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Jewelry Torches

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Understanding Jewelry Torches

One of the most challenging things to learn when creating jewelry is how to use a torch to solder metal. Soldering is an intricate part of creating jewelry. It is one of the most important tasks that has to be mastered to produce professional looking handmade jewelry.

The first time I used a torch I was really nervous. It takes time and experience to feel comfortable working with fire. The best way to learn to solder correctly is from an experienced instructor who also covers the precautions that should be taken when working with torches.

Once I understood how to handle a torch correctly and even enjoyed working with it, I wanted to purchase one that I could use at home. There are several torches available in various sizes and fuel requirements.

Before I could make a decision on what torch I wanted for my home, I had to find a room to put it in with enough space for not only the torch but also the accessories required to use it. There is much more to soldering than just the torch.

When I decided to have a jewelry studio in my home, I never realized how much equipment I would need and how many rooms it would take up. Creating a soldering studio was going to add the basement to the two rooms I already occupied, because the basement was the safest and largest space I had available for this purpose. It was also close to a sink, an absolute necessity.

Photo by the author.

acetylene torch

acetylene torch

Choosing a Torch

Not an Easy Task

Torches come in a variety of sizes, some with tanks some hand-held. In my jewelry classes they use an acetylene tank that can support four torch stations. No way was I going to have a highly explosive tank in my soldering studio.

I could purchase a smaller propane tank with a torch from a hardware store. Some propane tanks have to be returned to the store for refill or for a replacement tank when the propane runs out. The propane tank is also awkward to move around, especially when it is attached to the torch or the tube is not long enough.

Torches with separate tanks were just not going to work for me. They required too many safety precautions, higher insurance costs and sleepless nights.

There was only one torch for me and that was a butane hand-held micro torch, which I could use to solder silver and other metals. The temperature for some of the micro torches can reach 2600F, high enough to solder medium or not too large metal pieces. Since a micro torch uses butane lighter fluid, I would not have to worry about running out of fuel, taking a tank back to the store or figuring how the gauges work on separate tanks.

Micro Torch - Works Great for Metal and Precious Metal Clay Jewelry

There are numerous micro torches, which run on butane lighter fluid. They are also known as creme brulee torches, because they can be used in the kitchen for various flaming dishes. Micro torches do almost any jewelry soldering job without difficulty and last a long time.

What Torch Do You Use - Including Your Creme Brulee Torch

Torch Flame

Torch Flame

There are so many different types of jewelry torches, each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. I am curious to know if you have ever used a torch, which one do you use?

Image by Andrew Dehner

Metal Folding Table

Metal Folding Table

Supplies Needed to Use a Torch

The Necessities for Soldering Metal

In order to use any torch, it is important to have the right equipment. The first item is a table, one that is not likely to catch fire. I use a six foot metal folding table. Metal tables are not easy to find, because many have padded or plastic tops. It is almost impossible to buy one at a local store, so internet shopping is a must for this one.

Also needed is something to put the metal pieces to be soldered on that is fireproof, such as a charcoal block, a solderite board, or a magnesium block. I have all three. I prefer the magnesium block because it allows me to place pins in it to hold my pieces in place. The solderite board is solid and the charcoal block is messy and breaks easily.

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Flux is another item that is essential for soldering. It makes the solder flow and keeps the metal from forming too much oxidation, so it is easier to clean after it is soldered. Flux comes in liquid or paste and both can be used for a variety of soldering techniques.

Solder, which is usually silver, comes in easy, medium and hard. The reason for this is to solder several metal pieces on to the same base, it is necessary to use solder that melts at different temperatures The three types of solder allow for a lower temperature to be used with subsequent soldering so the heat will not melt the previous solder joint.

Other essentials are long tweezers, a metal pick in case solder chips move around, and a turntable to allow soldering around the piece without having to move it. Turntables usually come with stone chips. These chips won't burn so the metal can be placed on them while soldering.

