Hand-held torches are one of the handiest tools to have in the shop, and that’s why I’ve made it my business to try different kinds of torches over the last 30+ years. And there’s one specific barometer of capability that very few simple, consumer-grade torches can deliver – the ability to braze.
- Reading Time = 2 1/2 minutes
Hot Enough for Brazing
Brazing is a weld-like process for joining steel with molten bronze – sort of like heavy-duty soldering. Heat clean ferrous metal red hot, touch the bronze brazing rod to the joint, then watch it melt. When the metal cools you’ve got a very strong connection. Even if brazing isn’t something you plan on doing, it’s still a valid litmus test for torch performance because ordinary propane torches don’t deliver quite enough heat to do it efficiently. A hotter torch is a better torch for all kinds of applications, and this is the main benefit of my current favorite, the unique and effective Bernzomatic TS8000 – High Intensity Trigger Start Torch.
After five years of using this tool for various tough jobs – two of which ordinary propane torches can’t quite handle – I’m ready to go public. The TS8000 is the best in my book. Ease of ignition and heat output are the main reasons why. There are two technical features that let this torch create a hotter flame: The fuel it burns and the way the burning happens.
- In addition to using ordinary propane, the TS8000 is rated to use a gas called propylene. It costs about three times more than propane – but this difference isn’t as significant as it sounds. A $20 cylinder of propylene solders at least half the copper water pipes in an entire house, so cost isn’t an issue. What does it matter that the same amount of propane costs $6?
- Propylene burns substantially hotter than propane all on its own, but this inherent heat advantage is also enhanced by a unique internal feature of this torch.
If you look down the tube that the flame comes out of, you’ll see four angled plates about two inches in from the end. These plates work together to impart a swirling action to the gas as it travels out of the torch and burns. Swirling means more complete combustion and hotter results can be seen.
To compare torch performance in an empirical way, I measured the time it took to heat one spot on a 12-inch-long steel spike enough that it turned bright red and soft. After 4 minutes, my ordinary propane torch had just barely heated the spike to a dull, red glow, allowing a small amount of slow bending under hand pressure. By contrast, the TS8000 heated the same spike to a bright red heat in only 45 seconds, softening the metal enough to make bending easy. This thing is way hotter than anything else in its class that I’ve seen. Learn more about the torch and buy it here.
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