Lora, How are you coming along on the projects in Jean Stark's book?
I've made the pinched-loop, centerball single, and foldover chains.
The centerball single was the hardest for me, because any variation
in the size of the balls is very noticeable in the chain.
About torches: My Bernzomatic microtorch sprung a leak and needs
replacing. I, too, am not ready for a grown-up torch, but don't want
to get the same microtorch. It was fine for fusing but barely hot
enough for melting.
From the July 2003 issue of Lapidary Journal: "When the only demand
on the torch is soldering small items, then most of the hand-held,
self-starting torches like the Micro-Jet MJ-300 ($20) and the Blazer
Butane Microtorch ($56) will do the job. These inexpensive mini and
micro single-gas torches produce a pinpoint 2500?F flame powered by
readily available butane."
The Pro Torch PT-220 (http://www.pro-iroda.com/pt220.htm) is tabletop
version of Micro-Jet, plus the flame is adjustable (MSRP $59). I've
never seen a review of this torch but it's on sale for $33.25 (at
http://www.awrtools.com)--what the heck, I'm going to try it out.