General Purpose Tools

3D-Printable Metric Screw Guide

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #60

I just finished working on updating the reference section for a 3rd edition of the Maker’s Notebook. This project notebook is one of the books I spearheaded at Make: that I’m most proud of. I think the new edition will be out for the holidays. We added a lot of useful and fun new material, like microcontroller and 3D filament charts and ten of my favorite shop tips from my book.


Like one of the tips in this issue? Share it on social media and link back here. It really helps in spreading the word. Thanks!

3D-Printable Metric Screw Guide

Know your screws.

Know your screws.

3D printer manufacturer, Prusa, has produced this printable guide for quickly identifying metric screw sizes. “Quickly sort and measure metric screws and bolts in sizes ranging from M2, M2.5, M3, M4, or M5 with lengths from 4mm to 50mm. Screw diameter sizing is a simple go/no-go clearance check which is faster than threading in a screw. Note that this doesn’t tell you anything about screw pitch…”

Hand-Stitched Keycaps?

Now THAT's some tactile keycaps!

Now THAT’s some tactile keycaps!

Via Maker Update comes this fun 3D print. It’s a keycap with an embroidery matrix on it so that you can cross-stitch your own keyboard letters. I just wonder how quickly the yarn would degrade and the keys would become filthy from daily use.

Cutting Metal Without an Angle Grinder

No grinder? No problem.

No grinder? No problem.

This Instructable outlines ten different ways that you can confidently cut metal without an angle grinder, metal bandsaw, or similar common metal cutting tool. [via Maker Update]

Life Hack
For years, I did what most wine drinkers do when opening up a bottle of wine. I picked, poked, and peeled away the foil before using a cork screw. Then, I saw a pro at work, a friend who’d clearly figured out the shortest distance between a new bottle of hootch and the next pour. Just screw right into the top foil. The cork will tear through it as you pull up the cork out. You usually have a few torn remnants to peel off, but it’s a lot faster than picking at the foil or using a foil cutter tool. Just think of the few seconds you save that can be better spent drankin’!

Maker Slang
New, periodic section. Got some fun/useful jargon, tech term, or maker slang to share?

Swarf - Pieces of metal, wood, or plastic debris created during machining, woodworking, or similar subtractive processes. Not to be confused with kerf, which is the cut made into a material. Kerf is commonly understood to be the width of the material that’s removed during cutting, and it’s important to consider kerf thickness when measuring and cutting. [Bob Knetzger]

Monkey tight/Gorilla tight/Konged – Monkey tight = tight enough, Gorilla tight = too tight, Konged = immovable. [Sam Freeman, Ross Hershberger]

Posi-Lock Connectors

Strong, no soldering connections.

Strong, no soldering connections.

Via Mark Frauenfelder’s new newsletter The Magnet, I was introduced to another shop tips newsletter I’m now enjoying, Joshua Shachter’s Wheelhouse. In Wheelhouse #10, Josh writes about a wire connection type I’ve never used: posi-lock connectors. These plastic, screw-together connectors require no soldering and form a strong, easily removable connection.

Shop Talk
In response to my tip on remembering lock combinations, reader FastEddie writes:

“If you have a secret 10 letter word without duplicate letters that you can remember (like BLACKSMITH) – you can encode the combo into letters and write them on the back in code. 16-20-39 turns into BS-LH-AT. Appliance stores etc. that allowed “haggling” used to encode the store’s cost or the lowest price the salesman could sell for right on the back of the price tag. Then, they knew how low they could go. Pick a secret word and never have to cut another lock. Here’s a list of ciphers.”


(Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here. — editors)