A tripod is useful to bring the metal close to the torch. This eliminates the need to bend over to solder. Eventually, bending over can become very uncomfortable and hard on the back.

crock pot

crock pot

Torching and Oxidation

Crock Pot

The final step in soldering is the pickle. Not the kind you eat but the liquid kind used to remove oxidation on metal. There are specially made products for this purpose, such a Sparex or sodium bi-sulphate, which can also be found among swimming pool supplies in hardware stores where it is much cheaper.

An inexpensive crock pot is used to heat the pickle solution. The pickle should be hot to do the best job of removing oxidation left on metal after soldering.

A less caustic and more environmentally friendly approach to create a pickle solution is to mix vinegar with water, one cup to one tablespoon ratio with a little added salt. The vinegar and water solution is heated in the crock pot just like any other pickle solution. This combination does not work as fast, but it does work as well if the piece is left in it for about ten minutes. Don't forget to turn the crock pot off after pickling.

I have two crock pots, one for silver and one for copper. Silver cannot be placed in a pickle that has cleaned copper or it will plate the silver with a copper finish. I am not fond of copper plated silver.

Photo taken by author.

Crock Pot for Pickling - Do Not Pay A Lot for your Pot

I would never use an expensive crock pot for pickling purposes. There is no need to spend the money to get the job done correctly. This Rival crock pot has just the right amount of settings to do the job needed to clean the oxidation off soldered metal.

Never use a crock pot that has served as a pickle pot for cooking. I know no one would ever think of doing that, but I just wanted to mention it.

My Soldering Studio - It Takes More Than a Torch to Make a Studio

Soldering Studio

Soldering Studio

This is my soldering studio in the basement of my home. It is on a vinyl floor, so no worries about a spark setting the floor on fire. It is also near windows, just in case there are any problems that require ventilating the area. I have lights set up beside the soldering table, since it helps to see what I am doing when soldering small pieces together. There is a bowl for water, which is needed to cool the metal after soldering and, of course, my two micro torches and a can of butane lighter fluid. Notice the paper towels. In the photo they are closer than I like them to be when I am soldering, so I move them to the back of the table next to the bowl of water.

Photo by author.

Soldering Supplies on Amazon - Getting Started

Here are few of the items needed to begin soldering. Solder is used in many professions. Make sure when purchasing solder or flux that it is the kind used for making jewelry.

Lens of the Day

Lens of the Day

This Lens Won Lens of the Day

And My First Purple Star

I hope you enjoyed learning about torches. Give them a try to you won't be disappointed.

Thanks so much for making this lens a Lens of the Day. May 4, 2012

And a Purple Star

And a Purple Star

And a Purple Star

Soldering is essential to making unique and professional looking jewelry. There are other ways of attaching pieces to metal, but soldering is the most rewarding and most professional way of doing it. Once you learn, you will enjoy creating jewelry and feel like a true metalsmith at your soldering station. Happy soldering!!

Discussion and Opinions Welcome - Express Yourself

burntchestnut on June 03, 2014:

Even though I probably won't ever make jewelry, it's still interesting to learn what's needed.

Snakesmum on March 25, 2013:

This is a very helpful lens, and I'm impressed with the level of safety you recommend. If I ever take up jewelry making again, I'll invest in one of these torches, and accessories! Blessed

anonymous on March 22, 2013:

I sometimes need to use my BenzOmatic micro torch while working on clock movements. This gives me some useful information I was unaware of. Thank you.

Boroot on March 11, 2013:

Couldn't find it anywhere else on web.. well, at least not plain and simple as here. Great lens! Thank you!

Ardyn25 on October 11, 2012:

You gave such awesome instructions, and made it look so easy to do. Thank you.

Srena44 on September 28, 2012:

great lens

Lee Hansen from Vermont on September 10, 2012:

Nicely done. My husband's metalsmith daughter also wears a respirator unless she's soldering outdoors.

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on August 02, 2012:

I popped back to bless this lens (now that I can). ;) SquidAngel blessings to you!

alina nicoleta92 on June 26, 2012:

I never used one of these torches but i think I will try some day. Great lens and keep up the good work.

Michey LM on June 10, 2012:

I never use a torch so it is all new to me, Thanks for great info you provide in this lens.

