Something I constantly hear amongst beginners, students and people within our Instagram community is that they are nervous to operate and store a jewelers torch (especially at home.) So here are some tips and considerations to help empower you to feel comfortable. Huge thank you to our friends at Creative Side Jewelry for collaborating with me on this article!
1: Soapy Water Test
One of the biggest concerns is a leak so one way you can feel confident you don't have one is to make sure to check the connection where the regulator screws on to the tank every time you change the tank out. This is as easy as using soapy water and a paint brush to brush all over the threads so they are covered in bubbles. You can also put soapy water in a spray bottle! If the bubbles start growing and spurting out that means you have a leak. Feel free to give your torch a spritz at anytime if it will help you feel reassured!
2: Take Care In Attaching Your Regulator
Do not over tighten when connecting your regulator to the valve as this can strip the threading which causes leaks.
3: Chain Your Tank
Chain your tank or tanks together (or to a table) so they can't fall over (the neck and regulator need to be protected from damage).This is often a fire code requirement if your studio is in a rented, commercial space (but this definitely depends on where you live.)
4: Practice Using Your Striker
Practice your strike a few times before turning on your gas to get a good spark and then light right away! If your striker is not functioning well, replace the flint! If you have had several unsuccessful attempts turn your torch off and wait for the gas to dissipate before you try again.
5: Bleed Your Lines
Bleed your lines when you are done working by first shutting off the main valve then relieving the pressure on the regulator then opening the valve on the torch until the pressure hits zero on the regulator (you can also hear the gas leaving). Do this individually for the gas and oxygen, it doesn't matter what order. Make sure to close your torch valves when you're done.
6: Fire Extinguisher
It's important to have a functioning fire extinguisher in your studio space. Also be mindful of your soldering station, don't keep your vision board with magazine cutouts a foot away from where you are operating your torch (but do have a vision board as they are awesome!)
7: Talk To Your Local Welder
The number one thing I recommend someone do if they are feeling insecure about their torch is to find a local welding supply company (in my case I speak with the people whom I get my acetylene B tank refills) and ask them questions! Explain your concerns and ask them if you need assistance connecting your regulator. Every time I bring my torch in for a tank replacement they also check my torch for leaks and make sure my regulators are in good working order, so that is an added benefit as well!
When using a torch you will want to protect your health as well! If you have a window and weather allows, keep it open to get fresh air circulating. A fan is also helpful to keep air moving. We also shared a tip last year on creating your own can fan ventilation system:
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I am so impressed by the #diy exhaust system that @strayjewelrydesign made and kindly shared with me. She purchased a can fan (used) from a grow store for $40 and then used aluminum ducting and duct tape. Weekend project anyone? #metalsmithsociety #jewelrymakingsafety #benchjeweler #jewelersexhaustsystem #benchjeweler #showmeyourbench #instasmithy #silversmith #goldsmith #jewelrystudio
Huge thank you to Creative Side Jewelry Academy for sharing their studio safety and images! Please check out their website, give them a follow on Instagram and if you are in the Austin, Texas area definitely check out their class schedule!
If you haven't already, join our community on Instagram @metalsmithsociety and if you found the article helpful let us know with a comment, and help us spread the word by sharing on Pinterest or telling a friend!