Wise Tips from MAKE Readers


For our upcoming Make: Newsletter, which will be focused on handy tips, I put a call out on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, G+) to share their favorite tips. The response on Twitter was fantastic — tweeters are already used to forming thoughts into aphorisms because of Twitter’s 140 character limit. Here are some of my favorites:

Don’t get so caught up in thinking that you never do anything.

Garrett Mace

Measure twice. Cut once.

Acme Tools

never buy cheap screwdrivers.

Daniele Faugiana

leave tweeter, go make something.

Nicolas Giraud

never work when you are tired.


Never use your finger to check if the hot glue has cooled down. It hasn’t.

Simon Langhof

Automotive polishing compound on a clean damp rag can make grubby, scratched, and stained things shine. Plastics, metal…paint even!

Stefan Edward Jones

Rubbing alcohol removes sharpie marks from most smooth surfaces.

Lenore Edman

Do not attempt to wire a breadboard when you have just taken asthma meds.

Annie Elliott

if you borrow a clean tool, return it clean. If you borrow a dirty tool, return it clean.

Jim Catán Ch.E.

Double check the spelling of your employer/clients name on the silkscreen of your PCB. Not that I’ve done this. :)

Low Voltage Labs

in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

Daniel Would

Don’t release the magic smoke.

Chris Lee

learn to draw in isometric perspective, it can really help you visualize a project.

Hurr it’s the Durr

when filling a pcb start with the shortest components and work up to the tallest or else its like soldering through skyscrapers!

concrete dog

estate sales are a great place to get quality tools and materials.

Hurr it’s the Durr

Wet your soldering sponge with tea. It’s slightly acidic and will give the soldering iron a wonderfully clean tip.

Bradd Libby

Don’t be afraid to take things apart. Overcoming that fear is often the hardest part of fixing things.

Richard Davies

Pick your tool after you plan your job.

Eric Rauschenberg

Please add your own tips in the comments here, and check out all the responses on Twitter! Want to sign up for the Make: Newsletter? You can do it right here:


18 thoughts on “Wise Tips from MAKE Readers

  1. That kid on the left is about to put a hole thruough his palm… Never put any organ in the direction the tool might slip to…

  2. “Appropriate Technology reminds us that before we choose our tools and techniques, we must choose our dreams and values. For some technologies serve them, while others make them unobtainable.” Tom Sender, Rainbook.

  3. Dad gave me the following principle called HALT. Never attempt something when Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired…

  4. To see if your blade is sharp enough, touch the edge to the top of your fingernail. If it sticks a little, you’re in good shape.

    1. Sharpness of an edge can easily be determined within optical tolerance. Shine a bright light (or sun’s rays) at a right angle to the edge, NOT on the side, on the cutting edge. Reflection means dull. No reflection is sharp.

  5. If you borrow a dull tool, return it sharp. PROMPTLY. This will so astonish the lender that he and his children will speak of you with hushed reverence in tales told ’round the campfires for generations.

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