UKGhostwriter on June 01, 2012:

Excellent resource - well done!

kmyangel on May 27, 2012:

You have a lot of talent and patience ! Thumbs up !

MerandaJade on May 23, 2012:

I'm not crafty enough to make jewelry, but it looks like you are great at it! I didn't know how very involved this art was... thank you for enlightening me.

trendydad on May 17, 2012:

great review on jewelry torches

anonymous on May 17, 2012:

very nice lens thank you very much

http://www.mobilyala.com

EnjoyLens on May 16, 2012:

Very nice lens! thumbs up!

goo2eyes lm on May 15, 2012:

blessings and congratulations for winning the LoD and the purple star trophies.

anonymous on May 14, 2012:

I love working with my torch!

yayas on May 10, 2012:

I had no idea that a torch was needed in creating jewelry. I was thinking 'bout learning to make jewelry, but I think I will consider something a little less intimidating. I truly enjoyed learning so much from you.

Also wanted to congratulate you on your Lens of the Day. Very impressive!

MissionBoundCre on May 10, 2012:

I love making jewelry.. Never heard of a jewelry torch.. Would love to see a video demo?

MuhammadAliMuneer on May 10, 2012:

Hi, I have a jewelry website :http://buyingpower.bravesites.com

this is great work you do ,My mom use to do sandblasting on glass at home and I know how much place it takes ,not to mention time and energy, but her engravings and sandblasting work was great ,like yours ,women of today are to be saluted. If you don't mind i would like to add this link to my website ,I will put it and if you have any objections just email me and i will remove it.

anonymous on May 09, 2012:

Great info on choosing the correct torch for soldering .

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 08, 2012:

I was engaged as I had been wanting to use a torch but just never had the courage to do so.

kerilovesadeal on May 07, 2012:

It was fun to read your jewelry torch lens and I learned a lot. Thank you!

seemarahate on May 06, 2012:

good technique of creating jewelry

anonymous on May 06, 2012:

Thanks a great article.

anonymous on May 06, 2012:

congrats on your LOTD, nice lens! :D

brendajoy on May 06, 2012:

This is an excellent lens. I feel like I could do this. You have prsented really well. No wonder you are LOTD. Great job!

najem lm on May 06, 2012:

nice lens. It makes me burn things in secured enviorment :)

Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on May 06, 2012:

This was an interesting lens. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

im1337mi on May 06, 2012:

Nice stuff, thanks for sharing!!

KateHonebrink on May 06, 2012:

I think it's best for everyone if I leave the soldering to others more suited to the task. But I did learn so much about the ins and outs of soldering - great job writing and illustrating this article!

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on May 06, 2012:

Hi I like making jewelry but, have not gotten to the point of using a torches yet.Great info and tips.

jayceehaynes on May 06, 2012:

nice lens

SquidooMBA on May 06, 2012:

Great lens with something really new to me. Thanks!

elizabethknows lm on May 06, 2012:

good info

radkoaleks on May 06, 2012:

Great lens. Thanks for sharing.

fish-oil-expert on May 06, 2012:

Wow, never tried to make jewelry, but sounds like a lot of fun.

Svdharma LM on May 05, 2012:

I just found a prestolite blow torch at the swap meet for $10. Excellent jewelry torch but you must observe the rules for acetylene cylinders. Much hotter than propane with a smaller focussed flame.

spilledpolish on May 05, 2012:

Thanks for this! I will share it with my sister :) She just started making jewelry recently, but is focused right now on making resin pendants. If you want to see her stuff, you can find her on etsy :)

www.etsy.com/shop/calliopekitten

spilledpolish on May 05, 2012:

Thanks for this! I will share it with my sister :) She just started making jewelry recently, but is focused right now on making resin pendants. If you want to see her stuff, you can find her on etsy :)

www.etsy.com/shop/calliopekitten

productsandreviews on May 05, 2012:

Very interesting lens about jewelry torches. You are right when you say that soldering is an intricate part of creating jewelry.

