Gareth's Tips

Roll-Forming Metal

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #95

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Roll-Forming Metal
If you watch metalworking videos, you’ve probably seen a lot of hammer-forming of metal parts over wooden or metal bucks. In this Blondihacks video, Quinn shows how to create a roll-forming mandrel and then how she formed two copper boiler plates for the model boiler she’s building. I love watching videos like this, even though I doubt I’ll ever have any need to use the info myself. In the midst of the video, there are a number of good tips, like when the fit becomes a little tight on her machined mandrel parts, she heats the disk up with a blow torch so that the metal expands, allowing her to drive the handle all the way in.

Maker Slang
If you run across any tech terms, jargon, or slang related to making, please share.

Trash Bash – A type of modeling or crafting for tabletop gaming where you exclusively (or almost exclusively) use discarded items (plastic food containers, coffee stirring sticks, straws, etc.) for the build materials. Part scratch-building, part kit-bashing, part upcycling. For some inspiring trash bashing, check out the Trash Bash International group on Facebook.

Deo Stick – [Deodorant Stick] Many trash bash modelers on YouTube issue challenges to each other to use one trash type in a build. A frequently-issued challenge is to build models exclusively out of “deo sticks.” Turns out, there are a lot of interesting plastic parts inside of deodorant sticks.

Buck – In material working, a buck is a form (usually wood or metal) over which a metal, leather, or other material is hammer-formed. The term buck also refers to any of various heavy frames, racks, or jigs used to support materials or partially assembled items during manufacture, as in airplane assembly. Also, a door (or window) buck is a frame of wood or metal set in a partition, especially one of light masonry, to support door hinges, hardware, finish work, etc.

Persuader – Any hammer, sledge, axe, or other tool used to “encourage” material to move.

“Lessons Learned”
Recently my fiance and I visited her bother and sister-in-law in western Maryland. They do a lot of camping and they keep a journal of their travels. At the end of every trip, they include a “lessons learned” section to remind them of things they can do to improve the next trip. On the way home, Angela and I did a “lessons learned:” ALWAYS carry bottled water in the car, don’t forget the pain relief cream, and keep an insulated cooling bag in the car.

TOYS! Screw-Removal Pliers
In this Cool Tools video, Donald Bell tries out a pair of Japanese pliers designed to (among other plying functions) remove stripped screws. At $22, they’re a bit pricey, but as Donald points out, they’re well-made, all-around good pliers, and the Japanese design and packaging are kind of irresistible. I know this attraction. I got a pair of outrageously-overpriced GodHand sprue cutters as a present a few Christmases ago. I love the packaging so much, I put them back into it when I’m finished using them.

Yet Another Method for Scribing a Circle
There are so many different ways of scribing a circle in a workpiece. Here’s another, shared on the Acme Tools Instagram page. I wouldn’t imagine this as the most elegant or accurate solution, but maybe worth a try:

“Start a nail in the workpiece where you want the center of the circle. From your measuring tape, pull out a length of tape equal to the circle’s radius and lock it in place. Then, hook the measuring tape on the nail as shown. You can now place a pencil in the tape’s hook and rotate it around to draw a perfect circle.”

Project Pursuit Flowchart
Cool Tools fearless leader, Kevin Kelly, posted this wonderful flowchart to Twitter. I especially appreciate the “surprise ending” question. I’ve always loved artists (and other creatives) who ask themselves such a question. The musician PJ Harvey, when she’s working on something in the studio, always asks herself: “Have I already done this? Has anyone else?” If the answer to either is “Yes,” she throws it out.

Shop Talk
From Chad at ManCrafting:

“Hey Gareth, thought you might find this interesting. Someone is about to produce the fractal vice.”


In response to my request for decent apartment toolkits, two people recommended the US$10 IKEA Fixa toolkit. (Thanks, Fery and Dan.)


In response to the over-priced hole-marking chalk pen, Cool Tool reader, disqus_FiMH22aqBf, writes:

“Use any rattle-can spray paint. Bonus: This works with irregular hole shapes and even around minor offsets!”


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

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