Studio setup - Torches

Hello all,

I am stuck. Up until now I have been using my employer’s studio and
the school lab to do my work. I have made the leap to setting up my
own studio, making this a full time business and I’m stuck with the
decision of buying my torches. I’m certain once this decision has
past, the others will be easier! I’m going to purchase the Meco
Midget Torch setup (oxy/propane) to use as my soldering torch and I
can either use ($35.00each) Y connectors to a Uniweld Standard
Casting Torch With Oxygen/Propane ($135.00) + hoses and just move it
to & from work areas OR buy a discontinued Smiths Silversmith
Propane/Air Torch Kit, Hose, Regulator & # 01 Tip ($199). I do know I
want to go with propane, and although money is an issue, I want to
buy what will be best in the long run even if it means spending a
little more now.

Does anyone have any advice on torch setups?

Thank you!

I recently bought the swiss torch - a link to Otto Frei’s page is

Part No: 114.117

It’s quite expensive, it’s also worth every penny. I grew up with
prestolite in the silver business, and then spent about 1000 hours
with a Mecco, also welding rigs. The Swiss torch (as they call it) is
the best. Meccos work just fine, though. You can take off the tip and
just use the pipe for the biggest flame (yes, you can). We used to
solder a piece of fine tubing on one tip and drill it through for the
finest - retipping and stuff. It seems the jewelry suppliers all want
to sell “Y” connectors with valves, but they do exist without valves
for more like $7.50 each - try a welding supply - you really don’t
need more valves as long as your main ones are in order and you USE
them. One shop had a sign by the door, “GAS OFF?” There’s not much to
worry about, though. Ask yourself the question, “How big, and how
small, of a flame do I need?”, and then just buy that torch. If you
buy a welding torch (Victor fan, here) then it has flashback arrestors
and things. The Swiss torch has whiz-bang tips and mixing chambers
and things. But the Mecco and the hoke are just a pipe with valves
and pipe fittings on them, and changeable tips. Then it’s more a
matter of ergonomics and flame size. I’d go with Mecco, myself -
brass, comfortable, lightweight, versatile. We have the Swiss, a
minitorch, and a full-fledged welding torch - flames from tiny to


I recently purcased a Smith Little torch oxy propane setup from Rio
but haven’t yet fired it up. Discovered that apparently some sort of
specal glasses are highly recommended due to uv rays emitted from
this method. Also a little hesitant as I need to do more research on
other items I may need, - fire bricks etc.

Good Luck,

first, put a carbon monoxide detector near the floor, make sure your
outlet switches dont throw a spark in the room you are planning to
set up in., acetylene unvented is oily and not good for your lungs,
so install a range hood over your soldering area, or some other air
venting systm if you go with acetylene and air, which has its place.
The discontinued part of the smith torch is to be investigated- will
they stock parts and for how long- call smith don’t rely on posts
from others…I use a Hoke, also discontinued, but keeping orrifices
clean, and changing or cleaning filters if there is one keeps em
running great. If you’re going to do small scale production consider
the gentec torch set up, it’s about 85.00 and is an all nickel
version of the smith little torch at a fraction of the cost and
better made in my opinion. you can get it cheapest from harbour
freight, or alpha supply- the complete unit with regulators costs
about 239.00, you have to buy the tanks either way, unless you live
near a harbour freight store, in which case theirs are as good as
your local welding supply .remember propane stays low when
concentrated as in a leak, other gasses rise. remeber to turn them
off when not in use and check monthly with a soap solution for
leaks, and don’t buy rusty looking used tanks, as they’ll probably
have some small leaks, that turn into bigger ones, adn a spark from a
lightening bolt or an arcing outlet can cause an explosion in which
your tanks become bombs particularly if not chained down…yeah, i’m
sure this is redundant but i’ve known too many propane users that
had small leaks and turned on a light in their studios to discover
the volatility involved…check out the gentec torch if you like a
little torch, and the hoke, or smith as they can be readily had at
bargain prices since most people go with one form or another of the

Hi Carianne,

Does anyone have any advice on torch setups? 

Yes! I purchased a Swiss Torch from Lacy West, Vancouver Call for prices - they don’t update their
website. I mention Lacy West because I have not been able to find
another source for this torch in NA - they sell hundreds/year.

This torch - oxy/natural or oxy/propane - has these tips available :
4 “needle tips”, 3 hoke style tips, and a rosebud for melting. Buy
one torch instead of two or three.

I love mine.


Donna Hiebert Design

Torches, don’t buy used, even if you know the person, buy the safe
rig you can, buy quality now and you will still have it in 5 to 10
years when you are successful, instead of a new one.


Whoa - Brakes - screech- halt. I’ve read a couple of replies to this
thread. Something about UV rays, and special glasses, and one that
said to spend $2,000 on hoods and detectors and hermetically sealing
the room and sho knows what all. Folks, this is a torch. It is a
source of fire. It is not mysterious or especially dangerous if
handled properly. Ya buy it, ya plug it in, ya turn it on, ya take
care of it. Which is to say, learn how to use it properly - leak
checking, pipe fittings, some certain ventilation. If your torch
doesn’t leak, as it shouldn’t then why would you need exotic
ventilation? Does it leak or does it not? Not to pound the dead
horse, but just because there are gadgets and gizmos in the modern
world doesn’t mean that we NEED them. Faberge’s eggs were made with
blowpipes and/or bellows and no electricity…


specal glasses are highly recommended due to uv rays emitted 

I got a pair of glasses from the local welding store for this,
pretty cheap as I recall around $12 or $15 and they are just like sun
glasses except for the color, I like them much better than goggles
and they come in different filter grades.


