Free Video Tip: How To Use the Blazer and Max Flame Micro Torches

Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 in Jewelry Making | Comments


 

Enjoy this tip? Learn more about Kate Richbourg’s free online class, Micro Torch Basics.

 

Video transcript:

I’m Kate Richbourg, and this is Micro Torch Basics. And in this lesson, I am going to remove your fear of using the torch. That’s why you’re here, right? You want to learn all about the torch and how it works. So let’s get right down to it.

Now, you may have noticed this handsome, red guy right here at my side. This is a fire extinguisher. Since I am going to be turning these torches on during this lesson, I always like to have a fire extinguisher nearby. We’re actually going to talk a little bit more about safety concerns in a later lesson. But for right now, I’m just going to put our friend, the fire extinguisher, right down here by my side in case I need it. So we’ll see it later. Or, rather hopefully we won’t see it later!

Okay, so here are the torches. Now these types of torches are always referred to as butane micro torches. “Micro torches” because they’re small. “Butane” because that’s the fuel we use to power them up. So I’m going to start by talking about this torch right here. This is the Blazer micro torch. The Blazer torch is a terrific torch to have in your arsenal. But the one thing I want to point out is that the Blazer does not have a safety lock on it. So if you have a micro torch that doesn’t have a safety, you want to make sure you keep it out of the reach of kids. It can be pretty easy to turn on by anyone with little enquiring minds. You don’t want those guys to get their hands on this torch. So make sure you secure this safely in a safe location when you’re not using it.

But the good thing about having a torch that doesn’t have a safety is that it’s super-easy to turn on. So, as always, before I ever turn on my torch, I always put on my safety glasses because I can’t replace my eyes if something happens to them.

So, let’s talk about the mechanics of this torch. I do want to mention that all micro torches kind of work in the same way. I am going to point out some of the differences between these two so you’ll have a pretty good primer about how both of these work. And then you can relate them to some torches you might already have, or one you might go out and purchase on your own for your projects.

OK, micro torch: here we go!

Micro torches usually come with a base on them. In order to fill the torch, usually you have to pull the base off like this and set it aside. But hang on to that base because you don’t want to lose it. It’s easy to put your torch down without the base and knock it over. The base adds a lot of stability. So you want to try to hang on to it and keep it with your torch. But we actually need to have it off because we’re going to fill it.

The fuel you use, like I mentioned before, is butane. You want to use a butane that is a clean fuel. Usually, we recommend using butane that is triple-refined. But, honestly, sometimes I can’t always find triple-refined fuel. So I just pick up butane at the hardware store and use it to fill my torch. And this torch that I have on the table in front of me is probably ten years old, and I haven’t had any problems with it yet. So if you can find triple-refined, awesome. If you can’t, don’t sweat it as much. You’ll be all right.

So to fill it, we’re going to go ahead and invert the torch this way. Now, I recommend you fill your torch in a well-ventilated area. That usually means just stepping right outside and filling it that way. Because once the torch is filled, the butane is going to be sputter a little right around the stem here. It’s not going to emit a super amount of odors and gas and stuff like that. But, again, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So go ahead and step outside when you fill up your torch. But I’m going to fill it up right now.

You put the stem right in the little bottom receiving end there. Press down firmly, and the torch is filling. I usually count to about ten. But this torch is actually already pretty full. So you can hear how that just kind of sputtered a little bit. That’s how I know it’s been filled. So I’m going to remove my butane and set it aside. I’ll flip over my torch and go ahead and set it back in its base. So now it’s ready to turn on.

Like I mentioned before, this torch doesn’t have a safety, so it’s really actually pretty easy to turn on. Whether you have a torch already or when you get your torch, when you watch this course and have your torch sitting next to you, you might think, “oh my gosh, I’m going to get ready to turn it on.” That’s awesome! I recommend you commune with your torch as soon as you can so you really get the feel for how to use it. So, I’m going to commune with this torch and show you how it works.

I’m going to start the flow of butane by rotating this little knob forward. You’ll be able to hear it. Just like that. And all I need to do is simply click the button, and the flame is on. That’s all there is to this one. But you’ll notice this flame is really loose here. It’s not really a tight flame and it’s not going to solder much. So a lot of torches have a little collar here that you rotate so you can make that flame a lot tighter so it’s ready for soldering.

So the flame has different parts in it. Way out here, there’s a really light, light flame. That’s a very cool flame. And back, where you see that dark blue cone, is also a pretty cool part of the flame. The business end of this flame, or what we call “the sweet spot,” is right here at the tip of this bright blue cone. So when you’re working and soldering, that’s the part you want to be touching your piece, or want to be working near your piece. So it’s that tip of the bright blue cone right there.

Now, if you know how to turn the torch on, you’ve got to turn it off, too, right? With this guy, all you do is stop the flow of the gas by rotating that knob right back. And then I always double-check to make sure there’s no little residual flame left. But this has been completely turned off, and it’s ready to be put aside here. Remember: once you turn a torch on, the tip of the nozzle can be hot. So I want you to be careful. After you’ve used the torch the first time you solder, I want you to place the torch out of harm’s way. I’m right-handed, so usually when I finish soldering, I go ahead and set it with the nozzle pointing away from me, but easily reachable with my right hand so I can continue on and work on my pieces.

