My Top 5+ Maker Tips for 2021

I publish a weekly tips newsletter called Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales. Earlier in the week, on Boing Boing, I posted my annual round-up of the best tips for 2021. Here are my top five of those (OK, with a bonus tip).

Sprue Hacking

Anyone who’s done any scale or game modeling, dungeon crafting, or other plastic modeling is no doubt familiar with sprues, those ubiquitous frames that hold plastic model parts and are part of the injection molding process. In this four-part video, game modeler Jon of Miniature Hobbyist, shows close to 40 different things you can make from this plastic waste material, from doors, walls, and cobblestone streets to piles of treasure, tents, barricades, cages, and even tools for your workbench, such as painting sticks and paint-pot holders. In part 4, he shows how you can turn sprue material, broken down in acetone, into a goopy plastic material (that he’s dubbed “Ooey Gooey Spruey”) for casting, gap-filling, turning into pipes and thick cables, miniature bases, and more. Fascinating stuff.

Paint-On Copper Plating?

In a follow-up to her recent video where she electroplated the gas tank of her motorcycle with copper, Laura Kampf decided to try a much easier platting method of simply painting on a copperplate solution. She saw a video demonstrating the technique and wanted to try it out herself. It appears to work. As she points out, this could lend itself to all sorts of applications.

Using 3D Printing Infill as a Design Feature

I absolute love this idea of using infill structures in 3D printing as an artistic design. (Infill is the patterned support structure used inside of objects to provide strength while cutting down on printing time, weight, and filament). Joe of Makes’n’Breaks decided to foreground the usually hidden patterns of infill in a series of coasters combining the 3D printed infill structures in a wooden frame. The results are beautiful.

Making a Table Stable

You know the drill. You’re at a restaurant or bar and the table wobbles, so you or your server shoves a matchbook or napkin under a leg. Wrong! As this video explains, it’s not the table legs that are likely different lengths, it’s likely the floor that is uneven. To stabilize, simply turn the table a quarter turn to find more level ground. Coincidentally, right after seeing this video, my fiance Angela and I were at an outdoor restaurant with a wobbly table. Our server came up, twisted the table a few inches. Problem solved.

Edge Gluing Tip

North of the Border is a YouTube channel where crafter Adam makes really clever book nooks (little dioramas that go on bookshelves). During this Mines of Moria infinity mirror episode, he shares a great tip. When gluing two pieces of material together (especially something you want to keep clean and glue-free, like mirror glass), don’t apply the glue all the way to where the two pieces will join or smear the glue down along edge (as it will accumulate as you go). Apply a thin bead of glue along the edge and then smear it out and over the over the edge. This way, when you join the two pieces, there will be no glue squeeze-out along the seam of the join. (See the video if this to too confusing).

This one was too good not to share, so here is a bonus tip:

Ten 3DP Tips from a Seasoned Maker

On Alexandre Chappel’s YouTube channel, he offers up ten top 3D printing tips. His advice includes:

* Upgrade to a .06mm nozzle.
* Increase perimeter (wall thickness) over infill to improve part strength and reduce print time.
* Don’t get distracted by all the fancy filaments out there – most everything you print can be done with PLA.
* Use glue stick for better bed adhesion.
* If you have a large or complicated part, print out a small section of it to test fit and function before committing to a full print.
* You don’t have to 3DP everything. Create hybrid objects with 3D parts and conventional hardware (bolts, screws, threaded rods) – saves time and adds strength.
* When designing parts, avoid support structures as much as possible.See more details and the rest of his list here. [H/t Kevin Kelly]

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