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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #17

Keep those cards and letters coming! I love getting tips, ideas, and feedback from YOU, dear reader.
Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #17
Keep those cards and letters coming! I love getting tips, ideas, and feedback from YOU, dear reader. Email me.
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Did you know I wrote a book on tips and shop tales? Called Tips and Tales from the Workshop, it was an Amazon best-seller. You can get a copy of my book here.

Styrene Modeling Master Class, Part 3
Adam, looking like we all feel when we make something seriuously cool.
Adam, looking like we all feel when we make something seriuously cool.
Adam Savage has been running a de facto master class in working with polystyrene plastic. In his first video, he transformed a Moebius sketch into a futuristic flying vehicle. In the second, he improvised a scratch-built spaceship. In the latest video, he uses polystyrene (and wood) to fashion a Sony Walkman prop for a Guardians of the Galaxy Star-Lord costume. Each video focuses on an aspect of styrene modeling. The first covers the basics, the second looks at adding life-like details through kit-bashing (taking parts from existing kits) and the latest shows how to re-create a real-world prop. In this latter case, Adam needed a Sony Walkman and didn’t feel like paying collector’s prices. So he made his own with little more than styrene and paint. OK, and a lot of equipment you may not have (those decals he made on a Cricket Cutter). But everything he does, you could accomplish with more basic tools.
No-Slip, No Bleed Rulers
Illustration by Dan Thornton. FineWoodworking.
Illustration by Dan Thornton. FineWoodworking.
Via the FineWoodworking Facebook page: “Lock Down Your Layout Tools With Sandpaper by Pete Michelinie, South Pomfret, VT. This tip is simple but stress-relieving. Use spray adhesive to attach 150-grit sandpaper to the back of your aluminum yardstick (you could use sticky sandpaper instead). Layout will be much easier without the straightedge shifting while you draw. This trick works wonders on all sorts of fences, straightedges, and other layout tools.” [Thanks to Jason Babler]
Laser-Cut Studio Lights
Make your own studio lights.
Make your own studio lights.
Here’s a Thingiverse file for frames you can use for mounting 4 cheap LED panels (and heat sinks) to create DIY studio light panels. The lights are around $10 for 4 and the heat sinks are about the same. By the time you’re done, I’m not sure you save much money, but you’ll have studio lights that you made yourself. I swear by these light panels on my benches.
Mold Boxes from UHMW Plastic
Building temporary mold boxes from UHMW plastic.
Building temporary mold boxes from UHMW plastic.
Via my pal, Andy Birkey, comes this great idea for building quick n’ dirty mold boxes. He keeps a selection of UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight) plastic scrap in his shop. To create mold boxes, he simply hot-glues suitable pieces of the plastic into the shape that he desires. The glue is strong and waterproof enough to hold the job, but the box can be easily snapped apart after you extract the mold. Andy also writes the weights for his A/B mold mixes on the box and what time he can de-mold (1:15 pm, in this case). All of this can be wiped off with alcohol when the job is done.
Right-Angle Clamping Jig
Oh, the pain of the right angle join.
Oh, the pain of the right angle join.
On this episode of Average Joe’s Joinery, Joe shows how to build a very simple jig for clamping material at right angles (which can be a real pain). Besides the video, he also has step-by-step instructions on his website.
Life Hacks: Cutting Down on Amazon Waste
If you’re as disgusted as I am by the phenomenal waste of Amazon packaging, there are a few things you can do to minimize it. Besides the obvious recycling of shipping cartons, you can flatten the air pillows and recycle them in the plastic bag recycling bin at your grocery store. Did you also know that Amazon will provide free shipping labels for you to use one of their boxes to fill up with charitable items that you want to donate? Another thing you can do to cut back on package waste is to wait. Don’t order things piecemeal. If you can wait, place things in your cart and order at the end of the week. This increases the chances that the items will be shipped in one or at least fewer boxes. To find out more about Amazon recycling, product trade-in, and buying refurbished and returned products, check out the Amazon Second Chance program.
Makers Postcard Zine
Portraits of ten makers that inspired Adam Cee.
Portraits of ten makers that inspired Adam Cee.
Artist and maker, Adam Cee, has created a cool “postcard zine” featuring portraits of ten well-known makers, such as Laura Kampf, Jenni Swiss, Brett McAfee, and Al from Al’s Hack Shack. Love this idea. I wonder if Adam would be interested in collaborating on a maker tips postcard zine? The set is $14.99. Take a video tour here.
The "zine" comes in a matchbook-style folder.
The "zine" comes in a matchbook-style folder.
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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.