January 21, 2015 AT 6:00 am

Hackett on Nuts & Bolts in The Big Book of Maker Skills


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

Hackett Says:

Use an Old-School Tool for a Manufactured Effect
I did not grow up around tools and making. Other than an unhealthy obsession with knives, my curiosity about how things worked involved carefully taking things apart, attempting to put them back together, eventually losing interest, and then getting in trouble for ruining a perfectly good clock radio. I knew which end of a hammer to hold, and I knew what drills did, but that was as far as things went.

On the rare occasion I was called upon to assemble some furniture or fix something, I would quietly panic. Coupled with decent strength and a willingness to blaze through, I left a trail of destruction in my wake. Split wood, stripped screws—the only thing stronger than my incompetence were threaded fasteners. There was a right way and a wrong way, as with anything, but this one had a catchphrase: “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.” I could be crap at everything else, but nuts and bolts were idiotproof.

In fact, nuts and bolts are a shorthand for the best parts of our civilization. Exact, interchangeable, consistently produced—even the crap ones were better than what came before them, and they work even when guided by an idiot.

Time passed. I got interested, then obsessed, with how stuff works and making. I got less bad, then okay, then pretty good, but things clicked when I realized that, of all the references to taps that I encountered, none of them was about beer.

Drill the right hole, run a tap, and every bolt ever made in that size will fit. A couple of minutes’ work and your creation is seamlessly, tightly joined to the best our civilization has to offer.

Makers, get ready: This is your ultimate, must-have, tip-packed guide for taking your DIY projects to the next level—from basic wood- and metalworking skills to 3D printing and laser-cutting wizardry, plus the entrepreneurial and crowd-sourcing tactics needed to transform your back-of-the-envelope idea into a gleaming finished product.

In The Big Book of Maker Skills: 334 Tools and Techniques for Building Great Tech Projects, readers learn classic, tried-and-true techniques from the shop class of yore—how to use a metal lathe, or pick the perfect drill bit or saw—and get introduced to a whole new world of modern manufacturing technologies, like using CAD software, printing circuits, and more. Step-by-step illustrations, helpful diagrams, and exceptional photography make this book an easy-to-follow and easy-on-the-eyes guide to getting your project done.

Images courtesy Weldon Owen

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