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.

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Make Your Own Solder Flux

Have you ever thought of making your own solder flux? It’s easier than you think. This tutorial from Dangerous Prototypes shows you how.

Using Magnets in the Shop

Make: pal Tim Sway has a great shop tips video in which he shares many tricks of his trade. He shares several tips on using magnets in the shop. Tim does a lot of upcycling woodworking and other reuse projects. In tearing down old speakers and stereo equipment, he keeps all of the speaker magnets and places some of these around the shop to become magnetic tool holders. He even leaves some in their conical metal housings to become magnitized bowls he can toss metal tools and objects into. And (as shown here) he uses a magnet as a nail/staple detector for scanning recycled lumber before cutting or planing. He also shares another great tip: Instead of keeping all of your hammers in one drawer, drivers in another, etc, keep sets of these basic tools stashed all over the shop, near the stations where you use them.

Make an Epoxy Palette

Facebook: “Epoxy mixing board made from a HDPE bathroom stall panel cutoff. Dried epoxy just scrapes right off. I left one end sharp to scrap applicator on.”

Making Your Own Matte Glaze Medium

solder

Anyone who’s been following my Tips of the Week column knows that I’ve been doing a lot of painting for tabletop miniatures games recently and have been looking for tips and tricks around the practice. I’ve discovered and applied some cool and useful things, like making your own paint washes (the commercial ones are very expensive for what they are) and adding metal BBs to your paint pots to help stir your paints.

This week I discovered something that I suspect will be a game-changer for my painting. Everyone who gets serious about mini painting knows that one of the tips to take to heart is keeping your base paints very thin and adding them in several layers. But thinning the paints in water tends to separate the water and pigment and it becomes difficult to get a thin coat to achieve adequate coverage. Enter matte glaze medium, such as Lahmian Medium, sold by Games Workshop. It is designed to maintain the integrity of the thinned paint for smoother coverage. And, if turns out that you can very easily make your own (for next to nothing), as I learned in this video.

All you need is a quantity of de-ionised or distilled water, say 6-8 oz., into which you add 4-5 drops of matte medium (available at any art/crafts supplier). Shake and that’s it. You can experiment with how many drops gives you the best mix. I made up a batch of this and it has already made me a better painter. Being able to paint thinly while maintaining decent pigment density encourages you to deposit successfully thin layers.

Troubleshooting Old Circuit Board Glue

In all of my years of monkeying with electronics and hardware hacking, I never in a million years thought that the glue use to secure components onto a circuit board could be a factor in circuit failure. But in this video on Mr. Carlon’s Lab, Mr. Carlson show how, over time, this circuit board glue actually becomes conductive and should always be looked at along with any other components in trying to troubleshoot an old, dead circuit. He says that, the darker the glue has turned, the more conductive it is likely to be.

Turning a Hot Glue Gun into a Glue/Flux Applicator

Came across this brief post this week, from 2010. It points to a piece on a Brazilian website on how you can turn a cheap or dead hot glue indicator into a pistol-type precision applicator for liquid glues and solder flux. All you really need is the working mechanics of a glue gun and a syringe applicator. You still end up using a hot glue stick, but just to advance the plunger of the syringe.