Gareth's Tips

Gar’s Tips & Tools – Issue #168

Weekly-ish access to tools, techniques, and shop tales from the worlds of DIY

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

Reading a Measuring Tape Shouldn’t Be Hard

As James points out in this Stumpy Nubs video, reading an Imperial/standard measuring tape shouldn’t be as hard as many people make it. Most tapes are only divided into inches, half, quarters, 8ths, and 16ths of an inch. And you can easily train yourself to identify these marks at a glance without having to count them. The key is visually knowing which line is which increment and then counting forward or backward from the beginning of the inch, half way, a quarter, etc. In time it becomes second nature. Watch the video to make this much clearer.

Electroplating Effects for 3D Prints

In this HEN3DRIK video, he explores 3 different ways you can get an electroplated effect on 3D prints. He looks at painting with rattle can metallic gold and silver, airbrush painting, and actual electroplating. [Via Maker Update]

Best Water Filter

Most of you reading this probably use a pitcher-type water filter, at home, at work, or in your workshop. Have you ever wondered which ones actually filter out the impurities that you don’t want to be drinking? In this Project Farm video, Todd tests ten different filters. Products tested were from ZeroWater, PUR, Brita, Aquaphor, AquaTrue, Lifestraw, Survivor Filter Pro, Frizzlife, Sawyer, and RV Filter. He also tested a homemade filter. The filters were tested for removing total dissolved solids, removing red food coloring, and removing iron. Several filters were also cut open after testing to compare the filter media. In the final analysis, the Aquaphor came out on top. The ZeroWater filter also performed well.

Sandpaper Tip from Tom Haney

On Instagram, the amazing automata artist, Tom Haney, posted this useful tip about making small back-to-back sanding sheets. [Note the dedicated sandpaper scissors.]

Whole Earth Catalogs Online

When I was 16 years old, I was introduced to The Last Whole Earth Catalog. We often exaggeratingly say that such and such changed our lives. Whole Earth changed my life and that is no hyperbole. Nearly everything that has held my attention for my entire adult life: systems thinking, DIY, zines, wargames, computers and hacking, community, and much more, came through the pages of Whole Earth. As a teen, I used to sit at the kitchen table with a stack of dollars from my allowance money, envelopes, and stamps, and I would go through the catalog ordering books, magazines, newsletters, and products. I still have all of my catalogs. And, in 1993, I had the immense honor of being asked to contribute to The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog. The catalogs have long been out of print, but now you can view them all, plus CoEvolution Quarterly and Whole Earth Review, at the new online archive.

Maker’s Muse

A slice of England’s iconic A303 road shows how it has changed over thousands of years.

Shop Talk

It was interesting to see what email I got in response to my “Ten Top Tips That Will Change Your Life” issue, the follow-up to my Maker Faire talk on the same subject.

Overwhelming, people commented on “The Universe is a Collection of Parts”” and the One-Handed First Aid Kit.”

Mark Hewitt:
”Hi Gareth, as always loving the newsletter and saving it for my coffee time treat 🙂
I really resonated with the section about Perry Kaye’s way of “Frankesteining” projects together from existing parts; this is exactly the way I work, and I have a sort of mental stance for it. Instead of thinking about what standard tool or part I need, I think about exactly what the *properties* are: E.g. “I need a metal disc exactly 25mm across with a center hole, with a little flex in it.” Then, I use that mental template to go searching for things which might fit the parameters, and think about the places where such a thing might be useful on e.g. industrial supply websites. This has led to solutions like making a wax pouring kettle out of a saucepan with a metal tap screwed into the side upside down as a spout, or silicone water hoses filled with silicone sealant as a diffuser for LEDs.”

Several other people also commented on the “Rule of Thumb for Buying Tools,” pointing out that another way to go is to buy old tools to get started. They are often as cheap as cheap new tools, they are usually much better made, and they may not need to be upgraded to higher-quality new tools. D’uh. Of course. I really should have mentioned that in my talk and newsletter and will certainly do so going forward.

I Have Stickers!

I now have Gar’s Tips & Tools stickers. If you want one, send one of your maker stickers to me (435 OFarrell Dr, Benicia, CA 94510) and I will send you one of mine in return.


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