Tips of the Week: Binder Clip Hacks, Saw Tips, Engineering Basics, and Using a Laptop as a Light Box

Tips of the Week: Binder Clip Hacks, Saw Tips, Engineering Basics, and Using a Laptop as a Light Box

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 a Temporary Hip Pocket

Sharon of Figments Made writes on Instagram: “That time you didn’t bring your tool belt and you need to have a bunch of drywall screws handy.” I’m always on the look out for creative uses of binder clips. I just added this clever little necessity-hack to the list.

Binder Clip Tube Hangers

My friend, DC-area artist and musician, Bud Wilkinson, posted this image on Facebook and commented: “Saw this in the studio of artist, Sarah Bentley, today. Brilliant use of binder clips!” We agree. [Photo by Bud Wilkinson.]

Circular Saw Tips

Spike the cat, and his lovely shop assistant, Jimmy, continue their beloved tool tips series with one on circular saws. They go over using a foam spoil board, building offset and dido jigs, preventing tear out, and more.

Understanding Engineering Basics

YouTuber Jeremy Fielding posted this useful video on engineering basics and why it’s important to understand the underlying physical science behind designing and building things.

Acronyms for DIYers

Family Handyman has a useful glossary of acronyms that DIYers and family handypersons might encounter. Some of them you will likely already know (BTU, MDF, PVC), but what about PVC (positive crankcase ventilation) or GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter)? There are 24 acronyms in all. [Photo via Family Handyman.]

Using a Laptop as a Light Box

I love this little hack from Brett at Skull & Spade. In creating his art for hand-carving a rubber stamp, he laid his laptop screen-down on the table and used it as a light table to trace digital art onto paper. This is definitely a “Why didn’t I think of that?” sort of tip that I will surely be using.

Win a Maker’s Gift Basket

Don’t forget, you can win the gift basket example that I put together this week for my piece on creating gift baskets for makers. The basket features my book, Tips and Tales from the Workshop, a Jimmy DiResta handmade mini ice pick (worth $55) and a Bucket Boss parachute parts bag. It’s $125 worth of tools and supplies! All you have to do is post to any or all of your social media feeds (FB, Instagram, Twitter) and include the following link and tag: #tipsandtalesfromtheworkshop. On Dec 12th, I will do a random drawing of all of the tagged posts and will send out the basket to the winner in time for Christmas.

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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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