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Earlier in the week, we asked our staff, some of our MAKE contributors, and you, dear reader, to share some maker tips and words of wisdom from your dads and granddads. Leatherman even sponsored a giveaway and we gave four of their awesome SuperTool 300s to participants selected in a drawing. We got a lot of great contributions, stellar words of dad-ish wisdom, filled with practical ingenuity, good humor, and garage philosophy as only dad can brew it up. Probably our favorites were from Photo Editor Sam Murphy’s dad: “If you ever have to shoot someone, make sure you empty the gun. That makes it look like you were scared” (Okay… thanks, dad. Good to know), and from staff writer, Brookelynn Morris’ pops: “If you get in trouble when you are diving for abalone, drop your weight belt. It will be right where you left it at the bottom of the ocean when you go back to find it.”

We’ve divided some of the best tips we collected into categories: General Tips (2), General Tips (Practical) (3), Repair and Maintenance (4), and Tool Tips (5). Click on the numbers below to view the categories. And do read through the initial conversation. We got nearly 140 responses. Many thanks to all who contributed and to the dads and granddads for sharing your ideas, your experiences, and your fatherly wisdom with us.

All love and appreciation from your sons and daughters at MAKE. Happy Father’s Day.

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Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


  • Anonymous

    Oh, and do feel free to continue the conversation and share more tips from dad.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.coderre Bill Coderre

      Tips from my Dad, who left this mortal coil about a year ago.
      1) Gasoline is cheaper than sweat. (Even at $4/gallon!)
      2) Always start debugging at the wall socket.
      3) Many things are compressible. Time is not.

      The Rules of Freshman Physics, apocryphal/silly rules of thumb from MIT:
      (My version, might not be the same as recent versions)
      1) F=ma.
      2) You can’t push on a string.
      3) There is no gravity. The earth sucks.
      4) There are two kinds of problems: simple, and insoluble. (Note that the “simple” problems are usually “non-trivial”, and often insoluble, in disguise.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.coderre Bill Coderre

    Tips from my Dad, who left this mortal coil about a year ago.1) Gasoline is cheaper than sweat. (Even at $4/gallon!)2) Always start debugging at the wall socket.3) Many things are compressible. Time is not.The Rules of Freshman Physics, apocryphal/silly rules of thumb from MIT:(My version, might not be the same as recent versions)1) F=ma.2) You can’t push on a string.3) There is no gravity. The earth sucks.4) There are two kinds of problems: simple, and insoluble. (Note that the “simple” problems are usually “non-trivial”, and often insoluble, in disguise.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gus-Mueller/1126894782 Gus Mueller

      F=m* a^2 (this is why e=mc^2) — newton was wrong on that one

      • Edgar Vargas

        e = energy
        c = speed of light (velocity – m/s)

        F = Force
        a = acceleration (m/s^2)

        As you can see, these are two different concepts.

      • Edgar Vargas

        e = energy
        c = speed of light (velocity – m/s)

        F = Force
        a = acceleration (m/s^2)

        As you can see, these are two different concepts.

  • http://twitter.com/cjporkchop cjporkchop

     If it can’t be nailed or reliably glued, it can be tied together with string and coated with epoxy or a thick layer of caulk for permanence.

    There were a lot of things in our house that featured giant globs of caulk. It was like a giant had spit loogies and we’d let them dry in place.

  • http://twitter.com/cjporkchop cjporkchop

     If it can’t be nailed or reliably glued, it can be tied together with string and coated with epoxy or a thick layer of caulk for permanence.

    There were a lot of things in our house that featured giant globs of caulk. It was like a giant had spit loogies and we’d let them dry in place.

  • diane meriwether

    Some money is too expensive

  • diane meriwether

    Some money is too expensive

  • Joshua Darrah

    “A true master, at anything, can f–k up completely and make it look like nothing even happened” -Dwight D.

  • Joshua Darrah

    “A true master, at anything, can f–k up completely and make it look like nothing even happened” -Dwight D.

  • Sam Blanchard

    Some of the best advice my dad ever gave me: “All of this stuff is really easy if you just think about things a bit. People are lazy, if it were hard, nobody would do it.”

    Then he handed a 10 year old version of my an acetylene torch and taught me to weld. We built an airplane together (Burt Ratan Vari-Eze, those fiberglassing skills have proven handy more than once), a couple soap-box derby racers, fixed cars and motorcycles. I learned not to fear my stuff, and not to fear “Not knowing what to do because nobody taught me how”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Reser/736717317 Anna Reser

    Master your fear of the tools, or they will master you. A dull knife is the most dangerous knife. Measure for the width of the blade you’re cutting with.

    My dad is a maker, a jet mechanic and an amateur engineer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, gardener, naturalist, and all around handy-man. Whenever I ask him for help with a project, his eyes light up a and he digs up his graph paper and drafting pencils. They still have the model of DNA in the science wing he and I built for a high school biology class. He gave me his grandfather’s drafting table several years ago and it is my favorite work space, and a treasured family heirloom. Love you Dad.

  • Anonymous

    ‎”If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside.”
    “Rub some dirt on it.”
    “Turn it down or turn it off.”