SecondHandJoe LM on May 05, 2012:

I use a creme brulee torch. . .when I'm finishing Creme Brulee! This is a wonderful article-Congratulations on Lens of the Day AND Purple Star!! I'll be back!~

PennyHowe on May 05, 2012:

Congratulations on your Lens of the Day award! This is a very interesting lens and I have never used a torch before. Thanks for the heads up. I would have like to see some of your jewelry being made or is that for another lens? Thanks again and have a great day!

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on May 05, 2012:

Amazing resource for people looking to buy a jewelry torch and find out how to use it safely!

Cindy from Pittsburgh Pa on May 05, 2012:

Love your information and thoroughness about soldering and using torches. Congratulations on this article receiving lens of the day!

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on May 05, 2012:

Amazing resource for people looking to buy a jewelry torch and find out how to use it safely!

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on May 05, 2012:

Amazing resource for people looking to buy a jewelry torch and find out how to use it safely!

Cindy from Pittsburgh Pa on May 05, 2012:

Love your information and thoroughness about soldering and using torches. Congratulations on this article receiving lens of the day!

Johnwiese on May 05, 2012:

Great information.Congrats for LOTD

cleanyoucar on May 05, 2012:

Well deserved for the LOTD. Very informative even for a guy :D

tslizzy on May 05, 2012:

congrats for LOTD. Very informative

Marika from Cyprus on May 05, 2012:

Great explanation of torches. I have a few as well, use them in jewelry making and love them. I've even used a bigger one in making glass beads, but for that you need a huge torch (and expensive too). Blessed.

Barbara Walton from France on May 04, 2012:

This is just such a good, informative lens. Going to see if I can find your work.

seemarahate on May 04, 2012:

Great information, I like it

linkreggie on May 04, 2012:

great lens, thanks for sharing informative lens. I really liked it in the since that I am a jewelry designer

jammarti on May 04, 2012:

Nice lens! Very informative. Congrats on being LOTD!

pheonix76 from WNY on May 04, 2012:

You have some great information here! Thanks for sharing and congrats on LotD. My sister creates jewelry, so I will be recommending this page to her. :) Cheers!

Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on May 04, 2012:

Wonderful lens! Very interesting to learn about torches. Blessed!

Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on May 04, 2012:

Wonderful lens! Very interesting to learn about torches. Blessed!

SteveKaye on May 04, 2012:

It's always useful to read about how people make things. This was very informative. Thanks.

arcarmi on May 04, 2012:

Cool topic!

Sher Ritchie on May 04, 2012:

Congratulations on winning LOTD - I love your lens!

anonymous on May 04, 2012:

Very informative lens.

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on May 04, 2012:

I took a class and learned to solder. You touched on everything needed. Well done!

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on May 04, 2012:

I took a class and learned to solder. You touched on everything needed. Well done!

jinggaberseri on May 04, 2012:

wonderfull

KittySmith on May 04, 2012:

I have used all the torches you mention and another one, Mapp gas for glass beads. The Little Giant Propane/Oxygen was my favorite setup, but I will be using Butane when I get started making jewelry again. I used to do modeling/casting and make hand woven rope chain. Soldering chain was fun once I got the knack for it.

Great lens and congrats on LotD!

dekorasyon on May 04, 2012:

Good tips, hope you write them to.

dekorasyon on May 04, 2012:

Nice lens Harriet! Good to see a JET member here ...

http://www.akinyapi.net

dekorasyon on May 04, 2012:

Nice lens Harriet! Good to see a JET member here ...

http://www.akinyapi.net

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on May 04, 2012:

Great lens, Harriet! Congratulations on being today's LotD!

anonymous on May 04, 2012:

Congratulations on LotD. Angel Blessed!

Emily Tack from USA on May 04, 2012:

I am a jeweler, and a jewelry store owner, by trade. I use propane and oxygen, with a mini-torch, and have for 14 years. I used to use acetylene, but it is very, very dirty. The propane is great. We used it for custom designs, mainly for gold, occasionally for platinum. Great Lens!

jewelry24seven on May 04, 2012:

Nice lens Harriet! Good to see a JET member here ... Congrats on LOTD!

gypsiedream on May 04, 2012:

A great article. My jewelry studio is not in a place that I could do soldering, but I have always wanted to!

jholland on May 04, 2012:

I always wondered how this was done at home. Thanks for sharing.

