Gareth's Tips

How to Restore Yellowed Clear Plastic

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #135

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

I got a phenomenal response to my request for input on this newsletter. Thanks to all who messaged me. Turns out, an overwhelming number of you like the newsletter the way it is and simply offered encouragement. I also got several excellent suggestions for new features which I’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks. Keep those cards and letters coming!

How to Restore Yellowed Clear Plastic
In this quick Tested videoAdam Savage sets out to restore the lid of a gorgeous vintage Nagra IV-S audio recorder he recently acquired. The machine is in surprisingly good condition, but the clear plastic cover was scratched and badly yellowed. Doing research, he found many recommendations for using 12% hydrogen peroxide. He tried it with partial success. He discovered that finishing it up with plastic polishing compound returned it to something close it is original glory.
Making a Cheap, Simple Air Cleaner for a Small Shop
In this I Build It videoJohn shows how he made a simple and inexpensive air cleaner for his small woodshop. The air cleaner was made from little more than a small fan, a piece of duct piping, some scrap ply, and a several shop vac air filters. I love the way it can be expanded (with additional filters) via a threaded rod that holds the filters in place.
IKEA Wrenches on Your Pegboard
I just discovered a use for all of those hex wrenches that come with IKEA and other flat-pack furniture. They make perfect pegboard pegs!
Oil Can!
The tin man in dire need of maintenance.The tin man in dire need of maintenance.
The other day, while oiling a squeaky hinge with some lithium grease, I flashed on my granddad. A consummate tinkerer and inventor, Gramps was obsessed with maintenance. He frequently had his spring-bottom oiler in hand, blue shop rag tangling from his back pocket, going around the house, the yard, his backyard workshop, the car, lovingly maintaining the machinery of his life. I decided in that moment to try and be better at doing the same. Moments later, on Twitter, I saw this Kurt Vonnegut quote: “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” Exactly. OIL CAN!
Maker Slang
Slang, jargon, and technical terms for the realms of making things.
Crown pulley – A pulley design where the center has a larger diameter than the outer edges, thus a “crown.” Perhaps counter-intuitively, the belt on the pulley will always seek the area of highest tension, returning it to the crown. Via Maker Update.

Promptcrafting – In AI art, it’s all about the quality of the prompts you craft. The better your invocation, the better the magic that gets returned.

Rewilding your attention – Writer Clive Thompson has been promoting the creative benefits of exposing yourself to the novel, the offbeat, the serendipitous. Look beyond what the online algorithms feed you – rewild your attention!
Shop Talk
As stated in the intro, I received many fabulous emails from you, dear readers. Here is one from Paul Cryan. Look for some tips from Paul in a coming issue!
“Thanks for doing all you do. Your tip books [Ed: Vol 1Vol 2.] are great and I’m really enjoying the newsletter. I bought and devoured both of your books, in Kindle and PDF formats. I refer to them often and having the search function (via either the Kindle app or iBooks, respectively) is really handy. Every few days, I find myself looking at objects in new ways and going back to your references. This past Friday, I didn’t have a clamp within getting-up-from-my-chair distance at my office desk, so I ended up using a pair of pliers and a rubber band to hold together a plastic part I was gluing. Thanks for putting that seed in my head.

“The only problem I have with the weekly newsletter is that it gives me way too many things to think about and try per unit of time!

“With your tips books, I’ve got months to read through them and try things out. This week, I experimented with the lanolin mineral oil mixture to rustproof tools out of your latest tips book and it seems to hold much more promise than Johnson’s Paste Wax for keeping my old restored Shopsmiths looking and working great. I still need to test whether the stickiness can be buffed sufficiently off the power-tool surfaces to avoid particles grabbing, but so far so good. And who doesn’t like that faint smell of ungulates on their metal? 😉

“With the newsletter, I’m interested in just about everything you cover, which leads me to a weekly frenzy of investigation and implementation. Within the past month I’ve upgraded our broken sink strainers to the OXO type (love them), picked up a Williams ratcheting screwdriver (my new favorite ‘good enough’ tool), and bought Fat Boy pencils and FastCap markers that have me wondering how I didn’t know about these things before. And now I’m browsing saw blades!”

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