Tips of the Week: Analog Cutting of Digital Files, Cleaning Aged Plastic, Friction Welding, and Cough Drops

Tips of the Week: Analog Cutting of Digital Files, Cleaning Aged Plastic, Friction Welding, and Cough Drops

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.


Pegboard Tool Shelf

Via Family Handyman comes this obvious but likely overlooked tip. If you have scraps of pegboard, you can mount them on pegboard brackets as a shelf and use the peg holes to organize drivers and other similar tools.

Analog Cutting of Digital Files

One thing that successful YouTube makers are often criticized for is doing too many projects that are unapproachable to their audience who don’t have a shop’s worth of expensive equipment donated by sponsors. At World Maker Faire, Donald Bell and I were talking about this and how we love it when makers offer low-tech and/or analog solutions in such cases. Donald pointed me to this excellent Jon-a-Tron Instructable where he shows how you can cut out digital design files using conventional hand tools. Every YT maker who posts projects using CNC, 3DP, laser etching, etc. should always address this in their projects (even if it’s as simple as pointing out that there are many makerspaces, libraries, and other local organizations that now offer digital fabrication tools).

Cleaning Old Hardware Cases with H2O2

On his website, John Park posted this tutorial on how he used hydrogen peroxide (and UV light) on the discolored case for a 1989 Nintendo Gameboy that he got at a yard sale for a buck and decided to restore. The results are quite impressive.

Fixing Corroded Battery Terminals

Who hasn’t opened an old piece of consumer electronics that has batteries in it that have long ago corroded out? If you’ve ever wondered what to do to properly clean out the battery bay and restore the terminals, this Instructable will tell you what you need to know. [Via Donald Bell/Maker Update]

Quick Glove Clips

James from Malt & Make posted the following little quick tip to his Instagram feed.

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Quick tip for storing your gloves

A post shared by James (@maltandmake) on

Cough Drops for Public Speaking

I was keeping track of tips I encountered at Maker Faire and I wrote this one down after my one-on-one interview with Alex French Guy Cooking. Before the talk, Alex walked up to me in a croaking voice and said that he had lost his voice the day before. Oh great, I thought. A charmingly-thick French accent and a failing voice? This is going to go well. But Alex powered through. Partway, I could hear his voice failing. As luck would have it, I had a roll of Ricola cough drops in my pocket (which I’d bought to soothe my own failing pipes). As Alex talked, I was able to open a lozenge and slide it over the table to him. Without skipping a beat, he popped it into his mouth and carried out. I vowed then and there to never show up on a panel or a talk without cough drops in my pocket.

[From my new book, Make: Tips and Tales from the Workshop]


Need to bond two plastic pieces together? Consider friction welding. Simply chuck a short length of plastic rod into a rotary tool. Apply the spinning plastic tip to your join and the friction will melt the plastic, forming a serviceable bond. [MG]


If you get a copy of my book, please take a picture of yourself holding it, tag me, and use the hashtag #tipsandtales. Besides being a book about tips, this is also a book about the human side of tools and how they’re used. Tips and Tales itself is a tool, so I’d like to see the humans who are using it.

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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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