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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #52

Again, thanks to everyone who submitted dad tips for my Father's Day round-up. I think we got some re
Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #52
Again, thanks to everyone who submitted dad tips for my Father’s Day round-up. I think we got some really good (and useful) responses. Here is the link to the list. The winner of my book, Tips and Tales from the Workshop, Robert George, was kind enough to email me back to say how much he’s enjoying the book. Want your own copy?
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I’ve only gotten one response to my friend Richard Gould’s question (see “Shop Talk” on the link) about safe group shop practices in the COVID era. If you’re in a shared shop and returning to work, we’d love to hear your thoughts and any special guidelines your shop is following.

Using Clamps to Spread Things Apart
Turning a clamp into a spreader bar.
Turning a clamp into a spreader bar.
In this “One Day Build” video on Tested, where Adam Savage is upgrading a rickety workbench, he shares a great tip. You can use Quick-Grip-type bar clamps to spread objects apart, too. To do this, all you need to do is reverse the sliding clamp on the bar so it’s moving away from the fixed clamp.
Lazy Susans in the Shop and in Projects
Taking your tools for a spin.
Taking your tools for a spin.
More Savage content. In this video, Adam talks about his love of swivel bearings (aka lazy Susans). Cheap aluminum models are great for low-weight applications, but if you want to rotate something heavy, you need a heavy duty swivel. Adam extols the virtues of the Rockler Heavy-Duty Swivel Bearing and the 6" HD Swivel Bearing. But, it looks like you can get much cheaper, highly user-rate heavy-duty (1000 pound capacity) swivels, too.
Cool Trick for Avoiding Splitting Soft Wood
Back 'at thang up.
Back 'at thang up.
Here’s a cool trick from the Toolbxapp IGram page. If you’re drilling into soft wood that would normally require drilling a pilot hole to avoid splitting, you can use the reverse pilot hole trick instead. First, sink your screw as normal, but only until it bites well into the wood. Now, reverse the drill and apply downward pressure to force the screw in most of the way. Then, re-set the drill to forward drilling and drive the screw home. No splitting. Neat!
Getting More from Your Random Orbital Sander
Look at those adorable... I mean annoying "pigtails."
Look at those adorable... I mean annoying "pigtails."
This Stumpy Nubs video has some great tips on overcoming problems with an orbital sander, like patiently stepping through several incremental grits when sanding to remove spirals and pigtails and using high-quality paper as it’s less likely to tear and create pigtails. He also recommends using an abrasive cleaning stick to extend the life of your disks. Oh, and another tip: Store your sander with a sanding pad on it. Otherwise, over time, the weight of the tool will begin to flatten the nylon Velcro hooks on the bottom that hold the disks in place.
Step Bit Shoot-Out
Putting step bits through their paces.
Putting step bits through their paces.
On the always informative Project Farm, Todd does his usual admirably rigorous testing, this time on step bits. He tests a wide range of bits, from one costing under $7, all the way up to $50. In the end, the DeWalt Step Bit ($43) did best over all, but the Temo bit was a close second. He lists the Temo bit at $30, $13 cheaper than the DeWalt. Sadly, Amazon offers this bit at the same price as the DeWalt (so. shop around to find it cheaper).
Maker's Muse
Using a laptop as a photography backdrop.
Using a laptop as a photography backdrop.
I’ve written about folks using their laptop screen as a light table for tracing. Here’s another great off-book use (from the Tiny Furniture IGram page) – using your screen as a photo backdrop for small items.
Shop Talk
Squeezing out every ounce.
Squeezing out every ounce.
On Cool Tools, reader LarryA2010 responded to my item about using binder clips for hanging paint tubes and similar items (GTTST #49):
The only things missing from Sarah Bentley’s tube board are some some Stainless Tube Toothpaste Squeezer Keys and a $9 knock-off Squeeze Roller Metal Tube Wringer. They both squeeze every last drop out of your tubes and are pretty good looking.

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Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. Check out the Cool Tools website, the Cool Tools podcast, YouTube channel, and their other two newsletters, What’s in my bag? and Recomendo.
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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.