Tips My Dad Says (Happy Father’s Day to All of the MAKE Pops)

Tips My Dad Says (Happy Father’s Day to All of the MAKE Pops)

Repair and Maintenance Tips

If it can’t be fixed with a pair of pliers and baling wire, it can’t be fixed. -Wade Erickson

If it ain’t broke, take it apart and have a look at how it works, then put it back together and if it still ain’t broke… hooray! -Lindsey Boardman

Never tap a gauge harder than you would tap the bridge of your nose. -David Seitz

Force it to fit , paint it to match. -David Seitz

If at first you don’t succeed, get a bigger hammer. -David Seitz

Dad taught me that patience and consistency were the key to doing a good job on any project – he would always calmly continue to work on a project until it was complete, correct and functional. That has been a lesson that I have applied my entire life- don’t give up because things aren’t perfect the first time, but keep working at it until you are satisfied- there are very few things that anyone does perfectly
(or even right) the first time…

My grandfather showed me at a young age ANYTHING can be fixed, modified or improvised. A neat story:

At my grandpa’s farm, I wanted to pump up my bike tire, but his old hand pump wouldn’t work. He took it apart and found that the cup-shaped rubber piston between two washers was dry rotted, cracked and torn. He told me not to worry, he could fix it. My dad and I thought: “How can you fix a torn custom piece of rubber?” Grandpa found an old work shoe, and cut a circle from the leather. He then punched a hole in the middle. He took Vaseline and worked it into the leather circle. Then the circle was put between the washers and nut on the tire pump shaft, and the original rubber piece was discarded. As he worked the leather into a cup shape and fit it into the pump housing, he cut and trimmed the circle precisely. Eventually, he got it to slide down into the pipe, reassembled the pump unit, and the it worked like brand new. Grandpa showed two younger generations at once, that you can improvise and fix anything. Wherever that tire pump wound up after his passing and farm sold, I’m sure it still works just fine to this day. -Craig Smith

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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