I got my kit from Simply Swank yesterday. I viewed the DVD right away. That is unusual for me because I don't usually view art DVDs for awhile after I get them. Okay, I did finish up my AU charms while watching it.
It is a very informative DVD with lots of tips. I did not know some things or had forgotten about them since my soldering workshop. The last part is how to make beaded jewelry and such that would go with your charms. I skipped that since I know how to do that. I would recommend the DVD if you are new or newer to soldering. It will be something that I will keep as a reference. I do recommend this DVD if you want to learn how to solder. It was very informative for me. There are no advanced techniques. You might want the book for that. I have ordered the book and am waiting for it to arrive.
The most important things I learned were to keep wiping the soldering tip on a damp sponge and to flux, flux, flux. I started with a small charm. The copper tape was too wide and I had to trim it with an Exacto knife. The second time I did this, I used 7/32 copper tape and it was just right for the two pieces of glass and paper in between. Simply Swank might think about supplying both sizes. Trimming was kind of tedious. The thin piece of sponge did not last long. It tore in no time. It did not want to stay in that little shallow well that came with the holder. I just took an extra sponge that I had and used that instead. If you bought the kit and don't have sponges laying around, then I would recommend getting a thick one and cutting it in half.
The first time, I did not have any problems with the actual tinning. I did have problems with the jump ring attachment. I guess that comes with time and more experience. I ended up burning off the copper tape on the top. I tried to attach more copper tape and doing it again, but the copper tape kept sliding off. I waited until it cooled, peeled the tape off, and started all over again. I had better luck the second time. What you see in the above pict are my results. I still need to work on the jump ring thing.
It is important that the tip not get gunked up or it won't work well. The solder won't melt on it. The Simply Swank Soldering kit:
1. I liked the soldering iron even though it comes in pink. You might want to order an extra tip while you there.
2. Flux - works well. I like that it is non hazardous.
3. Solder stand - I like the stand idea but the sponge well is too shallow and the sponge broke apart right away. Maybe a deeper well and thick piece of sponge.
4. Lead free solder - worked fine for me.
5. Copper tape - it comes in a 5/16" size for thicker applications. Maybe carry 7/32" as well so you don't have to trim.
6. 4 each of 3 different sized glass pieces - that means you can create 2 things from each size. One is charm size, one is microscope glass size, and one is 2x3" size. You might want to get some additional pieces of glass when you order the kit or buy some bulk glass so you can cut your own.
7. 2 different sized clamps. I used the smaller one today. I liked how it stood the charm up for easier soldering.
Overall, I think it is a good buy. I am happy with it. Soldering was much easier for me this time than the previous two times I have tried it.. I was very discouraged the last time I tried to do it with different materials. The DVD comes with very good instructions on how to start soldering - even circular items. I would welcome any suggestions about attaching the jump rings. You can find the link to Simply Swank in the right column under Shopping resources - soldering.