Gareth's Tips

Tested’s Favorite Tools, 2021

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #104

Thanks to everyone who sent messages and pics of their favorite tools this year. Send me more! I’ll be running them through the rest of the year.

Also: I’d love for readers to share their favorite tips learned or applied this year. If you have one (or two), please send. I’d especially like to hear if you applied one of the tips from this newsletter.

Tested’s Favorite Tools, 2021
Every year, I look forward to the series of videos that the Tested team does on their favorite tools of the year. In this video, team member Jen Schachter looks at some of her favorite tools for 2021 including one to help with soldering and laser-cutting, a reasonably-priced CA glue starter pack that includes a lot of accessory tips and a clog-proof cap, her favorite Japanese pull saw, and a cool and realistic-looking grass and dirt flocking mat that can be used in modelmaking and game terrain. Check out the Tested YouTube channel for more “Favorite Things” videos from the rest of team.

Maker Slang
Technical terms, jargon, and slang used in making. Also: Fun hobby slang.

Canslaw – In metal detecting, the shredded pieces of aluminum cans found in the ground that were cut up by a lawnmower or plow. Canslaw is the bane of detectorists.

Ferrule – A ring or metal band that fits around the business end of a hand tool to help give it strength and to help hold the tool in place. E.g. the ferrules on paint brushes help to hold and protect the bristles of the brush.

Metal mountain – What miniature painters and tabletop gamers call the gigantic pile of yet-to-be painted metal and plastic miniatures that every hobbyist has and feels guilty about. Related:

Shelf of shame – all of the tabletop games on the shelves that you have never got around to playing, but that doesn’t stop you from buying.

Proud – When one workpiece, say a dovetail joint in woodworking, extends beyond flush. This is done so that the “proud” piece can be cut or sanded down to create a perfectly flush join.

Spoilboard – A sacrificial piece of material (wood, fiberboard, plastic, metal) that goes under a workpiece being cut or drilled to help secure the piece in place and/or to prevent the tool from cutting into anything it shouldn’t.

Readers’ Favorite Tools for 2021
In response to my invitation for readers to tell me what comes to mind for favorite, most indispensable tool this year, reader Steve D sent me a photo of his Leatherman Wave multitool. I concur, I’ve had a Wave since the moment they came out in the late 90s. For years, I wore mine on my belt but fell out of the habit. I have recently started wearing it again.

Spray-on Japanning
I have been fascinated by DIY japanning recipes ever since watching a video on Hand Tool Rescue where Eric mixed up and applied some to a restoration job. For those who may not know, japanning is a thick black lacquer finish that is often used to protect the metal on tools like sewing machines, hand planes, and other small tools. In this video, Eric shows the results of some experiments he’s done with recipes for spray-on japanning. The recipe he ended up with was 60% turpentine, 25% asphaltum, and 15% boiled linseed oil. Because of the thickness of the mixture, he uses a special spray bottle for thick liquids that he found at McMaster-Carr. He also tries applying it with a refillable pressurized spray can.

Pinch-Marking Cans
During this Thanksgiving holiday, I noticed my stepson, Keith, always pressing a dent in the soda cans he was drinking from. He does this on purpose to “mark” his can. Of course, if everyone started doing this, it wouldn’t be helpful any more, but I thought the idea was simple and clever.

Noteable Quotables
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” — Anne Lamott

Maker’s Muse

There, fixed them. From Michael M. Butler.

There, fixed them. From Michael M. Butler.

Shop Talk
In response to my piece in the last issue on vises, Cool Tools reader Craig writes:

“Vises… you really need one, but which one? I have a least four varieties set up to use in my garage… one permanently mounted mid-sized mechanics vise, which is probably where most people should start. Several are mounted on plates that can be secured where I need them. I have hand vises and pin vises for jewelry and small parts, workmates of various models, a stitching horse for leather working… and on and on. Anyway, the search for the perfect vise can become a vice.”


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

© 2022