We present recent results on the development of a small scale soft X-ray laser with low pumping laser energy using a multi-fin target in a two-target chamber. With only 4 J (2 ns) laser beam energy a maximum gain of 7.1 cm-1 was measured for the CVI 18.2 nm line for a single 6 mm long target. Similar gain (6.5 cm-1) was also measured for the CVI 13.5 nm line. Control of the gain region in the plasma was demonstrated by changing the influx of iron into the plasma. We also present results from our attempt to generate gain on the 2-1 transition in LiIII at 13.5 nm using a powerful sub-picosecond KrF laser system following work by the RIKEN (Japan) group.