...I started soldering for the first time last night, and I am,
to put it mildly, intimidated!
I can remember years of being scared to pick up my torch,
because there was a 50-50 chance I was going to melt whatever I
was working on. I was using straight propane with a "jewelers
torch" attached to the canister. Then a miracle occurred. I
spent two weeks taking the GIA Repair & stone setting I & II and
the torch became my best friend. (I also fell in love with the
mini-torch system) Two things made the difference, one was the
constant use of the torch (practice makes perfect) and the other
was the eternal optimist of a teacher walking around for 8 days
saying "You can do it". You actually start believing it. Before
those classes, I had never even bought, let alone used hard
solder. You can imagine how limiting that was to design. Now I
use it everywhere I possibly can. I've even begun fusing with
karat gold in some applications.
Take heart. You CAN do it! It takes practice. If possible, find
someone who knows and have them watch you, or watch them. Notice
how and where they heat the object, flame size, and what part of
the flame is aimed at the piece. Tim McCreight's book (The
Complete Metalsmith) might be helpful as well as other, more
Hope this helps.