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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #125

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #125
Don’t forget: I now offer a way for you to promote your tool, newsletter, book, blog, video channel, app, etc. Coming soon: Unclassifieds at the end of the newsletter. Share your work with fellow readers and help support this publication. Here for the skinny.

Comparing Wire Nuts to Wago Connectors
In this GreatScott! video, Scott decides to compare wire nut connectors, common in the US, against Wago connectors, more common in Europe. Scott tests for ease of use, problems, speed of application, reusability, size, price, pull test, resistance, and flammability. In the end, both connectors perform as adverised, with Wagos being far more expensive. But if you don’t mind spending the bread, Wagos seem to have some real advantages over nuts for ease of use, speed of application, and reusability.
Overcoming One’s Fear of Machining
I love that Bob Clagett admits in the beginning of this video that he fears his Bridgeport mill and metal lathe. He rarely uses them as a result. To try and at least dip his toe in the machining waters, he decides to undertake a simple project: create a channeled metal stop-block for his radial arm saw. In the video, he timidly goes about the project, reveals his apprehensions and lack of deeper knowledge about the tools, but in the end, he comes away with a very serviceable tool. It’s not perfect, but it’s decent-looking and it works. And he now has less fear and intimidation around these tools. I’m sure he will look back on this project years from now and have a soft spot for it.
Great Measuring Tips
There are a ton of measuring tape tutorials and tips and tricks videos out there. Many of them cover similar ground. Most of what this video from Stumpy Nubs includes has been covered elsewhere (I cover many of these tricks in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of my tips books). But it’s a nice collection of tricks and there are a few here that you may not have seen, like how to throw out a tape to where you want it to go, how to do quick subtractions of numbers by turning a tape on itself, and the party trick of using a tape measure to tell someone the year in which they were born. Another tip that might be new is using a Sharpie on your tape to create a storey stick (marks of common measurements) and then cleaning it off with WD-40 when you’re done using those marks.
Put Screws Back When Disassembling
In this Tested video, in which Adam Savage is making a replica of the movement tracker from the movie Aliens, he does something worth pointing out: In disassembling parts he’ll be reassembling, rather than storing the hardware somewhere and then trying to remember where it all goes back, he temporary hand-screws it into the threaded part of the piece for safe keeping. If that’s unclear, see 7:11 in the video.
Using Chair Sliders as Jaw Guards on Clamps
On Colin Knecht‘s Instagram account, he shares this tip from a follower. You can use self-adhesive chair and table felt or cork feet as jaw guards on your shop clamps.
Leaving More Witness Marks
As a word nerd as well as a maker, I’ve always been in love with the tech term “witness marks.” It is used in clock-making and elsewhere to refer to marks and other evidence (whether intentional or not) that offer clues as to how something was once put together or repaired. It can also be used to refer to little notes left inside of an objects giving dates of when it was serviced/repaired and what was done. I think the practice of intentionally leaving marks and notes should be more widely applied – as you repair and maintain the perennial objects in your life, leave a mark, a history of your interactions with them.
Maker Slang
Drag soldering. Note the use of poster tack to hold the IC in place.
Drag soldering. Note the use of poster tack to hold the IC in place.
Jargon, slang, and tech terms of interest to DIYers.
Burning an inch – When taking tape measurements that you want to be as accurate as possible, you can start the ruler at the 1" mark in case the end hook on the tape isn’t 100% accurate (and then, of course, you subtract 1" from your resulting measurement).
Crustard –A textured ground-covering paste used in tabletop gaming terrain, diorama-making, etc. Made of a mixture of fine sand, PVA wood glue, tile grout, baking powder, and acrylic paint.
Drag soldering – A technique for soldering the numerous “gull-wing” leads of an integrated circuit. You basically deposit solder on the tip of your iron and drag it over the surface of the pins on all sides of the IC that have pins.
Shop Talk
In response to my item on creative ways of using your phone as a work tool, Tim Hare responded:
“In regard to note-taking on a phone: for Android users, including Amazon tablets, ColorNote is a great app for making little notes and task/check lists. You make them standalone or create them on a day in the calendar that’s part of the app. This is one of those apps that’s pretty intuitively easy to use, does what it does and doesn’t try to be a Swiss Army knife of an app. Android only, though. I use it for lists of things I need to get at the hardware store, to jot down dimensions, or to remember a link to something that I found through the phone.”
On the same subject, Gord Crone writes:
“I use my phone to take a picture of model and serial numbers of any tools, appliances etc. Helps for product registration, searching for online manuals, warranty issues etc.”
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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.