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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Cosplay Companion Notebook

When I saw these cosplay project notebooks announced on Punished Props, I immediately ordered one. As someone who has published two project notebooks, I’m fascinated by the genre and what can be done with it. I love this idea of a simple, purpose-built notebook for designing, planning, building, and even tracking the use of a costume. There are pages here for project planning, bills of materials, design pages (with human form outlines), build and event logs, even a packing list for taking the costume to an event. This idea of a specialty notebook for tracking a single project could be applied to other types of making. The books are $5 each or $17 for a pack of 5. This would make a fabulous gift for a cosplayer.

How to Make a Silicon Mold from Caulk

This video on Epbot Crafts goes over what you need to know to create silicon molding material using silicon caulking. Basically, you squeeze out the caulk into water laced with dish soap and knead the caulk to create a molding dough. The cast results are pretty impressive and this technique may be worth experimenting with given the high cost of silicon molding rubber.

Using a Soldering Iron to Melt/Shape Foam

Brett McAfee of Skull & Spade recently posted a video on making some fancy crates for packaging a few of his forged products. In the vid, he shows how he uses a soldering iron to melt designs into the foam support bed upon which he then glues velvet material to hold his lovely creations. Using a soldering iron like this is common in the cosplay and prop making communities and other disciplines that frequently employ shaped foam.

Reciprocating Saw Tips

Spike the cat and his dutiful shop assistant, Jimmy DiResta, are at it again, this time with a tips video on using a reciprocating saw. They cover using shims, keeping the blade cool and unbound, plunge cutting, breaking down pallets with a recip and a metal blade, and more. I am so glad Jimmy is back to doing these tips video. His next video will be on using Crazy/CA glue.

Fire-Starters from Toilet Tubes and Dryer Lint

I don’t know about your dryer, but mine generates a lot of dryer lint (as my clothes get smaller and smaller and smaller). Here’s a not-so-silly idea for using this lint and toilet paper tubes to create fire starters. Just stuff the TP tubes with lint and keep them by your kindling and firewood.

Bi-Directional USB Cables

Via Tod E. Kurt’s Twitter feed comes this glorious discovery: bi-directional USB cables! I don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS seem to plug my USBs in the wrong way first. This is enough of a frustration that I will gladly pay real money to get bi-d cables.