Torch For Both Glass And Silver?

Q: I'm getting ready to dive into two long-simmering fascinations: glass beadmaking, and sterling silver jewelry fabrication (for starters, I'll be concentrating on rings, pendants and bracelets with bezel-set stones, and I only want to work with silver). Right now, I'm in the "purchase the essential tools" stage, and I'm hung up on selecting a torch. Ideally, I'd like to buy one good torch that will be suitable for both hot glass AND silver soldering, but I don't know if such an animal exists, and frankly, I'm overwhelmed by the choices. I've been looking at Smith "Little Torch" oxy-propane and air-acetylene systems for the metal work; any chance that one of the Smith oxy-propane torches, with the right tip, would also work for glass? The oxy-propane 'Nortel Minor' burner would probably be my first choice if I was only planning on doing glass work. Would the 'Minor' be suitable for soldering silver as well? What about National torches?

A: I think you'll find the flame on a jeweler's torch too small in cross-section to work well for beadmaking. The glass worker's torches I have seen have a much wider flame. Also, it's going to be a pain to mount the 'Little Torch', or a similar unit, for glass working. You definitely won't want to try soldering jewelry work with the 'Minor' burner - way too much heat. The little torch is great for jewelry, for silver you are going to wind up using the larger tips for most of your work. Why not get the 'Minor' burner - a set of valved Y-connects, and an Oxy-propane little torch set? That way, you'll have the right torch for both jobs, and can share one set of tanks. Well I'll say this: In the beginning... Oh dear... are you sure you mean "long simmering"? "Long festering" sounds more like it, but you may not understand my choice of adjectives for many months to come. Lampwork and Silversmithing... I'm a Silversmith, and biased. In the beginning, you can work a modicum of glass with an "oxy-whatever" torch, but eventually, you should ask a glass bead-maker for a few minutes of bench time with his or her set-up, so as to experience the difference in the equipment. I had the advantage of once sharing a shop with 'Larry Carter', a fine Lampwork artisan and Beadmaker. His equipment was by no means cheap, and wholely unsuitable for metal work, but if you have the skill to master both disciplines, they blend quite nicely. I use my 'Smith Mini-Torch' for silver and gold nowdays, but it is essentially the same torch my old lady used for her glass beadmaking. She also uses the same burnout oven ('Swest' gas fired) I use for jewlery making. I suppose you could get a 'Nyecraft' 9X9. It is one of the lowest-priced units I know of ($450-$500).