Gareth's Tips

More on 1-2-3 Blocks

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #83

For the next reader-contributed content, I want to talk to you all about DIY storage tech – storage systems made from milk jug bins, detergent boxes, jelly jar racks, etc. Anything either made from recycled materials or designed and built by YOU. Please share with the class.

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Not maker tips-related, but I wrote a piece for the productivity and self-help site, Better Humans, about living with chronic pain. I thought I might as well share with my readers here.

More on 1-2-3 Blocks

The Swiss cheese of shop tools.

The Swiss cheese of shop tools.

Anyone who reads this newsletter knows that I have a bit of a thang for 1-2-3 blocks. These precision-milled hardened steel blocks are precisely 1″ x 2″ x 3″ and weigh exactly a pound. They were created for machinist-use, but have now been widely adopted across many maker disciplines. You can use them as shop weights, for quick measuring and aligning, to hold parts in place for gluing, and a thousand other uses. In this Stumpy Nubs video, James shows some of the things he uses them for around the woodshop and he clears up a few misconceptions about 1-2-3s. He shows both the hole and solid types of blocks and how you can use them in combination with brass set-up gauges.

Backpack Theft Deterence Using Diamond Knots

Hassle-based theft deterence.

Hassle-based theft deterence.

This nifty knot “lock” using diamond knots in paracord won’t prevent a determined thief from getting into your backpack, but it offers just enough annoyance in figuring it out and opening it, that it will deter the quick pick-pocket from boosting your stash. And, it looks cool!

Testing Torx Bits

A little bit wobble is a good thing.

A little bit wobble is a good thing.

Todd at Project Farm strikes again with a series of tests to gauge the efficiency, hardness, and wear on 12 different brands of Torx (star) bits. In the end, pound for pound, he concludes that the DeWalt bits offered a really well-made and easy to drive bit at a reasonable price (.40 each). Also, the Makita bits (.67 each) fared well in the testing.

TOYS!

It's two, two, two tools in one!

It’s two, two, two tools in one!

I’ve never used these lineman’s pliers, but recently, I’ve seen several makers raving about them on social media, so I thought I’d share. They combine a pair of lineman’s pliers with a set of wire strippers. If any of my readers have experience with these, I’d love to hear.

Life Hacks: What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?
I suck at organization. And even organized thinking. So, like a lot of people, I don’t think about what I stuff into my pockets and where. I usually carry a wallet, phone, pen, pocket notebook, gum, and a handkerchief. But until recently, I paid no mind to what went where. It all just got stuffed into whatever pockets were available. Same with my sling bag. But, I finally decided after x-number of years down here on the Big Blue Marble (never you mind the number), I should start thinking through the organization of my EDC (everyday carry). With a little bit of forethought and discipline, it makes a big difference. Do you know where the contents of your pocket, purse, or backpack are?

Using Aluminum Foil as Faux Chrome on Models

Sometimes, cheap is best.

Sometimes, cheap is best.

Most scale modelers and game crafters, when adding chrome accents to their models, use special products like Bare Metal Foil. This stuff is ridiculously expensive ($14 for a single 6″ x 12″ sheet!). In this video on Custom Scale Models, Brandon shows how you can get the same, some argue even better, results using the cheapest aluminum foil you can find and some white glue. You can get super thin (which is good) rolls of at the dollar store.

Shop Tales: I Told Them So!

See, it pays to keep EVERYTHING.

See, it pays to keep EVERYTHING.

Reader Gary A wrote in with this story. I am always all-ears with stories that validate my hoarding instincts:

Finally, after years of “Why are you saving that …?,” I’ve been vindicated! My father always put leftover screws, parts, and other components aside because he “might need them some day.” I’ve always done the same. Well, some day finally came and neither my wife nor kids have apologized yet for 50 years of chastisement!

The post at the top of the above image was a “rivet” type (aluminum) fastener which failed. Before I headed off to the hardware store, I pulled out my “I might need that one day” stash and couldn’t have been more correct. I had saved several bolts from a canopy tent that had been destroyed in the wind. The bolts were the perfect size and length to make the repair! See, I told them so!

Maker’s Muse

A resident of Hamnavoe, Shetland, Anne Eunson, knitted herself a fence using twine (the same kind used in fishing nets)

A resident of Hamnavoe, Shetland, Anne Eunson, knitted herself a fence using twine (the same kind used in fishing nets)

03/18/21

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