Tips of the Week is our weekly peek at some of the best making tips, tricks, and recommendations that we’ve come across. 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.
Use See-Through Storage
In the 5th installment of Andy Birkey’s highly recommended “Gimme a Minute” tips videos, Bill Livolsi hijacks the show to share his tip on using clear bins to organize your materials, tools, and supplies at a glance so you can more easily see what’s in them. Bill buys clear plastic shoe boxes and uses those as his storage system. He also recommends organizing items by use rather than material type. So for instance, everything sanding-related might go into a bin, instead of sandpaper in one, sanding blocks in another, wood putties in another, etc.
In this mesmerizing video, a Cambodian teenager constructs her own compound fishing bow entirely from PVC pipe (and hardware and fishing line). She bends pieces by heating them over coals and even flattens sections of pipe by heating it and then pressing the now-softened plastic polymer with a brick. I never would’ve thought to do this, so it’s good to know how easily PVC can be worked to create whatever shapes you require. [H/t Bruce Dykes]
Reducing Nail Gun Pressure on the Fly
On another great “Gimme a Minute,” Andy shares a fantastic nail gun tip used in production shops. Sometimes, as in driving nails into thin stock, the aggressiveness of the air pressure can drive the nail clean through the board. The normal thing to do would be to re-set the PSI on your compressor. But instead of having to walk to the compressor to adjust PSI, you can simply angle the head of the gun to the side a little in order to dissipate some of the momentum with which the nail is driven into the workpiece.
Get Thee a Craft Mat
A few years ago, I reviewed my beloved craft mat on Cool Tools. I am just as enthusiastic about this tool today as I was then. If you do any kind of desktop making that regularly involves inks, solvents, glues, paints, and other materials you do not want sticking to your workbench, you need one of these sheets of PTFE (Teflon). Just remember to remove the mat before cutting anything. I’ve sliced mine more than a few times.
Seed Your World with Inspiration
I was walking through my house the other night when I realized that I have basically set it up as a minefield for firing my imagination. Everywhere you look there are books (lots and lots of books), magazines, cards and toys, artwork, numerous desks, work surfaces, and tools, and anything else that might help to get my ideas flowing. I’ve surrounding myself with inspiring objects, in hopes of them triggering inspiration in me. I also have stacks of 3×5 cards held together with a binder clip at strategic locations to hopefully capture these ideas (ah… like next to the toilet). So, if you want to help prime your idea pump, surround yourself with things that get those ideas flowing.
5 Common Sewing Mistakes that Noobs Make
This tips piece, written about in the Craft section of the site, has five great troubleshooting tips, especially for those new to sewing. Example: “#2. The fabric is jiggling around like crazy. Lower your presser foot! The presser foot holds the fabric in place so you can stitch neatly, not freestyle.”