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.
Being Seduced by the Joy of Making
In a recent installment of Jimmy DiResta’s YouTube Vlog, towards the end, he and Laura Kampf sit in his pick-up, sipping coffee, and talking about how they got into making, what inspires and motivates them. At one point, they talk about being driven by the constant joy, wonder, and pride you feel when you make things (“like being in love,” says Jimmy). Jimmy mentions how, when you’re working on a project, you go to sleep, and you can’t wait to get back into the shop the next morning and examine the work you did the day before. Reading this was so resonant because I had just spent a few hours painting miniatures before bed, and one of my favorite things is to get up the next morning, and as I’m making coffee, I go into my shop and inspect the previous night’s work. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that it feels like Christmas morning to me every time. And yes, those moments are some of what fuels me. Laura talked about trying different types of art and other modes of self-expression, but it was when she started making physical objects, that she experienced this type of seduction and knew that she was hooked.
Friction-Fitting 3D Prints
I mentioned one of the tips in Bob Clagett’s latest YouTube video on turning kid’s drawings into 3D printed objects, in last week’s column. Here’s another good one. When creating the moveable peg joints for his toy print, he kept the tolerances very tight, basically the peg and the hole being the same diameter. This way, he could carve and sand away just enough material to get the perfect friction fit. As always, it’s almost always easier to take material away than to add it back.
Safety Glasses Scratch-Reduction Hack
My pal, Tom Sepe, shared this post from Clifford Florio’s Instagram feed. Cliff drilled holes in the tops of his safety glasses and attached screws as stand-offs so that, when then inevitably fall, and fall on their face, the lenses can’t make contact with the ground. Glasses with screws jutting out from the top might look nerdy, but hey, they’re safety glasses. They’ll never be anything but nerdy-looking.
Spring-Clamp Your Cuffs
In DiResta’s latest Leaf Spring Bowie Knife video, a useful little hack can be seen. Wearing a coat or loose-sleeve shirt around machines in motion can be dangerous and you also get shavings and cold up your cuffs. In the vid, you can see that Jimmy has spring-clamped his cuffs shut. You could also use large binder clips. This image also shows another common shop trick to always keep in mind. You can create a temporary mixing and working surface for epoxies, glues, and the like by putting down some painter’s tape on your bench.
One Brush to Rule Them All
I have been trying to up my miniature painting game recently and have been trying to get serious about my understanding of the tools, materials, and techniques used. For years, I have done what most every other gamer hobbyist does. I bought expensive brushes measured in ridiculously small tip sizes: 0, 00, 000, 00000, 18/0, etc. But watching videos from painter pros, I learned that this is far from ideal. There are so few hairs on these brushes that, by the time you pick up and deposit the paint, it dries on the brush. Most mini painter pros recommend getting one super high-quality brush of a versatile size, keep it scrupulously clean and pointed, and learn how to use that brush for everything, from base painting to detailing and edge-highlighting. And yes, even the super-challenging eyeball painting. I have now bought and been using the highly-recommended Windsor-Newton Series 7 Kolinksy sable watercolor brush (#1 size). Sable watercolor brushes are best for mini painting because they can hold a lot of paint, and if well-maintained, they can keep a very fine point. I have not reached for a brush measured in goose eggs since. Keeping the brush clean is essential, using a cleaner and conditioner like Master’s, and re-pointing the tip with a little of the soap/conditioner on it when you’re done.
Dip Your Syrup
OK, a food-eating tip in the column? Hey, why not? Maker’s gotta eat. I’m a big waffle and pancake fanatic. I also only eat them with real maple syrup, which as you know, is ungodly expensive. In the last couple of years, I discovered a trick which has saved me a lot of syrup. And money. If you don’t put syrup on your waffles/pancakes, but rather pour it into a little bowl or cup on the side, you can save around half the amount of syrup that would otherwise be sucked up by the very absorbent “fried cake for breakfast” (as comedian Jim Gaffigan calls it). I experimented and found that I was using about 5 tablespoons of syrup with pouring and about half that amount with dipping. And, if I have left-over syrup, you cover and save the cup for next time.