Several weeks ago I was shopping for a fuel source to use for my jewelry bench at home. The butane torch I have was great for small soldering jobs but I needed another heat source for larger jobs. I started shopping around and found it was much harder to find the right torch than I thought it would be. Here are my findings after careful research across the web.
Fuel Types: Maximum heat & the pros and cons of each one.
Solder: Melt & Flow Temperatures.
Torch Tips: What Tip to Use?
One thing to remember is that the tip is very important when using a torch. We use two separate torch set-ups here in the studio, the Turbo Torch, and a Smith Torch. Both of these companies use their own numbering system for their tips. We have 5 different tips between the two torches. A-3 & A-11 for the Turbo Torch and 00, 1 and 2 with the Smith Torch. They range from smaller to larger tips covering everything we need. Here are the tips we use and why:
Small (A-3 & 00): these tips are perfect for small jobs like soldering together a jump ring or soldering a bail onto the end of a chain.
Medium (1 & 2): is used for larger scale soldering such as a large pendant or when you need heat the entire piece.
Large (A-11): This large tip is used for annealing and melting metals.
Smaller tips equal less heat, so depending on the size of the piece, you’ll want to use the right tip every time. However, there are other things to consider when using your torch. Many items around you will dissipate the heat such as a vise or a tool you are using, this is called “heat sink”. Also metal cools quickly and on larger pieces as you wave the torch tip back and forth across the piece the opposite side is already cooling. When this happens you can reflect the heat back onto the piece by building a simple fire brick container. Try to heat the piece again inside this container (this container works well also when melting scrap in a crucible) and you’ll find that you’re not losing as much heat as before.
I finally chose the propane/air setup at my house. Overall it was enough heat for me and the small pieces that I work on there, plus running down to the local store to replace it was a huge selling point for me. Remember to be patient and have fun as you become accustomed to your new torch set up.
If you have any comments, tips or experiences you’ve had with torches, please don’t hesitate to post below.
For additional soldering and flame tips here’s a blog you may like to read: 3 Torch Tips for Soldering.
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