Forum Comments

Current Pliacre replacement options
In Tools & Materials
What kind of torch set-up do you use?
In Tips & Solutions
Apr 05, 2021
Hi Schyler, I absolutely understand your situation. I learned on Acetylene-air torches and found I could control the larger flame better than a smaller, hotter, more highly concentrated flame. I just about went mad on the first project where I had to use an Oxy/Acetylene Smith Little Torch, as I kept blowing right past the melting point of the silver and soon it was bubbling or the brass was melting. It's especially difficult on small stock that has little thermal mass and gets to melting point quickly. That said, once you get acclimated to that style torch you can do very precise work with it. I used one while working on the Burke Museum in 2019 and really appreciated the powerful fine flame. It's great for brazing stainless steel. Over the years I've worked a lot with Bernzomatic style MAPP gas plumbing torches and learned to do all levels of work with them. I liked that I could travel with the torch head and buy gas at any hardware store. I would usually have two and would do bigger mounts by using both at once, and could silver braze 1/4" steel that way. They can be ungainly so we started using a hose to connect torch head to tank and it helped a lot. A few years ago I bought a MECO Midget torch and love it. I use Oxygen/Propane instead of Oxygen/Acetylene as it has plenty of power, but things happen just a little more slowly. It is larger than a Little Torch, but still a small handpiece that is easy to use. I also prefer to not have an acetylene cylinder on-site for reasons of cost, safety, and ease of filling. You need to specify the tips for the intended fuel as the acetylene and propane tips are different. Lately, I've also used an EZ Torch AKA Orca Torch with MAPP gas and find it one of my favorite torches for mountmaking. I like that you can buy it set up for using regular propane/MAPP gas cylinders and that they last a long time. My biggest complaint is that the hose seems to produce a gummy residue in response to the MAPP gas being in it during storage, so it is important to fully drain the hose after each session and I even disconnect the hose and leave the handpiece valve open. I'm not sure if I can recommend it because of this issue but really like it otherwise. I haven't used Hydrogen as a fuel, but MoPOP had a setup for flame polishing plex and it needed its own exhaust system and special sensors. I've not gotten the impression that the hydrogen "water torch" units sold by Rio Grande have the power for brass work of any major size, but don't have any real experience to base that on. For Flux, I use Harris Stay-Silv white flux and find it works well but shouldn't be thinned too much and is best applied a little thick. I use Harris Safety-Silv 56 as my main silver brazing alloy and prefer it and their Safety-Silv 45 to jewelry alloys. I haven't found my students having many problems with that flux and alloy system. I work on soft fire brick as I like that the bricks are cut and not molded, and are thus very flat, square, and uniform size. It also insulates the support surface well and doesn't hold the heat as long as hard brick does. It's not that expensive and lasts quite well. Good luck, Jamie


More actions