Tips of the Week: Chop Saw Tips, Improving a Cheap Airbrush, and Tinfoil, Duct Tape, and Toilet Paper as Crafting Materials

Tips of the Week: Chop Saw Tips, Improving a Cheap Airbrush, and Tinfoil, Duct Tape, and Toilet Paper as Crafting Materials

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.


Change Font When Proofreading

I love this tip from Derek Thompson (@DKThomp), a writer for The Atlantic, shared on Twitter: “Simple copy editing tip from somebody who sucks at copy editing: In your last pass, change the font to something unfamiliar. Then change the font size. When you’re familiar with a piece, your eyes gulp whole passages and miss typos. New fonts focus your eyes on each letter.”

Chop Saw Tips

It’s been a while since Jimmy DiResta has done one of his tips videos. They are always jam-packed with great shop ideas, techniques, and short-cuts and his latest on miter/chop saws is no exception. Jimmy covers everything from setting up a miter saw to cutting tips to shortcuts for accurate and repetitive cutting. And the best thing about the video? Spike the cat is back!

Using Tinfoil and Duct Tape for Prototype Sculpting

In the video from Punished Props that I posted earlier this week, Paige shows how you can use kitchen tinfoil and Duct tape to create forms that are fairly sculptable. You can squish it, build it up, cut it down. This looks like a very inexpensive and surprisingly versatile material for prototyping a desired form.

Improving a Cheap Airbrush

I have a very expensive airbrush that I am always hesitant to use because I hate cleaning it and don’t want to mess it up. So, I was intrigued by the idea of buying a super-cheap brush and improving it enough to use for priming, base coating, painting large pieces, etc. In this video, Rahmi of Scale-a-Ton shows how he improved the quality of a $20 brush, mainly by polishing the needle (they use low-quality, roughly-polished needles on cheap brushes) and replacing the O-ring with a seal made from beeswax. He claims that if you give the needle a good polish after every few uses, the brush will even get better over time. For twenty bones, I might give this a try.

Reusing Filament Spools

In Donald Bell’s latest Maker Update, he includes a tip found on Facebook for using empty 3DP filament spools to organize Christmas lights. This sent me off on a quest to find other re-uses for these ubiquitous plastic spools. On Cults 3D, they have a roundup of reuses, from using them for storage and cable organizing to turning them into lazy Susans for painting to making them into clocks. I especially like the lazy Susan turntable which uses marbles for the bearings.

Crafting with Toilet Paper?

This tutorial on turning a fax book box into a D&D dice box and storage tome reminded me once again how the many uses of toilet paper in crafting. I’d never even considered TP as a building material until I started watching DM Scotty’s the DM’s Craft channel. He uses TP and thinned white glue for all sorts of modeling and terrain-building applications. So, in thinking about what materials are available to you, don’t forget the ol’ bum wipe.

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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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