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Needle flames

G’day; I tried some filligree a good while ago, with surprising
success. But I had the problem of my torch flame being too big
and clumsy. I thought I’d try the ‘third world’ method, and made
a meths (alcohol) lamp from a small bottle, punching a hole
through the METAL cap and using a bit of my old pyjama girdle as
a wick. Three-quarters filled the little bottle (about 30 mls)
with methylated spirit - and it worked very well. Indeed, I still
use it for dopping, etc. I got a 1/8" dia brass tube from the
local modellers shop, soldered a tiny bit of brass welding rod in
one end, drilled it with a sewing needle forged flat at one end,
and ground that in a shallow vee, sharpened it , then hardened
it. Hadn’t got such a small bought drill then. I used it to drill
a tiny hole in the welding rod ‘stopper’. Finally I bent the tube
into a gentle right angle near the end. Now, by putting the end
of the blowpipe into the spirit flame (put a bit of boric acid in
the meths and the flame will be visible - pale green) and Lo!!
you have not a pencil-point flame but a needle-point flame that
is plenty hot enough to actually melt fine silver and sterling
too. But I cheated and used tiny paillons of ‘easy’ solder.
The ‘third world’ craftsmen usually use a candle and make
intricate stuff like butterflies, dragonflies, flowers, and so
on. However, I’ve seen good mouth blowpipes in Rio’s catalogue
for a small fee. With a mouth blowpipe you use your cheeks as a
sort of reservoir for continuing to blow while you breathe in
through your nose. Have a go some time; I found it very relaxing
after a row with the boss (I always came off worst). Stops you
yakking too. – /\ / / John Burgess, / / / //\ @John_Burgess2
/ / \ \ / (___) \ (_________)

Thanks John! I love hearing about old (pre-industrial) metal
working techniques. And your improvisations are insightful, too.
You truly must be the wisest man on Earth! Or at least in
metalsmithing :slight_smile:



I used to use an alcohol lamp and a blowpipe to make scroll work
earrings and pendants. Did some fine work with it too! I found it
necessary to use a charcoal block as it would not rob the flame
of any heat. The alcohol lamp I have is faceted so that the flame
can be positioned where needed. Took a little concentration.

I really appreciate the oxy/propane small torch I use now.

Kenneth Gastineau