JoshK47 on May 04, 2012:

Great lens - and congrats on LotD! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

OctavioMelesio on May 04, 2012:

Great Info... thanks for sharing

GaelicForge on May 04, 2012:

I've been a metal worker my entire life and have done plenty of soldering in cases such as electronics and soldering/brazing metals together with acid core solder. Jewelry soldering is much more precise and a completely different animal. It takes skills not learned in my chosen profession and I must say that it has been a challenge to develop those skills. Loads of good stuff here!

Thanks!!!

karateempire on May 04, 2012:

Nice info.

agoofyidea on May 04, 2012:

Congratulations on LOTD! This seems like a fun thing to master so that the jewelry looks professional.

Silverstar2154 on May 04, 2012:

You have some great ideas here. I took some jewelry making courses in college and believe me learning how to solder was the hardest part of all.

I have contemplated one day setting up a home studio for that but I knew the torches would be the most intimidating and expensive part (outside of purchasing the metal). However I absolutely love your suggestions for the hand torches. Those seem much less intimidating to use and would be great for someone like me. Great lens!

Silverstar2154 on May 04, 2012:

You have some great ideas here. I took some jewelry making courses in college and believe me learning how to solder was the hardest part of all.

I have contemplated one day setting up a home studio for that but I knew the torches would be the most intimidating and expensive part (outside of purchasing the metal). However I absolutely love your suggestions for the hand torches. Those seem much less intimidating to use and would be great for someone like me. Great lens!

jwcooney on May 04, 2012:

Great lens, very detailed and useful information about choosing and using torches for fine tasks like jewelry.

Little Linda Pinda from Florida on May 04, 2012:

I didn't realize how involved jewelry making was. It looks like you have quite a nice shop going. I look forward to seeing your other lenses.

getmoreinfo on May 04, 2012:

Thanks for sharing this topic with us, very informative.

purpleslug on May 04, 2012:

Congrats! Such great information! Thanks!

hessa johnson on May 04, 2012:

Excellent resource - I have been looking for a good torch. Will bookmark, for sure! Thanks.

Tea Pixie on May 04, 2012:

Yup - this is great info. I had my own little in-home studio for a couple of years. It was fun. I was always looking for the least toxic approaches: citric acid (a candy ingredient) makes a great pickling solution, while boric acid makes a great flux. To create a fire-safe base I had a glass covered bench table that I lay a very large floor tile over and then build up from there. Perhaps the greatest challenge is the ventilation - it can get cold just leaving a door open!

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on May 04, 2012:

Congrats on lens of the day. I love my micro-torch and use it all the time. I'm amazed at all that it can do. I've got a bigger oxy-acetylene set up out in my husbands shop. I'm waiting for him to teach me how to operate it.

MartieG aka 'survivoryea' from Jersey Shore on May 04, 2012:

How interesting this is -- congratulations on the well deserved Lotd! :>)

Robin S from USA on May 04, 2012:

Congratulations, this amazing lens has been chosen as LOTD today! You can read all about it here: http://hq.squidoo.com/lotd/jewelry-torches/

Fushi LM on May 04, 2012:

I have never used jewelry torches and have never heard of this wonderful things before I came across your lens. But i was impressed by the way you present the boring technical stuff in an artistic way.

Fcuk Hub on May 04, 2012:

Great lens, but perhaps making jewelry is not for me. Congrats on LOTD.

miaponzo on May 04, 2012:

It is a dream of mine to create my own jewelry... this kind of put me in the know more! :) Blessed!

dann7trdro lm on May 04, 2012:

nice lense and beautifully created

Lynda Makara from California on May 04, 2012:

A very informative lens. Good job!

Dimplefree on May 04, 2012:

Good lens, I recently got a torch, it's so useful.

thememorybooksh1 on May 04, 2012:

Nice Lens and congrats on getting lens of the day!

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