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Comparing Circular Saw Blades
In this Project Farm video, Todd tests 15 different circular saw blades to find out which ones are the best. He tested blades for performance in ripping 2×4 lumber (before and after striking nails) and compared for performance while cutting through oak and ripping an 8’ pressure-treated 4×4. Bottom line? The Makita blade ($10) was best overall. The Spyder also performed surprisingly well for its $5 price tag (at time of testing), although that price is currently over $12 each, so look for it on sale. Doing a web search, I see it’s available at some e-tailers for under $7.
Speaking of cutting things. If you have a woodworking project that involves a fairly complicated cut list, there is a free app called Cutlist Optimizer. It allows you to both organize your cut list to better keep track of all of your pieces and allows you to optimize the parts you can get from your sheet goods.
How to Calculate 555 Timer Frequency and Duration
Ah, the venerable 555 chip. One of the most useful and popular ICs in electronics history. Invented in 1971, released in 72, it remains a go-to solution for a myriad of timer, delay, pulse, and oscillation applications. In this Digi-Key video, they cover the steps for calculating the necessary resistor and capacitor values needed to achieve the frequency and signal duration that you’re after in your project.
The Power of Great Reference Books and Knowing the Names of Things
As both a maker and a word nerd (I edited Wired’s “Jargon Watch” column for 13 years), I’ve always tried to impress upon people the power in knowing what something is called. Knowing the proper name for something allows you to look it up, learn about it, track it down (if it’s a tangible object). In this Adam Savage video, he harps on the same thing. He does so while extolling the virtues of a book he recently discovered and loves, the Backstage Handbook. This visual technical reference is for stagecraft, but most of its contents–divided into tools, hardware, materials, shop math, electrics, and architecture–can be applied to all manner of making. You you get to learn the proper names for all of the tools, hardware, and materials it covers. Magic!
Newsletter reader Paco Hidalgo sent this in response to the piece in the last issue on water and baking soda as a CA glue accelerator.
“I first tried the Zip Kicker CA accelerator and found its smell very disagreeable, nauseating, and the spray bottle made it very difficult to apply just a small drop. I later leaned that cyanoacrylate glues “set” (polymerize) by the mere presence of trace amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere. This infographic explains.
“So, I concluded that if that is the case, then liquid water would certainly accelerate the polymerization. I found that just a drop of water from a toothpick or needle onto a blob of the glue does indeed accelerate the setting process. I never heard of using baking soda but that would add a foreign material to the bond. Why do that? [See comment below] There would be no reason to mix baking soda with water since water alone does a good job.
“BTW: A ‘secret’ that I learned from the guy at the counter of a mall hobby shop, is that CA glues will keep indefinitely in the freezer. I think the dry environment prevents the glue from polymerizing. The manufacturers don’t want you to know that so they tell you not to freeze their glues. I keep partial bottles of different types of CA glue, including LOCTITE, sealed inside a ziploc bag in the freezer that are at least 10 years old. I can take a bottle and use it immediately without waiting for it to come to room temp. It is liquid and works just as fast. I wipe the tip with acetone after each use and keep a common pin in the narrow opening so it doesn’t clog.
“I keep all my solvent glues, including Lexel, E6000, and Goop in the freezer too, with the same result. I think the cold environment keeps the solvent from evaporating and escaping from the imperfect seal that normally shortens the shelf life. I keep epoxy glues in the refrigerator. This is enough to prevent them from self-polymerizing.”
[Just to clarify: Baking soda is commonly used by itself as an accelerator, especially in the hobby/modeling communities. Besides being an accelerator, it adds more structure to the join. Large amounts of baking soda can be added to CA glue to create a very hard material. This soda and CA combo as a structural material is common among luthiers repairing bridges and fret boards. It can be sanded, drilled, etc.]
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.
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I work for a non-profit in the performing arts. I spend my free time exploring the city I live in, reading, taking a Peloton ride with my favorite instructor Sam Yo, rooting for the LA Dodgers, attending plays/musicals, listening to podcasts, and planning my next adventure. —Michelle Lynn
Hobonichi Techo Writing things down, seeing my schedule and crossing off my to-do's on paper is very gratifying. I love the Hobonichi layout and its portability! And it's fun to look back and see what I did and my general thoughts of the day. I decorate the entries with stickers, highlighters/markers, stamps, ephemera, and washi tape. I'm not artistic, but this lets me feel a little creative and I enjoy learning how to express myself in a fun way.
Yoshi Yoshitani tarot cards I was at NY Comic Con in Oct 2022, and stopped by her booth to buy a print for my sister. She's one of my sister's favorite artists. I was immediately drawn to Yoshi's tarot card set. I have never been interested in tarot before, but I was like a moth to a flame when I saw her tarot cards. I do a one-card pull every day and write down my thoughts, and then immediately look at the accompanying guidebook and handbook for more insight. It's fun to learn and is also kinda wild how accurate the card pull is! I carry the card with me all day. I love being a beginner and can't wait to start doing a more detailed spread when I'm ready. She has an oracle deck coming out soon, and I can't wait.
Nguyen Coffee Supply mug When I went to Vietnam in 2015, I became obsessed with Vietnamese coffee. My fondest memories were visiting the various coffee shops with my friends and trying the different kinds of coffee (my fave is coconut coffee). I am a fan of this brand because each cup I drink reminds me of being in Vietnam, the coffee beans are stellar (my fave is Loyalty), and Nguyen Coffee Supply is a company I feel aligned with and am happy to support. I love drinking my coffee in their insulated mug.
Yoseka Stationery I love writing letters and journaling. Yoseka is one of my favorites for stationery. I check their website way too often for new arrivals. They have a thoughtfully curated selection of items, and the kindest staff who are always happy to assist their customers. My favorite is their Inks section for fountain pens and dip pens. They have a nice variety and sell sample sizes if you don't want to commit to buying a full bottle and/or want to try a bunch of inks.
Aloha. Ever since I was little, I've been inexplicably drawn to Hawaii, its history and culture. I'd like to think I lived there in a past life. I try to carry aloha with me wherever I go, and it's a reminder for me to stay present, humble, loving, and compassionate.