Tips of the Week: Zip Tie Twisting, 3D Printing Sanding Grips, and the Orbital Sawing Stroke

Tips of the Week: Zip Tie Twisting, 3D Printing Sanding Grips, and the Orbital Sawing Stroke

As always, we want to see some of your favorite shop tips, tricks, hacks, shortcuts, whatever you care to call them. Please share below in the comments and we might include them in a future column.

3D Printing Custom Sanding Grips

tieBob Clagett of I Like to Make Stuff offers this brilliant tip on 3D printing custom standing grips. Using 3D design software, you can quickly and easily create grips that are designed to conform to a specific surface on your project. If you have 3D designed and printed the thing you’re wanting to sand, you can even use the negative space information to create grips designed to sand inside of tough places. And as Bob points out, since resolution doesn’t mean much here, you can print at the lowest resolution to make print time much quicker. Which is a tip in itself, to always consider the application of your prints and adjust print resolution accordingly.

Sawing with an Orbital Stroke

tieThis tip comes by way of Popular Woodworking and a very useful collection of great handsawing tips. The idea here is to greatly limit sawdust obscuring your cutline by employing an orbital stroke. Basically, you stroke down to cut into the workpiece and then lift the teeth of the saw out of the cut just a bit for the return stroke, and then stroke down again for the next forward stroke. But doing this orbital sawing motion, you are pushing all of the sawdust away rather than pulling it up onto the top surface of the board on the return stroke.

Remembering the Power of Leverage

tieYou might not be called upon to harvest lumber in the outback with nothing but a stone ax and cargo shorts, but “Prim” (as some call the unnamed man who does the amazing Primitive Technology YouTube channel) offers us a good reminder on the power of leverage. Rather than have to stone-ax his way entirely through a tree, he cuts away about 50% all around, and then uses two living trees close together to leverage a break. Watching DiResta (and others), you will frequently see him using leverage in a similar way to break and/or bend material. Leverage is your friend.

Twisting Off Zip Ties

tieOn Mancrafting, he shares an awesome tip from Scott Haun. When trimming down the excess tail on a zip tie, don’t cut it. This will leave a sharp-edged tail which can scratch you. Use a pliers or multitool to twist the excess off, right against where the lock is. This will sheer off the excess fairly cleanly and leave no scratchy tail. If I awarded a Tip of the Week on “Tips of the Week,” this one would win. [Thanks to Scott Haun for sharing this tip with me.]

Making a Retracting Chuck Key

tieI found this while wandering through the stacks of old Make: content this week. To always make sure that you don’t lose your precious drill press chuck key, attach it to a magnetized, retractable key chain. Yes, some presses have a hole or holster to store the key, but I don’t know about you, but things always want to wander off in my shop, so tethering is always a good idea.

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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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