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torches and safety for soldering bracelets and alike at home

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asterix
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« on: January 23, 2015, 06:39:02 am »

Hello,

I have seeking information on this topic and i'm still a bit confused. Well, i see most non-pro people do their soldering staff at the garage or similar, quite safe, places. There, it doesnt seem much of a deal to have a smith-alike torch, with its propane & oxygen bottels or whatever you use ...

But i don't have a garage, nor i have the possibility of having a similar place. I do all my soldering staff at home, on a room which i have set up for this. There i have my table, conveniently protected with tiles and the soldering brick, the floor also covered .... A well ventilated room which i use for this staff, small, but enough for this and many other things i use to do at home.

Now, after doing some bracelets on 1mm (18 gauge, sorry, my brain works with mm), i'm facing problems with the soldering part. It's too hard to solder anything on such a thick metal without the more powerful torches. No problem with rings and small pieces, or bezels, but soldering anything onto a 6x1'' sheet is out my reach with my jumbo max torch .

At the same time, i'm starting to sell my work and i'm doing more and more complex things. Not bad for somebody whose work is just paperwork at a office :)

Thus, my two questions are here:

- would it be safe to use a more professional torch at home? Having a propane + oxygen bottle and sleeping 10metters far doesnt make me feel happy ...

- which torch would you recommend me? Well, torch and gases as well, cos they are all kinds of set ups ... but, given i work at home, i wont (most likely) need to melt anything, just solder, and at most soldering 1mm bracelets or  so. 

I prefer to spend more - well, not 'a lot' more, just more - and not having to buy another torch in 3-4 years. I always try to buy good quality tools and avoiding spending my money twice on the same thing.


See you!
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Carol M
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2015, 11:12:47 am »

Hi Asterix,
I recently was asked exactly this by a friend here in Toronto, Canada.
I too work in my home in a 3rd bedroom that is my studio.
First, I'd suggest that you contact your homeowner's insurance company and see what they have to say.
My insurance company said that it was OK as long as it wasn't 'a business'.  In my case, I'm retired, and I do this for fun, but I do sell pieces from time to time but I still consider it a hobby.  I don't WANT to start another business....and all that goes with that.
My setup is a Smith Little Torch with Propane/Oxygen.  I'll attach a pdf of my set up for soldering [main equipment] cause I just did one for this friend.
I want to be able to do some Delft Sand Casting so I also got the Multi-Orifice tip for that torch.  That's really fierce.  I can also use it to melt scrap Argentium Sterling to reuse in ingots  yes
I just use a simple propane-only torch for annealing.
I'd like to get a better set up for ventilation, cause here in Canada, in the winter, opening the window can be a bit of a problem.  I'm looking at this set up, and will likely  have it installed in the spring when someone can cut a proper hole in the brick wall of our house. I like that it's not really loud when the fan is on, but really pulls the gases out  http://www.ventafume.com/content/pages/place-a-vent.  I only need the 400 CFM little one which is what is shown in the video.  They also have info on that page showing all the bits and pieces that come with the kit.  For the price, it's exactly what I need. yippie
Hope this gives you a bit of a lead.  Good luck

* RioGrande Smith Little Torch full set up.pdf (317.83 KB - downloaded 11 times.)
* Smith Little Torch Propane and Oxygen System.pdf (388.25 KB - downloaded 11 times.)
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Carol M
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bobby1
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2015, 11:25:22 am »

Most fire districts do no allow propane within an occupied dwelling. Propane is one of the few fuel gasses that is heavier than air, thus any leaks pool on the floor and quickly reach a dangerous concentration. You might want to research which fuel gasses are safer. I use only oxygen/acetylene or air/acetylene.
The reason why your propane tank located significantly away from your house is because of this characteristic of propane. Another hazard is your propane fueled barbecue that might be stored in your garage.
Bob
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Carol M
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2015, 12:10:44 pm »

Hi Bobby,
Not to disagree, but when I researched it, I heard that Propane was much safer than Acetylene.
Check it out http://www.hgcodedwelding.com/Articles/acetylene-or-propane-gas
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2015, 01:10:52 pm »

Yall are each focusing on a different aspect.. The propane bottle is more stable, and with acetylene is is recommended not to move or jostle the bottle too much. This is usually easy to comply with.

