Tips of the Week: Hobby Knife Hacks, Paint Handle Push Sticks, Brazing 101, and Say My Name!

Tips of the Week: Hobby Knife Hacks, Paint Handle Push Sticks, Brazing 101, and Say My Name!

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.


Say My Name!

This is a tip I’m surprised that I need to share. If you’re a maker with a website, blog, or YouTube channel, DON’T FORGET YOUR NAME! As someone who writes about the maker movement and spends a lot of time looking at DIY YouTube videos, I am astounded by how often the person has not bothered to post their name anywhere on their site/page. I sometimes spend many frustrated minutes trying to find out the name of the person responsible for the content I’m looking at and want to write about. Maybe in some cases the person doesn’t want to be identified, but more often than not, I think it’s just an oversight. You want people to be writing about you. Make it easier for them to do so. State your name!

Push Stick from an Old Paint Brush

I am on something of a tool hacks binge recently, ways in which you can turn one tool into another. So this simple conversion, a Pinterest favorite, caught my eye. Turn your old large brush handles into tablesaw push sticks.

Brazing with a High-Heat Torch

In the latest (sponsored) DiResta video, Jimmy shows you some of the amazing things you can do with a high-heat Bernzomatic torch, some brazing rod, and 1/4″ steel rod. This looks like the perfect gateway drug to full-on welding. I watched this and thought: Even *I* could do this. I bet others will, too. As usual, lots of useful tips throughout, like heating and bending two rods at the same time to save time and fuel.

More Hobby Knife Hacks

A few weeks ago, in Tips of the Week, I wrote about grinding the tip and edge off of an X-acto knife blade to turn it into a sculpting tool. This week, while going through some old notes I took nearly 2 decades ago at a game modeling workshop, I came across a tip on using an old X-acto blade as a wet transfer decal applicator. All you do is turn the blade around, install the point in the chuck, and use the back end of the blade to hold, slide on, and apply your wet decals.

This made me curious about some of the other things you can do with X-acto knives. Here are a few:

Make a Scraper
Chuck a regular utility knife blade into a hobby knife handle and you have a decent little scraper. This might make a good print bed scraper for 3D printing, among other uses. [via this vid.]

Turn Your Soldering Iron into a Hot Knife
Here’s something I never would’ve thought of, taking a hobby knife blade, attaching it to an old, trashed soldering tip, and turning your soldering iron into a hot knife.

Sharpen Your Hobby Knife Blades
And finally, here’s something that more people should know about. X-acto/hobby knife blades can easily be re-sharpened with nothing more than a little honing on some sandpaper. Blades can be expensive and they don’t stay sharp for very long. You can easily fix all that with this little trick.

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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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