A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.
Getting Data Out of Digital CalipersLike one of the tips in this issue? Share it on social media and link back here. It really helps in spreading the word. Thanks!
Getting Data Out of Digital Calipers
[caption id="attachment_37030" align="alignnone" width="600"] Measuring up.[/caption]
I love my iGaging digital calipers. They’re amazing for the under-$40 price and they even come with a digital data port that allows you to export readings right into CAD programs. Unfortunately, the cable to do that costs three times more than the calps. This has inspired many hardware hackers to create their own output cables and wireless solutions. This well-documented version uses a SAM32 board and code available online. There’s even an .STL file for printing out a plastic cover for the circuit board. Fancy. (Sadly, my iGaging calps do not allow for this hack. I would have to go with a solution like this.)
Waterslide Transfer Paper
[caption id="attachment_37029" align="alignnone" width="600"] AFTER drinking this giant mug of coffee.[/caption]
Reader Martin R. wrote to me to recommend this waterslide transfer paper. As a game crafter, I’m definitely interested in making my own decals for gaming miniatures. I’ve heard mixed reviews on some products in this category, but this brand has over 4K positive reviews on Amazon.
Gesture-Messaging for Video Conferencing
[caption id="attachment_37028" align="alignnone" width="600"] Peace out, homies.[/caption]
I wrote about this on Boing Boing. Cameron Hunter came up with a way of using gestures to signal cartoon-like word-balloon messages in video conferencing.
Tactile Marking with Hot Glue
[caption id="attachment_37027" align="alignnone" width="600"] A little dab'll do ya.[/caption]
If you find yourself forever plugging in a USB cable upside down, holding your Apple TV remote backwards, or otherwise dealing with a device with an ambiguous orientation, you can add some tactile feedback by placing a spot of hot glue to indicate orientation.
Creating a Masking Tape Measuring Template
[caption id="attachment_37026" align="alignnone" width="600"] Masking tape templates. Smart.[/caption]
In the opening moments of Jimmy DiResta’s latest video, where he builds a set of gates for his farm, he demonstrates several great tips. First off, he lays the gates out directly onto the concrete floor of his shop with chalk. Yes, he has a huge warehouse shop space to do this. Your mileage may vary. He also uses masking tape to mark off the board layout on one side and then peels up and repositions the tape on the other side to transfer the markings.
[caption id="attachment_37025" align="alignnone" width="600"] Image and text from wildernessfolk.com[/caption]
I have always had a soft-spot for knot-tying and rope-handling terms. Here are some basics.
1. Standing Part: The body of the rope not used in the knot.
2. Round Turn: A single wrap around an object, another rope, or just a single coil.
3. Eye: A simple loop secured in a line, tied or spliced.
4. Bight: A simple loop in a line where the line is doubled back on itself.
5. Bitter End: The end of a rope or line.
Several people wrote in to say that some of the terms I used in my first “Maker Slang” piece were actually established technical terms, not slang. Indeed. “Maker Slang” is just the name of the column. It will include slang, jargon, and long-standing technical terms. Similar to the “Jargon Watch” column I edited for Wired for 12 years. It was a combination of jargon, slang, and industry terminology.
In my request to hear about unusual and unusually-useful tools, Doug B writes:
“When I was moving shops last year, someone left a small shopping cart in front of the old shop. It sat there for weeks (honest!), so I drafted it into the move. Now it holds a position of honor in my new studio. It moves all of the tools and supplies that I need for a project out of my tool closet. It holds cut parts to move from station to station. I can get all of the stuff out of the truck in one go. And it’s a great temporary place to put junk that isn’t a work surface, then wheel it around to put all that junk in its proper place. Indispensable!”
Reader Joe P. wrote in to remind us of the shop utility of scalpels: “Seeing Mike M’s forceps in issue #59 reminded me of a repurposed medical tool I use in my wood workshop: a scalpel. 100 blades plus a free handle, for just $8.25 on Amazon.