Gareth's Tips

Chain-Stitching Extension Cords

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #61

Chain-Stitching Extension Cords

Chain 'em. Toss 'em. Unfurl 'em without a problem.

Chain ‘em. Toss ‘em. Unfurl ‘em without a problem.

In my book, Tips and Tales from the Workshop, I showed this method of chaining chords. This video, by the always thoughtful and clear Scott from The Essential Craftsman, is the best tutorial on chain-stitching cords I’ve seen to date. In the video, Scott also recommends that you invest in lighted extension chords. I’ve never used these, but think I’ll pony up for one.[H/t Kevin Kelly]

Searching for Through-Hole Resistors

Workhorse of the resistance, the lowly 10KΩ.

Workhorse of the resistance, the lowly 10KΩ.

In a recent Maker UpdateDonald Bell reminded us of this excellent little video that the great Ladyada did for DigiKey on how to search for through-hole resistors. These essential components are cheap and commonplace, but there’s a dizzying array of types and variants. Ladyada shows you how to drill down to the exact component you need.

Turning a Camera Tripod into Helping Hands

An octopus tripod makes an excellent set of helping hands.

An octopus tripod makes an excellent set of helping hands.

Make:’s former Art Director, Jason Babler, forwarded this post to me from Camkierhi Creations on Facebook: “Been asked about these. They are a cheap camera grippy tripod thing and I have inserted a crocodile clip in the end of each foot and fixed the head of the tripod on a board. One of these has 2 tripods stuck on one board and gives me plenty of grip for parts. Not mega strong, but plenty for our purposes. If the part is really small, I glue it to sprue and grip the sprue. After I’ve painted the part, just cut the sprue away.”

Sinking Screws with a Nail Gun?

What the heck is a scrail?

What the heck is a scrail?

I never knew this was a thing until seeing this Izzy Swan video. You can get clips of screws that slot into a framing nailer that allow you to sink screws just as you would nails. The screws are pitched a little differently than normal screws and are a little narrower. Once sunk, they can be unscrewed/re-screwed just like normal. As Izzy points out, these “scrails” work best on soft woods, like pine and cedar, and are good for applications like fencing, cheap furniture-making, and decking. In the video, Izzy even experiments with driving them into hardwoods (and even aluminum!) and discovers that they can handle these, too – to a degree.

3D Printed Mirror for Showing Print Documents on a Laptop

"Down periscope."

“Down periscope.”

Just in time for remote back-to-school comes this simple 3D printed mirror adapter that clips onto your laptop and feeds the image of a document placed beneath it into your camera. The Thingiverse file can be found here.

Life Hack: Celebrating the Living
I had a friend pass away a week ago. As he was transitioning, his friends did a very wonderful thing. They created a private Facebook group where friends and family could share stories and pictures. These were read to him at his hospice bedside. An internet-connected picture frame was also set up by his bed so that folks could send images to him. What a lovely way for family and friends to celebrate someone while they’re alive and to share that celebration directly with them. This seems especially perfect during this pandemic period when many wakes and funerals are being held online. This is also a good reminder to us all to tell those we love and care about what we think about them NOW. Never forget to celebrate the living!

Shop Talk
Our resident locksmith reader, David Leeds, shared this in response to our combo lock discussion: “Regarding combination locks. I would recommend to customers that they buy locks that have rolling number wheels that can be reset to any four numbers they wish. Easier to remember, quicker to open.”


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