Gareth's Tips

Gar’s Tips & Tools – Issue #173

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.

3D Printed Tools You Actually Use

I’ve seen lots of round-ups of 3D printed tools and imagine that at least some of them are useful, but I’ve only used a few and they’ve seemed more proof of concept than real, everyday tools. One printed tool that has made its way into regular use for me is this painting holder for gaming miniatures. It screws into a plastic water bottle (my bottle is cut right below what you see in the photo). There’s also a hand-steadying arm on the holder that can be added/removed as needed. I have several of these and love them. I couldn’t find the actual .STL file for this one anymore (I’ve had it for years), but if you search on “3D printed Mini Painting Holder” on Google, there are lots of similar ones. [Attention Tabletop Gaming Nerds: That’s a Warhammer 40,000 Adeptus Mechanicus Tech Priest Dominus that I’m about to start painting.]

What 3D printed tools are part of your regular work flow? Send pictures!

Lumber and Leverage: Handling Any Material with Ease

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Scott at Essential Craftsman is the precision with which he thinks and communicates. So, I knew this video on how to use mechanical advantage to more easily and safely move lumber around was not going to disappoint. It doesn’t. I learned so much here about how to use leverage, fulcrum, momentum, friction, and inertia to move around boards and sheet goods. This is a must-watch. And, if you missed his ladder safety vid, check it out!

Toys! JustRite Plunger Can

This past Christmas, my wife bought me a JustRite Dispenser Bottle. It was a perfect thing to put on a gift list because I really wanted one, but I find the price of JustRite products too high to feel justified as an everyday tool purchase. The dispenser is great and I’m thrilled to have it, but I have no idea why it cost a whopping 50 bones! In this Instagram clip, maker Derek Forestier extols the virtues of another JustRite dispenser, the Plunger Can Dispenser. At $67, this isn’t much more expensive than my 8 oz. bottle. And one of these would be so handy to have around a shop. I can see why Derek counts it among his favorite tools.

Prying Up Ground Pins

Check out this smart way of getting a deeply embedded pin or stake out of the ground using an icicle hitch, a clove hitch, and leverage.

Comparing Pliers Wrenches to Actual Wrenches

I had never heard of the Torque Test Channel before stumbling on this video. It looks like they’ve mainly done power tool testing in the past and have only recently started testing hand tools. In this video, they compare Knipex pliers wrenches against flare nut wrenches. They look at two Knipex pliers (Knipex Cobra and Knipex Pliers Wrench) and compare them against the performance of a trusted Gearwrench flare nut wrench. And the winner is…? A $26 Amazon Basics 3-pliers set? Pretty much. The shocker in this test is that, just out of curiosity, they introduce a 3-piece Amazon pliers set meant to be a clone of the $35 Knipex Cobra. That’s three pliers, so under $9 each. They found that the Amazon Basics performed surprisingly well for the price and would be perfect for light, periodic use. I immediately added a set to my shopping cart. Note that the channel has gotten a lot of criticism for the funky way they tested the pliers wrenches and probably didn’t give them a fair test. I guess they have a ways to go to understand hand tool testing.

More Toys! The Pica Pencil

In this See Jane Drill video, Leah extols the virtues of the Pica automatic pencil. I’m sold!

Don’t Buy This!

This broom and dust pan seemed to have it all. It looked compact and lightweight, well-designed, had a fur comb on the dust pan (essential in our cat-resident home) and it had a swiveling head to get under low furniture. It even has a means of attaching dryer sheets to turn it into a Swiffer. All this for under $20. Do not buy this! We hate it. The swivel head never stops swiveling and the handle is too thin and insubstantial. It’s a pain to use. Something like this TreeLen Broom and Dustpan Set is probably a much better bet — it has over 37K ratings at 4.5.

Shop Talk

New reader Bill Eckman writes:

”I recently found your newsletter. Enjoying it, although I don’t do much DIY anymore. Here is a picture of my garage work bench. When I was working, many people in the office had these plastic desk mats to protect their work surface. As they needed replacement for one reason or another, I saved them from the trash and now use them to protect my work bench top (when I don’t need access to the bench’s ‘dog holes’).”

Michael Murray chimes in on the Knipex pronunciation discussion:

”Regarding the pronunciation of “Knipex:” While living in Europe, I found that outside of the English-speaking countries, the “i” was most often pronounced with an “ee” sound, so “Kuh Ni Pex” (hard K as with most Germanic languages, “ee” for “i”) sounds right. If it were an American company, then English/US pronunciation would make sense. I know… who cares. LOL.”

Paul Cryan sez:

“Just picked up a used copy of Jackson and Day’s Tools and How to Use Them. My new favorite — you’ve done it again, oh mighty tool tipster! Thanks for keeping it real.

”My tip from experience this week is always double-check the color bands on wire resistors in what I call the confusable-order-of-magnitude values problem. I just spent two weeks troubleshooting an analog synthesizer build and finally tracked the problem down to two measly resistors of the same value in a critical circuit. They were supposed to be 4.7M ohms, but the two that came with the kit (and I installed without checking) were 4.7 ohms. Easy fix, easy packaging mix-up. Yellow-purple-green, not yellow-purple-gold. The tool that helped me there was Adafruit’s free Circuit Playground app.”


© 2022