Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here.
Every time a newsletter goes out, I get wonderful emails from readers telling me how much they enjoy it. At the same time, I get a spate of unsubscribes. Often, the subs go up by the same number they go down. It’s frustrating. Because of the positive emails, I know there’s an audience for what I’m doing here. Can you help me reach more of it? Can you post a link to this newsletter in your social media? Share with other maker enthusiasts? Thanks so much for your help.
I subscribe to FineScale Modeler magazine, even though I’m not really a scale modeler. I was as a teen and still like looking at what people are up to in that hobby. Mainly, I look for modeling tips that I can apply to my hobby of miniature painting and tabletop game modeling. Here’s a great case in point. You can use a scribbing compass to cut circles in styrene. You just have to be patient, make multiple passes, and finish up with a hobby knife if the piece is thick or stubborn.
A Collection of Razor Rules of Thumb
A “razor” is a rule of thumb that simplifies decision making. Here’s a collection of the sharpest razors gathered by Sahil Bloom and posted on Twitter.
The Feynman Razor Complexity and jargon are used to mask a lack of deep understanding. If you can’t explain it to a 5-year-old, you don’t really understand it. If someone uses a lot of complexity and jargon to explain something, they probably don’t understand it.
The Luck Razor When choosing between two paths, choose the path that has a larger luck surface area. Your actions put you in a position where luck is more likely to strike. It’s hard to get lucky watching TV at home—it’s easy to get lucky when you’re engaging and learning.
New Column: Ask Gar
If you have questions about tools, things you might have read here in the past, resources you’re in search of, email me.
Reader Rick Griggs asks: “I need to buy headmounted lighted magnifying glasses. I don’t know what to look for, and thought you’d reviewed (or linked to a review) of these in a distant past newsletter that I could read/watch to learn more, but I can’t find anything. If you have done this, please point me to which one.”
I’m not sure it was in the newsletter. I know I talked about these in my old tips column on Make:. The one I have is shown above. It costs under $10 on Amazon! For my purposes (miniature painting), it’s great. It has two lenses that offer 1.5X magnification each and a third monocle lens at 7X magnification, providing intensities at multiples of 1.5, 3, 8.5, and 10. The light angle is adjustable in two directions and the light pack can even be removed from the headband for use elsewhere. A lot of features for under ten bones!
My old pal, Steven Roberts, asks about racks to hold Stanley organizing cases:
“Do you know of any quick-turn kits/products to handles stacks of Stanleys? Of course the solution is obvious, but I have so many projects that I don’t want to do it. If someone has made one, or published a good repurposing of something like a bakers rack or other off-the-shelf (heh, so to speak) tool, I’m all ears!
”If you have responses to questioned asked by readers here, let me know.
Regarding the term Minimal Viable Product (MVP). It was coined by Eric Ries in his book The Lean Startup as a way of learning what potential customers found valuable before spending a lot of time and money building something that people didn’t want to buy. Unfortunately, I think Reis did not do a very good job of naming this because it really doesn’t mean a stripped down product. In his world, it refers to anything that you can quickly learn from. Some examples could be a fake landing page which actually does nothing but gather insight about whether customers click on the link or not. I know of a company that used wire frames drawn on paper as an MVP to learn what people would pay for. Yes, it can be a stripped down version of an actual product, but in most cases, if you’re doing that before you’ve learned what people want to pay for, it’s overkill.
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.