With propane, leaks are much more dangerous. This is unfortunate. Users should soap-water test their tanks and hoses frequently.
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bobby1
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2015, 02:38:08 pm »

Carol,
That article only addresses the stability of the two gasses not the aspect of the propane gas being heavier that air. Even though propane is a liquid that when it exits the tank it turns to gas, it still settles to the floor. Acetylene is lighter than air so as it is released into the air it rises and mixes with the air. Yes, it will explode in air but only after a very large amount is mixed with air that it eventually reaches an exposive mixture.
Acetylene has been around for perhaps 150 years and used extensively as a fuel gas in many industrial purposes.
If you look at the small tanks that it comes in you will see one called an "A" tank and anpther called a "B" tank. The "A" stands for automobile and the "B" stands for bus. Yes, before electric lights on vehicles acetylene was used for lights on vehicles. These tanks got significant bouncing, banging and being struck by objects and they were still safe to use on vehicles. You hear horror storied about acetylene tanks being jostled and then exploding. As a kid I often saw acetylene tanks almost as big as an adult bouncing down very rough dirt roads in the very hot sun  on their way to some farmers barn. I heard of no adverse incident happening then.
Yes, acetylene is an unstable gas but the tank has a porous filling filled with with acetone that absorbs the acetylene and keeps it stable. If you look on the acetylene regulator gage there is a red band starting at 15 lbs and going up the scale. You should never have the pressure above 15 lbs because above this pressure limit the flow of gas out of the torch is such that it pulls the acetone with the acetylene coming out and the flame gets very erratic trying to concurrently burn both materials. I use my acetylene at 5lbs and that pressure is sufficient to do the job.
I have used acetylene ever since I was a youngster (60 years) and have had no adverse experiences with it. I like to use it because acetylene is the hottest burning fuel gas (even higher than hydrogen) and as a consequence I don't  need a very large flame to get the job done.
Most adverse incidents are because of a damaged, rusty aged tank or like all fuel gasses you have a loose fitting that leaks or even a defective gage. With all gasses of this nature a soap test is required after a tank replacement. Another thing that must be done is after use the tank valve must be shut, the hoses bled and the regulator adjustment handle turned back away from the regulator  diaphragm. Bleeding the hoses to relieve the pressure is done for safety reasons, backing the handle out is so that the stress applied to the gage  diaphragm. If this isn't done the diphragm permanently distorts and begins to not be able to allow regulation and adjustment of the pressure. The symptom of this is a pulsing and fluctuation of the pressure.
If you are getting "bubbles" in the acetylene flow (a condition that I have never heard of nor experienced) then the gage might be defective and the pressure is too high (above 15lbs).
Bob
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2015, 02:42:44 pm »

If the flame burns back into the tank  (as the testimonial describes) it is because a flashback arrestor wasn't being used. All new torch kits must include this device and I would recommend that you get one and install it on your tanks.
Bob
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Carol M
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2015, 03:16:51 pm »

Hi Bobby and Daniel,
I do use that bubble mixture on my tanks at the connections to look for any bubbles [indicating that they're not closed tight enough], but since my husband wrenches them closed when I get refills, which aren't that often, we haven't had any issues with bubbles showing up....or if we did, in the beginning when we weren't too sure how tight to make them, he just tightened them a bit more and they went away.

I'm not knocking acetylene, but when I spoke with my local Gesswein rep [who had just been to a big conference on using gasses for soldering, in Buffalo], he recommended Propane/Oxygen, and gave me a big lecture about the explosive power of acetylene and how an apple would fly from Toronto to Buffalo if the acetylene tank exploded.  That was a 'very vivid memory'.

When I talked with my Fire Insurance Provider [State Farm] before purchasing ANYTHING, they asked what gas and size of tanks, and I said I was thinking of Propane/Oxygen and told them the size of tanks I was looking, at which are 20cu ft. Oxygen, and 5 Lb Propane tanks, and they had no problem with my Smith Little Torch set up.....and I live in a very residential neighborhood. yes

I agree that a flashback arrestor is a must and bought them with my torch [as noted in the pdf in my first email].

