PDA

View Full Version : Help needed with selecting a torch.


mjcall
04-07-2004, 08:19 AM
OK you guys were so good a helping me spend my money on tumbling supplies perhaps you can give me a hand again. I am researching the purchase of a new torch for general jewelry soldering. I currently have a conventional O2-Acetylene torch as well as a propane and oxygen concentrator setup for bead making. The point being, fuel and oxygen are not an issue, I can deal with either propane or acetylene as my fuel and have oxygen available.

My research to date has presented me with four options all of which are within my budgetary limitations. Here is what I think I have learned.

1. Prestolite - Pros. Easy to use with a good choice of tips. Very portable since I wouldnít have to deal with O2. Cons. Not as hot as fuel/O2 torches. Iím not sure about how pinpoint of flame it can produce.

2. Hoke - Pros. Cheap, good choice of tips to adjust flame size. Cons. Cheap, difficult to adjust due to poor valve design.

3. Meco Ė Pros. Well made with precision flame adjustment and a good choice of tips. Cons. 3 times the price of a Hoke.

4. Smith Little Torch Ė Pros. Very precise flame, excellent selection of tips, good fuel and O2 economy. Cons. Very small in both physical size and BTU output. I have fairly large hands and I am concerned about working with such a small torch.

My questions are do any of you have experience either good or bad with any of these torches? If you had your choice which one would you choose and why? Which fuel would you go with given a choice? BTW I wonít be working with platinum so hydrogen as a fuel is not a consideration. I donít want to get into yet another bottled fuel. Do you disagree with any of the observations I have listed above?

My initial project I want the torch for is making chains and soldering jump rings. I do however want to buy something that will allow me to branch out into fabrication of larger pieces. Casting is not a consideration since I do have the O2-Acetylene setup for when I need the extra BTUs.

Thank you for any and all inputs. :)

M_

debkauz
04-07-2004, 10:42 AM
I'm probably not going to be of any help as I've never used any of them but...just remember than you have to be comfortable using the torch and you get what you pay for. I think that with any of the tools that we use, we should buy the best that we can afford. That is going to be different for different people, of course, but it's hard to do great work with cheap tools. I think just that criteria would eliminate one of the torches that you mentioned. Also, safety has to be a consideration as well. If the cheap torch has parts that are difficult to use, when you are using flame, that could be a problem. JMHO :D

Debbie

mjcall
04-07-2004, 11:04 AM
I'm probably not going to be of any help as I've never used any of them but...just remember than you have to be comfortable using the torch and you get what you pay for. I think that with any of the tools that we use, we should buy the best that we can afford. That is going to be different for different people, of course, but it's hard to do great work with cheap tools. I think just that criteria would eliminate one of the torches that you mentioned. Also, safety has to be a consideration as well. If the cheap torch has parts that are difficult to use, when you are using flame, that could be a problem. JMHO :D

Debbie

Debbie

I tend to agree with you, Lord knows Iím a tool junky. My set of woodworking bench chisels set me back over $500. Do you know what? I have never regretted it a minute, they are so far superior to anything else I have ever owned or used that it is a pure joy to use them. The question is are they 3 Ė 4 times better than chisels that thousands of woodworkers are doing comparable work with, perhaps not but that can be the price of being a tool junky. :rolleyes: Isnít there a 12 step program out there somewhere? :)

Since I am now retired and my discretionary hobby funds are somewhat more limited, I have to at least ask the question about the Hoke. It has been around for a long time and I know there are countless numbers of jewelers out there doing fantastic work with them. :confused:

M_

debkauz
04-07-2004, 11:10 AM
Do you know of anyone who has one that you could actually try for a while? Is there a local jeweler who might let you use it for a few minutes at least to see how it feels when you use it? I have big hands, too and I like bigger tools but some of the smaller ones feel OK when I actually use them. I also have some numbness in my right hand and that makes a difference as to what I can use. I just love tools, though and can't get enough! :rolleyes: My DH never understands why I need more round nose pliers than I have hands for! Wouldn't ya think that a guy would understand tools at least!?

