Tips of the Week: Wider Breadboards, 3DP Benchmark Standard, Custom Sanding Sticks, and the Renovating Joys of the Makecation

Tips of the Week: Wider Breadboards, 3DP Benchmark Standard, Custom Sanding Sticks, and the Renovating Joys of the Makecation

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.


Keeping Putties Fresh

Here’s a tip from The Family Handyman. To keep your wood putties fresh, keep their cans submerged in a paint can filled with water.

Making Quick Sanding Sticks

I love this tip from the always-entertaining Bobby Duke. In this video of him transforming a DiResta ice pick into a tiny sword, he shows how he turns 3M sandpaper that has a heat-activated adhesive backing into small sanding sticks. All you do is heat up the backing, burnish the sticks you want to sandpaper-ify onto the paper backing, and then trim it.

Indulge Yourself with a Makecation

I got to do something truly wonderful this past week. Every year (for the past three years), my grown son and I spend a week on a Gamecation. He takes off from work and comes home so that he and I can do nothing but play tabletop games, paint miniatures, and build terrain together. It is, hands down, the highlight of my year. The artist and poet William Blake had a concept he called “renovating passion.” That’s what he called the things that rejuvenate your soul, that inspire you, that make you deeply happy. He argued that you needed to have some form of renovating passion to stay mentally healthy. I know that going on any sort of “staycation/makecation” for a week to indulge some passion of yours might be an indulgence, might not be doable, but if you can manage it, DO IT! I didn’t even take off work. I front-loaded some of my work before he got here and then did my day’s work before he got up each day. I had to push a little harder, but I managed to do it, and it was worth it. It’s a tremendous bonding experience and a deep immersion into something that I truly love. It’s one of my renovating passions. What are yours? And do you feed them as much as you can?

Making a Wider Breadboard

This little quick tip on Digicool Things demonstrates how you can easily expand many small breadboards. The type of boards that are clear plastic with a paper backing can be cut (by slicing through the backing) and rejoined to create the width of board you desire. In the video, he cuts and snaps one of the power bus rails off one of two boards and then rejoins the boards. The remaining power bus on the other board becomes a center trench that ICs can straddle leaving much more real estate on the expanded board for hooking up components.

3D Printing Test Print

Via the hundredth episode of Donald Bell’s most excellent Maker Update comes news of this collaboration between Autodesk and Kickstarter to create a standardized 3DP test print. The idea was to create a common benchmarking print so that consumers can better evaluate and compare print quality across different printers. The resulting print is designed to highlight all of the strengths and weaknesses of a printer being tested.

Tips on Finishing 3D Prints

In Bob Clagett’s latest installment of his “Bits” series of tips videos on his channel, he runs through all of the different techniques one can use to smooth out and finish 3D prints, from vapor smoothing to brush-on resin coatings to filler primer and more.

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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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