advise.

The Fire Marshall in our area does not want us using Acetelyne or
Hydrogen, so I simply use Propane and Oxygen. I will continue to use
the Little Torch. Though I prefer the rosebud head to the normal #7
tip.

Thanks,
Gian.


#14
Currently, we cast in Regular Sterling, Argentium, S88 Deox, Pink
Silver, Platinum, White Bronze,Yellow bronze, Brass, All the
different golds from 10K to 24 K and in almost all colors
available. All done with a torch... 

And they do a beautiful job too! Just a very satisfied customer -
could not be more pleased. If you don’t cast yourself (and I don’t)
then I highly recommend Daniel and Racecar Jewelry!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#15
I will continue to use the Little Torch. Though I prefer the
rosebud head to the normal #7 tip. 

I also like my #8 and #9 tips for the Little Torch. No #8 or #9 you
say? It was quite easy to enlarge a standard tip, and the torch
behaves beautifully.

I took a #1 tip, which is useless with propane, wastefully broke out
the ruby aperture, and resized the tip with a tapered scribing tool.

I also use the rosebud, though primarily for anealing larger objects.

Marrin Fleet
a “sometimes” jeweler


#16
One feature that Little Torch has, that unique to it, is lightness.
When spending long days at the bench, it really makes a difference 

The lightness is also great for anyone with arthritis and/or carpal
tunnel - MUCH easier and less painful to use than the big torches!
Now if someone would just come out with an industrial grade heat gun
that is light…sigh…

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#17

Brian,

Hey, I need to get specifics on those quick-change adapters you have
on your torches. They sound like just what I need for my studio. Can
you send me some info on where to get them? I’m getting tired of
lugging tanks and switching out torches.

Jay
Jay Whaley
Whaley Studios


#18
As far as a melting torch for between 3-7oz, a safe bet would be
the Meco Midget? 

With the largest tip, you could do it. But the Meco is still a bit
small for those larger amounts. The torch body too, is short enough
that your hand ends up uncomfortably close to that much molten metal.
If you do a lot of melting of this sort of amount, get a larger
torch. They make torches specifically sized for melting and casting.
They’re more the size of a typical welders torch (which you can use
with propane and oxygen if you have hoses rated for propane and the
proper tip on the torch for it. The Meco, like the little torch, is
more intended as “working” torch for soldering and finer work. It’s
capable of considerably larger work than a little torch, but it’s
still a jewelers bench torch, for the most part. Stretching it for
melting larger amounts can be done, but isn’t optimal.

I have never used it you see, so I am unsure. Should I also
consider a Hoke Torch? 

I wouldn’t recommend the Hoke. These used to be great torches, back
when they were made here in the U.S. But in recent years, Grobet has
been having them made in China. No doubt by the lowest bidder. Now
maybe in the last couple years the quality has improved, but I doubt
it. The samples I’ve seen were trash. Poorly machined valves give
poor control. Some, when you open them up, still have metal
shavings/turnings/drillings in the valve. Shoddy quality control. At
least that was the case a few short years ago. I’ve not heard anyone
rave about them since… And they’re only real difference from the
meco (aside from quality, since the current Hoke’s are junk and the
Meco is a well made torch) is the shape and position of the valves.
Some people find the Hoke a bit more comfortable to use on a typical
jewelers bench because the end bends over more, so for working on
higher work surfaces, closer to in front of your face instead of down
at waist level or something. I solved that difference with my meco
simply by gently (with a tube bender) bending the end over a bit
more so it too, has the sort of almost 90 degree angle the hoke torch
has.

Peter Rowe


#19

Just a little question, the “little torch” would that be Butane? I
have a small torch by iroda, works great for working with Argentium
Silver where I don’t want a lot of heat. Works great on sterling as
well, how-ever I find even though it works, the lower heat causes a
bit of blackening on the silver. I also use propane. Most times I
use that to give my filigree the once over to make sure all contacts
are fused together. Everyone has their preference. Me I have been
scared to death of fire and am gradually working my way up.

Just my 2-bits…learn a lot from these discussions.

Trish


#20

Hi Jay,

I picked mine up at the local gas house. They were a standard
’behind the counter’ item. Just tell them you want a combined
flashback arrestor and quickchange fitting, and they should have
them. Mine are made by Western, if I remember correctly. (It’s dark
in there at the moment, and I can’t find a flashlight, to check.)

Regards,
Brian.