Gareth's Tips

My Top 5+ Tips for 2021

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #106

Welcome to the last newsletter of 2021. I sincerely hope you enjoyed and benefited from this publication. It may be corny to say, but this newsletter is more to me than just a list of shop tips and tool recommendations. I see it as a community, a continuing conversation. I love when an issue goes out and I instantly get messages of encouragement, tips, and feedback on the content. This newsletter is one of my favorite things I do each week and I thank you for participating in it with me. I’m looking forward to sitting around the virtual potbelly stove with all of you in 2022, trading tips, tool recomendo, and tall tales from the shop.

Stay safe, have fun, and we’ll see you in the new year.

My Top 5+ Tips for 2021

On Boing Boing last week, I did my annual round-up of favorite tips from this newsletter. You can see all of those tips here. Below are my top five. OK, top five plus some additional 3D printing tips.


BTW: Here are my round-ups for 2019 and 2020 (part 1 and part 2).

Ooey Gooey Spruey
Anyone who’s done any scale or game modeling, dungeon crafting, or other plastic modeling is no doubt familiar with sprues. They are the ubiquitous frames that hold plastic model parts and are part of the injection molding process. In this four-part video, game modeler Jon of Miniature Hobbyist, shows close to 40 different things you can make from this plastic waste material, from model doors, walls, and cobblestone streets to piles of treasure, tents, barricades, cages, and even tools for your workbench, such as painting sticks and paint-pot holders. In part 4, he shows how you can turn sprue material, broken down in acetone, into a goopy plastic material (that he’s dubbed “Ooey Gooey Spruey”) for casting, gap-filling, turning into pipes and thick cables, miniature bases, and more. Fascinating stuff.

Paint-On Copper Plating?
In a follow-up to her recent video where she electroplated the gas tank on her motorcycle with copper, Laura Kampf decided to try a much easier platting method of simply painting on a copperplate solution. She saw a video demonstrating the technique and wanted to try it out herself. It appears to work. As she points out, this could lend itself to all sorts of applications.

Using 3D Printing Infill as a Design Feature
I absolute love this idea of using infill structures in 3D printing as an artistic design. (Infill is the patterned support structure used inside of objects to provide strength while cutting down on printing time, weight, and filament). Joe of Makes’n’Breaks decided to foreground the usually hidden patterns of infill in a series of coasters combining the 3D printed infill structures in a wooden frame. The results are beautiful.

Making a Table Stable
You know the drill. You’re at a restaurant or bar and the table wobbles, so you or your server shoves a matchbook or napkin under a leg. As this video explains, it’s not the table legs that are likely different lengths, it’s likely the floor that is uneven. To stabilize, simply turn the table a quarter turn to find more level ground. Coincidentally, right after seeing this video, my wife and I were at an outdoor restaurant with a wobbly table. Our server came up, twisted the table a few inches. Problem solved.

Edge Gluing Tip
North of the Border is a YouTube channel where crafter Adam makes really clever book nooks (little dioramas that go on bookshelves). During this Mines of Moria infinity mirror episode, he shares a great tip. When gluing two pieces of material together (especially something you want to keep clean and glue-free, like mirror glass), don’t apply the glue all the way to where the two pieces will join or smear the glue down along edge (as it will accumulate as you go). Apply a thin bead of glue along the edge and then smear it out and over the over the edge. This way, when you join the two pieces, there will be no glue squeeze-out along the seam of the join. (See the video if this to too confusing).

Ten 3DP Tips from a Seasoned Maker
On Alexandre Chappel’s YouTube channel, he offers up ten top 3D printing tips. His advice includes:

* Upgrade to a .06mm nozzle.
* Increase perimeter (wall thickness) over infill to improve part strength and reduce print time.
* Don’t get distracted by all the fancy filaments out there – most everything you print can be done with PLA.
* Use glue stick for better bed adhesion.
* If you have a large or complicated part, print out a small section of it to test fit and function before committing to a full print.
* You don’t have to 3DP everything. Create hybrid objects with 3D parts and conventional hardware (bolts, screws, threaded rods) – saves time and adds strength.
* When designing parts, avoid support structures as much as possible. See more details and the rest of his list here. [H/t Kevin Kelly]

More Readers Favorite Tools for 2021

Reader James Brown writes:

A painter’s tool. Some call them a 5-in-1 or a 7-in-1 or whatever, depending on the number of functions. I use it as a pry bar, scraper, cutter, putty knife, nail remover, hammer, spacer, etc. In fact, I rarely paint, so I probably don’t use the dedicated functions, such as the roller cleaner, nearly as much as the general purpose functions. They are so inexpensive, I never worry about breaking or damaging it but they seem almost indestructible anyway.


Kent Barnes:

I have the DiResta mini ice pick brass handled with a very pointy steel tip. Such a simple, elegant idea. I use it all the time for a multitude of things. Punching through leather, starting screw holes, marking the cut on wood, picking up that piece of food that fell between the hot gas grill grate. I have even chipped ice with it! A very cool tool.


Keny Marshall:

Just discovered this oldie but goodie: Curv-o-Mark Wrap-a-Round. Gasket material and good for dividing curved pipe sections as well as measuring and marking cylindrical material.

Mug Messaging
My friend Kent Barnes tweeted the above picture to me and said:

“Laurie has a white porcelain tea mug. I decorate it with dry-erase markers when I bring her tea. Wipes off easy so the mug is ready for more signs of Love.”

I can’t think of a sweeter way to wrap up the year before the holiday break. It’s little gestures like this that can communicate so much. These are the real gifts we give each other. Unexpected gestures of kindness, love, and inspiration, uncommon courtesies, anything that communicates care, consideration, and the fact that you’re listening to the people you care about. That and a little whimsy forever go a long way. More of all of this in 2022.

Merry Christmas, everybody. Happy holidays.


© 2022