Ilene, like every torch, the Lil Torch has its advantages and
disadvantages. Since you’re both new to soldering with a torch and the
Lil Torch, allow me to make a suggestion. Practice soldering for the
sake of soldering on brass or copper, because it’s cheap. You won’t
have a lot of time or money invested in the materials. Get some 1" x
2" strips of brass or copper in 20 gauge. Practice your different
joints such as butt, ‘T’, and sweating one to another. Brass and
copper have higher melting temps than silver, so you have less chance
of melt down. When you’re using silver solder on these metals, there’s
also a nice contrast. These two things are an advantage and you’ll be
able to troubleshoot easier.
Once you have that down pretty well, take some 1" x 1" strips of
these metals for practice, and start soldering on things like jump
rings, bails, tubing, catches and joints, tacs, hinges, wire
conglomerations, pre-made castings, shot, and so on. Your first ones
likely won’t be pretty, but you’ll learn how to saw and file, what you
can get away with and what you can’t. But again, all you’ll be out is
a few pennies per sample and your time learning.
I still make samplers when I’m trying something new when I’m not
certain how something will work, whether it’s a new type of catch, or
I’m just trying to see how something will form to my concept.
For being able to see someone soldering, try a local metalsmith or
rockhound group to see if there any members who make their own jewelry
and wouldn’t mind you sitting in. Another possibility is a local
jeweler whom you will take out to lunch for their trouble.
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy this addictive endeavor.
K.P. in WY