Tips of the Week: DIY Paint Washes, Precise Measuring, Encouraging Others

Tips of the Week: DIY Paint Washes, Precise Measuring, Encouraging Others

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.


Making Your Own Paint Washes

Anyone who’s ever done any high-end hobby painting, for tabletop miniatures, scale modeling, cosplay, etc., knows how effective washes can be in achieving realistic weathering, battle damage, and deep shading. Knowing how to use washes effectively is one of the things that separates the beginner from the more advanced painter. And if you already know this, you also know that commercial washes can be expensive and the range of colors is limited. This Brush4Hire video shows you how easy it is to make your own. All you need is a few drops of your desired color, some matte medium, and distilled water. And some empty eyedrop bottles. There are many other wash recipe videos on YouTube. Some of them add Flow Aid medium to the above recipe. This helps the wash resist clinging to high surfaces and flow better into the nooks and crannies where you want it.

Using Rubber Bands as No-Slip Grip

Family Handyman has a great roundup of rubber band usage tips, like this one. If you’re working on an angled or other surface situation where tools can slide or vibrate off, you can temporarily add some grip to them by wrapping a rubber band around the handle or some other area of the tool that comes in contact with the surface.

Close a Hairline Gap with this Hammer Trick

Paul Jackman shared this awesome gem on Instagram:

Precise Measuring with Your Phone

Tuber Jeremy Schmidt offers this really useful tip for getting precise measurements when measuring tiny distances. Use a phone magnifier app to zoom in on what you’re trying to measure. The iPhone has one built in. Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Magnifier. You invoke it by hitting the home button 3 times. Zoomed in on your target, you can now verify or mark your measurement with confidence.

Accurately Measuring Small-Batch Epoxies

The ever-clever mensch of makers, Andy Birkey, weighs in again with a great tip. When measuring multi-part epoxies, resins, and the like in very small batches, supplier-provided measuring cups can become inaccurate. At these quantities, small difference can make a big difference in the quality of the resulting mix. For such small-batch measuring, use a digital scale. Pour in your first part to the desire weight. Zero it out and add the second part. Perfect.

The Value of Encouraging Others

Like Jimmy DiResta, Izzy Swan is one of those larger-than-life makers who everyone looks up to, and is inspired by. And one of the things that attracts so many people in the community to these guys is how humble they are, how patient and encouraging of others. Last week, on a private makers group on Facebook, Izzy posted a challenge for everyone there: Reach out to other makers that week, one a day, to offer them encouragement and praise. I love stuff like this. Even when we don’t care to admit it, I think we all crave high-fives, pats on the back, and gold stars on our homework. Sure, we spend half of our days thumbing the Likes out of social media, and while that may give us all a tiny little ego-tickle (in a rat in a maze, press bar, get treat kind of way), nothing beats real heartfelt praise, encouragement, and the showing of some earnest love. OK, so it can be a little awkward sometimes to effuse and even to receive positive feedback and praise. Get over it. The world could use some pats on the back right about now. Go ahead, make someone’s day.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).