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.
Rolling Epoxy Putty in Flour
YouTuber and gamer Victor Ques posted this video on making cloth banners, robes, flags, and sashes for miniature modeling using very thinned out “green stuff” (two-part epoxy putty). Anyone who has ever used this material (which a Games Workshop sculptor once described to me as like sculpting in stale bubblegum) knows that it’s very stiff and sticky and really doesn’t want to be easily manipulated. To overcome this, Victor rolls it out in wheat flour, like he was baking bread. This allows you to get very thin sheets of it. Once in the size and thickness that you want, you can brush off the excess flour (and then wash it off once it’s cured). I can’t wait to try this.
Using a Bench Vise as a Shop Press
In case you missed my How to Age and Distress Wood piece yesterday, I called attention to a technique that Colin Knecht demonstrates in his video tutorial for using a chain for wood distressing. Most people just beat the crap out of the lumber with a length of heavy chain to get random dents and dings. In Colin’s method, he sandwiches the workpiece and a length of chain in a benchtop mechanic’s vise and then tightens the vise to create more controlled distressing. Not only did I give a delighted “ah-ha!” for this particular application, it opened my eyes to the general idea of using a vise as a shop press. I think of my vise as a holder, a forming brake, and an anvil. I have never really thought of it as a shop press. But I will now.
Water-Cooling Acrylic Drilling
This installment of “Tips of the Week” could be dubbed the Applied Science Edition. The rest of the tips here are from two tips videos I found on Ben Krasnow’s highly-recommended Applied Science channel. In the first video, among many other useful tips and tool recommendo, Ben offers this tip for keeping your cool while drilling into acrylic. If you’ve done any cutting or drilling into acrylic material, you know that, as the saw or bit gets hot from the cutting friction, it begins to melt the plastic. You can help prevent this by lubricating the hole with water, similar to how you would use oil in metal cutting. The water will act as a coolant and prevent the plastic from melting.
Adapting a Drill Chuck for Bigger Taps
Ben offers this tip in the same video. If you try and chuck a large tapered tap into a drill hole, it can be prone to slipping because the drill just can’t handle the required torque. To overcome this, Ben got himself an (Irwin-brand) tap wrench socket. You chuck your tap into the tap wrench socket, then put the socket’s 3/8″ square drive on the other side into a 1″ hex to 3/8″ square drive adapter. This finally gets chucked into your drill. Put your drill into low gear, and with this literal tool chain in place, you can deliver quite a bit of torque to your tap.
Using Black Hot Glue as a Light Sealant
Ben’s second tips video is also worth watching in its entirety for the quality of the tips and recommendations it contains. One of those tips is the use of black hot-melt glue stick in electronics work to act as a light sealant. In many electronics projects, you want to seal up or block light-emitting components so that you don’t get photonic noise or crosstalk. Black hot glue is just the ticket.
Pin Vise Bit for Your Drill Chuck
I’m a big fan of the pin vise, a go-to tool in hobby modeling for pinning together components to add strength. Ben had to do some hunting, but he managed to find this pin vise drill chuck at McMaster-Carr. At US$10, I will definitely be picking up one of these.