Wednesday, September 22, 2010


of an aspiring metalsmith.

My biggest confession and, I'll admit, the one thing that keeps me from really feeling like a true metalsmith is this....

This little micro torch is what I use for most of my work. NOT a professional tool by any means. I think my husband bought it for me years ago at Willams-Sonoma as a Christmas gift. I wanted it to caramelize sugar on the top of Creme Brulee. It worked amazingly well for that job, but, since Creme Brulee is such a pain to make it wasn't used much.

So, when I began working and learning metalsmithing, this was my tool of choice. I knew how to use it, the fuel was easily available, and it didn't pose too much of a threat for burning me.

This little guy works amazingly well for smaller pieces, which is what I do. And, I'll admit, I've stuck to smaller pieces out of the dread of moving on to larger torches.

Yesterday, however, I NEEDED more heat. I was working on a large piece that just would not heat up enough with my small torch. So I broke down and bought this.

I like how it has a trigger lighter, you can lock the flame on and that it has a hose. This was the first one I've seen like this. And for the heat? WOW! Is all I can say. This guy packs a huge flame! I almost melted a couple of pieces using this. It did, however, eventually do the trick and my solder flowed beautifully on my larger piece.

This is what I hope to graduate to someday.

This attaches to a type B acetelyne tank, which you have to get from a welding supply. I purchased this connection months and months ago but I still don't feel ready to tackle such a huge fuel tank. Honestly, one of my biggest fears is getting burned badly. Not just burning your finger but bad, % of body type burns. I used to work as a paralegal and we had a burn case. Reviewing the medical records I learned what it takes to treat burns and what victims of burns go through. It is excruciating at best. Then, not too long ago I saw a documentary on burns where a welder's acetelyne tank blew up and... well...lets just say that really made me nervous about having one of those around. My dad worked with one and knows how to teach me to use it; however, I still have a few fears to conquer.

Since I've made this confession I may be encourged by my "Aspiring Metalsmith Team" to jump in and take the plunge. Not sure if I'm ready...but so far, the little torches are serving me well. I'll get used to the middle size first and then see when I'm ready to graduate.

And for the new, large's a sneak peek......


  1. So funny that we all take the same path...I keep thinking of the acetylene torch too.. Until I decide to make much bigger pieces, I really can't justify it. I mean, I know we can burn the heck out of ourselves with the torches we're using, but there is something about that acetylene that scares me. As long as it does, I think it's wise to stay away from it. I'm scared that my being scared will cause problems...does that make sense?

  2. I totally hear you on being nervous about the big torch!
    For me, its the huge commercial sewing machine. I need to work faster and Im sure I can handle a commercial machine. But Im afraid. Just turning on the dang thing freaks me out!
    So, like you, I settled for the inbetween machine.

    We'll get there!! Baby Steps :)

  3. I call it a Big Girl's torch. I use mostly my little butane then sometimes break out my mini torch for a propane tank. You're really creating some beautiful things with the torches that you have.


  4. Instead of an acetylene tank, I use a small oxygen tank and disposable propane cartridges set up on a medium jewelers torch. The propane gas is more than hot enough with oxygen added to do anything you will need to do and is MUCH easier to control heat, and the reality is that it is not any more dangerous than what you are using now. I have a big wide tip for melting and annealing, and then micro tips for intricate work. I use a .50mm tip for soldering rings. You can regulate the flame down to the size of a mechanical pencil lead and put it right where you want it. Try it, you'll not regret it and won't believe the difference it makes in your work!