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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #107

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #107
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a safe, fun, and restorative holiday. And I hope you’re ready for another year of trading tips, tools, and tales from the workshop. As always, please share your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations with me.
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We have a winner in the holiday drawing for Vols 1 and 2 of my Tips and Tales from the Workshop. David Brigden, please send me your mailing address. And thanks to everyone who sent me stories and pics of their most beloved tool of 2021.

Hanging Devices That Have Keyhole Mounts
Here’s a quick video on using painter’s tape to correctly position the keyhole mounts on a power strip (or anything else that use such mounting). Mark Frauenfelder of Cool Tools recommends this power strip. I just bought one myself and will be installing it using the above method.
Harbor Freight Airbrush and Compressor
You may have seen the inexpensive airbrushes and compressors at Harbor Freight and wondered if they’re worth it. In this video, YouTuber Barbatos Rex puts the Freight’s $119 compressor and dual-action airbrush kit to the test. How does it fare? In the words of Larry David: “Pretty, pretty good.”
Solder Seal Wire Connectors
In this quick tip video, Adam Savage demos the use of a product that I’d never even heard of: Solder Seal Wire Connectors. These connectors allow you to make waterproof wire joins without having to twist and solder wires. You simply slot the wires into the clear plastic connector tube and hit it with a heat gun. The tube has solder inside for the electrical connection and it clamps and shrink-seals the wires at the same time. Adam also extols the virtues of numbered wire marking tape. These are little labels, numbered 0-9, that you can use to mark and ID corresponding connections.
Bringing Your Tools in from the Cold
Thirteen year old woodworker, Evan, shared this tip on Instagram:
“I’m bringing my hand planes inside from the shop for the winter. If your shop is not heated or insulated as is the case with mine, there’s a risk that your tools can rust because of moisture in the air. For my power tools, I wax and cover them because they’re too big to bring inside. Also, my parents would not be too happy with me if my jointer and band saw were in the dining room.”
Cheap Foam Core Sheets
Kevin Kelly wrote in the latest Recomendo:
“Foam core is super versatile making stuff. Together with hot glue you can make almost anything – doll houses, organizers, quick prototypes, kid’s constructions, models, displays, etc. The boards can be expensive at stationary stores. The cheapest source of foam board I know about are 20 x 30 x 3/16 inch sheets from the Dollar Tree store, at $1.25 per board. They are thin but sufficient and cheap.”
Dollar Tree foam board sheets are especially coveted by tabletop gamers, dungeon crafters, diorama builders, “foamies” (foam plane builders), and other hobby crafters because the paper is so easily peeled away from the foam. All you have to do is spritz with water/alcohol and the paper peels right off, leaving you with a 3/16" sheet of foam to work with.
Maker Slang for 2021
Transporter accident – A 3D print that has failed, creating a tangled mess of plastic where your object was supposed to be.
Transporter accident – A 3D print that has failed, creating a tangled mess of plastic where your object was supposed to be.
This past year, I started a semi-regular column here of jargon, slang, and technical terms that I thought would be informative and/or entertaining to newsletter readers. I gathered up all of the entries I published in 2021 and did a post on Boing Boing. You can see the entire list here.
Shop Talk
Reader John Morse writes:
“I don’t know if this is a tip or a vise story, but…
"I have a mostly manual machine shop that I have worked at since 1984 and bought in 1999. I sometimes think about how I would start from scratch. First thing is a sturdy bench with a good vise attached to it. Amazing things can be done from here. The first machine I would buy is a drill press; again, amazing things. From here it becomes a matter of what you’re trying to do. I’ve seen some maker videos where my first thought was "Somebody please buy them a bandsaw!” As I get older, I start to think about downsizing and what piece of equipment I could part with. Yes, I have three Bridgeports, but this is a working shop so they are often all in use. Having them has become so ingrained into my thingmaking skills that I have a hard time thinking about doing without. Really, the main thing is to think about what kind of making you’re trying to do and add to your tool kit as you needed.“
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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales

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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales! is copyrighted by Gareth Branwyn, and published by Cool Tools Lab, LLC. Commissions may be earned from the links above.