Jewelry Torch Buying Guide: Jewelry Artist Magazine

Are you wondering what type of torch to use to do jewelry soldering? Possibly casting? Maybe precious metal clay (PMC)? Please check out this wonderfully informative article at Jewelry Artist Magazine (formerly Lapidary Journal).

“Heat is the catalyst and gas is the fuel that boosts the torch to perform this alchemy. A basic torch using kerosene, a blowpipe, and lung power will solder, but today’s multi-metal jewelers expect their torches to match their own versatility.

With so many torches on the market, a first-time buyer can be quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of decisions that have to be made. Choosing a fuel, fitting the right tips, and determining the type of flame you need are just the beginning. To make decision-making tougher, all torches look pretty much alike. They have two open-ended tubes for the attachment of two color-coded rubber hoses, conducting air to one and fuel to the other. They are either single-fuel or a combination of oxygen and fuel, which tend to be hotter. Some torches accommodate different fuels simply by changing the tip. Each gas produces a different flame. Which brings us to the burning question: which torch will produce the flame power needed to get the job done?” More…

Here is a great video on choosing a torch also!

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24 Comments

Filed under Hand Crafted Jewelry, Jewelry Making, Metalsmithing

24 responses to “Jewelry Torch Buying Guide: Jewelry Artist Magazine

  1. Did you decide on a torch yet?
    Michelle

  2. Yes! I use a micro torch that fills on butane and an acetylene air torch that I bought second hand, I think it is a presto-lite torch.

  3. Aimee

    Whats the difference between a micro torch and a acetylene air torch?

    Aimee

  4. The acetylene air torch runs off of an acetylene tank and it mixes atmospheric air with the gas while the torch is running. The brand of torch I have is a Prestolite Torch, you can see an image of the set up here: http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/4-in-1-prestolite-torch-outfit

    A Micro Torch is available at many hardware stores, it only use butane which is available at most gas stations, you can see an image here: http://store.sra-solder.com/shopimages/products/normal/GB20012.gif

    Hope this helps!

  5. Aimee

    Which gas and torch do you recommend for a variety of uses?

  6. Aimee,

    It really depends on what type of heat level you are trying to achieve. I would suggest an acetylene torch if you need a torch for casting. I have a prest-o-lite acetylene/air (not oxygen) torch that mixes atmospheric air with the gas.

    If you are looking for something just to solder small things and not anything really thick or bigger than 1″ (or so) I would suggest a micro torch that runs on butane. These are readily available at many hardware stores. You use those little cans of butane that can fill a lighter. I don’t go through a ton of butane and I use my micro torch for most applications. There are some places that sell larger cans of butane also, which is a good way to go so you don’t generate too many empties as they should be disposed of properly.

    If you are looking for something hot enough to most fabricating and soldering, I would suggest either a natural gas/ oxygen set-up or a propane torch. I have an old Vulcan torch that I have not used yet, but am bringing on the road for my trip because it runs on propane, which we have with us to cook with.

    There are many torches out there, the little smith torch is also really popular among jewelry makers.

    Let me know more about the type of pieces you intend to make and I will be able to give a more specific recommendation.

    • i would like to get a propane (only) torch to do small silversmithing projects but with all the different kinds, i am confused. when they say it is a “brazing torch” can i still use it?
      i can’t afford a dual tank system at this time.
      thanks for all your info that you share!

  7. This article confused me more than it being a help. I simply want to anneal. Which is the best torch?

    Thank you, Michelle

  8. angie doran

    Good question Michelle! I, too, am confused. I have spent my savings on silver and tools, yet i still need a torch! I want to anneal and solder but do not want to spend another $700 on empty tanks and a torch. In Canada there are not enough suppliers to create price wars so i am at the mercy of the suppliers. I took a course and all these women were working at home and I am sure they havent spent big money. Anyone know which way to go?

