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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #57
TOYS! Leatherman Free P4
On this Cool Tools video, Donald Bell talks to our ol' Make: colleague Matt Stultz about the Leatherman Free P4. This recent addition to the immensely popular Leatherman multi-tool line has a special new feature. All of the tools are deployable one-handed. This is really handy when you're holding onto an object and want access to a knife or pliers without having to let go of your workpiece. At $140, these tools aren't cheap, but you'll have them forever. I gave my original Leatherman to a friend after having it for 6 years (and he's still using it) and I still have the Leatherman Wave I replaced it with and have had now for 22 years. So, as the Dad saying goes: "Buy the best tools. You'll only cry once."
DIY Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
Reader Kerry Benton emailed me this message and link: "I happened across this YouTube video of Joshua DeLisle making a DIY PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) and feel like it's up your alley. I've been wanting one of these since I learned about them, but "real" ones are hundreds of dollars... way too much for a hobbyist. This one works out to about $100-150 in readily-available parts. I haven't made one yet, because the last part hasn't arrived, but I have high hopes." Note: This could be employed as a COVID-19 respirator but you'd need to add exhaust filters.
Cleaning Your Fingernails in the Shop
On the Shop Hacks group on Facebook, a conversation was started over what makers use to wash their hands and clean their dirty, greasy fingernails. Several people recommended this Tweezerman fingernail brush. There were a lot of differing opinions on brushes and soaps, but many members said that one of the most important things is to moisturize your hands before you start working. This makes cleaning them easier when you're done.
Life Hacks: Self-Watering Plants
When you're away from home for a few days, what to do about plants that need regular watering? Here's a solution I just bumped into and am eager to try. Fill a clean bottle with water, put your fingers over the opening as you stab the bottle into the soil. The water will leach out as the soil gets dry. That's the theory, anyone. Has anyone here tried this?
Cool Tools You May Not Know About
Here a few of the responses I've gotten to my request for specialty tools readers love that others may not know about. Do you have any such favorites? Please share with the class.
Bob Knetzger writes: Although I have a decades-older X-acto version, this compass will hold any pencil, marker, felt tip, knife, brush, etc.
Reader Art Hildebrandt recommended this folding Stanley ruler with calipers. This doesn't appear to be available commercially anymore, but you can find used ones on eBay.
Richard Whitney swears by these surgical loops: "I recently discovered that surgical loupes are now inexpensive! You can buy them for as little as $30. They give you plenty of magnification for small work, while allowing you to hold the work at a comfortable arm's reach. Almost as good as a dissection scope, but much cheaper, smaller, and more portable. Plus, you look like a dentist!"
In response to Laura Kampf's attaching a pencil sharpener to the back of her tape measure, Bob Knetzger responded: "Let me be the 100th person to point out that Laura Kampf’s added pencil sharpener defeats the inside measuring capability of her tape measure—awp! Why not mount it on the top or face/side instead?" Bob is the one and only person with this complaint so far, but he has an excellent point. You could easily mount the sharpener on the side and still maintain the same angle of approach for the pencil.
On the topic of using enamel paint to color-code keys, Dave Leeds writes: "It's Dave, the locksmith again. The best way I've found to mark keys is to put small notches in them with a triangular file. If the shape is such that there's no room, file the edge of the head flat first. If you put the notches on the top of the head, you can tell not only which key it is, you can tell if it's right side up in the dark."
Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. Check out the Cool Tools website, the Cool Tools podcast, YouTube channel, and their other two newsletters, What’s in my bag? and Recomendo.