Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #126
Lineage and the Nobility of a Trade
My dad passed away on June 14th at the age of 90. He was a civil engineer and a building contractor. He was an engineer in the Air Force during the Korean War, building runways. His father, my granddad, was a talented jack-of-all-trades and a clever, whimsical inventor (he made himself a pair of convertible pants and a shirt several decades before the concept was patented). They both instilled in me, from the earliest age, the do-it-yourself ethos. When I was 5, I almost electrocuted myself when I tried to take the kitchen toaster apart with my Handy Andy tool set to find out how it worked -- while it was still plugged in!
Here's something I wrote in my first Tips book (which was dedicated to dad and granddad) about watching my dad seemingly effortlessly build things when I was a kid:
One of my early memories was being with my dad while he worked. I remember riding in a Gradall Excavator with him when I was a wee one. I thought my dad was basically the coolest guy on Earth because he could confidently pilot such an impressive, intimidating machine. As a pre-teen, I remember watching him swing a hammer while he was adding some rooms to the basement of our home (which he’d also built) and realizing how regular and perfect he was with his swing. It usually took him the same number of strikes each time to drive and countersink a nail -- one swing to set the nail, one to drive it most of the way in, and a final whack to counter-sink it. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but it was probably the first time that I instinctively understood the nobility (and the efficiency) of perfecting a trade. If you do something enough, you get impressively good at it.
Tools are an extension of our bodies, our intentions. Like specialized “end effectors” on a robot, they instantly give us special abilities; superpowers. Combine the right tools, the right materials, and the proper know-how, and human beings create worlds. Tools are the physical interface between our dreams, our imagination, and their real-world realization. But our tools are not only powerful extensions of ourselves, they also contain stories (see above).
My dad (and my granddad) taught me about both the power of tools and the power of storytelling. Little did they, or I, know when I was growing up that my job would end up combining these two powers.
Knurled Knob Generator
Who doesn't love a handsome and grippy knurled knob? This OpenSCAD script on Thingiverse allows you to generate knurled knobs of various sizes that slide over bolt heads. The script requires the OpenSCAD compiler to generate the 3D models.
Using Syringes to Clean Out 3DP Resin Vats
Back in January, I wrote about Daniel Herrero's "hack" of using a peristaltic pump to clean out his resin vat for his 3D printer. And then, based on comments to his post, he got a better idea: using large syringes to suck out the remaining resin. He experimented and determined that a 150ml syringe works best. Once again, YouTube comments to the rescue. He complains in the video about the hard plastic syringe head scratching his FEP film at the bottom of his vat. Commenters suggested adding a short bit of rubber tubing to the tip of the syringe. He also mentions the resin scraper that comes with printers scratching his FEP and viewers remind him that a silicone plastic spatula (I got mine from the dollar store) won't scratch the film.
Do Different Formulations of Motor Oil from the Same Brand Really Behave Differently?
Todd at Project Farm wanted to know if different formulations of oil from the same brand (Penzoil) perform differently, and is the high-end oil all that different from the cheapest one? The formulations tested were Pennzoil Synthetic Blend, Full Synthetic, Platinum, and Ultra Platinum. He sent the oils out to a lab for analysis and also tested them for evaporative loss, lubricity or film strength, and cold oil flow both new oil and after exposure to heat. Additionally, in a final test, Pennzoil Ultra Platinum was exposed to 10% gasoline and another sample to antifreeze to test the impact it had on lubricity and oil performance. Bottom line? This looks like a “you get what you pay for” result. The most expensive of the lot, Ultra Platinum ($28 on Amazon at time of test, $14.22 currently), definitely performed the best. That’s actually lower in price than the cheapest one at time of testing (Synthetic Blend, at $17). And, if you buy 6 quarts on Amazon, the Ultra Platinum blend is only $8.60/qt.
Fantastic Free Class for Learning Arduino
Via the always-informative Maker Update comes word of this really wonderful series of beginner educational videos on the hardware, development environment, and code used for the ubiquitous Arduino microcontroller. If you're interested in getting into Arduino, there is no better gateway.
TOYS! Liquid Chrome Markers
I recently saw Adam Savage use these chrome markers in a video where he was weathering a prop that he'd built (the motion tracker from Aliens). I immediately bought a set and man do I love them. If you have a need to faux chrome anything...
FrogPod is Now on Kickstarter
I've been a big fan of Thomas Baisch's Instagram page, InfiniteCraftsman, for a while now. He posts one innovative shop solution after another, most of them 3D printed. One of his most brilliant creations is the FrogPod, a flexible, magnetized three-legged camera mount that you can slap onto metal surfaces. He recently launched a Kickstarter to raise an army of FrogPod users.
In response to my piece on witness marks, my ol' pal Steve Roberts sent me a photo of these fascinating marks inside of his Waltham pocket watch.