We’re celebrating the release of Chris Hackett & PopSci’s new book, The Big Book of Maker Skills. Today’s excerpt is about taps and threads. – Becky Stern
I was one of those children always taking things apart—common to makers, but looking back, I realize that child me was a lot weirder and darker than one would want: I took stuff apart, but with zero interest toward improving the objects or even putting them back together. As I recall, I had no curiosity as to what the little bits did, and the concept of a “soldering iron” was totally foreign. I just wanted to carefully, methodically destroy things. I think we are all glad I did not have easy access to frogs or puppies.
But as I got older, I started to develop an interest in how the world worked, and realized my ignorance was deep and vast. I paid my electric bills, but where did the electricity come from (wait, back up—what is electricity? ). And what, exactly, was it doing once it got here? I wanted to create things, but I was clueless as to where to begin or even the correct terms to use. Like more and more of us, I grew up in a world that downplays the physical and the practical—where the vague menace of lawsuits makes shop classes disappear and distaste toward working with your hands leaves us all idiots staring at screens.
Slowly I learned the words (thanks, McMaster-Carr) and then the techniques. A great thing about “fake it until you make it” is that, once you’ve made it, you no longer have to fake it. The first things you make will look like crap, will probably not work, and will become cherished, deeply confusing family heirlooms. That’s OK. In fact, that’s all part of it.
This book is designed for the people starting from zero, the people who know a little and want to know more, and those who are pretty good and want some neat tricks. Writing it was harder than I thought it would be, but I hope it allows you to have hands that never come totally clean and a deep appreciation for the wonderful stuff that holds our world together.