Gareth's Tips

What is Your Favorite Screwdriver Design?

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #109

Got a tip to share? A tool to recommend? A tall tale to tell? A tip to bust (see below)? Please share with the class.


What is Your Favorite Screwdriver Design?
Do you have a favorite screwdriver design? Adam Savage never thought much about the design of these ubiquitous tools until he lost drivers that belonged to his dad (and granddad). Replacing them (Stanley Workmaster drivers from the 1970s) got him thinking about why he liked these particular tools so much (besides the sentimental value). He decided it was mainly the grip on the beautifully-designed three-detent handle and the weight/hand-feel that sold him on this particular line. In the video, Adam also says you really don’t need more that 3 sizes of Phillips, 3 sizes of slotted, and sets of smaller drivers for precision and electronics work. He doesn’t mention Robertson square drivers or other driver types. Do you have a line of drivers that you swear by? Is driver design even something you’ve ever thought about?

New Feature Coming Soon: Tips Busters!
In the next few weeks, I’ll be launching a new column here, called “Tips Busters!” The idea is to take a tip that I, or one of you, have seen, try it out and report here how well (or not) it actually works. Tips can be seductive. They can look good, like they should work, but many don’t work well enough to actually adopt in regular work practice, others don’t work at all, and some are downright dangerous. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff. I’ll be picking some of you deputized tips busters and sending you goodies for your efforts (copies of my books, project notebooks, artistic licenses, and other swag). I’m even thinking about getting cloth Tips Busters! patches made. If you have an idea for a tip you’d like to test, send me an email first.

Using a Caliper’s Depth Gauge to Transfer a Measurement
Here’s a little calipers measuring trick. Instead of using the outer jaws of your calipers to scribe a line onto a workpiece, you can lock your measurement in via the jaws and then use the reading on the depth gauge on the other end of the calipers. Transfer that reading to a square and then use the square to strike your line. Watch this Igram video to make this clearer.

Handy Dupont-to-USB Connector
Via Maker Update comes this design file for 3D printing these handy little connectors that allow you to interface Dupont connectors with USB. Thingiverse member PROSCH writes: “This is a simple adapter I created to not always have to solder cables and USB plugs…Two single male Dupont connectors can be inserted, and when it’s plugged into a USB port, you are able to harness power from it for any reason imaginable. I use them to power my Lattepanda and after several prints and improvements I can proudly share this very handy gadget. I think it will be interesting for Arduino stuff.”

7 Essential Tools for the Home
I frequently get asked what’s a good starter tool set for a new homeowner or apartment dweller. The seven tools recommended in this Steve Ramsey video would be a perfect beginner collection. His recommendations are a power drill and driver set, a combination wrench set, screwdriver setbit setset of pliers (slip-joint, needlenose, sliding channel-look), a 16 oz hammer, a hex key set, and a 25’ tape measure. You can get all of these tools for around $300. If you wanted to put this together and give to a new homeowner or just-married couple, this would make a fantastic gift.

How to Apply Teflon Tape
Are you sure you know how to properly apply Teflon tape to a threaded pipe? When to use it, when not to? When to use pipe dope? Check out this video for the low-down.

Shop Talk
Make:‘s Executive Editor, Mike Senese writes:

My wife and I were unclogging the shower drain. ‘The worst thing would be if I dropped a screw down there,’ I said, just before the bit from the screwdriver I was foolishly using fell in. Thankfully, I had some spare Romex, a rare-earth magnet, and some gaffe tape. Close call.


My friend John Ülaszek writes:

We wanted a Corsi Rosenthal box [an air purifier for filtering out airborne viral particles. -Ed] for our shop and couldn’t find a box fan on the shelf anywhere, so we improvised. I used a Merv11 25x20x4 filter, 18” tire, 20 inch shop fan, zip ties, and a cargo strap. The MERV11 filter is sufficient to remove airborne COVID.

Hey Look, It’s My Next Book!
If you just can’t wait for a copy of the second volume of my tips book (the print version will be available in early March), the PDF version is available in the Maker Shed.


(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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