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Soldering Torches again


#1

Hi all,

I am new to these boards, and have just started to make small silver
pieces of jewellery in a class and am very keen to start at home.
I’ve searched the archives on these boards and can see there are
several threads regarding torches, but I am still very confused as to
which one will fit my needs.

I want to solder/aneal small to medium pieces of silver jewellery
(maybe gold later, but that’s a way down the line), and I will be
doing so at home, so safety is a big consideration for me (so I don’t
think I’ll be going for acetylene). Although I am willing to pay for
a good quality piece of kit that will last, I don’t have a limitless
budget.

I have ruled out butane torches but I have read here and on other
boards about the Little Torch - would this be a good torch for me?
Also here in the UK you can buy mouth blown torches, are these worth
investing in, or a false economy? In class we use torches connected
to the mains gas and with foot bellow (yes they are ancient but they
do the job really well).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

TIA


#2

don’t be so hasty in ruling out butane torches. I have a bernzomatic
model that is beyond adequate for melting silver and any silver
soldering operations i may preform.They cost about 30 dollars us,
and if you like I’ll get the exact model number due to there being
many models by that maker. However, a 3.00 pencil torch also does
adequate soldering of silver and gold-though it only gets up to about
1900 Fahrenheit, so melting gold is not an option - they are
available from harbor freight for the cheapest amount.

Gentec is a knock-off of the smith "little torch’ 69-89.00 US
compared to 120.00 on average.the gentec is also available from
harbor freight as well as a number of jewelry supply company’s at
which the prices are higher and vary competitively with the smith
systems. One thing to consider in using or buying the smith/gentec
is that most models come ready to use with disposable gas canisters
which is quite costly very quickly. Both also come as models that
can connect to ‘b’ tanks-20 lb tanks of O2 and acetylene, propane or
MAPP gasses., and therefore must be regulated which is an additional
expense. So to completely set up the gentec/little torch,as a
non-disposable configuration costs an average of about 500 dollars-
the tanks each at 95.00, the regulators and check valves = another
hundred and twenty, the torch itself,70-125 if you go with the smith
the higher figure applies. there are also advantages to the bellows
and blow pipe system if you learned with that style, it is in fact
very economical but takes more time- time and hurrying I always
think of as an American handicap…Hoke and Mecco midget torches are
another option for a regulated tank set up, Hoke has,supposedly,
stopped making the nickel ans brass torches but i think parts are
readily available and it would be prudent to stock up while they are
easy to find, they are very good torches preferred by many, and cost
about 50 dollars without hoses.the Mecco midget is a bit more
superior to the Hoke in comfort level for operators with smaller
hands and the just slightly finer gas thumb controls .Connecting into
a natural gas supply at your home is another option with the torches
mentioned and is perhaps the cheapest, but the gas temperature is a
factor to consider if you are planing on melting/reclaiming scrap
yourself, or eventually doing the same with gold- the blowpipe
however gives you the flexibility to raise that temperature enough to
accomplish those things with small amounts of gold…all in all it is
a matter of what you are most comfortable with particularly if money
is not a factor. The little torch gets alot of mileage in terms of
visibility and availability, but is not that great a value when you
compare it to say the Mecco midget or a Hoke which will both outlast
the smith little torch range of options and kits. On the other hand
if its portability you need or desire, then a gentc is the value
conscious version of the smith, in fact, from the models I have seen
( one with an all nickel plated brass body and coloured thumb screws,
another with the same body and both gas and O2 controls being
silvertoned). And if budget is not an isue you might consider a water
torch for the safety features that make it a great value not only in
terms of the torches generating their own fuel, but in the reduced
hazards of storing gasses indoors.If technique and mastery of
equipment options appeals to you then the blowpipe torch is a great
tool for truly mastering control over the flame.Personally, from what
it sounds like, the butane models that get up to 2400 farenheit may
be the cheapest alternative particularly if you are not certain you
want to make a large investment at this point in time.

R.E.Rourke


#3

Dear Salasih,

What Dr. Rourke has posted is very helpful

I would like to add what I have advised my students to buy when they
have asked me for a recommendation for a in-home torch. The Smith
Equipment “little torch” kit or the Gentec “small torch” kit for use
with disposable propane and oxygen tanks is a torch system that can
be kept safely in your home or apartment.

The preset regulators for the disposable tanks make it easy to set
up and by removing the regulators when the torch is not in use, you
will remove the risk of leaks and explosions. Propane, although
heavier than air, burns cleanly and the larger tips on the little
torch offer an adequate flame range for the project size you have
expressed.

In time you will want to replace the disposable oxygen tank with a
refillable tank and a dual-stage regulator to save money. Larger
refillable propane fuel tanks are not advisable for indoor use.

Please check out the up-coming September issue of Art Jewelry
magazine as it will have a comprehensive article about fuel choices
and torch hand pieces.

Hope this is of help,
Nanz Aalund


#4

Scott,

I’m going through e-mails and having come to yours I’m not surre I
responded. The school year gets pretty hetic. If you are still
intrested and need call me at my studio 303-202-9004
Tuesday - Friday.

Randy Burns