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Smith little torch recommendations


#1

Hi folks,

After a few personal recommendations and reading many recommendations
via Orchid, I’m seriously considering buying a Smith Little Torch. I
can get the basic kit for oxy/propane in the UK, which comes with the
torch handle, 8’ of hoses, and five tips from No. 3 to No. 7. I
already have the regulators and flashback arrestors and rent the gas
cylinders from a local welding supply company. My questions to those
on the list who use the Smith Little Torch are, does this kit offer a
good all-round torch for most applications? Will the torch cope with
tiny jobs such as small chain links, up to fabricating large settings
for large cabochons and even bangle bracelet soldering? I’ll still
have my larger welding torch for huge occasional jobs should the need
arise, however.

The other thing I notice is that they sell a multi-orifice tip for
annealing and casting. Would this tip be a good idea also?

I’m really attracted to the Little Torch as it looks so controllable
and easy to use compared to my huge welder’s torch which is simply
far too big to use on a regular daily basis - but I’m eager to be
well informed so I can gauge is suitability for my needs before
spending the 133 UKP that it’ll cost me to buy. I’d be grateful for
any info anyone can offer - thanks.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk
http://helensgems.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#2

I love my little torch, before it, I use to use a clunky acetylene
torch it seemed to work fine but I have never looked back. I seem to
use their largest tip for almost everything but it is all about what
you are soldering most of my stuff is die struck bezels soldered to
discs or findings soldered to the bezels all the way up to an
18x25mm bezel it is fine. I use the multi orifice tip to anneal a
whole bunch of bezels together, It just goes faster for production or
if I am soldering a heavy casted piece, or a heavy cuff bracelet. All
in all there is more of a challenge soldering something big than
something small I don’t think I have ever used the little tips and I
have been using the little torch for 26 years

Cecilia


#3

There are lots of people who love their little torch. I am not one
of them. I bought mine many years ago like most do under the
assumption that is size made it perfect for jewelry work. The biggest
single improvement I ever had with my soldering came from getting rid
of the damn thing. The flame is just too small for all round jewelry
work. Which forces you to use too hot a flame to make up for its
miniscule flame size and this leads to a variety of problems. Yes
there are jobs it can do well but only as a special use tool not a
every day work torch. Get a Meco Midget or Hoke they both have tiny
hypodermic needle tips available if you find the need for an ultra
miniature flame, easily as small as the Little Torch but they also
have a much more useable larger tip that will allow for a soft bushy
flame that will not burn the solder or overheat the work.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#4

Hi Hellen,

Happy Boxing Day… well day after! For those that don’t know of
Boxing Day it has historical roots in guild and craftsmen receiving
boxes of supplies and other things from the company they were/are
employed by…So with that in mind perhaps your DH should be filling
one for you…in keeping with tradition of course! if you really want
a smith go for the silversmith’s set…but the gentec torches that are
available from many sellers (FDJ tools on time sells them and has a
good guarantee with it ) and welding suppliers.These are a notch
above smith’s in my opinion due to the body construction and sturdier
knobs( though the one I have is not colour coded as smiths are) and
the cost is less than any smith for a superior but lesser known torch
that works a little better (unfailing flame with reinforced hoses
and not as frequently needed a cleaning) Cooksons UK has a Sievert
torch- (that may still be included in their boxing day sale-) this is
also a great torch with 2 choices of models one-

