Another week of tips and techniques that Make: readers will hopefully find useful. Don’t forget to share in the comments below any tips that you’ve come across in your travels. This week’s column was almost entirely submitted to me by Make: readers and staff members. Keep ’em coming, folks!
Organizing Tiny Hardware
Make: reader brucej offered this in response to a tip in “Tips of the Week” for 6/2/17 about poking small screws through cardboard when disassembling something to keep your hardware all straight: “The screws/cardboard thing is a good trick but is only good for larger screws and such. For things with truly teensy screws (like laptops, cameras, etc.) I have a piece of convoluted foam (aka eggshell foam) like this that I use. You can drop screws into the divots and they’ll stay there. Even better, they’ll stay in place while you stick your fingers in another divot to retrieve them. I haven’t lost a single screw working on laptops since I started using this. It was free out of the box for some piece of equipment we ordered.
CA Gluing Hinges
Here’s a great one from Izzy Swan. In a recent video where he builds a gorgeous wooden box for a wooden watch, he uses CA glue and an activator to temporarily hold on hinges before gluing. In the video, also note how he sprays down the activator first and then he glues and places the hinges.
The Right Tip for the Job
Another reader, Antron Argaiv, shared this tip about using soldering tips in comments: “A small conical tip is great for getting into small places, like soldering the pins on a high pin-count chips, for example. But don’t forget to change to a larger chisel-type tip before trying to solder anything connected to a large circuit board ground plane. The tiny tips can’t deliver enough heat fast enough, before the large ground area sucks it all away.”
Quick and Dirty Workholding
There’s plenty of great workholding for CNC projects, but if you need something simple, strong, and fast, hot glue is one of your best options. Place a small dot every 3 inches or so and press it into your spoilboard. You shouldn’t even need tabs to keep your workpiece in place. When you’re done, use a putty knife to pry it off, and swab the glue with some denatured alcohol to break the glue bond. [Submitted by Make:’s Tyler Winegarner]
Using Wood Glue for Screen Printing
German maker Laura Kampf shared this tip in one of her YouTube videos (“Laura´s Emergency Screen Printing”). Instead of using photo emulsion to create a stencil for screen printing, she uses wood glue. As she points out, it’s not perfect, and you can’t really reuse the screen, but for a quick screen printing job, it does work. [Submitted by Tyler Winegarner]
Cleaning Guitar Strings
Make: columnist (and musician) Bob Knetzger sent this one to me: “Here’s a great ‘off label’ use of an old product used for a completely different application. The Zenith Tibet Almond Stick is an oil and cleaner-impregnated plug that comes as a tightly rolled up cloth in a metal can. Its original use is to ‘efface 1,000 scratches from pianos—radios—furniture—etc. It’s amazing!’ I use it to refresh old strings on guitars, banjo, and mandolins. Just swipe the stick along the strings, then pinch each string with a rag and slide along its length. All the nasty bits of rust, dirt, and finger cheese come right off. It’s especially good at helping to remove the crud that gets trapped in the cols of wound strings and restores that brilliant ‘new string’ sound. I also like the Art Deco-inspired litho steel tube it comes in.”