    • I would suggest a small hand-held refillable butane torch, like this one: Full Feature Table Torch

      You can only solder pieces that aren’t too large, it would be hard to solder something that is 2″ (5cm) square 18 gauge sheet, but maybe not impossible. You can anneal smaller objects, but a big bundle of wire might (many feet) not work. Setting up the fire bricks in a box shape (with an opening on the side for the torch) to reflect more heat might help.

  9. Sine Chamberlain

    I have recently taken up silversmithing at college in Scotland and the acetylene/air torch has an incredibly high temperature flame at about 6000 degrees. That’s massive!! So I think we need a propane based torch for annealing and soldering. Any good DIY store should sell hand held propane/butane blow torches and suitable gas (for BBQs etc) at reasonable prices, even in Canada I think with the number of camping visitors you get.

    Look for something with a working temperature of at least 1300 degrees or more though, or the flame won’t be hot enough to make hard solder melt and flow.

    Smaller micro torches, like the Little Smith Torch, will be fab for soldering jumprings between beads, etc. but not much good for annealing or soldering anything but the smallest of joints.

    The idea of making a “box without a lid” open at one side (i.e. three walls) out of your fire bricks is a good idea though as it spreads the heat well for annealing larger pieces or coils of wire, etc.

    Hope this is of some help to other beginners like myself.

    You can speak to me at Sine@mypostoffice.co.uk and we can compare notes if you like.

    Love and light to all.

    Siné Chamberlain (pronouced as Sheena – it’s Gaelic!)

  10. Sine Chamberlain

    Perhaps I should also have explained I have learned that a standard blow torch has a large flame of about half to three quarters of an inch across; a micro torch is about the size as a pencil and therefore has quite a small flame; and the “Little Smith Torch” (or water torch as it is sometimes called in books) is only the size of hypodermic needle with a tiny flame that can do very localised work without damaging nearby beads, etc. on a bracelet or necklace.

    If you go to the Little Smith Torch website and click on each of the types of torches it will explain what each one is best suited for and working temperatures of the flames, etc.

    It kind of explains the difference between the acetylene, propane, butane and natural gas blow torches.

    Love and light.

    Siné Chamberlain

  11. Hi there. My name Katie. I am 18 from Chattanooga TN and I am currently in an AP-3D class where I just chose to work with coppers and different metals to make jewelry. I have recently started a website on etsy but I was wondering how you carved those beautiful trees into your jewelry. I love your work. It is very original and I am trying to get together a body of work, which I am lacking at the moment since I have tried a bit of everything, but metalwork jewelry was my favorite.

  12. Butane fuel is the best fuel i ever used. You can read reviews on my website (just click on my nickname).

  13. Have you ever considered adding additional videos to your blog posts to keep the viewers more engaged? I just read through the entire page and it was quite nice but since I learn visually, I find videos to be more helpful. I like what you guys are always coming up with. Keep up the excellent work. I will visit your site on the regular for some of the latest post.

  14. Hi Beth – I’ve been doing research on getting started with jewelry, and keep seeing your blog and work come up time & time again. Your work is beautiful! And the information you share is very helpful. I just found this post of yours, and also found the original article you were referring to. It can still be accessed if you hit the URL directly (I believe the link is broken above, that’s all. :)) http://www.jewelryartistmagazine.com/feature/jul03str.cfm

    Thanks again!
    Christina

  15. Thank you Christina!! I updated the link~

  16. I am about to purchase my first large setup as well. I have been using a couple of smaller butane torches for a while with limited success, but I agree that anything much larger than about an inch or so requires more heat. I am looking at a couple of different torches. Are you still liking your Prest-O-Lite?

    Thank you!

    Dharlee

  17. Kylie crane

    I’m looking at using pmc to create a pendant using pink argyle diamonds as embellishments they are only very small but I’m worried if they will survive the blow torch or not? I just have a small hand held one I think it’s a hot devil mini torch, have you had any experiences using blowtorches on diamonds? Thanks so much

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