Gareth's Tips

Work, Work, Work, Put-Away, Put-Away, Put-Away

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #87

Like what you see? Please share the love. Have ideas for improving this newsletter? Let me know. And, thanks as always for your support.


Work, Work, Work, Put-Away, Put-Away, Put-Away

What are the "anchor points" in YOUR shop?

What are the “anchor points” in YOUR shop?

In this videoAdam Savage talks about the anchor points of a shop (the machines and workstations that the rest of the shop orbits around), the fact that you can never have enough casters on shop components (and on-hand), and other useful tidbits. For me, the pearl here is how he keeps his shop cleaned and organized as he works. As he puts it: “work, work, work, put-away, put-away, put-away.” By taking periodic breaks and cleaning as you go, you don’t end up with an insurmountable mess when you’re done. I’ve never done this, but I plan to start. Adam also talked in one of his previous organization videos about “giving a gift to your future self” by doing a thorough cleaning and organizing at the end of a project so that future you is ready to roll when starting the next project. Wise words.

Cutting Small Tubing with a Razor Blade?

Score and snap. So satisfying.

Score and snap. So satisfying.

On Jimmy DiResta’s Instagram stories, he shows a neat trick for cutting small diameter copper tubing (brass, too?) by scoring it first with a razor knife and then snapping it off in a vise.

Foam Detailing with a Woodburning Kit

Using a woodburner to create rivet heads and other details.

Using a woodburner to create rivet heads and other details.

On the Evil Ted YouTube channel, he builds an easy-to-make pair of cyberpunk goggles out of foam. What I loved about this project is the use of the different tips in a cheap woodburning kit to burn rivets and square details into the foam material.

Cool Dowel Hack

Hey, it works for axes and hammerheads...

Hey, it works for axes and hammerheads…

Got a hole that’s a little too roomy for your wooden dowel? Here’s a method for expanding the dowel in the hole using a little wedge.

Skill Set: Preparing a Mold Box and Mixing Silicone

It ain't pretty, but it does the job.

It ain’t pretty, but it does the job.

For those playing along in our molding and casting series (first installments here and here), I hope you made your mold box for our first one-part mold. Here’s my quick n’ dirty box. I made it from scraps of foamboard. Because my object was not flat on the bottom, I embedded it in clay.

It’s now ready for silicone. The silicone that comes with the Alumilite kit is a ten-to-one mix ratio (by weight), silicone to catalyst. Alumilite also has a video on how to mix their silicone. Follow the instruction on your RTV rubber, if different.

As always, refer to Paige Russell’s one-part molding class on Instructables. Among other things, she shows a neat trick for easily measuring the volume of needed silicone using tapioca, rice, or similar grains.

Using tapioca to measure the mold amount needed.

Using tapioca to measure the mold amount needed.

Tips for Molding:

* Wear gloves.

* If you’re measuring your silicone by weight on a digital scale, cover the scale with a Ziploc bag (or similar) to protect from spills

* Make sure to mix the rubber and catalyst before combining and then make sure you mix them together really well. No streaks!

* Pour the silicone into one corner of your mold box and let it flow in, around, and over your object.

* Alumilite offers a handy Volume Calculator for determining how much silicone rubber you need.

There is a larger Alumulite starter kit available that has twice the amount of silicone, resin, and clay than the first kit I recommended.


Storage Tech: Square Bottle Drawer Trays

Free plastic organizers.

Free plastic organizers.

Reader Justin Gasal sent me this tip and even made a little video. He uses square plastic bottles to make removable parts bins for his tool drawers. I do something similar. I use segmented plastic food trays. Here’s my rotary tool accessories organized in a party platter container. I cut tool cloth to go in each bin.

Yummy Dremel crudités.

Yummy Dremel crudités.


(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