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Gar's Tips & Tools - Issue #159
Weekly-ish access to tools, techniques, and shop tales from the worlds of DIY
– Send me a tip or tool recommendation.
–Tell me a shop tale.
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Quicker, Easier Scary-Sharp Chisel Sharpening
In this Stumpy Nubs video, James shows how you can take the “scary sharp” chisel sharpening method (where you use four levels of course-to-fine sandpaper on a flat piece of glass) to the next level using 320 and 400 Cubitron II sanding discs for the first two sharpening passes. This sandpaper sharpening method works great, but it can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if you’re trying to restore a chipped or super-dull tool or flattening the backside of a brand new chisel. The ceramic-based Cubitron discs help accelerate the sanding process. From there, you can switch to regular 600 and 1000 grit aluminum oxide discs for the final 2 passes. And then, leather stropping for a final polish. At the end of the video, James recommends a kit that Taylor Tools sells which includes a piece a 5” x 11” dead-flat 5/16” thick float glass, a selection of 5” 3M PSA sanding discs (2 each 320 and 400 Cubitron II discs and 2 each 600 and 1000 grit PSA aluminum oxide discs and 14 1/2” diameter urethane PSA bumpers — all for $25. It you try to buy all this separately on Amazon, it would cost you this much or more. I’ve bought tools from Taylor before and highly recommend them. Unfortunately, since the Stumpy Nubs video came out, they are back ordered.
C-Clamp Torture Test
On Project Farm, Todd torture-tests a tool that anyone reading this will likely have multiples of in their shop: the C-clamp. Of all of the tools tested, only 1 out of 18 clamps survived the testing without damage. The brands Todd tested are Wilton, Wright Tool, Stanley Proto, Crescent, Bessey F-Style, Bessey C-Clamp, Groz, Yost, Lincoln Electric, Performance Tool, Pony, Harden, WEN, Pittsburgh, and Shop Tek. The clamps were tested for maximum clamping force, clamping efficiency, build quality, weight, and failure load. In the end, the expensive Wilton ($252) performed the best, along with other relatively expensive clamps from Stanley ($60) and Wright Tool ($73 at time of testing). All said and done, Todd recommends the very affordable Irwin clamps ($14 at time of testing, now only $10) for general shop applications. The Irwin performed surprisingly well, given its relative low cost.
How to Reuse Vape Pen Batteries in Your Projects
If you’ve even wondered if the batteries on vape cartridges can be reused, they can, according to this thoughtful video from Becky Stern. Becky looks at reclaiming the batteries (she posted on her local Buy Nothing FB group to acquire a bunch), fire safety concerns and precautions, power management circuits, and how to work with the batteries and use them in projects.
TOYS! Cheap Shop Mechanical Pencils
A couple of years ago, I mentioned PaperMate SharpWriter pencils in a post about Dave Picciuto’s favorite pencils in his shop. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the pencil, but when I do need one, I want a mechanical. Trouble is, I lose them at an alarming rate. So, I immediately bought a box of these super-cheap SharpWriters and love them. Mainly what I love is that they are so cheap. At 0.38 a piece, you can have them, several of them, at every workstation in your shop (and in every toolbox, office desk, kitchen junk drawer, etc.). And, I like that they’re designed to look like a wooden pencil.
It’s so much fun when posts on certain tools, storage solutions, or shop practices hit a nerve and generate a big response among readers. The recent discussion of EDC (every day carry) did that. And so did the post in the last issue about rolled tape storage. Reader Eric Kaplan posted this image of his pegboard-based solution.
I’ve been very pleased with my version of tape storage. It uses less wall space than individual shelves but the rolls are still easy to access.
Recently, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Donald Bell of Maker Update at Maker Project Lab (aka Donald’s house). I spotted his tape storage solution. I got a huge kick out of his storing of tape measures with the adhesive tape. Kind of goes with the Adam Savage idea of storing things in the first place that pops into your mind when you think of where they should go.
I’ve also enjoyed an ongoing exchange about my post on fruit-preserving glass jars in the fridge. Reader Billy R wrote:
$20 for a six pack of Mason quart jars seems kinda steep. I can get a dozen Ball Mason jars at my local Ace Hardware for $16.
Billy is right! I checked my local Ace Hardware (shout-out to the awesome Pedrotti Ace Hardware in Benicia, CA!) and they have a dozen 32 oz. Ball jars for only $16. It is always a plus when local hardware is cheaper than Amazon hardware. It’s great to support local business and our Ace is fantastic.