Anyway, I'm glad you like acetylene.  We used acetylene at school, with just air, but I must admit I didn't like the loud crack I'd hear when I turned the school torch off after almost every use.  I don't think I was doing anything wrong, because there was only one control, and it seemed to happen to most people when they used the torches.    Maybe it wasn't hooked up properly. dunno

My Smith Little Torch is 'very well behaved' and does exactly what I want it to do, and doesn't make any scary sounds, and I can turn on the propane as small as a little candle flame if I want to, and then bring it up to larger flame and match the oxygen to get the flame I want.   Nothing scary at all when I turn it on or off.  I just remember POOP, as the sequence for turning it on and off PO for Propane first then Oxygen.....and OP for Oxygen off first then Propane.  It's become second nature. yes
So.....I'm a happy camper. ura
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Carol M
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 05:52:43 pm »

both work well with good connections and cautions.  I had my little torch on propane in the garage. recently moved the little torch to acetylene, but put an ez-torch on the propane. I like them both. The garage is very drafty, which is good.

But the general point towards the original question is that a propane leak is more dangerous than an acetylene leak - all other factors aside.
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2015, 09:40:16 pm »

The POP that occurs on an air/acetylene torch is a normal (but scary) thing inherent to this type of torch. The prominent brand that I used when I started out was Prestolite. I used it for many years until I could afford  the oxy/acetylene unit. I still use the Prestolite  largest torch tip for casting especially when using silver. Because molten silver has an affinity for absorbing oxygen that causes porosity in the castings I use the air/acetylene torch. I can get the desired heat to melt the silver without as much oxygen in the flame.
Bob
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asterix
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2015, 02:21:45 am »

Thanks guys for all the info here ... many thanks.

Well, i've been some researching work here, calling my insurance company, and acetylene is really a problem: you need a special permission (sign a contract and a certificate) to buy bottles of acetylene. So ... discarded :(  Anyway, i dont know if i would ever need such a hot flame ...

Also, seeking a bit, i was worried about 'propane' properties. Butane is lighter than air and is quite common here to have some flats having their heating working with butane (the old buildings mainly). Accidents with butane are pretty pretty unusual. So, having a torch with butane+oxy would be totally normal.

However, propane & MAPP are heavier than air ... and, if i'm not mistaken, under some conditions they don't smell. I've been searching for a gas detector and, for less than 20 euros, there are a couple of them that detect all kind of gases, including MAPP & propane. Problem solved.

Now the problem will be buying it. There are few jewelry tools sellers in Spain; and they are pretty expensive, almost doubling USA prices!! (importing this could be a problem if gas tanks don't fit or i have a problem with the tool). In fact, in my city there is no place where one can buy a simple brass hammer ...  I've bought most of my tools from UK.

Even if it's not the best option, could i manage to solder bracelets with something like this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Monument-3450-3450G-Gas-Torch/dp/B004P2XC0O (works with MAPP)?

See you.




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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2015, 11:26:11 am »

This is a very nice small silver smithing torch that uses air and acetylene. It has several different size tips to fit different jobs and gets hot enough to work silver solder

http://www.smithequipment.com/files/pdf/spec_sheets/Silver_Smith.pdf

The torch shown above will work. but is designed for soldering plumbing connections.  Much bigger than necessary for silver smithing.

I chose acetylene as my gas of choice because I have both the torch shown in this link and also the smith little torch that also uses acetylene, so I just bought a Y connector so I can use either one from the same regulator. Just not at the same time. I tend to use the air/ acet torch for larger work and the little torch for detail work.

Dickb
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2015, 12:09:58 pm »

sounds like the regulations around acetylene use differ a lot between US and Spain.

Be very careful with Butane. It is one of the most explosive.
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asterix
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2015, 11:02:00 pm »

sounds like the regulations around acetylene use differ a lot between US and Spain.

Be very careful with Butane. It is one of the most explosive.

Yes, i guess it's very very different ... In fact, butane is a common energy source here both for cooking and heating.  I will avoid it and go for MAPP or PROPANE.

Thanks everybody for the answers.
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