Deb

Which tumbler did you get? I didn't see the thread and I am looking for a tumbler sometime soon. Thanks

beclectic
04-07-2004, 11:13 AM
It doesn't take a lot to solder silver. When I took a fabrication class, oh so long ago, I used a regular torch head that made a nice pointy flame screwed onto a regular propane canister (the small one that is about the diameter of a large hand grasp). This is the kind of torch you might use to sweat copper pipe to fix your plumbing. Having a dependably adjustable control and a pinpoint flame is about the only real requirement. If it feels comfortable in your hand, that would be good too. I'm sure that their are several specific products made but you don't need a lot of BTUs so don't go overboard. All a lot of heat will get you is a nice, round ball of silver. :D

jacki
04-07-2004, 01:43 PM
Like Deb, I'm probably not the best one to offer advice, but for a different reason :) seriously addicted "tool junky" here :rolleyes:
I started with a prestolite about thirty years ago, and it is a perfect torch for almost all situations. I added a Smith Little torch about ten years ago, and use it more for detail work, but in fact, for jewelry scale, they are pretty interchangeable. They are both great.
If your going to anneal larger pieces of sheet, or do any reticulation, the large soft flame of the prestolite is better. (but the tiny flame of the Smith is perfect to "draw" in the reticulating pattern)
Many chain makers use prestolites.
I have a friend who uses a blowpipe, VERY successfully, for everything from the tiniest links to larger more complex boxes and lockets. And they are really fun to use as well. Especially for a tiny job were you dont want to bother with turning on tanks :)

mistymade
04-07-2004, 10:37 PM
Hi Michael,
I have not used any of the torches that you mentioned above, but I have used two others.

In my metalsmithing class we used a Smith air/acetylene torch. We had a few different sized tips. The 'o' tip worked well for soldering bezels and jump rings. The "1" tip was wonderful for soldering large pendants. The flame on this tip is bushy and I have found this useful when soldering larger pieces. I also have this type of torch at home and I'm very very happy with it.
http://www.sfjssantafe.com/items.php?Gid=186&ItemSet=Torches&DepId=tools
Here's a link to the tips:
http://www.sfjssantafe.com/items.php?Gid=185&ItemSet=Torches&DepId=tools
I purchased the handle and an "o" tip and a "1" tip from Rio, I got my hoses and regulator from good ol' harbor freight.


In my jewelry technology class we have a Midget torch, here is a link if you want a visual (it is item #7), I think this torch is similar to the Hoke torch???
http://www.bartcotools.com/P30.html
I honestly do not like this torch for larger pieces. It is great for soldering jump rings, ring shanks, prongs and stuff like that, but I could not solder one of my pendants with this torch. I did try, and I burned it up! The flame seemed to be too hot, too small, and too focused (even though I had the tip off to allow for a bushier flame). Just my opinion, I really don't like this torch. When I need to solder, I usually bring the piece home so I can use my Smith torch.

I have found that I can do just about everything with my Smith torch. I can solder tiny delicate things, as well as large pendants. I would recommend this torch, but obviously I don't have much to compare it to since I haven't used any other torches besides the midget torch.

flynfire
04-07-2004, 11:13 PM
I use a Smith Acetylene/Air torch, and like it a lot.

mjcall
04-08-2004, 07:22 AM
Thank you to all for your inputs.

Misty

You have given me pause for thought. The Fuel/O2 torches are quite a bit hotter than Fuel/Air, perhaps too hot, especially if you are trying to solder larger pieces. To get solder to flow properly you need to bring all the pieces you want to solder up to temperature at the same time. Something that is difficult to do with a small focused hot flame. I worked with a Prestolite torch years ago and as I recall I had few problems with it. I seem to recall there were times I wanted a smaller more focused flame for tight detail work but I donít think I had a complete selection of tips at my disposal. The Prestolite is similar to the Smith Fuel/Air torch shown in your link. The Prestolite torch was originally made for plumbers while I believe the Smith torch was designed with jewelers as their primary market. I was leaning towards Fuel/O2 but now I need to ponder my choice a little more. :confused:

I believe the Midget Torch you are referring (at least based on a visual identification) is the Meco I talked about above.

Barie

I donít want to put you on the spot but I am surprised you havenít jumped in here. You must live with a torch in your hands all the fabulous fabrication work you do. Do you have anything you can add?

Thanks again, this is a great group. :clap:

M_

mistymade
04-09-2004, 01:34 AM
Yep, it is a Meco. I took a look at it today to see if I could get more info on it. My torch seems to have had a little bit more abuse that the other torches in the class room, so maybe it's not really as bad as I think it is.

Let us know what torch you decide to get.