The proper hand to hold your torch

I am in a heated debate with a jeweler friend over what hand is the
proper one to hold your torch in if you are right handed. She says
left, I use right. Is there a proper way, or is it what feels
natural to you?


I am in a heated debate with a jeweler friend over what hand is
the proper one to hold your torch in if you are right handed. 

I say use your dominant hand. Duh. You’ll do better that way.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Of course this is subjective. But the only rationale I can imagine
for using your ‘bad hand’ to hold the torch would be to allow your
good hand to manipulate a poker or whatever. Personally, since a
wrong move with a torch can wreak havoc in a split second, I’d rather
use my good hand.

Is there a proper way, or is it what feels natural to you? 

I can tell you right now this is one of those things we can chew to

Obviously, either way works-- there is no “proper” way. Heck, hold
it in your teeth if that works for you!

What I tell my students is, manipulating a torch doesn’t take much
coordination, but if you need to adjust something on your piece with
a pick whilesoldering, you want your better hand for that. So I
encourage my students to hold the torch in their off hand. It does
not feel natural-- at first.


I was always taught that you should hold your torch in your left
hand (I’m right-handed), so that if you need to manipulate, or poke
things around to position them while you’re soldering, you’re using
the hand you’re most dextrous with. Having said that, I just use a
little creme brulee torch, which has an adjustable air vent. I can’t
manage to adjust it one handed if I use my left hand, so I hold it in
my right hand, and am teaching myself to be more ambidextrous with my

Happy soldering!

Robin Cassady-Cain.

There is no proper way, only what is most comfortable for you. I’m
right handed and hold the torch in my right hand and my pick in the
left. I know righties that do the opposite, citing that they have
greater dexterity in their dominant hand and thus hold the pick in
their right hand. A “heated” debate, eh? Sounds like it!

I am right handed and use my left to hold the torch. I was taught
that way by my father in order to have the right hand free to
manipulate what is being soldered with a poker in my right hand. I
carried this torch holding method in to a welding class where the
teacher said he had never seen a welder hold the torch with his left
had but my results were good enough to leave me alone about it.

Sam Patania, Tucson

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Regarding which hand holds the torch, my late friend, Mert Cook, was
a terrific jeweler with only one arm. Once I went to him with a
design problem and his response was, your real problem is that you’ve
got two arms and not enough imagination.

I’m right handed and hold the torch with my right hand. My teacher
is left handed and holds the torch with his right hand.


I have made it a practice to hold the torch in either hand. I’m right
handed so when using a solder pick I hold the torch in my left hand.
All other torch operations I hold the torch in either my right hand
or left hand, but probably end up holding it more in my right hand
just by habit.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado


Generally, whichever hand “feels right” is the right hand to hold
the torch. I’m right handed and tend MOST of the time to hold my
torch in my right hand for fine control of the flame. However, there
are times that I’m doing something that requires significant
dexterity with my solder pick or tweezers, and then hold the torch in
my left hand.

Interestingly, the first teacher that most of the students at our
school encounter is a leftie. She holds the torch in her left hand.
I’m amazed at how many right-handed students end up using their left
hands to hold the torch because that’s how they’ve seen her do it…
so they assume it’s the “right” way.

As with much of jewelry, there is no ONE right way.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

Hi Julia,

A while back there was a debate on Orchid about which hand to hold
the torch, the dominant one or the non-dominant one. The debate as I
saw it resolved to having one hold the torch in the non-dominant
hand to free up the dominant hand to the fine work.

Out of habitat I was holding the torch in my dominant hand, and
after reading the exchanges decided to change. And am I happy that I
did, all thanks to the Orchid members. It took a little time and
practice to get used to it, but it freed my dominant hand to do the
delicate work, like moving a paillon of solder back into place.

I would reccomend that you use your left hand to hold the torch
seeing that you are right-handed.


I hold the torch in my non-dominant (left) hand while soldering, so
that I can use my dominant (right) hand for picking up solder,
tweezers, etc.

The exception is that when I fuse and need absolute steady pinpoint
control and without the need for other equipment, I hold the torch
in my dominant (right) hand. The other teachers I work with do the
same. It takes beginners a little time to learn this way, but they
achieve better results faster.

Victoria Lansford

I disagree, I have my tweezers or soldering probe in my dominant
hand, the torch needs less control.

This could turn into one of those arguments that starts wars !!!
Wasn’t there a things about which end you opened your boiled egg in
Gullivers Travels?


I’ve always been a south-paw when it comes to torches and soldering -
I prefer to have my stronger, more accurate hand available for adding
solder, readjusting, guiding, and so forth. Torchwork, IMHO, doesn’t
need to be that accurate.

Then again, I’ve also taught myself to use the mouse with my left,
this leaves the right hand free for quick typing, and particularly
the number pad. I’ve been called a freak. :wink:


Hello Julia,

This has been exhaustively discussed before and like torch
preference, there seems to be no real agreement! :smiley:

I pick solder, so the torch is in my non-dominant hand (left) and
the pick is in my dominant (right) hand. I need the best control over
placing the solder, ergo the torch is in my left hand.

Judy in Kansas, sitting back and about to watch the plethora of
replies. We’re a fun lot, we Orchidians.

This will be a fun thread!

I teach my right handed students to hold the torch in their left
hand. This lets them use their solder pic in the right hand which is
more nimble. Reverse for the left handers. The soldering table has
torches set up for right and left hand use.

I tell everyone that after several years they will become
ambidextrous anyway. This happens because you burn or mash a finger
and have to use the other hand for a while. Switching hands get
easier with time.

William E. Churlik

I hardly think there is a “proper way”. I think whatever you learned
or whatever works for you. I’m right handed and I hold my torch in
the left hand because I pick-solder a lot and I can place my little
solder bits exactly where I want them with my right hand. I don’t
have that kind of control with my left hand. But some people feel
more in control holding their torch right handed. I say do what
works for you.


it depends on what you are doing. I use my left because I frequently
use a solder pick in my right, and that requires greater precision
than my torch does!


Julia, My view is that one should learn to hold the torch in EITHER
hand as the job or positioning require. There is no right or wrong
here. I am right handed and sometimes I hold it in my
left…sometimes in my right. It depends on the job…not me!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!

I don’t know if there’s a “proper” answer for this, but in my case,
the answer is, “it depends”. Much of them time, I use my right hand
to hold it because I’m right handed & I get more control over where
the flame is. However, if I’m using my soldering pick to move things
around, I’m quite likely to mess the whole thing up if I try to do
that with my left hand, so I switch the torch to the left & use the
right for what I need more control over. You have the most control
with your dominant hand, so whatever you’re needing the most control
over at that time, should be in that hand. That’s how I seem to work,

Designs by Lisa Gallagher