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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Creative Clamping

Barb Noren’s YouTube channel has become one of my favorites of late. She always has interesting projects, thoughtful ideas on making and creativity, and lots of great shop tips. In this video, she shares some eye-opening ideas on clamping down work, especially work in odd shapes. In the situation illustrated above, she shows you how you can securely clamp an angled workpiece by clamping down a block next to it and then clamping the workpiece to that.

Be Kind to Future You

In this year’s “Sunday Sermon” by Adam Savage at Maker Faire Bay Area, he shared a funny and inspiring anecdote about his current self being kind to his future self by cleaning up as a gift to future self. As he points out, it rarely takes as long or is as hard as you fear it will be and it makes future self SO happy.

DIY Sponge Brushes

The ever-thrifty Tim Sway shared this tidbit in an Instagram Story. He saves the soft foam packaging that sometimes comes in products and shipping cartons and uses the material as a sponge for applying stains and other finishes. This foam is super useful in all sorts of applications. You can also attach it to a binder clip or clothespin and use it like a craft store foam brush for applying glues and paints, you can use it like a make-up brush wedge for applying faux finishes, and you can get various stippling and weathering effects using a chunk of it in scale modeling and other hobby applications.

How to Use PlastiDip

Make:’s Senior Video Producer, Tyler Winegarner, sent this excellent link to me this week. In the video, cosplayer Svetlana shares her tips for using PlastiDip on EVA foam, used in armor construction and other costume creations. Some really useful stuff here.

Freezing to Remove Dents

On the latest Hand Tool Rescue, the first of a two parter showing Eric restoring a 1960s electric chain saw, he shares this great idea. The oil tank on the saw was badly dented. To begin the process of expanding the dents, he filled the tank with water and then froze it. The process of freezing causes the water to expand a bit, pushing out some of the larger dents. From there, he used fiberglass resin to smooth out the surfaces of the tank.

Excerpt from Tips and Tales from the Workshop

Here’s one of the entries from my latest book, Tips and Tales from the Workshop.