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Swiss or Versa-torch


#1

Hi all - I hope everyone is net yet tired of addressing the question
of “which torch is best,” I have read everything I can find in the
archives. However, there are two torches that I cannot find reference
to in the Orchid archives or anywhere other than suppliers pages. A
couple of people have asked whether anyone has used the Swiss torch,
but there has been no response (no users?). It sounds good on paper.

Another one that was recommended to me by the metals teaching
assistant at Touchstone was the Smith Versa-Torch. I know where I
can get it, but no one has ever mentioned using it on Orchid. Does
that mean no one likes it for metalsmithing/jewelry creation? I like
the idea that it can use several tip sizes, including the Little
Torch tips - which I hope means I could do the smallest repair work
up to small-quantity silver casting. Is that true?

As an overly analytical-type, I’m going crazy researching all of the
torch-types and fuels. I’m in a position right now to spend in the
neighborhood of $500+ on the soldering tools/tanks set-up, so I
don’t need to buy the $10 propane torch from the hardware store.

My studio space is in our basement with no ventilation options. So,
I’m setting up my soldering station in the garage, next to the
window. In the short-term, I’ll probably focus on
sterling/copper/brass, relatively small scale, i.e., from jump rings
to pendant-type pieces no larger than 5 inches in one dimension.
Someday, hopefully gold will be in my budget.and within my ability.

The archive has me thinking that acetylene is the dirtier fuel
(although it has a loyal following), so I’m leaning toward an
oxy/propane set-up. I live in a somewhat rural area, with no natural
gas lines available. The propane was recommended to me as better for
the garage environment, where it will be quite cold in winter.

Any advice on the Swiss or Versa-torch would be greatly appreciated.
Any opinions not previously posted on the Meco Midget, Hoke, etc.
will also be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your further
!

Kim Mihaliak


#2

Having been a metalsmith for about 30 years, I have tried just about
every torch in existence: propane/Oxygen, propane/compressed air,
propane/bellows, natural gas/oxygen, natural gas compressed air,
oxy/aceteline, aceteline only, Hoke tips, Hi-Heat tips…

I recently bought the “Swiss” torch…actually the Spirflame by
Spirig, made in Switzerland. It is a fuel cell basically…makes
hydrogen gas out of distilled water, and does not store it. It
completely eliminates the need for piped in gas or bottled gas or
oxygen. It produces a VERY hot flame…and according to the
manufacturer, the difference between it and all other torch types is
like that between an a scalpel and an axe.

It is not for everyone…I think it requires a fair amount of
soldering experience to master quickly. And it is VERY, VERY
expensive compared to other torches. The cheapest ones (not
Spirig…which are the best) are in the vicinity of $1,000, more or
less, mostly more. Spirig is much more. If you are relatively new
to metalsmithing, or do not need its specific attributes (extreme
precision, HOT flame), then it might be best to start with something
less high tech. It is a wonderful tool…and will eliminate all
dangers that bottled gas or oxygen present to apartment dwellers or
others who would have a very hard time explaining an accident to
their insurance companies if there were a fire caused by an illicit
bottle of explosive material. Acyteline is dirty and my least
favorite…also very dangerous to have around.

Natural gas and compressed air is very good…and if you do not have
natural gas, then, propane and compressed air are good too. For
occasional times when you need a hotter flame, then propane or
natural gas and oxygen work very well.

Good luck


#3

Kim, I have a Swiss torch, and I like it. I work primarily in 18k and
platinum, so oxy/propane works fine. This is not an inexpensive
torch, however it is very versatile. I can quickly change tips from
a “normal” flame (like what I would use for most fabrication) to a
tiny flame (jump rings, close quarters soldering). There is a tip
that will work for annealing or melting alloys for casting, but I do
not use it. I have a separate torch, and a separate area with lots
of ventilation, just for this purpose.

I don’t know if you can purchase this torch with all the
accessories, an oxy tank and regulator, and a propane tank and
regulator, for under $500.00. I would also caution you about
bringing a propane tank, that was made for outdoor use, into an area
(especially a basement) with poor ventilation. Propane is heavier
than air, and will pool like water in the lowest area it can find,
waiting to be ignited. Be extra, extra careful and never forget to
turn off your tank and torch. Check for leaks. It is OK to act
paranoid with your bottled gas. The garage sounds like a good idea,
since most garage floors slope towards the door and would allow
propane to escape. Pour some water on the floor, pretend it is a
propane leak, and watch what happens. If it leaks outside, that’s
good. Leaking down a drain would not be so good…

Since you say that you will be working mostly in silver, brass, and
copper, I would suggest that you get a Prest-O-Lite type torch. They
are inexpensive, work with acetylene (so you only need one tank and
regulator) and produce a larger flame (great for annealing and
soldering silver, since silver and copper are such great conductors
of heat). I have one, and I still prefer it for silver work.

If you are in the Frederick, MD area, you are welcome to drop by the
studio and try these torches out. I also have the Meco torch and the
Little Torch set up. Just let me know in advance…:slight_smile:

Doug Zaruba


#4

There is a Swiss Torch in the market and it is one of the best. (
Red Handle)

It comes with a whole variety of tips and nozzles. Much more than
any other maker offers with their Torch.

In a rush cannot give you details but look into it and I am sure
some one out there will post on this.

Kenneth Singh