Tips of the Week: Workbench Speed Square Holster, Masking with Old Earplugs, Photographing Disassemblies

Tips of the Week: Workbench Speed Square Holster, Masking with Old Earplugs, Photographing Disassemblies

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.


Using Old Ear Plugs to Mask Holes

In a number of Hand Tool Rescue videos, Eric uses old foam ear plugs to plug up threaded holes before he paints components that he has refurbished. If the plug doesn’t fit, you can just snip it to size.

Photographing Disassemblies

Another clever use for your phone camera. To keep track of all of the parts for a machine or device that you are disassembling, take photos of the stages of the disassembly process and then simply refer back to them as you are reassembling.

Using a Ratchet Head as a Pounder

Another great tip from Hand Tool Rescue. If you need to sink a bearing or other cylindrical component, use a socket head from your socket set (covered by a towel) to pound the part into place. A socket set can double a set of pounders available in a wide variety of diameters.

Speed Square Holster for Your Bench

This one comes from April Wilkerson’s Instagram feed.

Gluing Spacers to a Chain Saw Bar

April also shared this great tip on Instagram, adding temporary spacers to your chainsaw bar for cutting horizontal straight cuts.

This giant glue up has been one obstacle after another to figure out….which is challenging and fun. Have you ever needed to make a straight cut with a chainsaw? I saw @jonpeters_ use this trick on his YouTube channel and loved it. I started by putting spacers between my glue up and my shop post then strapped the sucker in place. Next I used a speed square to draw a straight line then attached a 2×4 directly to my glue up. I did the same to the other side and double checked that the two were on the same plane. I cut two blocks from a scrap 1x then used @titebondproducts Instant Bond to temporarily attach the blocks to my bar. Now I just had to make sure I kept the blocks on my bar riding on the 2x4s on the glue up to get a straight cut. The Instant Bond does a crazy quick and strong job of holding on the blocks but they are easy enough to remove after I was finished. That's a pretty cool trick if you ask me! #stihl #chainsaw

A post shared by April Wilkerson (@wilker_dos) on

Don’t Forget the Kerf

My friend Andrew Herndon shared this on my Facebook page. Always a good reminder, especially for the beginning woodworker: “In Carpentry when calculating the amount of materials you need for a project always account for the thickness of the blade you are using to cut with. I.e., you can’t get 4 perfect 24″ pieces from an 8 foot length if your kerf is 1/8th or 1/16th of an inch. Most of the time it’s not a big deal, but when precision is the name of the game, 3/16th of an inch is huge.”

Mini Interview on Tips and Tales from the Workshop

Roger Stewart, the Editorial Director of Make:, conducted a short interview with me about Tips and Tales from the Workshop, my new book on tips, tricks, and shop toolery. The book will be released on Monday and you can order it now on Amazon.

Your new book is a compendium of tips and tricks for makers. What got you interested in this topic?

I have always been fascinated by technology, by tools; but my focus is always on the human side of that equation. I am interested in how humans use tools, especially how they use them in ways they weren’t intended to be used. I have also always been interested in the sort of utopian dimensions of tips, the way a time-saving technique, a hack, or a shortcut gives you a little glimpse into an easier, smarter, more efficient world. Tips are useful in improving one’s workflow, but there’s also an aspirational quality to them. You see a really cool one and you get a little tickle in your brain of how you would apply that tip and how it might improve your life. You get that whether you ever apply the tip or not.

Read the rest of it here.

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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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