Our Top Shop Tips for 2016

Our Top Shop Tips for 2016

Last year was a great year for tips and tricks collected and published here on Make:. So many YouTube makers are taking the time to do special videos sharing their most useful shop tips, tricks, and hacks. And then readers are sharing their tips and tricks in the comments and these often get folded back into future tips videos by the YouTubers.

Here are some of the most popular and useful tips that we covered in 2016, followed by links to the original posts which contain even more indispensable tips. We did a similar best-of post for 2015. You can see that roundup here.

Breadboard Battery Holder

breadboardbatteryholderYou can make a quick battery holder on a breadboard by using two two-pin headers next to each other with a coin cell battery in-between. Just make sure to keep the polarity of the battery oriented properly. From Breadboarding Quick Tips.

Breadboard Circuit Tester

led_breadbaordtesterTo create a little breadboard circuit for testing output pins, solder up an LED with the proper resistor value and plug it into a two-pin female header. Now to test, simply plug this into your output pins to test for continuity. From Breadboarding Quick Tips.

45-Degree Stop Block

direstatips_8In the photo frames video, Jimmy needs to quickly make a bunch of 45-degree cuts for his frame pieces. He creates a 45-degree stop block on his radial arm saw so that he can easily cut both sides of the frame pieces at 45-degrees, at the correct lengths. From The Hidden Tip Gems in DiResta Videos.

Using Spray Paint to Mark Cut Lines

direstatips_1For the Band Saw Stand video, Jimmy marks the diagonal cuts he wants for the caster frames using a template and white spray paint. While you’re watching this video, check out the ingenious lock mechanism he creates for the cart, and the fact that it only sports three feet, making it optimized for dealing with uneven floors. From The Hidden Tip Gems in DiResta Videos.

Using Rubber Bands as Clamps

direstatips_9In the photo frames video, Jimmy uses rubber bands to hold the frames together while gluing, to a rousing “Why didn’t I ever think of that!?” in the YouTube comments.

Perspective Drawing with String and a Paper Clip

To assist him in drawing lines and adding shading, this clever draftsman has anchored a piece of thin elastic string to his drafting board and then he is using a paper clip to hook the string and pull it to create a guide for all of the perspective lines he’s drawing. So cool! From Quick Tip: Perspective Drawing with String and a Paper Clip.

Make a Rotating Platform for Easy 3D Printer Access

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Make: regular John Edgar Park built a sturdy turntable for his 3D printer. He explains that changing the filament on his Ultimaker required getting to the rear of the machine, which is especially troublesome if the printer is located on a shelf or some other location where you don’t have easy access to the back. A quick installation of a nice, wide turntable means that he can just spin the machine around to get to the back. From Make a Stable Turntable for Easy 3D Printer Access.

Poster Putty As a Screw Holder

posterPutty_3If you have a situation where you can’t hold a screw in one hand and a driver in the other, just put a little blob of poster putty on the head of the screw and let it hold the screw on the tip of the driver while you drive the screw. [Image via a WikiHow on this tip.] From 5 Fantastic Uses for Poster Putty

Drive a Nail with a Clamp

clampNailingTrying to affix a brad or nail in a situation where there’s no room to swing a hammer? Trying using a C-clamp and draw the nail into the wood by screwing the clamp. This trick comes from The Family Handyman, in a round-up of classic handyman tips. From Head-Slappingly Good Shop Tips Build Tricks.

Bring Dead Sharpies Back to Life

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Ray from the TabLeft Workshop runs through the simple steps to reviving a dead alcohol-based marker (Sharpie, Magic Marker, etc.). To try and bring your marker back to life, simply remove the nib from the maker (however you get inside the particular model of pen) and deposit a few drops of isopropyl “rubbing” alcohol onto the felt material inside. It’s the solvent that the ink is mixed with that dries out first, making the pigment unable to flow. From Head-Slappingly Good Shop Tips Build Tricks.

Paint Over Tool Markings for Greater Visibility

Kreg-Jig-Pocket-Hole-Jig-modification-5-of-8From a site called Sawdust Girl comes this great tip. The markings on Ayisha’s blue pocket hole tool were not very visible, so she slathered some white acrylic paint over the area and wiped the surface clean, leaving paint inside of all of of the markings. You can do this with any tool that has either unpainted markings or paint that has worn off over time. From Six More “Why Didn’t I Think of That?” Tips

Using Hot Glue as an Accelerator

Want to get the best of both worlds when gluing up something where you need the long-term bonding power of say, PVA wood glue, with the immediate hold of hot melt adhesive? On Woodomain, Jeremy Broun shows you how to apply wood glue all around the outside of the surface you wish to glue, while leaving a place in the center that is dry. Now, apply hot glue to that area in the center and join your piece. The hot glue will bond immediately, holding your piece in place, while the PVA will cure slowly, leaving you with a piece that is immediately workable, but still bonded for the long term. From 11 Hot Glue Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

How to Draw Straight Lines without a Ruler

direstaMeasure_1I definitely had an “ah-ha” the first time I ever saw Jimmy do this. All you do is “hold your pencil in your hand and try to keep the fingers in exactly the same potion while you follow the edge with the tip of your finger.” From 7 Marking and Measuring Tips from Jimmy DiResta

Easily Spray Paint and Plane Signage

routerTips_6I love this tip. After routing your letters or designs, to quickly color them, simply spray paint over the letters/design, let the paint dry, and then plane or sand the top surface of your workpiece to reveal perfectly painted inset lettering. From Top Router Tips and Tricks from Jimmy DiResta

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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 garstipsandtools.com.

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