  • http://twitter.com/borjos borjo

    two of the advice in this page are greek proverbs:
    There is nothing more permanent than that which is temporary
    Ουδέν μονιμότερο του προσωρινού
    The Best is the Enemy of the Good.
    το καλύτερο είναι εχθρός του καλού.
    (this on can work the other way around too: what’s good is the enemy of what’s better)
    i would like to point out that the 2 proverbs contradict each other wich gives me the opportunity to make my own: proverbs are as good as the context in which they are presented in.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J7CJPS35U4YBWDEZJQC2CBBGU4 PMcNulty Hound of Ulster

    Good judgement comes from experience.
    Experience comes from bad judgement.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PXXC7BXA23ARXKX3DG2MJ4ZN4U freds

    My dad always said when a preacher and a politician says they feel your pain hold onto your wallet and run.

  • http://robotmonkeys.net/ jonathan

    “Get a longer screwdriver.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019508435 Warren Stott

    Dad: Think.

  • Thomas J. Herling

    The first step in solving any problem is to sigh loudly and follow it up with “Oh, shit.”

  • Thomas J. Herling

    The first step in solving any problem is to sigh loudly and follow it up with “Oh, shit.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PCRLF2CFMUTNTVEGVB2KJBHHSM Phil Collins

    “These are all hookers—pick one.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M7T235HXAQLK3MORLSJN5I2Q4Q chris cecil

    My father was a truck driver for the majority of his life…he gathered many sayings which stuck…but one which I really love is “The cheapest thing you can pay is attention.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UH4ADZOGYLMFIX4UDZIPQ5B2UY uglypedro

    standard reply to kids request that Dad buy him something….
    a- Wish in one hand and shit in the other….see which one fills up faster.
    b- Oh, yea? People in hell want ice water, too!

    • Anonymous

       A drill sergeant used “Put everything you want in one hand, everything you’re going to get in the other […].  You can imagine that the result was similar, though it was tough to keep either hand full while doing push-ups until HE got tired!

      I often respond to the purchase request with “Did you bring your own money?” which then leads to the suggestion that he first get a job and pay up on the 9 years of rent he owes me.  So much debt for a child so young…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Arendt/1567847872 Jim Arendt

    “When in doubt, make it stout.” 

  • Anonymous

    My dad: “Always lay out all of the parts, then read through the instructions so you understand how it all fits together. The time you spend doing that will save you twice as much later on.”

    Me, in the same vein, to my son: “Never, ever be afraid to read the manual first—no matter what tools you have, or how fancy your workshop is, knowledge is the true key to a successful project.”

  • Anonymous

    My dad: “Always lay out all of the parts, then read through the instructions so you understand how it all fits together. The time you spend doing that will save you twice as much later on.”

    Me, in the same vein, to my son: “Never, ever be afraid to read the manual first—no matter what tools you have, or how fancy your workshop is, knowledge is the true key to a successful project.”

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://jpwatkins.myopenid.com/ JPWatkins

    My Grandpa was a mechanic, machinist, tool and die maker, pattern maker, and photographer (among other things.) He always liked to combine humor with wisdom to make his lessons more memorable. I remember him saying many of the bits of wisdom already recorded on these pages by others. Here are some nuggets not yet mentioned by others.
    He was Swedish and like to remind me of the story of the Norwegian carpenter who would always say, “Damn it! I’ve cut it twice and its still too short!”For certain parts fitting situations he favored using a large rubber mallet, which he refereed to as “the gentle persuader.”In teaching me to drive he instilled in my impatient 15 year old brain that although there is a brake pedal and a gas pedal, most of the time (in the city, at least) one’s foot should be on neither. He also gave me the general advice in driving to “Always keep the rubber side down.”

    Although I rather like the metric system, he reminded me more than once that “This [holding up an English unit caliper rule] beat that [pointing to his metric caliper rule] twice in the big wars.” (I did however mentally note that did have and often used metric tools.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=550165948 Everly Brown

    1. Measure twice – cut once.
    2. We’ll fix it with a cable tie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alicia-Carter/1156403916 Alicia Carter

    My Dad’s favorite saying was “What have you done for your country today?” Unfortunately we live in a world of “What can my country do for me?” and I’m not talking about welfare bums (I’ve never actually met one and I used to be a caseworker). I’m talking about greed…case in point: NY Times article today about the corporate bums angling for another by on being taxed on the profits they hold abroad and want to bring back to the states supposedly to create jobs…truth is when George Bush gave them a repatriatization deal last time they sent more jobs abroad and gave the money to their stockholders. And how come they’re not creating jobs with all the money they’ve got now? Not to get political but I think my Dad would be shaking his head.

  • Anonymous

    My dad said to me, “Don’t ask other boys to play house.”

  • Anonymous

    My dad said to me, “Don’t ask other boys to play house.”

  • Anonymous

    My dad said to me, “Don’t ask other boys to play house.”

  • Joanie Costlow

    (To my 8 year old brother) “If anyone ever picks on you at school or pushes you first, just have at ’em. Don’t stop. Keep going until someone HAS to pull you off. After that, no one will every bother you again.”

  • Joanie Costlow

    (To my 8 year old brother) “If anyone ever picks on you at school or pushes you first, just have at ’em. Don’t stop. Keep going until someone HAS to pull you off. After that, no one will every bother you again.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/JasonMichaelG Jay Mike

    “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3ENXSJ77PENXIRRY5H4AJBY7ZQ Mark Henry

    Well the main thing to do a task successfully is to sit, plan and jot down all the tools , equipments, money to spend on them. This saves time and money both. Nice article!
    __________________________________

    industrial equipment

  • Alex D

    I hope there’ll be an equivalent post for all the unacknowledged and under-represented women and gender diverse makers (and not just ‘mum’s top recipes in the kitchen’ style)…