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Torch decision

I’ve used an acetylene / air Prestolite torch for years and am
looking to switch to propane / oxygen. Some input from users of the
Swiss torch, the Hoke style or the Smith Versa torches might help me
decide which set-up would be most suitable for me. I understand most
people prefer what they’re familiar with but some discussion of
features and capabilities (or lack thereof) would be helpful and much

I do not currently do casting and can foresee only small scale
projects if at all. There is more possibility that I might want to
so some platinum fabrication.

My thanks to all who make this such a wonderful forum and to Hanuman
for making it available to us.

Pam Chott

Pam, I use three torches,all of which are propane/oxygen. One is a
Smith Lil’ Torch, one is a Meco Midget (haha, not so midget, but
handles well) and a large casting rosebud torch.

I have visited about 50 jewelers’ studios and have been interested in
their choices of torches, both brands and fuels. By far, the most
popular is the Lil’ Torch and then the Midget. All casting is done
with a big rosebud - that can be purchased for either of the torches,
The Lil Torch rosebud is limited by the volume the small hoses can

The Midget has much larger hose and is the same size required for
big casting rosebuds. Easy enough to Y 2 sets of hoses off the
tanks, one for casting and one for soldering. Or, just attach
which ever hose and torch you need to the tank as you need it. Most
of us do that until we can get more bells and whistles.

The Lil Torch is sometimes dismissed by ‘real men’… who haven’t yet
found how very comfortable AND precise they can be. They have an
interesting set of tips… from teeeeny flame to impressive flame! I
like it because of the light weight and low stress on my hands to
use it. For the work of repairing tiny chain, etc, it is the BEST!

For heavier work, bigger pieces, needing more fuel and heat, Meco
does it best. Tips also come in many sizes. and can be altered for
better efficiency (only after carefully researching how to do it!)
It is not, as is the same case with Lil’ Torch, inexpensive. Hoke
has, I believe, the honor of that title. (for me it is a clumbsy,
over-sized torch, but some very famous jewelers use it)

I would recommend that you, too, visit a few (or more) studios or
retail back rooms to see torches in use, and see how they would fit
your hand, and needs.

Best wishes…

Hi Pam,

     I understand most people prefer what they're familiar with
but some discussion of    features and capabilities (or lack
thereof) would be helpful and much appreciated. 

I can understand your dilemma, it’s similar to one I went through
when I bought my small torch set up (Smith Little Torch). I’m sure
there are a number of folks in your area that use one of the torches
you mentioned. If possible, try to find them & see what each has to
say about ‘their’ torch, the good points & the bad points.

It’s a given that they’ll all do the job. For me the next things to
consider would be the quality of the torch, ease of use &
availability of tips, other accessories & lastly price.


Pam, I have been using a Hoke for twenty years and I am very loyal.
Yes, I have worked with all sorts but I continue to use the Hoke and
insist that my apprentices do the same. I use this torch for
soldering the finest of chains to melting platinum stock for
fabrication. It is a real work horse.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to go Hoke. The
Hoke will cost you considerably less than other torches on the
market but they are not as well made. Some care must be taken when
buying one. I have seen where the knobs are not on straight. The
valves should point like the letter X when in a shut position. This
gives the best position for adjusting the gas and oxygen while using
the torch. I also have to convince first time Hoke users that there
is a break in period. The valves are very tight at first but after
they break in the will last for years and years. Also the Hoke is
made for the right hand, but, the tip can be easily turned around
for use with the left hand.

There are several advantages. Did I mention they were considerably
less expensive than other torches. Plus this torch can be used on
both natural gas and propane. the only difference between the
"natural gas" version and the "propane " version are the tips.
Matter of fact I prefer to use the natural gas tips with propane.
Also, there is a very inexpensive adaptor set available for those
who insist on using micro tips. Finally, since this torch uses hose
clamps instead of threaded connectors the length of gas and oxygen
hose can be easily adjusted eliminating coils of extra hose under
your bench.

What ever torch you choose I’m sure it will be a huge improvement
over the old oxy-acetylene set up. Enjoy.

John Sholl
J.F.Sholl Fine Jewelry
Littleton, CO

Hello Pam Chott, There have been numerous threads and discussions
about torches on this forum during the past couple of years. If you
look for it in the Orchid Archives you will find a wealth of
already there on this subject.

Happy goldsmithing!

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_David_Sturl1

Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA

It's a given that they'll all do the job 

Not to be difficult, but I feel the need to modify this statement
just a little.

I have discovered that neither the Little Torch nor any acetylene
torch (mine is a Smith) works at all well for fusing, except for
simple, flat jobs-- and not so good even for those. The acytalene is
too dirty, the Little too concentrated, even with a large tip.I am
working up to adding a Meco Midget to my studio so that I can
continue to work with the fusing methods I learned from Marne Ryan.

The little torch can be hooked up to any propane source, small
bottles to 5 gal tank used for barbeques. I use one at my bench. Not
supposed to use them indoors, lately the fire dept. inspector didn’t
seem to care as much as in previous years. They give me a warning, I
remove it till the second re-inspect, then back to illegal. After 10
years I don’t feel like it is a safety issue. I ALWAYS test after
hook up with soapy water, and this is not a recommendation for anyone
to do this.If you have natural gas, hook up to that.

Richard in denver

 I have discovered that neither the Little Torch nor any acetylene
torch (mine is a Smith) works at all well for fusing...

I use the Little Torch and acetylene and have absolutely no problem
at all. I can solder, fuse, melt up to 3 or 4 ounces of silver or
gold, cast, even anneal medium sized pieces of silverware.

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

 If you have natural gas, hook up to that.

Richard, I used natural gas for years and preferred it over bottled
gas. It is cleaner and cheaper and there is no reason for the fire
marshal to harass you. However, in the original post on torch
decision there was a comment about using this torch for platinum
fabrication. Propane burns hotter than natural gas and this can
really help when melting platinum stock or welding a heavy shank. I
have a natural gas line under my bench but have opted to not hook up
for that reason.

My personal vote on the torch is the Hoke. It is a real work horse,
able to solder the finest chains or melt platinum stock. After the
valves break in it will give you years of service. I have small
hands and have never found it cumbersome.

John Sholl
Littleton, Colorado

My sincere thanks to all who have taken the time to respond to my
questions. I really appreciate the input and varied perspectives.

Thanks to Michael David Sturlin for mentioning the archives; I
failed to say that I had searched there first. :slight_smile: There is a real
treasure trove of in the archives.

The suggestion to try torches that others use is also a good one. I
had borrowed a friend’s “Little Torch” for a week’s trial a few years
ago and found it too concentrated for my taste.

As of now, I am leaning toward the Hoke style but since my
experience with it (in a long-ago class) was not enough to convince
me either way I came here for recommendations.

Before I commit, I will try to locate someone using a Meco Midget
and see if that seems right for me.

Thanks again to Hanuman and to all of you!