like the smith but far less costly,and the other with a handle that
you screw in various tips- if you choose a Sievert (not known in the
USA but with a 120 year history in the UK) and opt for the versatile
handle type I would recommend the needle tip purchase- it is good on
both gold and silver and will handle small platinum tasks as well.the
Sievert will melt metal too for reclaiming scrap…the hand grip is
more comfortable to me than the smith’s cylinder style - but it is a
slight bit heavier.Which if you were using it all day would be a
consideration but for small soldering jobs the moulded handle is
actually more comfortable- particularly if you have smallish hands-
in men’s hands the additional ounce or two of weight makes zero
difference. I also like the Hoke torches- it is my favourite torch
and though on the heavier side of small torches it’s solid nickel
construction, simple maintenance and price and durability are some of
the many reasons I have used this torch for 30 years…If you do
consider a Hoke, buy a supply of spare parts as they are getting
harder to find and every torch needs some regular maintenance. with
bottled gasses as crystalized gas builds up in the bodies and can
block the jets which have to be cleaned out regularly ( methyl
alcohol and a swab, and needle wires (hair fine feeling gauges) that
are used in maintaining hot water heaters and gas appliances with
thermocouplers… I also keep a blow pipe on hand should electricity
fail- a spirit lamp and some alcohol and learning breath control make
it a highly efective tool to have as a back up (i think Cooksons has
them on sale right now too!). so tha’s about my summation of small
torches benefits and drawbacks ; the smiths are widely used but
fairly expensive considering most kits need additional supplies to
make them work, the gentecs atre a superior and less expensive option
though and come with regualtors for disposable tanks that can be
changed out or adapted for use with bottled gas and direct gas line
installations.The Hoke is a great torch that takes a bit of getting
used to but will handle any job,and Sieverts are a good investment-
they outlast all others and are little known in the USA, but the
company takes care of its customers- much like the exemplary service
standard Durston has set…

So go tell Darren to fill your box with supplies!..rer


#5
My questions to those on the list who use the Smith Little Torch
are, does this kit offer a good all-round torch for most
applications? Will the torch cope with tiny jobs such as small
chain links, up to fabricating large settings for large cabochons
and even bangle bracelet soldering? 

I’m very pleased with my Little Torch (O2 and propane). It’s small
size and light weight is WONDERFUL. I never use the two smallest
tips, even for the smallest jobs. One negative – the largest tip
isn’t consistently large enough for all of my needs. I’ve considered
purchasing one of the= dual tips.

Jamie


#6

Hi James,

The flame is just too small for all round jewelry work. 

This is precisely what I was worried about. I work on a variety of
sized soldering jobs, from tiny chain links up to fabricating very
large cabochon settings and everything in between, and of course
soldering those settings to other pieces and I was worried that the
Little Torch might not be up to the job with its tiny hot flame.

I’m still keen on it but I’ll do some more research before taking
the plunge. Thanks for the other perspective on this torch James.

Helen
UK


#7

In answer to your questions, Helen - YES, YES, YES and YES.

I was trained using Smith little torches, and one of the first major
purchases I made was my own kit, very similar to what you describe
in your post. It’ll take a bit of getting used to after your huge
torch, but worth it. The gas/oxy pressures are critical; I was told
not to exceed 3psi for gas and up to 75 for oxy, but a mate of mine
(vastly more experienced than I am) uses 25psi gas and 115 for oxy -
he likes to get his flame really hot, really quick. The drawback to
that much oxy pressure is that it doesn’t take much to push too much
oxy through and blow out the flame with a bang! I’m going to have to
experiment!

I use the #5 tip for most applications, and the #7 tip for annealing
largish pieces of sheet or heavy wire or soldering hefty pieces like
solid bangles or wide hollow form bracelets. Another chum uses the #4
tip for most things.

And Alan Revere has some neat tips for adapting surgical needles to
produce a tiny, pin point flame.

The rose tip (multi-orifice tip) produces a pretty fierce heat and
will allow you to anneal larger sheets (50*100mm plus) quite easily,
though it’s easy to overheat if you’re not careful. I haven’t used it
for casting, but it is certainly capable of melting enough metal
weight for most jewellery pieces.

Good luck and enjoy.

Jane Walker
www.australiannaturalgemjewellery.com.au


#8

Well Jim…I guess its ‘to each his (her) own’. I have used the
little torch (propane/02) for about 30 years and am completely
satisfied with it. Of course, after learning smithing using the old
gasolene/air pump torches in China the little torch was a blessing.
You are right,…there are some things it just will not do but then
the same can usually be said about just about any torch. When I was
going a lot of repair work it was a life saver most of the time.
That is why I also have an acetylene/air torch nearby in case I need
it. Still, I do about 80% of my work with the LT. Its all in what one
is used to and…what their requirements are.

