Another week, another collection of hopefully useful tips and tricks. Let me know what you think of the tips column in the comments. Have you put any of the tips to use? How did that go? Do you have any desires for tips in areas of making that I’m currently not covering? And, as always, please share your tips in the comments below and they may make it into a future column.

Making an Underground Wire Tunnel

wireI ran into this video on YouTube years ago and was happy to learn something that I’d always wondered about: How do you run cabling under driveways, walkways, and the like. Here’s how.

World’s Simplest Box Jig

In this video tutorial, Steve Ramsey walks you through the creation of an incredibly simple jig for cutting box joints. Steve always does such a great job patiently providing clear instructions and taking you through the stages of a project in such a way that makes it all seem very approachable and doable.

Using Paint as Temporary Glue

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I have long been a user of the “spray stick” for priming gaming miniatures. A spray stick is a narrow, thin piece of wood or cardboard to which you temporarily glue or otherwise attach your minis for bulk priming. I use wooden paint stirring sticks from the home store and poster putty to attach mine (or a spot of white glue). At last week’s Hobby Weekend at Beasts of War, the did a boot camp for gamers to speed build and paint their RuneWars armies and to learn how to play the game. In a priming demo, a representative from Army Painter showed how you can actually use primer as a “glue” to temporarily hold your models onto the spray stick. You just spary some paint on the stick, place the models onto the paint, and when it dries, it provides enough hold for priming and painting. I have never thought of this and look forward to trying it. I assume this could work in other instances of needing to temporarily hold lightweight components in place for priming and painting.

Avoiding the Big Gulp Syndrome

wireMy friend Tim Slagle shared this tip with me years ago: “It can be very tempting to buy thousands of parts for 1/100th of retail (when you only need a few), but exercise caution. For hobby use, the “Big Gulp” analysis applies: even if the unit cost is much lower, what you really care about is the total cost to get for the actual quantity you need (and a few extras). You don’t come out ahead spending more money to get 100X what you need, and then you have to store all of the extra parts somewhere.”

Making a Router Dado Guide


In Jimmy DiResta’s latest DiResta’s Cut video, where he creates a set of shelves for housing some vintage metal bins he scavenged long ago, he shows a unique approach he’s developed for accurately cutting dados with a router. He first builds a routing guide that can fit over the workpieces on either side of where he wants to cut his dados. He then super glues a wooden guide onto the bottom of his router, exactly the width of the router bit. It’s actually about 100/1000 wider than the bit so that the router doesn’t plane the insides of the jig while making passes with the router. A trick that Jimmy uses to make sure that he’s not biting into the jig as he routes: He draws a pencil line along the inside edges of the jig. As long as he sees the line as he routes, he knows he’s OK. He’s using a 1/2″ bit and cutting a 3/4″ dado, so he moves the router guide down one side and then back up the other along the edge of the jig to make his dado.