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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #121

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #121
Got a tip to share? Tool to recommend? Tall shop tale to tell? A tip to bust? Please share with the class.

Organizing Cables and Other Gear Using Hanging Storage Bags
Twitter user laen posted this fantastic idea for organizing and storing cables. He uses hanging storage bags on a rod. Cables and misc tech accessories are the bane of my existence. This is a great solution for not only storing cables but other sorted small parts. See the comments on the tweet where others share some useful storage “hacks.”
A Mini-Tutorial on Using GitHub for Arduino Projects
In this Andreas Spiess video, Andreas provides an excellent 16-minute tutorial on why GitHub is essential to anyone working in software development and makers doing microcontroller projects. Andreas covers downloading libraries and projects, creating a project Fork, publishing a project on GitHub, and how to create a Pull Request (how you alert others to changes you’ve pushed to the branch of a GitHub repository), among other things.
11 Cheap Tools You Want to Have in Your Workshop
In this Stumpy Nubs video, James runs through 11 cheap (under $30) tools that he can’t live without in his woodworking shop. A few of them are woodwork-specific, but most would be useful in any maker’s workshop. Items covered include various bench clamps, face shield, acid brushes, tweezers, rubber rollers for spreading glue, razor saw, and dust-collection fittings.
Which Bit Holder is Best?
A simple bit holder for use in an impact driver can cost anywhere from a few bucks to over $20. So, is paying more worth it? That’s the question Todd is looking to answer in this Project Farm video. He tests 19 brands for maximum torque before failure, magnetic bit retention holding strength, magnetic hold on fasteners, speed of driving in fasteners, and wear resistance. In the end, the $9 DeWalt (Locking) holder (currently $12 on Amazon) performed the best, with the $20 Wiha (currently unavailable) a close second. The Hilti, at $8 (currently $11 on Amazon) also got an overall A rating.
The Duh Department
Note to self: Order more pond cleaner.
Note to self: Order more pond cleaner.
This is one most of you likely know but it might be worth a reminder. Your phone is a perfect tool for visual note-taking. Here are some of the ways I use mine: Documenting a teardown of a piece of hardware, taking a pic of paint to match (not super color-accurate, but better than nothing), noting a product I see in the store, remembering a parking space, quotes from books, taking a pic of something off my computer screen, taking pics of things I can’t easily see like the hook-ups behind my TV. The list goes on. If you have other note-taking uses for your phone, I’d love to hear them.
Shop Talk
Reader Gary Shell writes:
“Where is Todd from the Project Farm Videos finding tools at the prices he mentions? The link to the Irwin wire strippers takes me to a page where they are $25 not $14. This is the second such disappointment. Last time was the needle nose pliers a few weeks back. Every link I found had the at almost double his price.”
I’ve noticed the same thing. And also that after a Project Farm video goes up, the items are often out of stock on Amazon. I’ve sent Todd a message to ask him. Will report back.
***
Michael Ritchie wrote in to say that the story of the ground up/ground down outlets didn’t tell the whole story:
The original National Electrical Code (NEC) standard (100 years ago) was to install outlets Ground Up or Ground Left if installed sideways. This was in the NEC up through the 1980s. This is why certain municipalities still have it in their standards. When I was apprenticed to be an electrician by my father and grandfather, they taught me this and I remember looking it up in the NEC book. They also informed me that the standard was never enforced by inspectors and the common ground down orientation was preferred by consumers because it “looked like a face”. The ground up requirement was removed from the NEC at some point but the ground left requirement remained (but is not enforced). Many outlets sold today have writing on them that indicates the manufacturer’s intended orientation and you can find examples of both ground up and down.
What People Are Saying About Tips and Tales Volume 2
Have you picked up the second volume of my best-selling Tips and Tales from the Workshop? Buying it is a great way to support me and this newsletter. Here is some of what people are saying about Volume 2:
A delightful collection gathered from makers far and wide (I even have a few tips in there). Really fun read and a great gift for any maker, craftsperson, or hobbyist. – Legendary toy designer Bob Knetzger
Branwyn is the perfect curator of the actual practice of being a maker and a tinkerer. Any level of DIY experience will benefit from the tips in this book. This is a book brimming with personality and shows a real love for that special time working on a project. –Peter Bebergal, Strange Frequencies author
Gareth has spent years gathering the best shop tips, tricks, and hacks for making projects easier at every step. There are tips in this book that you will use for years to come. –John “Graz” Graziano, maker and co-star of the hit Netflix series, Making Fun
Every page you turn you’re like “I wish I had known this!” Full of handy hints, inexpensive DIY gadgets, best practices, and rules to protect your thumbs! Tips for artists, engineers, tinkerers, and cosplayers – along with the shocking revelation of how much we all have in common as makers. Perfect for the shop, garage, or mad scientist lair. Highly recommended! –Carl Leonard, robotics engineer and sci-fi podcaster
I refer to this book regularly for guidance or just read it for entertainment and inspiration. Really a high value book in its genre. – Ross Hershberger, audio engineer and Make: contributor
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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.