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Gar's Tips & Tools - Issue #145
Weekly access to tools, time-saving techniques, and shop tales from the worlds of DIY
Now that I’ve adjusted to Substack, I’m really digging it and glad we had to move. Be sure to check out the Archive here and Like and comment on older issues.
I’ve embedded some of the videos into this newsletter rather than linking to them. Let me know if you have a preference.
Maker Update’s Favorite Tips and Projects from 2022
Tyler and Donald of Maker Update have a casual conversation about what some of their favorite maker projects and tips were for last year. Projects include David Blair’s Freaky Fractals, AI-Based Dog Poop Laser Targeting System, and Real-Life Subtitles. Favorite tips and tools include Becky Stern’s Portable Soldering Station, How To Make Vintage Hand-Painted Signs with a Laser Cutter, and the Gridfinity 3D printable storage system.
A Beginner's Guide to Arduino I/O
Becky Stern is back with another of her excellent Digi-Key electronics tutorials. In this one, she covers the basics of Arduino input and output, both analog and digital.
Taking a Closer Look at the Fiskars Pro Folding Knife
Earlier this month, Todd at Project Farm tested folding utility knives. He ended up recommending the Fiskars Utility Pro. As often happens, in the wake of his review, the price of the knife skyrocketed from $13 to $31 on Amazon. In this DIY Tool Reviews video, they do a more in-depth review of the tool and compare it to a Milwaukee Fastback. They were skeptical at first, but the Fiskars wins them over. And the good news is, the knife is now back to $13 on Amazon. I just ordered one!
Q-Tips Polisher for a Rotary Tool
From jeweler Connor Enright’s Instagram feed:
”Did you know that the shaft of a Q-tip fits your standard slip fit flexshaft? I cut mine down to about an inch to get rid of most of the flex in the Q-tip. You can then either use them straight away, or if you want more rigidity, soak the paper shaft of the Q-tip in superglue/PVA, and let dry fully before inserting into the flex shaft. This will also stop any runaway fibers getting caught in the handpiece. Then it’s on to a healthy charge of Luxi's red compound before polishing the bowl of this teeny spoon to a mirror finish. This one may be obvious, but it has been a real lifesaver for me when needed! Next up to try are the micro COVID test swabs!”
Tips for 3D Printing Parts for the Gridfinity Storage System
Zack Freedman of Voidstar Lab released his Gridfinity 3D printed workshop organization system last year and other makers have really taken to it, creating dozens and dozens of custom storage solutions to use with it. In this Next Layer video, Jonathan runs through 9 tips he’s come up with in working with the system.
Zip Tie Top Tips & Tricks
Over on Hack-a-Day, Al Williams has gathered a round-up of videos and other information on how to get the most from the lowly zip tie. He also touches on the history of this indispensable attachment tech and recommends getting a zip tie gun if you’re doing a lot of tying work and need a consistently tight connection. [Via Maker Update]
Life Hacks: Phonecam Shopping Reminders
Here’s yet another notational use for your phone. Does this happen to you: You see that a lightbulb is burned out or you run out of something in the kitchen. You think to put it on a shopping list, but you forget. Later, making that list, you think back and try to remember what that thing was that you needed. Next time, take photos of what you need and then look through your phone images when you’re placing your order.
“Buy once, cry once.”
An old saying (which goes back at least as far as the 1920s) about the value of buying the best tools you can afford. You might cry over the money you spend, but you’re less likely to be crying over the failures of a cheap tool later on.
Responding to a piece I wrote on maintenance, where I said “The other day, while oiling a squeaky hinge with some lithium grease, I flashed on my granddad," Paco Hidalgo wrote:
“How did you apply viscous lithium grease to you hinges? Did you disassemble the door from its hinges? Or did you try my fast simple method, mixing the grease with Naphtha and dribbling it down the barrel of the hinge in place?”
I use the Liquid Wrench spray lithium grease. It works well, but is a little a messy (foamy) and I’m sure not nearly as penetrative as grease mixed with naptha.
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