Tips of the Week: Tool Layout, Parachute Bags, Glove-Love, and Bendy Sticks

Tips of the Week: Tool Layout, Parachute Bags, Glove-Love, and Bendy Sticks

Tips of the Week is our weekly peek at some of the best making tips, tricks, and recommendations we’ve come across in our travels. Check in every Friday to see what we’ve found. 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.

Carry Screws in a Parachute Bag

On this episode of Essential Craftsman, Scott does a straigt-forward job of running through various types of screws, their common applications, strengths, and weaknesses. One thing he highly recommends for carrying all of your essential fasteners in is a parachute bag. There is a wide selection of them available on Amazon for under $20.

Bit Sharpening Trick

Here’s an old tips post that keeps getting a lot of traffic on Make:. “Mount two hex headed bolts and nuts on a piece of off-cut steel or timber so that two of their edges are touching (as shown). Bolts of a suitable construction can be welded together to ensure they don’t move. Sharpen your drill bit carefully using a bench grinder, being extra careful not to be too heavy handed. After only a few moments of grinding, remove the drill bit and test against the two hex headed bolts as shown in the image. After touching up each cutting side of the drill, your drill should fit squarely in the angle between the two bolt heads. Accuracy obviously relies on how close you placed the two bolts together, but with this guide, it removes the need to eyeball the angle and hope that it’s right.” See the original post here.

Planning a Tool Wall Layout

Miguel Valenzuela (he of PancakeBot fame) shared this tip with me on Facebook for laying out your tools on a tool wall. “Lay a piece of construction paper down that is the size of the board you will be mounting your tools on. Place the tools on the paper in the arrangement you want. Then mark where your support pins, hooks or screws will be. Take a picture of your layout. Next, take that paper, tack it to the mounting board, and drill away. Before taking the paper off, screw in your mounts. Then using the picture as a reference, mount all your tools on the wall!”

Easy Curves with a Bendy Stick

The always resourceful Andy Birkey offers one of his indispensable “Gimme a Minute” tips on how to easily mark curves for cutting using a “bendy stick,” a few clamped stop blocks, and a combination square.

Always Paint/Finish/Cast with Disposable Gloves

I just ordered another box of 100 disposable gloves on Amazon. They cost around $10 delivered (with Prime). For years, I did painting and other dirty jobs without gloves and then spent days afterwards trying to remove paint, stain, ink, and other embarrassing crud from my hands. A box of cheap, disposable gloves in your work area changes all that. Watch any maker pro on YouTube, and when the paints, solvents, resins, and other icky stuff comes out, so do the protective gloves.

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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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