Hi Mr Donivan:

Not to pound the dead horse, but just because there are gadgets and
gizmos in the modern world doesn't mean that we NEED them.
Faberge's eggs were made with blowpipes and/or bellows and no

Thank you, thank you, thank you. As someone just starting out and
not having much practical experience, i get extremely nervous when I
read posts that tend to imply that if I am going to do it right, I
should get myself a 1500 dollar bench (as it will last a long time)
and all these fancy gadgets to go along with my torch set-up. It’s
daunting and can be a bit discouraging. I love it when people write
in about that other side of the coin and tell about how they save
money by making their own tools or reconfiguring their shop vac for
ventilation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on cutting any
corners on safety. I just have a tendency to be thrifty

Best Regards
Kim Starbard

Hi John,

Problem is “properly handled” can be taken to an extreme by people
like me. After all gas is by nature- invisible, flammable,
unpredictable - probably not. Add that to a suspicious,
uneducated-in-the-art husband and crazy unrealistic doubt begins to

I assume we’re all looking for reinforced assurance.


Hi Kim,

I get extremely nervous when I read posts that tend to imply that
if I am going to do it right, I should get myself a 1500 dollar
bench (as it will last a long time) and all these fancy gadgets to
go along with my torch set-up 

You can start crafting silver jewelry with out having to take out a
second mortgage on the house. Over 20 years ago I started with a
inexpensive jewelers saw, and a few hand tools. All under $50 at
today’s prices. Used a old students desk as a bench at home and did
most of my soldering at classes at the community center or used a
propane hand held plumbers torch at home. Over the next six months I
added a foredom flexible shaft machine and a smith acetylene/air

I built my own polishing machine from an old clothes drier motor and
a wood an Plexiglas frame and shield. I vented it with a shop vac and
I still use it today. My pickle pot was a $5 electric potpourri
heater. I vented my solder station then and now by opening a window
and sometimes turning on a fan.

My studio has moved from the basement to a separate room in my
country home. I have a lot more tools but find I do most of my work
with the same tools I started with. Last year I did have to retire my
original jewelers saw as the thumb screw that tightens down the arm
broke. I did not throw it away but put it in a nice frame and hung it
on the wall of my studio. Your tools don’t create your works of art.
Your mind and your hands do.


After I got the hang of soldering at adult ed, after all I soldered
three rings now, so I was an expert!, I wanted to get a torch set up
and do it myself. This is a common request at Metalwerx. Hold on
partner, learn from what happened to me.

My dear enthusiastic husband found a used torch setup at a used tool
store and we came home with two torch tips and a tank. My nice new
shiny tank was exchanged for a horrid beaten up thing. Well, its the
treasure on the inside, not the stains on the outside that makes the

We set it up in a spare room of my apartment. The tank sat in our
apartment for six months, completely untouched because I was
terrified to turn it on. I was working at Harvard in the Biology
dept. at the time and got the Chairman of the department, also a
silver jewelry enthusiast, to come by and turn the tank on for me. We
still didn’t light it. It sat in that state for another six months.
Can you imagine? Here I had slowly leaking gas in my apartment. As
they say, ignorance is temporary, stupidity is forever.

Eventually we moved the tank and other tools to a real studio in
South Boston. Ah, here was my own little domain where I could make
jewelry safely. And make I did. I soldered everything in easy solder
because it flowed easier. I made sure I didn’t have to do any repairs
or resoldering.

We bought our first house too many miles away to keep going, plus
the rent an mortgage was too much. Our house needs were based on,
“so, hows the basement?”. As you can imagine, we drove our realtor
nuts. My husband was working in the garage building a bicycle. We
found the perfect space and moved my studio downstairs. I was in art
school at the time and my downstairs space was quiet and worked out
perfectly in contrast to the busy metals studio at school.

One evening while working, I noticed a gas smell. Hmmm. I checked my
nozzles, the fittings, everything. Couldn’t figure it out, because
it all checked out fine. While working again, I noticed it again.
What the foo?

Finally, I checked out the hose. My cat had decided that this was a
yummy and fun thing to bite on, and upon inspection, found little
kitty teeth punctures up and down the hose.

My bench was an old oak desk rescued from Harvard, a few files, a
torch and a saw frame. You’d be amazed what I made from these simple

What did I learn about the gas? Pets, no way. Ventilation, YES.
Inspection of hoses, parts, etc. every three months. REPLACE hose
every three years. I don’t care how good it looks. The rubber can
become brittle. Keep your area clean (this is still a challenge).
FIRE EXTINGUISHER!!! And learn how to use it. I learned to use mine,
but that is another story.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Your tools don't create your works of art. Your mind and your
hands do. 

And that as all any budding metalsmith/jewelers really need to