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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #56

I'm always so tickled when someone introduces me to a tool that I end up finding indispensable, wonde
Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #56
I’m always so tickled when someone introduces me to a tool that I end up finding indispensable, wondering how I ever got along without it. Can you name some tools that you love that you don’t think lots of people know about?
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Adding a Sharper to Your Tape Measure
Sharp!
Sharp!
A few seconds into this Laura Kampf video (on building a simple folding table), I spotted this cool little “hack.” She attached a schoolbox pencil sharpener to the back of her tape measure for hands-free sharpening on the fly. Great idea!
Basic Molding and Casting
Making a molding box from Legos for casting small parts.
Making a molding box from Legos for casting small parts.
Creating quick casts and molding small parts is a lot easier than you might think. There are all sorts of products for making one- and two-part molds and different liquid plastics and resins you can use for casting. This video shows how you can quickly duplicate small parts using a simple, one-part silicone rubber mold and a polyurethane casting plastic. Also note the use of Lego bricks and plates to construct a mold box.
Tales Told by the Oldest Tools in the Shop
Wait, is that pink nail polish on your driver handle?
Wait, is that pink nail polish on your driver handle?
Shop tours are my jam. This tour, by a bored, house-bound Ben Heck, is a bit different than most as he focuses only on the oldest tools he owns and regularly uses. I love “shop tales” (see newsletter title above) and there are some great ones in here, like the origins of the above two screwdrivers. The worn-off pink on the top one is from nail polish Ben’s sister painted on there when they were kids. He’s had these drivers since childhood, uses them nearly every day. and says he would likely literally cry if he lost one of them.
Color-Coding Your Keys
It only takes a few seconds to color-code your keys.
It only takes a few seconds to color-code your keys.
For years, I’ve had a small square of cellophane tape on my house key so that I can easily ID it on the chain. R Andrew Doan posted this oldie but goodie to the Shop Hacks Facebook group. A little enamel paint and a couple of minutes and you can color-code your key set for easy identification. And they’ll look swanky, too!
TOYS!
My next favorite thing?
My next favorite thing?
Years ago, I got turned on to the Canary Cardboard Cutter via an early episode of Donald Bell’s Maker Update. I’ve bought at least a dozen of them since and given them away to family and friends. In a recent Izzy Swan video, he raved about this ceramic-blade cardboard cutter. I just ordered one. I’ll review it in a later edition.
Designing in Whimsy, Art, Humor, FUN!
Let the Good Lord judge the accuracy of your machine work.
Let the Good Lord judge the accuracy of your machine work.
I’ve been watching my way though Uri Tuchman’s YouTube channel. Uri is an artist, designer, inventor, and maker of all trades. One of the things I love most about his projects is that he always incorporates art, whimsy, and a sense of humor into his creations. He makes an optical center punch but carves it into the head of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper. He turns a machinist’s test indicator into Michelangelo’s hand of God. He shapes a tiny hammer into a whale. In Uri’s world, tools have personality and make you smile as they go about their jobs. If you ask me, the world needs a lot more of this.
Maker's Muse
I'm sure that was oddly satisfying. Spotted on the 2600 Magazine FB group.
I'm sure that was oddly satisfying. Spotted on the 2600 Magazine FB group.
Shop Talk
Reader Stephen Rudy writes: “I wanted to throw my 0.2 cents into the art cup arena. In my shop, we use inexpensive soup containers from the restaurant supply store for lots of things. They are the type Wonton soup usually comes in. They make great forms for making silicon molds in addition to the mixing and storage applications. 
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I’ve written about my friend Hans Gerhard Meier’s MakerMap before. He wrote to tell me that has now launched it to the world. If you have something maker-related to "see, buy, or meet,” consider adding it to the MakerMap.
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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

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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.