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Oxygen + Propane Little Smith Torch Setup

Updated: Jun 6

When I decided to upgrade my smithing setup from a small butane torch to the Smith Little Torch with mixed oxygen and propane, I had a hard time finding out exactly what components I needed & if they would be compatible with one another.

That is why I've made this blog- so you can have a complete list at your fingertips!

For reference, I am a metal smith, specializing in silver, with some gold projects mixed in. I primarily use my torch for small jewelry pieces. I'm also an extremely thrifty person & I can guarantee you that I've done the research. Getting the pieces in this blog individually and putting them together yourself is the cheapest way to go, by like $500 compared to the kits I've seen!

Feel free to check out my website if you like handcrafted jewelry!

Okay let's get into it.

Deciding if propane is right for you.

First of all, you need to decide which type of gas you'd like to burn with this torch. The main two options are acetylene or propane. Neither are ideal to burn inside, but with the proper precautions, either will work. I decided on propane, because of three main reasons: it's very easy to get propane tanks refilled, it burns cleaner than acetylene & it's not odorless like acetylene, increasing its safety. So, for this blog, I will be sharing what you need for a propane set up only.

Determine if you have the local resources to keep your tanks filled.

Before you buy everything on this list, you will want to do research to determine that you can, in fact, get these gases refilled in your area. Where I live is more rural, but I found local places that can refill both oxygen and propane tanks. I'll include a more in depth list of places that you may want to start your search for these gasses in the item descriptions below.

Now for the detailed list- here is everything that you need to get yourself set up with an oxy/propane torch setup for metalsmithing!

There are a couple different avenues you can take to get yourself a propane tank, however I suggest buying a brand new one so you know it's in perfect working condition. The one I linked above is perfect because you're going to be working with a small torch & this 11 pound one won't take up too much space and is the perfect size for the volume of gas you'll be using, even over long periods of time.

If you want to explore your other options for acquiring a tank before splurging on a new one, here are some suggestions:

1. You may already have one laying around if you use an outdoor gas grill, typically these are 20 lbs tanks. However, hooking up the tanks isn't something you're going to want to be doing again and again, so don't plan on switching your tank back an forth between smithing projects and grilling steaks. Whatever tank you choose to use for this setup needs to stay hooked up.

2. You can search for a used one in your area, but if you go this route, just make sure you're getting one in good shape with no dents or leaks!

3. Another option is to just buy the exchangeable ones at your local gas station, although make note that you will be paying a much higher price per pound of gas.

Next, you'll need somewhere to refill it, although you won't need to do this all too often. I've had my tank for over 6 months now and it's not even close to empty. Places that will refill your propane tanks include your local hardware store, a gas station or a welding supply store. If you're having a hard time finding somewhere, call a local welding company and ask them for their source.

I really like this oxygen tank. It's a great size and is easy for me to carry back and forth when getting it filled. There are various sizes, this one is a 20 pound tank, but you can find them in smaller and larger options too.

To get these refilled, you will have to have a specialized distributor & that may take some digging. If you're stumped on where to fill or exchange your tank, call a local welding company for their source.

If we're working our way downstream & the tanks are the source, regulators are next. They are such an important part of a safe torch setup because they help you determine and regulate the pressure of propane going out of your tank to your torch, and because they show you how much you have left in your tank at any given time. They literally regulate the flow of oxygen or gas & that is the main point of using a more specialized torch.

Oxygen tanks need regulators too, however they are a bit cheaper which is nice.

Some people skip out on these & that is a risky choice. Sometimes a spark or flame from the tip of your torch can head downstream towards your tanks & that can be a potentially dangerous situation. Flashback arrestors prevent this from happening & stop the spark or flame from making its way into the tanks. The link above has both of the arrestors you'll need.

Now for a fun component- the torch! I will say that at first I bought this same exact torch, the Smith Little Torch from Amazon for $170 and upon initial inspection, found that the inner tube of the oxygen side was detached from the hand piece. I returned the torch of course, but the second time around, I opted to go for one of the cheaper torches, at $25. The Amazon listing doesn't say specifically that it's the Smith Little Torch, but it appeared to be the exact same torch. So, I ordered it & when it arrived at my house, it was literally in the exact same box as the $170 one, and was indeed, manufactured by Smith. They were the exact same product, but with a $145 price difference!

So, my advice to you is this: do not spend an unnecessary amount on the same exact product. The one I linked will be great.

As a final note however, I will say that no matter where you find your Smith Little Torch, be sure to thoroughly inspect every aspect of it to be sure the inner hoses, tips, knobs, and connections are all in perfect condition.

Other tools & PPE you'll need

Safety is a really really important part of operating a torch like this. You are creating live, pressurized fire indoors and the burning of propane, flux, and potentially other materials can impact your health. I would highly suggest throwing in these other items to ensure a safe working environment.

For safety reasons, DO NOT use a hand held lighter to ignite your torch! You can use a burning candle, but the best choice is one of these sparking igniters. It's battery operated and doesn't take up too much space on your bench. There is no fuel involved, just electronic sparks that catch the oxy/propane mixture coming out of your torch.

This one isn't so much for safety, but for ease of use. It's very convenient to have a place to put your torch in between use. You could even find a small hook to hang it on if you like.

A good respirator is crucial, so please don't skip this one. At first, this mask can feel a bit strange, but I promise you'll get used to it.

If you're already working with open fire or smithing tools, I'm sure you have yourself a pair of safety glasses. In the case that yours are scratched up or you need your first pair, I really like these because they are cute, comfy & cheap.

I know by the time you've reached this part of the list, spending another $290 on a fume extractor seems like a lot, and I get that. I've linked this one because I really really like it & it's actually quite affordable compared to many of the other name brand ones. I did a lot of research and this one seems to have better suction than most others of its size. This one is especially great because it has 3 different levels of filtration, including a pre-filter, a hepa filter and a carbon filter. This means that it is catching not only fumes but microscopic particles as well. I've been using mine for about 6 months & am really happy I bought it.

If this one seems like too much for now, you can also look into smaller, desktop extractors...but please, if you choose not to use any sort of extraction or air filtration system, be sure to crack a window! Even if you're wearing a respirator, your other family members or pets can be effected by the poor air quality.

This item may be at the end of my list, but it is possibly the most important. Whether it's this one or another one, you need to keep a full and up to date extinguisher in your studio space. I like this one because it can be refilled. Contact your local fire department for information on how to get it recharged.

In conclusion

Okay! That's what I've got for you.

As far as getting all of these components put together and completing the setup, I think a video description would work best and I suggest this one.

If you get everything on this list, you're looking at about $830 total before you get your tanks filled. If you just get the tanks, regulators, flashback arrestors and torch, you're looking at $334 total (which is much cheaper than what Rio offers a similar setup for, at $825).

Short list of links

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please leave a comment below!


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