Tips of the Week: Stupid Bench Tricks, Glue Gun Rivets, and DIY Battery Packs

Tips of the Week: Stupid Bench Tricks, Glue Gun Rivets, and DIY Battery Packs

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.


Cleaning Glue from a Workbench

Paul Jackman, of Jackman Works, shared an Instagram Story this week about glue cleanup on his workbench. He says he gets a lot of negative comments when he gets glue from glue-ups all over his workbench surfaces. Chill out, says Paul. To clean the surfaces, all he does is grab some sawdust from below his tablesaw, toss it on the glue dribbles to soak up the excess, and then he uses a scraper to remove all of the dried glue and sawdust. Benchtop good as new. Paul swears by this Red Devil scraper.

Cleaning with Sandpaper

It’s apparently a special workbench episode of “Tips of the Week.” On Instagram, John Park was trying to shoot his latest project video, but coffee rings and other marks on his well-used workbench were distracting him. So he took a break, sanded the surface crud off, and gave the table a rub of oil. Problem solved.Spend any amount of time watching pros at work and you will realize that they are anything but kind to their workbench surfaces. That’s because they know that it is a surface meant to be used and that it can be easily sanded, scraped, and eventually, even replaced. It is a WORK bench, not furniture.

And a little bit of oil. Now I can shoot photos on it without that darned ring stain right in every shot. @adafruit

A post shared by John Edgar Park (@jedgarpark) on

Castering Only One Side of a Bench

And one more workbench tip. On Jimmy DiResta’s latest vlog, he shows a workbench project he’s just completed. The client wanted casters on only one side of the bench so that the benches could be moveable, but stationary when all of the legs are down. Saves money on casters, too. Jimmy likes the concept so much, he’s going to start doing his future workbenches this way.

Painter’s Tape as Small Parts Holder

Make: contributor, James Floyd Kelly, shared this tip, on how to hold down very small parts for painting. “I use blue painter’s tape to secure small items that I’ll be painting by creating a small loop of the tape. I then secure the tape holding the items to a small piece of cardboard that I can rotate or hold in my hands as I paint.”

Heat-Shrink Battery Pack

Caleb posted this yesterday, but in case you missed it. In a new Jeremy Cook video, Jeremy shows how he uses heat-shrink tubing and hot glue to create his own coil cell battery packs. I highly recommend laying in a supply of large-diameter heat-shrink tubing. There are all sorts of uses for this stuff that you will discover when you have it on hand to experiment with.

Making Plastic Rivets with a Glue Gun

Barb Makes Things is one of my recent favorite maker channels. The video she posted in late November is an announcement about how she is going to change things up a bit going forward, but at the end of the video, there is a clip of her using the nozzle of her hot glue gun to create plastic rivets. Just press the plastic to the side of the hot nozzle, and bam, you have a rivet head. Great tip!

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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

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