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20 January 2015

Tool Review Tuesday, 04: Smith SC179 17", 90* Straight Cutting Torch

What is it?

The Smith SC179 17", 90* Straight Cutting Torch is a classic piece of metal working equipment. Recently, Smith was bought out by Miller, the welding company, but overall, nothing much has changed except the supply chain. This is an oxy/fuel cutting torch that is supremely durable and can literally last more than a lifetime.

Smith Heavy Duty Cutting Torch Models

What does it do? 
It heats and cuts stuff. Duh.

Notable Observances:
-Most models can use acetylene or propane as the fuel without any internal torch monkeying. Some other brands of torches mix the oxygen and fuel inside the torch body, which precludes using fuels that they are not optimized for. Smith bypasses the issue by using the tip as the mixing body. This prevents most burnback, which is a good thing for safety, but a bad thing for consumable prices.

-The knobs are easy to adjust even with thick welding gloves

-I )(*#$(*$#(*#$ hate the handle. It is too long, and while yes, I could shorten the handle to my liking, it isn't "my" torch to do that to.
I prefer to use my middle finger to apply most of the pressure on the lever. The length of the lever puts the rest of my fingers other bonking the knobs or useless on the front of the lever, making the torch annoying to hold and position, especially in awkward positions. Overall, I HATE the feel and use of this torch. Comparatively, I much prefer the classic Victor-style torch which is more easily adaptable to putting the lever under your palm, which is a much more secure way to hold the torch, and I find it much steadier to use that way.

-The tips are pretty effing expensive as they are very finely machined since they are the mixing body and have a built in crush gasket. Changing the tips is pretty easy, but you better have a wrench handy because you need to crank down pretty well to get the proper crush on the gasket, especially on a new tip. It usually takes several heat cycles and tightenings to not have the stupid things leak.

-The one really good feature of the torch is that you can adjust the amount of damping on the mixing knobs via the adjusters under the head of the knobs:

-Built to outlive you from stainless
-Can function after getting run over by a truck (Not kidding)
-Can be (but should not be) used as a hammer
-Parts are very easy to source, as nearly ANY LWS should have tips in stock for any cutting or heating processes

-Price. They are not cheap. They are not inexpensive. They are not simply expensive. They just plain hurt the wallet.
-I )(*#$)(*(*^(&#*$)(*(*&#$((*&#$ hate the handle and handling of the torch

Nearly ubiquitous in all construction and deconstruction industries because of its nearly indestructible qualities, if you can afford one, you can expect it to be used longer than you can work. Poor handle ergonomics limit my respect for the overall build quality, but, I suspect most people don't care since it cuts and keeps cutting as long as you can feed it. Tips and parts are expensive, but nearly always available.

Is it BBA (Beaver Built Approved):

NO! I honestly hate using it, even if it is a quality tool. Victor torches suit my hands much better, even if they aren't designed and built as tough.