Cheers all, Don in SOFL


#9

Hi RER,

Thanks so much for your comprehensive summary of small torches. I’ll
look at the torches Cookson’s have to offer and also see if I can
find the gentec torches in the UK.

Many thanks!
Helen
UK


#10
My questions to those on the list who use the Smith Little Torch
are, does this kit offer a good all-round torch for most
applications? Will the torch cope with tiny jobs such as small chain
links, up to fabricating large settings for large cabochons and even
bangle bracelet soldering? 

I LOVE this set up! For me it does all of that. From big bezels with
solid sterling backings, to tiny gold chain repair and fabrication.
My usual tip that stays on most often is #6, for gold #5, most
delicate and intricate #4… I also have the melting orfice tip,
works great for small ingot melts at the bench. I used to- a longgg
time ago, struggle with the hoke torch… and I DO mean struggle.
When I first tried the Smith, it was like going from a huge, awkward
shotgun, to a sleek, elegant and accurate pistol. (I’m not a gun
expert- but this is the analogy that came to mind immediately!) It
was so easy to handle, so sleek. I would highly recommend it. The
only other that I have used only a few times was the Midget. A co
worker had this set up and it also was extremely versatile and
handles easily, although feels much larger in the hand.

Laura Guptill
www.LauraGuptillJewelry.com


#11
There are lots of people who love their little torch. I am not one
of them. 

Yep… I had one till it wore out, but I also had two torches - the
mini and a big oxy-acetyline. They are good for what they are good
for - small work and repair mostly in gold or platinum. And like Jim
I have no interest in arguing with those who love them - Jo-Ann
still uses one but she also uses my swiss torch for larger work. For
a first torch or for the many here who work in silver - prestolite
or equivalent, mecco or equivalent, not really much need to look
further.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#12
I was trained using Smith little torches, and one of the first
major purchases I made was my own kit, 

I really cannot understand why anyone would choose the Little torch
over a Meco (or a Hoke, I guess, though I’ve been reading that the
new ones are not so good). Meco can do everything a Little can do,
and more, without having to re-learn soldering in order to deal with
the tiny tiny flame. I can understand continuing, I guess, if that’s
what you learned on, but not if you’re choosing your first feul/oxy
torch.

Noel


#13

I have a smaiths little torch in my shop, it’s a Oxy/Propane that
works well for me.

Jerry


#14
There are lots of people who love their little torch. I am not one
of them. 

I agree. The torch is to specific. I like the Hoke torch. It can
handle larger pieces and can work on very small items with the torch
tips kit. This makes the torch much more versatile. The other plus is
that you can use oxy acetylene, or oxy natural gas (which is much
cleaner). Now that I have raised that issue, I’ll disapear.

Steve Ramsdell


#15

Ok these are the two torches I use daily…

http://www.pbase.com/image/108054183

The back ground one is a generic butane torch handy for almost all
silver work except larger things like babies’ rattles etc.

The foreground one is a Carlisle Universal (running propane/oxy)
that I had some custom tips made up for (cost an arm and leg, but I
hop along just fine now), the one mounted is 0.6mm orifice and the
other one has an orifice of 1.6mm. The big multi orifice one came
with the torch and I only use it to anneal large sheets (6"x12") of
silver or casting.

I’m actually considering the little torch right now, so I have
something in between the two extremes that I have now, and anyway I
have hankered for a micro flame from time to time in the recent
past…

Cheers, Thomas Janstrom.
Little Gems.
http://tjlittlegems.com


#16

Dear Jane,

It'll take a bit of getting used to after your huge torch, but
worth it. 

