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Torch basics


I know that the hottest part of a torch flame is the tip of the
inner cone, and that propane is not as hot as MAPP and acetylene.
Even so, some of my sterling jump rings started melting. Clearly,
there is more to know about torches and silver work.

–What kind of attachment is good for silver soldering? I used a
disposable propane torch with a tip that is so old, Bernzomatic
doesn’t make it anymore. It was unused, but bought for making
emergency repairs around the house.

–What should the flame look like? E.g., fluffy on the end or tight?
Long flame or short? What color?

–Speaking of flames: How and why would you adjust the flame? This
attachment only has the knob that controls how fast the gas comes

–What color is a “reducing” flame?

Perhaps this would be an appropriate article for the Beginner’s



You may need an upgrade on the torch. If you are wanting to do
production silver you need and a smith acetylene air or invest in
an propane oxygen. When I first started I used a benzomatic propane
tank and an oxygen tank I picked up the whole thing at home depot. I
had to replace the oxygen too often so I bought the smith acetylene
air then 8 years later bought the little torch. You need a flame
that is sharp but not hissing to solder, you need a loose flame for annealing.


Janet, Yes, there is a lot more to soldering than one would think.

For starters, it sounds like you are soldering little jump rings
with a blast furnace. Nonetheless, you can master this procedure.

First to consider is cleanliness. The jump rings must be clean and
properly fluxed. Check Orchid archives for further and extensive
on this part.

The next thing you need to learn is torch/heat control. Especially
with a large flame, it is important that you keep your torch well
back away from the piece to be soldered. Assuming the rings are
being held in tweezers or a third hand, you are going to have to heat
the ‘sink’ first. The sink is the metal that is drawing heat away
from the piece to be soldered, i.e., the tweezers. Start by slowly
bringing the outer tip of the flame closer to the area of the piece.
Move the flame around to heat the entire area. When the ring begins
to show a dull red, don’t move any closer…keep the torch flame at
that position and the ring will slowly redden. At that point the
solder (which you had place on the join earlier…right?) will flow.
If both sides of the ring are the same heat the solder will evenly
flow. If not, it will puddle on one side. Continue to heat but use
a ‘pick’ to pull the solder across to the other side.

On your torch, there is no ‘adjustment’. It is always wide open to
get the more effecient flame. The tip is engineered to draw in the
air and use the 20% of 02 to combine with the gas. If you try to cut
it down, you loose the effecienty of the tip.

There is a lot of soldering in the archives. Also see
the Lapidary Journal booklet on soldering by Sue Sanborn.

Good luck and Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL
where simple elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


You folks were right: My propane torch is 'way too much for 20ga
jump rings.

What kind of minitorch do I need–one that uses butane? What color is
a reducing flame, or does that depend on the kind of gas used?



Janet: Like you, I started out with a Bernz O Matic plumber’s torch.
While you CAN solder with this (I did mostly ring sizings in
gold/slver), it’s a difficult task compared to other torches. For
fabrication, I use a moderrately-sized, pointed flame. Flame
adjustment isn’t possible with a Bernz O Matic. I switched to a
Smith Little Torch and love it. Flame adjustment with it is
accomplished by swapping tips and/or via the fuel/oxygen adjustment
knobs. You can shape your flame, create a reducing flame or an
oxidizing flame and solder virtually anything (including Pt, as I
understand it) with this little beauty. BTW: Don’t toss out the
Bernz O Matic torch if you should purchase a jeweler’s torch. When
soldering silver, you need a lot of heat, more than when soldering
gold. I’ve used the Bernz O Matic with MAPP gas to provide most of
the heat to the body of the piece and then used the Smith torch to
bring the immediate area for soldering to flow temp. Frank Romano
"Gemcutters are Multifaceted Individuals"


Hi Janet,

You folks were right: My propane torch is 'way too much for 20ga
jump rings. 

If you want to use propane for soldering & fusing small gauge rings,
you might look at the Bernz-o-matic Propane Pencil torch. It comes
with a regulator & 4ft hose. The regulator attaches to the
disposable propane tanks. The flame size is adjustable by adjusting
the regulator & the on/off control on the torch. They’re around $50 &
are available at many home centers & most jewelers supplies.

A butane fueled torch like the Proxxon Micro Flam or the Blazer work
well too. They both have built in push button igniters. I use both
the Proxxon & the Bernz-o-matic.


You folks were right: My propane torch is 'way too much for 20ga
jump rings. 

I know this is a week or so old (I’m way behind on my email) but I
can’t resist commenting. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve
done something that you “can’t do” because nobody told me I couldn’t,
and it worked fine. Sure, sometimes I try what I’ve been told I can,
and it doesn’t work… Anyway, I have a Meco Midget torch with
propane and oxygen. It has taken a while to get used to, but I now
use it for eveything, tiny to huge. I soldered a 26-guage jump ring
(silver) just yesterday, with the smallest of the three tips that
came with it, no problem, though I had to wear my optivisor to see
what I was doing. So I can’t see why 20ga would present a difficulty.
An additional tool or torch is always fun, but sometimes what is
really called for is just plugging on until you get it. Does anybody
know how to say “make do” in Latin? If it’s gonna go on my tombstone,
I’d like it to look classy.–Noel (the opinionated but persistent)