Tips of the Week: Repair Cafés, 3D Printer Bed Scrapers, Cleaning Chrome with Foil, and a Pocket Jig Dust Shroud

Tips of the Week: Repair Cafés, 3D Printer Bed Scrapers, Cleaning Chrome with Foil, and a Pocket Jig Dust Shroud

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.


Bottle Cap Disposable Palettes

OK, this one might not seem like much, but I recently saw several hobby painting videos where they were using plastic milk jug caps as little disposable glue/epoxy mixing cups and paint palettes. I’ve started doing the same and find them very handy. They can be on-time, disposable use, or you can clean them out and use a few times before they get too funky. In a week, I’ve already collected a stash of 6 of them. Oh, and ceramic tiles make a nice mixing surface, too.

Find (or Start) a “Repair Café”

A trend that is starting to spread worldwide, especially in Europe, is the emergence of repair cafés. These are either actual physical shops or regular events held at libraries, schools, churches, and other public places. Residents bring their broken appliances and consumer electronics and instructors help them troubleshoot, and hopefully repair, their gear. Often, the exchange is free, or donation-based, or for a small fee. maintains a map of repair cafes worldwide. If you don’t see one in your area, consider starting one. It’s a great way to do something positive for your community, a way to socialize with your neighbors, and a great way to help slow the endless bulldozing of waste into our local landfills.

Cleaning Chrome with Aluminum Foil

If you have some shabby-looking chrome with a little bit of moderate pitting and rusting, you can rejuvenate some of that with nothing more than a ball of aluminum foil and some water. Some people recommend Diet Coke instead of the water, others swear by vinegar. Experiment and see what works best for your application. But give it a try. You might be surprised by the results.

Dollar Store 3DP Bed Scrapers

I ran across this tip this week while watching a 3D printing video and I forgot which video it was from. The maker recommended using Dollar Store mini-scrapers for prying prints up from a 3D printer’s bed. You get 4 scrapers in a package for a buck.

Sculpting Tools for Dull X-acto

In a painting video on the YouTube channel for the tabletop game company, Privateer Press, they shared this idea, which I am definitely going to try. Take an old blade from a a hobby knife, sand off the sharp, pointy tip and the razor edge and turn it into a sculpting tool.

3D Printing a Pocket Jig Dust Shroud

The ever-clever and industrious, Becky Stern, shared this on her Instagram feed. The video she posted on YouTube is here.

Storage Bins from Paint Thinner Cans

Love these storage bins with handles made from paint thinner/spirits cans. Spotted by Make: contributor, Kent Barnes, at the Alemany Farmers/Flea Market in SF. Thanks, Kent!

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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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