Actually, the big one is SO unwieldy and heavy, that I’ve gone back
to the handheld butane torch until I get the Little Torch, so
hopefully the learning curve won’t be so great. I’m sure I’ll still
be melting things all over the place at first though - just as I was
with the big one. How frustrating that is! My big torch was a stupid
purchase as it is clearly made for some big burly bloke (sorry for
sounding sexist!) to do welding with, but the torch bit wasn’t
expensive, just the regulators and flashback arrestors and I can use
them for the Little Torch. Thanks for the recommendation Jane.

To Don, Laura and John D, thanks also for your recommendations.

I also had a recommendation from RE Rourke that Gentec torches are
better and for less money. I wasn’t able to find them in the UK but
found one in the US but it was a little more expensive than the best
price I’ve found the Little Torch for. I’ll look further and see if
I can find one at a good price. The Seivert was also recommended from
Cookson’s, but it is just a fuel and atmospheric air torch rather
than the oxy/propane that I’m looking for and it looks much bigger
than the Little Torch too.

Our own Mr James Miller also uses the Little Torch and has done for
over thirty years and he highly recommends it. I think (as does
hubby) that it will actually fit into my arsenal of flame throwers
rather well and suit the majority of work that I want to do with it.
If I want to solder platinum or palladium, it will more than likely
do it anyway, but if not, then I have the big bruiser of a torch
which happily solders at those temperatures, having successfully
soldered a palladium ring for hubby for Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reply to my questions.

Helen
UK


#17

Hi Noel -

I really cannot understand why anyone would choose the Little torch
over a Meco or a Hoke 

well, the answer is possibly that these brands don’t appear to be
easily available here in Australia, and, to be honest, I never heard
of them whilst I was training.

So - I went with what I knew at the time!

Jane Walker


#18
I really cannot understand why anyone would choose the Little
torch over a Meco 

It’s all getting rather confusing! I know there are other great
torches out there but my issue is the size/weight of the torch
handle and hoses.

I’ve just looked up the Meco Midget and Hoke torches and whilst they
both look lightweight and easy to use, all the prices I found
(including equivalent torches in the UK) were for the handpiece
only. No hoses, tips, connectors, etc. So by the time those were also
purchased (and in some cases even before the extras were added), the
prices were way above what I can get a Little Torch for, and the
Little Torch includes 8’ of hoses and five tips. I already have
hoses but they are too big a bore and are thus extremely heavy. I can
get the Little Torch for approx 75 UKP plus shipping which is the
best price I’ve found for the set-up I’m looking for.

I’m used to a small flame from using a small handheld butane torch,
and apart from soldering palladium (which it was great for), I found
the huge flame of my big oxy/propane torch far too big for most of
my soldering jobs - so I’m pretty confident that I’m making the right
choice with the Little Torch. On so many occasions, I’ve wanted a
pin- point flame and even found the butane handheld’s flame far too
big. I still have the big torch if I want a large flame at some
point.

Thanks to all who have answered my queries.

Helen
UK


#19
Our own Mr James Miller also uses the Little Torch and has done
for over thirty years and he highly recommends it. I think (as does
hubby) that it will actually fit into my arsenal of flame throwers 

I, for one, want to be clear that the little torch is a perfectly
fine tool. “Arsenal of flame throwers” puts it very well. The little
torch is excellent for chains, small wire work and all sorts of
other things. You’re just not going to make a 3 ounce silver belt
buckle with it - either you need two torches or you can’t do that
sort of work at all. So - for one, single torch that will do a wide
variety of work, I’d go Mecco. I have the Swiss Torch, which I love
but the expense of it makes me pull it from the running. If price is
no object, by all means get that. So - don’t think (I believe) any
of us are bashing the little torch, it just has a pretty narrow
range of effective heat - good for what it’s good for. Not going to
be making silver teapots with it, unless they’re for a dollhouse.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#20
I also had a recommendation from RE Rourke that Gentec torches are
better and for less money. 

They are less money true but I was not impressed with their
appearance or quality. They are manufactured in Asia and look like
what they are an inexpensive knock off of the original. I do not
personally like the Smith Little Torch for my work but it is a high
quality tool.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts