I think I’ll start out this blog by talking about my newest and most impressive acquisition: a torch. It’s a Meco Midget and I think it’s the cat’s ass. For the past several years I’ve been using essentially a creme brulee torch (with a bernzomatic for the Big Jobs) and so I am what you might call an easy sell.
The primary reason I’ve been using such a poseur torch setup for the past several years is because I’m a total cheapskate when it comes to buying stuff for myself and reasoned, “Why do I need to spend $500 on a jewelry torch when I can pay $13 at the hardware store and get this half-assed but fully functional adorable mini torch?” Why not indeed. The sad fact is I think that I’ve saved easily $487 worth of frustration in the past week alone soldering tiny jump rings (quickly! and not at all melty-like) as well as large pieces and not encrusting them with such dreadful firescale that I had to then waste time scrubbing away with grinders of varying grit on my flex shaft.
So, at long last, I informed Joshua that I was purchasing a Pricey Item and bought the damned thing. Then I freaked out because maybe I needed a flashback arrestor (my studiomate has one and I know jack shit about such things and maybe I need one too because… BOOM) and it didn’t come with one and oh my god GAS and OXYGEN under pressure in my studio in a rickety old house probably made of matchstick timbers and other combustibles.
When the box finally arrived I was almost afraid to look inside because you know, NOW I had done it. I schlepped the big box to the studio and carefully inspected all the pieces, admiring the gas regulators and the handpiece! Be still my heart! I lashed it down with enough 1″ tubular webbing to restrain a semi truck and then I went online for a little how-to (there was surprisingly little literature that came in the box and the little I had was taken over with WARNING and DANGER and CAUTION, which by the way all mean different things) and I bet you know what happened then. The Internet totally put the fear of doom into me. I read all sorts of freaky accounts of flames creeping back up the handpiece and causing horrific burns and don’t even let me get started on the extensive Ganoksin articles. Studio safety. Good lord.
I selfishly invited my other studiomate in to supervise as I put the thing together so you know, if I blew up the building, I would not be alone. And… nothing really happened. I screwed it all on, turned on the gas, turned the little knob on the handpiece, and we oohed and aahed as the gas came sssing out. Pretty standard stuff really. I had a bit of trouble getting it lit at first because the literature said emphatically ‘never use a bic lighter’ (why? anyone? Bueller?). I went to the big bad welding store and got a sparker (also ordered flash arrestors) but it’s so new and stiff that it’s hard to spark, especially when 99.999 percent of my brain is focused on The Boom. And so when it does finally spark, it is like a firework exploding with all the tension I had built up and then all the gas that pooled around the room ignites and it’s, well, not a relaxing experience.
One little issue I had at first: the torch tip seemed to want to ignite behind the tip rather than in front like it’s supposed to. Not sure why and a week later, now that I’m a (cough) seasoned torch user, it never does that anymore.
Final conclusions: The torch is rad. I’m afraid of it still a little. I can’t decide if I should get a better spark deely-bobber. The spark explosion and subsequent fireball is not pretty but I am getting better at working it and I have to admit, it makes me feel badass to light my little torch with a big ol’ sparker.
Next up: I need to build myself a dedicated solder area in my studio, and maybe buy some more tools before the high wears off.