Tips of the Week: Managing Cables, Controlling Pump Bottles, Custom Boxes, and Storage from Trash

Tips of the Week: Managing Cables, Controlling Pump Bottles, Custom Boxes, and Storage from Trash

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.


Super Gluing End Grain

We’ve talked about this before on Tips of the Week; using glue on the end grain of wood to help strengthen and seal it. We’ve previously talked about pressing carpenter’s glue into the grain. Here is the same idea using Cyanoacrylate (aka “Super Glue”). [Via Paul Meyette]

Printing New Scissors Handles

By way of Boing Boing comes this video of a guy designing and 3D printing a new and improved handle for his scissors after they break. This may be a long way to go for something you could easily replace for a few bucks, but increasingly, there are lots of 3D designs for replacement knobs, handles, holders, and other such parts available on Thingiverse. So, if you have a 3D printer, do a search before you toss out that tool or appliance that has a broken or missing part.

Controlling Pump Bottles with Rubber Bands

Pump bottles are great for dispensing all sorts of liquids found in the home and workshop, but you are at the mercy of the pump’s design as to how much product is dispensed. You can easily control that amount by restricting the depth of the pump using a rubber band. Just wrap the band around the pump stem until it dispenses the amount you desire. You can wrap or unwrap the band until you reach that desired amount. Nifty. [Image via Tightwad Mom’s]

Custom Box Maker App

Have a custom box you need to design, cut out, and assemble? Tiffany Tseng’s online Box Maker allows you to enter the dimensions of a box (or upload an STL file) and it will auto-generate a box template (as an SVG file). Very handy. [via Maker Update]

Tips for Drilling Holes

Here is another great tips video from the Essential Craftsman. In it, Scott runs through many details and features of drills (aka the bits) and drill motors (the actual name for the machine that holds a bit). Lots here for beginners and old hands alike.

Storage Solutions from Trash

Going through my attic this week, I found a bunch of the magazine and document storage boxes that I made 20 or more years ago out of bulk laundry soap boxes. Prior to that, I had created a template of a commercial back issue box and had been cutting, folding, and gluing up my own. This was so much easier. You can use any sort of sturdy box, container, milk jug, milk crate, etc. for a storage solution, especially if you have multiples of the same container. The uniformity helps make this work. I had about 20 of these detergent boxes on a shelf at one point.

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


On his YouTube channel, homesteader Dirt Farmer Jay offers a tip for a superior, less kinky way to store your heavy-duty power cords. Starting from one end, work all of the twists out of the cord. The basic steps are:
1. Plug the male end into the female end.
2. Grab the doubled cord below the loop that marks the
halfway point and flip it over so the loop is facing down.
3. Push the doubled cord through the loop and grab it with your other hand.
4. Repeat to form a chain. [DIRT FARMER JAY]

[Watercolor by Richard Sheppard]


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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