Bernzomatic, Thumbler tumbler and Dremel with flex shaft advice for BEGINNER

Jewelry | |

My husband gave me some tools and I wanted to know which ones I can use and which I need to replace/upgrade. I want to make jewelry, mostly brass, some copper. I have:


1. dremel 400 with a flex shaft and engraver.


2. Two Bernzomatic torches:



3. Someone wants to sell me a used Thumbler tumbler (model B) for $75.


I am looking for advice about if these will work for annealing, soldering, polishing, etc. brass and copper. And the best way to use these particular items. Can I use acetylene tanks or only propane. Which torch is the best for working with brass. I have done some research but I can't find too much information about the two specific torches or how best to use that particular tumble.


Thanks for any help



visitor's picture

I think that for what you

I think that for what you want to do an air/acetylene torch would be good. There are those that say acetylene is dirty but I think that happens only if it is used with oxygen. Acetylene is lighter than air which is why I chose it. Propane is heavier and will puddle on the floor.

You will also need a table or bench, files, jeweler's saw frame and blades. It's a too junkies paradise.


Rich Waugh's picture

Ceah, I have both of those


I have both of those Bernzomatic torches, and I use them for soft (lead) soldering and small heating tasks, but for jewelry work, fine welding work and anything for which I need pinpoint, accurate heat, I use a small oxygen/acetylene torch. I also have an air/acetylene torch, the venerable PrestoLite, but I haven't used it in thirty years or so. Acetylene and air is much dirtier than acetylene and oxygen, by the way. Only with oxygen can you completely combust acetylene so there is no residue, though an air/acetylene torch is perfectly fine for jewelry work.

The air/acetylene torch will attain the heat necessary to do the work you want to do, but I seriously doubt that the air/propane torches will, at least in the small sizes like the Bernzomatic. For annealing of large pieces, I use an air/propane torch that I made from plumbing fittings and it works great for annealing pieces as large as 2 feet in diameter. It is a big torch that throws a flame about eighteen inches long and six inches around. It won't run from a little one-pound cylinder like the Bernzomatic torch uses, however. It requires at least a 20# barbecue tank, and I run it from a 100# industrial tank.

The tumbler is probably of little use to you, unless you want to tumble stones to make polished rocks. It won't shape them to cabochons or facets, unfortunately. It will just make polished pebbles from rough pebbles. If it was a vibratory tumbler it might have use for polishing metal, but a rotary tumbler really doesn't do that well. That is a good price on it, though. Perhaps you could pick it up and trade it for some other tools you could actually use, like a better torch, quality files, saw frames and blades, polishing buffer, etc.

The Dremel flex shaft will do fine for you to start with. Down the road, as you get more and more demanding of your tools, you may end up wanting a heavier-duty professional unit like the Foredom, but the Dremel will do a lot for you in the meantime. For now, just get some high quality burrs for the Dremel and you'll be fine.

I heartily recommend that you obtain and thoroughly study some textbooks on jewelry making and design. My favorites are "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen" by Oppi Untracht, "Silvermithing" by Rupert Feingold, and "Jewelry Design and Construction" by Robert Von Neumann. These can all be found at used book stores, since all have been, or are being, used as college textbooks. Your local community college may very well offer courses in metalsmithing, too. If so, you can learn more in a few session with an instructor than you can in a few months on your own.

Welcome to ArtMetal and let us know how your progress is coming! We definitely do like to see pictures of your work, too.

Rich Waugh
ArtMetal Moderator

visitor's picture

Thank you all for the really

Thank you all for the really helpful advice. I really do appreciate it. I think I am going to play around with the torches i have and see what happens, simply because I can't afford to buy any others right now. I already have the Bernzomatic torch with the propane tank so I will see what happens. Thanks so much for the information about the tumbler, I really don't want to spend money on something that I don't need. I have to say that I love the Dremel already, it's a fun tool to have around.



marilyn's picture

I assume that you use the

I assume that you use the standard canister of propane from the hardware store. One of the problems will be that it is awkward to use. If you can not get a hose attachment for it, I suggest that you cradle it like a baby instead of holding it by the neck and pointing it. Keep the flame moving at all times and do your practicing with copper. I think it would be hard to solder jump rings. Check out Don Norris, to see how he does things. No I have never taken his class and never will. I think he has some free instruction on the site though and he uses the propane torch that Ithink you have. marilyn