So that’s the Blazer.

Now, let me introduce you to the Max Flame Torch. We’ve got it right over here. It’s called the Max Flame because it does have a really big flame. Both of these torches—the Max Flame torch and the Blazer torch—burn at 2,500 degrees. So they both have the same temperature flames. But you’ll notice that when I turn this guy on, the path, or the width, of the flame is a lot larger. So it can cover more area as I’m heating. So I’ll reserve the Blazer for my smaller projects like the rings I am wearing on my finger. But if I’m doing a ring that is a little bit bigger, like the ring that’s on my other finger over here, I might go ahead and use the Max Flame for it. Or, if I’m using pieces that are larger than a 50-cent piece, or a little more than an inch in diameter, I use the Max Flame.

So let’s take a look at how this Max Flame torch works. The Max Flame also has an ignition switch. But on the back, it also has a safety button. So I have to push the safety button down before I can pop the torch on. If this button isn’t engaged, the flame won’t turn on. So I pop the safety on. And I want to mention, by the way, the base does come off. And I’ve filled this torch the exact same way as I did the Blazer. You can see that little opening right in the bottom. It’s the exact same thing. And most micro torches work that same way.

So engage the safety switch and click it on. Now, if I take my finger off the button, the flame goes off. So there’s a little switch right here that, when I push it, will lock the flame in place. So let’s disengage the safety on this. And let’s go ahead and pop the torch on, and let’s use that little lever to lock the flame in place. Now on this side of the torch, we have a little lever that adjusts the flame. It adjusts it nice and low. And then, like a real jet engine, it goes really, really high. It’s the same thing with the make up of this flame: the cool blue interior the flame, the hot sweet spot at the very point of the blue cone, and then cooler out here, at the very, very end of where the heat is reaching. And I can hold my hand about right here, but I can still feel the warmth of torch. So this is a pretty powerful torch here.

Now, to turn this off, we’re just going to do the same thing in reverse. I’m just going to go ahead and click this off. And that’s it. We’ll check to make sure there’s no extra flame coming out, and that the butane is off. And that’s all she wrote. So it’s pretty simple manipulating these two.

But what I find my students have the most trouble with is that they’re just afraid to turn the torch on. They’re afraid that they’re going to blow themselves up, or blow their house up, or blow their friends up, or blow their pets up, or whatever it is. But, really, these guys are pretty darn safe. Think of them as a large cigarette lighter almost. It’s just like a butane lighter. You put butane in the bottom, you click, and a flame comes out the front. They’re just a lot bigger than a lighter. You can’t blow yourself up. You’re not going to set the house on fire. You’re just going to make sure that everything is really safe and controlled.

Some of you may already have a torch at home. So before you even get started on a project, what I want you to do is get that torch out and start communing with it. Learn how to turn it on, turn it off. Practice: turn it on, turn it off until you’re really comfortable with doing that. Then, once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move on and wield that torch with confidence.

Also, for this lesson, there’s a course material that you can download and take a look at for reference. There’s a couple torch schematics on there that will remind you what we talked about in this lesson.

And remember, you guys, you can always post your questions on the platform and chit-chat amongst yourselves about what torches you like, where you get your fuel, or whatever you want to talk about that’s torch-related.

So in our next lesson, we’re going to talk all about safety. We’ve given you some safety pointers here with these torches. But we’re going to delve a little deeper because I want to make sure you’re work environment is safe, and that you’re really using these guys in a safe and sane manner. So, we’ll see you then.

This is Kate Richbourg. And this is Micro Torch Basics.

Comments

  1. Shannon says:

    I was wondering if you or anyone out there could help me with a problem I’m having with my torch. Its one of the little black Excel models, certainly not top of the line, but has good reviews on most sites… I’ve only used it 5 or 6 times, usually for less than 20 min a pop… this last time, after filling it, it has started sputtering. I get the beautiful blue flame with its nice little cone and jet engine hiss, then POP a big flash of orange flame shoots out at the end. And it continues to do this until I turn it off. With all this sputtering, the flame, even at the cone (which starts getting rather fuzzy) is not hot enough to melt even the smallest gauges of wire I have on hand.

    With much googling, I haven’t found much along the lines of good information, though one site suggested that a poor flame could be the result of air that has gotten into the torch during filling. Unfortunately it did not offer anything in the way of a solution. If this IS caused by air, I’d love some tips on the best way to flush it out.

    For informations sake, I used the Bernz-o-matic butane in the large can from the home improvement store. I had topped it off once before, using this same can of fuel. When it started sputtering, I shut it off immediately, thinking it needed to settle. 5 minutes later, same thing. Waited an hour, still the same. Overnight? same deal. I let it run for 3-4 min, thinking maybe it just needed to work itself out, but the large flames it produced were fairly alarming, and the noise apparently freaked my dog out, as she’d start barking as soon as it would start sputtering.

    Any help would be appreciated! Thanks so much,
    Shannon