Tips of the Week is our weekly peek at some of the best making tips, tricks, and recommendations we’ve discovered in our travels. Check in every Friday to see what we’ve discovered. And we want to hear from you. Please share your tips, shortcuts, best practices, and tall shop tales in the comments below and we might use your tip in a future column.

***

The Hissing of Leaky Hose


Jimmy DiResta shared this image and tip on his Instagram feed this week: “Never-ending hissing air hose connection driving you insane? Problem solved. Mini ball shutoff!!”

Sawdust Spray Paint Mask

I covered Prickly Sauce’s DIY multitool earlier in the week. In the video, Rob is at his workbench, spraying the outline for his cutting template onto his steel stock. To save his benchtop the indignities of over-spray, he reaches down and tosses a handful of sawdust onto the bench, puts the stock down, sprays, and then scoops the sawdust back onto the floor. Quick n’ dirty, and a great way to keep your beleaguered benchtop a little cleaner.

The Glue Song with Amy Sedaris

I got a kick out of this promotional clip for Amy Sedaris’ new TruTV show At Home with Amy Sedaris. Amy has basically created an entirely new entertainment category: comedy crafting. We were lucky enough to get her on the cover of Make:’s old sister magazine, Craft: (Volume 10), and she was a hoot to work with. In this video, she and Jane Krakowski sing a song about what type of glue to use when. Not sure if it’s really going to help you remember, but it sure is cute. This chart is probably a better idea.

Woman’s Work Pants with Real Pockets

This week, on Instagram Stories, April Wilkerson shared a little review of her new work pants. The pants are from Moxie and Moss, a women-owned company that makes work clothes addressing issues women have in trying to work in regular lady clothes. As April says: “Women pockets are notorious for being stupid-shallow.” She’s thrilled with her new work pants (seen here) and highly recommends them.

Paper Clips and Clothes Pins Join the Homely Tool Club

In response to last week’s tip from John Park, about keeping plenty of safety pins around the shop, for picking, poking, scraping, and marking, one of our readers, James Brown, chimed in with: “I would add paperclips and clothes pins to go along with safety pins as required maker gear. All three are very versatile but humble tools for many projects.” I couldn’t agree more. I would also add binder clips to the homely toolbox, mentioned in an earlier column, as a worthy tool for joining flat material for holding, gluing, etc.

The Kenny Rogers Rule

Years ago, I wrote a book on beginner robotics and as part of it, I came up with some tips and rules of thumb to consider when building bots. I called it “Rules for Roboticists” and also published a version here on Make:.

The Kenny Rogers Rule states: When building anything, especially something as complicated as a robot, the build can sometimes turn ugly. If you try and just power your way through, you can often dig yourself into an even deeper hole. Frustrations can mount, and with it, mistakes, even accidents can happen. So here’s what you do: “Put the soldering iron down, Poindexter. Step away from the steaming robot entrails!” You’ll be amazed at what an hour away, vegging in front of the TV, rolling around on the floor with the cat, or sleeping on your problem will do. It almost never fails. Here’s a corollary: The extent to which you don’t want to drop what you’re doing and take a break (“I know I can fix this, damn it!”), is inversely proportional to the extent to which you need to take that break. Why is it called the Kenny Rogers Rule? ‘Cause as country Kenny wisely tells us: “You got to know when to hold, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…”

I was reminded of the Kenny Rogers Rule this week. I ordered a flat-packed, 6-drawer wooden rolly cart from Amazon for storing all of my painting and modeling supplies for my gaming miniatures. Like a lot of this assemble-it-yourself furniture, there were numerous issues of undrilled pilot holes, cheap and splitty pine lumber, poorly-applied veneer. As much as I try and be methodical and work smart in building such kits, frustrations can quickly mount. I decided to not try and build it all in one night, but to take my time and just do a little each night. This quickly turned it around from a curse-laden first night to three additional nights of pleasant after-dinner assembling. And in the end, I know I got a much better product as a result.