Gar's Tips & Tools - Issue #161
– Send me a tip or tool recommendation.
–Tell me a shop tale.
–Advertise your product, service, newsletter, app, book, tool, or anything you’d like to share with GT&T readers.
How to Safely Climb a Ladder
You cannot overestimate the wisdom, experience, and common sense that Scott of Essential Craftsman brings to his videos. In this one, he runs through the basics of safely deploying, climbing, and dismounting an extension ladder (what he claims is thew most dangerous tool on a job site). “After 44 years in the building trade, the last 10 working nuclear power plant refuels, this is by far the best ladder safety information I've ever seen. Thank You for posting.” When you see comments like this on a video post, you know you’re learning from someone who knows what they’re talking about. If you ever climb a ladder, do yourself a favor and watch this video.
5 Principles of Organization
Artist, filmmaker, and maker, Van Neistat, offers this video on his interesting approach to organization. The video has a very Tom Sachs Ten Bullets vibe as it humorously runs through a series of 5 of Van’s organization principles: No Stacks/One-Handed, Kit Your Shit, Use Organizational Talisman, Learn to Build Shelves (and build shelves), and Customize. Some great ideas here — like never stacking non-related items, one-handed shelf access, and using zipper pouches to organize your stuff. “Organizational talisman” is his term for what I call homely tools, essential rubber bands, binder clips, push-pins and other often over-looked shop essentials. And, check out his clever idea for custom jumper cable storage under the hood, next to your car battery.
Clever Things You Can Do with a Hand Planer
In this Stumby Nubs video, James shows how you can use the often underutilized electric hand planer as a short of get-by replacement for a jointer (if you don’t have a jointer or don’t have enough room in your shop for one). He gives an excellent introduction to hand planers, their uses, and their limitations. As usually for a Nubs video, there are many excellent tips here, like how to make “winding sticks” that can help you eyeball the areas of a twisted surface that you need to plane down.
Adam Savage Buys a Fractal Vise
Ever since I saw Eric of Hand Tool Rescue do a restoration of a "fractal vise" several years ago, I've been fascinated by this device. Adam Savage has too, and he's been on the lookout for someone adventurous enough to manufacture some and offer them for sale. He finally found one on Alibaba (for $2500, delivered) and ordered it. In this video, Adam unboxes the vise, tries it out, and begins tuning it up.
Here’s a link to the video of how to build your own.
I am so thrilled by how much engagement I get from newsletter readers. I’ve always seen this project as a community effort, or at least something I wanted to grow into such an effort. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to email me and send comment, words of encouragement, and to share tips and tools. Here are a few messages from this past week.
Paul Cryan writes:
Just checking in to laud and encourage your marvelous Tips & Tools outreach. Rarely do I find a pathfinder resource like yours that guides me so comfortably and consistently among my diverse interests!
The recent link to the DigiKey “Protecting Electronics” got me thinking about the lanolin/mineral oil mix (and lately, I've been enjoying this spray version Surface Shield® Rust Protectant) you led me to slathering on all my beloved machinery. I've experimented in the past with dipping and spraying electronics with things like CorrosionX Marine, but maybe sheep goo might be worth a try, too? Circuit Sheepy Dip? LOL
Laughed out loud at the GreatScott! video with the creative use of vape pen/mini-bong for coating circuits to test for hot spots. Being a fan of hands-on methods, I find that a fingertip is plenty sensitive for that kind of sleuthing, but maybe I'm just overly sensitive.
And your theme of storing tape has kept me riveted. As a dedicated tapehead, my favorite method is to find a clamp with a suitable form for holding the roll, whatever the size or type, and position it just out of head-bonking range on the ceiling of my shop. I've taken the "can't have too many clamps" to heart and don't ever like to wander too far from them.
Patrice N writes:
I’m in the process of refinishing an oak market umbrella frame. I had a stubborn rusted screw that I could not get out. I tried the usual methods of hammering it, lubricants, etc., but nothing worked. I eventually warmed up my soldering iron and placed the tip on the head of the screw and waited until I heard a tiny snap. That's when I could easily unscrew it! The soldering iron concentrated enough heat to the screw to expand it but not damage the oak. Others might know about this trick, but I thought I would share anyway.
Reader Marsha Robinson sent in a list of her favorite “specialty tools:”
I use this tool as intended, very valuable for precise cleaning and keeping the edges of your toe nails trimmed on the sides to prevent ingrown nails.
This thumb scraper tool for everything you cannot or should not scrape with a razor blade. Very handy, if a bit pricey.
Originally, I purchased this remover tool to get the back off of a watch to change the battery. In my eclectic collection of specialty tools, nothing worked better than this. Have since found multiple applications for prying.
Here is an unusual tool I picked up who knows where. I had no idea what the intended use was, but it quickly became one of my favorite tools for a wide variety of uses. The knife on one end is sharp enough to cut things in difficult or small spaces. Turns out it is a dental wax sculpting tool. Mine is from Pakistan and I found the exact one on the Indiamart website. Others, similar but not exact, are from Germany, called Fahen or Fahnestock wax knives.
Even though I’m not fond of ordering from China, and I detest website pop ups, Temu has practically everything imaginable at very affordable prices. I have placed orders several times, always received them fairly quickly, items are as described/pictured, and the quality is acceptable. Once I contacted their customer service about some votive candles not being as described, and was surprised how quick they were to respond and promptly issued a refund with no return necessary.