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Tips of the Week: Measuring Tape Mods, Mold Making, Vinyl Testing

This week’s tips cover a few improvements you can make to your tape measure, two tips for mold making, and a quick tip on testing the quality of record vinyl. As always, leave a tip or two in the comments below and we might include them in next week’s tips round-up.

Measuring Tape Marker Version 1

On The Small Workshop, Steve Panner shows you how to make a little metal marking jig/pencil holder to add to a tape measure so that you can measure and mark, all in one step.

Measuring Tape Marker Version 2

Fixit Sammo creates a similar marker, but using a far simpler method. He basically just hot glues a short piece of clear plastic tubing to the edge of the tape measure housing and slots a short pencil into it.

Magnetize Your Tape Head

In the same video, Sammo shows how he added two pieces of rare Earth magnet to the hook on his tape measure so that he can attach the hook to metal surfaces for single-person measuring, pick up dropped tools, etc.

Determining Mold Thickness

In a recent Tested video, Norm and special effects artist Frank Ippolito offer a solid, basic tutorial on mold making and casting. In the video, Frank discusses how thick to make your molds. You don’t want the sidewalls to be too thin, but if you make them too thick, you’re just wasting mold material (and money). Frank says you want your molds to be about 1/2″ to 1″ away from the piece that you’re molding. Smartest to maybe make it a little thicker (i.e. closer to the 1″) where you plan to zipper-cut the mold for more stability (called a “jeweler’s cut”), but otherwise 1/2″-3/4″ or so is fine.

Reinforcing a Mold Box

Also in the Tested video, Frank shows how he reinforces otherwise flimsy pinned foamcore mold boxes by wrapping them in plaster-infused bandage material. This adds strength and stability and holds the box together tightly so that the weight of the mold material doesn’t warp and blow out the mold box.

Tap-Testing Vinyl

In this video, the always curious and informative Fran Blanche details a number of methods for cleaning vinyl records. She even tries the glue-cleaning method, which we’ve covered here before, with less than spectacular results (although she admits it might take practice and as comments pointed out it works much better with yellow/carpenter’s glue). In the video, she also discusses various features and eccentricities of vinyl, including how to tell if the vinyl used in a record is cheap or higher quality. To test, you simply suspend the record so it hangs freely and then tap on it. Cheap vinyl with sound very brittle, with a bright glass-like sound. Quality vinyl will return a deeper, thuddier sound.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance 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 to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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