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Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #85

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #85
Reader Gord writes: “This is the most valuable weekly publication landing in my inbox.” I cannot thank you all enough for the kind words of encouragement and the contributions you all send me. It keeps me inspired. If you too find this newsletter useful, please spread the word!

Photography Speed Light Grids Using 3DP Infill
Photo flash grids from 3D infill patterns.
Photo flash grids from 3D infill patterns.
Ronnie A responding to my piece on infill coasters: The tip about using 3D printer infill as a decorative element reminds me of this functional use of infill to create the structure for photo flash grids (used to control the spread of light from a flash).
Using Solder Wick
Bulk desoldering at its finest.
Bulk desoldering at its finest.
In this Collin’s Lab Notes video, Collin Cunningham shows you the basics of using solder wick. I prefer solder suckers myself, but there are situations where wick/braid is much quicker and more efficient, like in the case of the QFP (quad flat package) component that Collin’s desoldering here which has lots of pins on all four sides.
Skill Set: Molding and Casting #1
A casting kit is an inexpensive way to get started.
A casting kit is an inexpensive way to get started.
Welcome to the first of our newsletter “Skill Set” series where we collectively learn a new skill together. First up: Basic molding and casting. Since I don’t want the newsletters to get too long-winded, I’ll mainly be pointing to curated articles and videos that tell you everything you need to know.
To get things started, the best mold-making and casting resource I can point you to is Paige Russell’s class on Instructables. For our series, we’ll be doing a simple one-part mold, a block mold, and a more complicated two-part mold with registration keys. She covers all three.
Let’s all choose a small, flat object for our first one-part mold (see Paige’s instructions). Also, I recommend buying a casting kit that has everything you need for creating molds and casting several small objects. Molding and casting products are not cheap. A starter kit is the most inexpensive way to get stuck in and then you can invest in stand-alone products if you want to take it further. Here’s the kit I’ll be using for this series. It comes with small bottles of 2-part RTV (room temperature vulcanizing) silicone rubber for molding, 2-part resin for casting, some modeling clay, cups and stirring sticks.
If you’re going to be participating, please shoot me an email to let me know and feel free to ask any questions.
Ten Great Tool Suggestions from Chris Notap
Hot, hot, hot!
Hot, hot, hot!
One of my favorite YouTube makers is the ever-clever Chris Notap. I always appreciate this type of catch-all, creative channel where a gifted creator explores whatever strikes their fancy.  In this video, Chris lists ten gift ideas for any handyman or handywoman. I think these are great tool suggestions in general. His selections include several flashlights, keychain tweezers, ear protection headphones with Bluetooth, a Fluke voltage tester, and more. He sold me on the tweezers. 
Storage Tech
And, your supplies all smell like fine tobacco.
And, your supplies all smell like fine tobacco.
In response to my call for recycled DIY storage solutions, my ol’ pal Kent Barnes sent me this wonderful idea of an antique storage rack for fasteners and such made from cigar boxes. I love the cork drawer pulls, too. My fiance, the fine artist Angela White, uses cigar boxes in her art and has a decent collection of them. I’ve really come to appreciate the construction, design, and art of these boxes. And, you can pick up such boxes relatively cheaply. Tobacco shops usually have them for sale. You can also get bundles of ten of them on Amazon for around $25.
Cool.
Cool.
Reader Edward I sent this one in: “Repurposed old chest freezer makes a great workbench. There are wood risers to get the best height. I also added plastic bins as drawers.”
Toys! Sling Bag
The little bag that could.
The little bag that could.
I like sling bags, over the shoulder backpacks. I had a Kensington sling for years, before it fell apart. Several holidays ago, I decided I needed a cheap, small sling bag for a train trip home for an overnight. I went onto Amazon, quickly found a bag that looked decent enough, and ordered it. I now love this bag and use it all of the time. It is way better made and more feature-rich than I realized when I purchased it. It has tons of pockets, a sunglasses hook, a mesh water bottle pocket, a waterproof headphone grommet, decent hardware, and it sits well on the body. I can easily fit my MacBook Air, pens, papers, a book, and even toiletries and change of shirt and undergarments. That’s a whole lot of goodness for under $30!
Maker's Muse
My, what a jaunty water balloon hat you're wearing.
My, what a jaunty water balloon hat you're wearing.
There are a number of weird science, tech, and engineering accounts that I follow on Instagram. One of my favorites is Techineer. If you can get beyond its tortured title, it offers a fun grab bag of whimsy, wonder, and jaw-dropping engineering marvels and mishaps. Here is a super-slo-mo video of a guy getting a giant water balloon dropped over his head. Good times.
Shop Talk
In response to 3D infill, the great Steven Roberts writes:
“Regarding the infill 3D pattern as a design feature, twice I’ve made objects for friends and used that as an opportunity to embed a secret message into the thing that I knew would be in their life. A little note on a piece of paper, curled up and tucked into one of those nacelles, personalizes it in very private way.”
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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.