Joshua Schachter, Founder of del.icio.us


Cool Tools Show 245: Joshua Schachter

Our guest this week is Joshua Schachter. Joshua is the founder of del.icio.us and inventor of tagging, which became hashtags. Joshua has founded two startups, invests in startups, runs an event for autonomous racing called Self Racing Cars, and is an amateur race car driver.

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Show notes:

Disposable Scalpels ($10, 10pk)
I grew up in a household where both of my parents went to art school and they had not gotten in the habit of using scissors to cut paper and things. If you wanted to cleanly cut paper, you put it down on something, on a piece of glass or something and you use a razor blade to cut it. So I grew up using razorblades instead of scissors, which is not the safest thing, but it’s a habit I got into. And I always noticed that not-great scissors leave terrible edges. I have been using razorblades for a long time, but they are awkward to hold and difficult and hard to precisely get into places. So I discovered not too long ago, disposable scalpels. They last for quite a long time. I’m not very tough on them. There’s various shapes, they’re super useful for cleaning up 3D prints and cutting things precisely. They are wickedly sharp when they finally do go and they can crack because they’re not that tough. I put a piece of tape over them. So no one gets cut when they go into the garbage.

Threaded Inserts
A threaded insert is basically a plug with a screw hole in the middle of it, and there are many kinds. So what I do is when I 3D print something, I leave a 6.5 millimeter hole where I want the bolt hole to be. And then when it’s time to put together, I put the threaded insert on the tip of a solder iron, and I just push it into the hole and it lines up and pops in. And now I have a brass threaded slot in my 3D print. There are ones that have external threads so that you can screw them in. And in fact, on a CNC table that I made, our CNC router table, I drilled holes and then I screwed in brass threaded inserts. I put like a hundred threaded inserts into this piece of plywood. And then I could bolt down anything I wanted and then unbolt it, re-bolt it, because the brass is going to survive the threading and unthreading for a long time.

Slim Project Case ($45, 10pk)
This is an organizational thing that I use. Basically, if I’m working on a circuit board, like an Arduino with a sensor and there’s eight parts and three tools and whatever, I put all this stuff in the project case together. And what happens is when I have to swap to another project, or I get blocked on this project, I can just close the thing up, and put it on the shelf. Many of my projects are small enough to fit in that. I do have larger bins for bigger projects, but I have dozens of these. And it lets me keep everything together. Especially if I’m using a special tool or something, I’ll just put the tools in the box with it directly. So that means that when I want to pick up a project, everything is already organized and put together in one spot. So I don’t spend a lot of time gathering the pieces to work on something, working on it, and then scattering the pieces when I have to stop working on it.

The McMaster-Carr Catalog
McMaster-Carr is the ultimate hardware store. They have everything. And it’s literally the best e-commerce site I’ve ever, ever seen, plus education on everything. There’s a plastic section and they will tell you, this plastic has good durability but poor machinability, and this one will melt at whatever. There was a physical catalog, but I don’t have one, I go online and it was kind of the inspiration for the Wheelhouse mailing lists that I run, which is like about 60% of the time, I’ll talk to a very active maker and they’ve never heard of this. And I’m like, how do you survive? I will still go to Amazon a lot for bolts or whatever, it’s fine, but for like really expensive things like the linear rail I bought, I assume that the McMaster’s just carrying the good stuff. I’m so uneducated. I don’t know what even the name of the thing that might solve the problem is. So I will just type stuff that’s sort of related to the problem into the search box, like clips, grabby clips, long clips, et cetera. And you will get stuff. That’s the problem with Amazon — if you ask for something sufficiently weird or obscure, you just get like, t-shirts.

About Wheelhouse mailing list:
Wheelhouse is basically three or four things that you might add to your repertoire as a maker. It’s a new material, it’s a new kind of tool, or it’s a new kind of technique. And the idea is that there is some reasonable chance that you’ve never heard of it. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a YouTube video that you can cause silicone molds to grow or shrink with the application of mineral oil. So you can actually scale 3D parts. And I was just like, Holy crap, that seems very useful, right, and then you put that in your pocket for later. And on top of that, I try to get cross pollination from other communities. I was watching a video about a cosplay costume build and she glued two pieces of foam together and then just sanded it down and it never would’ve occurred to me that you could use sandpaper on foam to clean it up and it worked fine. And I’m like, well that seems useful for cosplay, but you could probably use that for other things. I found one in a vintage computer restoration thing. They used baking soda and crazy glue, cyanoacrylate glue. And basically you put a little bit of glue on and then you put the powder on and it solidifies to rock hard instantly. But it’s not so tough that you can’t just file it down. So they basically restored like a commodore 64 part and painted it. And I’m like, crap. That seems useful.

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