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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #22

Astute readers might have noticed a few weeks when the newsletter comes out on Wednesday, instead of
Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #22
Astute readers might have noticed a few weeks when the newsletter comes out on Wednesday, instead of the usual Tuesday. I hope folks are OK with that. I don’t want to put an issue out until I have a content mix I like. And sometimes, the early week gets away from me. So, if you don’t see the issue in your mailbox on Tuesday, look for it on Wednesday.
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As always, send me your tips, tools, and tall tales from the shop.

Using Cheap Clay for Masking
Less pain to putty than to tape.
Less pain to putty than to tape.
Sara Conner Tanguay‎ posted this to a Facebook makers group. Besides using painter’s masking tape around this door detail, for the more difficult curved areas, she used cheap modeling clay. Great idea! I have used Blu-Tack (Poster Putty) as a mask like this before, too. You can probably get modeling clay at the Dollar Store. [H/t to Andy Birkey]
CA Glue as a Finish?
Just a little glue'll do.
Just a little glue'll do.
On his YouTube channel, George Fotinakes shows the technique he uses to create a CA glue wood finish. My upcoming HackSpace tutorial for November is on CA (“super glue”). In there, I talk about using CA glue to strengthen soft woods for carving, but I did not include this idea for creating a handsome and durable finish with CA glue.
Blowing Out Glue Hairs
Working on Halloween costumes this week, I was reminded of this little trick. Anyone who’s worked with a hot glue gun knows how annoying all of those wisps of stringy glue “hair” can be. All you have to do is wait until you’re done and then quickly blast your project with a blow dryer or heat gun. The hairs will vaporize.
TOYS!
I hear good things.
I hear good things.
I love getting tool recommendations from readers. If you have any tools that you are extremely happy with, tell me about them. Newsletter reader “Chuck in Kentucky” sent me this email about the Harbor Freight 30" 5-drawer tool cart. I’ve heard lots of good things about this cart already and have recommended it to friends even thought I don’t own one. Chuck writes:
The Harbor Freight tool cart is an amazing cart at any price. The drawers work really well, and it rolls well on nice large wheels. It just works. I have the 1st gen model and the 2nd gen looks even better. Mine was $159 and you can get the new one for usually around $188 or so.
BTW: I have two other HF US General tool boxes and neither of those are as good as my original 5-drawer cart. That’s a little disappointing. I also have a 1980s-era Craftsman tool chest and I like my 5-drawer HF cart better.
Chuck did a review of the cart for Cool Tools. You can read that review here.
The Kenny Rogers Rule
In my 2003 book, The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots, I included a set of “Robots Rules of Order,” different top-level tips and rules of thumb to consider when building bots. One of these I called the Kenny Rogers Rule:
A roboticist should know when to come back later (AKA “The Kenny Rogers Rule”)
When you’re building anything, especially something as complicated as a robot, the build can sometimes turn ugly. If you try to force your way through, you can often dig yourself into an even deeper hole. So, here’s what you do: “Put the soldering iron down. Step away from the steaming robot entrails!” You’ll be amazed at what an hour away, vegging in front of the TV, rolling around on the floor with the cat, or napping on your problem will do. It almost never fails. Here’s a corollary: The extent to which you don’t want to drop what you’re doing and take a break (“I know I can fix this, damn it!”), is inversely proportional to the extent to which you need to take a break. Why the Kenny Rogers Rule? Cause as Kenny wisely tells us: “You got to know when to hold, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away…”
BTW: You can see my full list of “Rules for Roboticists” here.
Last Minute Costume and Party Ideas
Quick! Creepy!
Quick! Creepy!
If you’re looking for last minute ideas for Halloween costumes, decorating suggestions, and party food recipes, check out this round-up of round-ups I did on Make: years ago. Lots of quick and clever ideas here.
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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales

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