Maker jargon and slang for 2021

Originally published at: Maker jargon and slang for 2021 | Boing Boing


Just learning all that crap would give me a headache. Then I can’t make stuff, damn it…


Eat the frog – As the saying goes: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” The idea being to get the most unpleasant/daunting tasks out of the way first thing. This saying is often attributed to Mark Twain, but it actually predates him.

There’s a gym nearby called “Eat the Frog” and I had no idea this was a common phrase.TIL


Great list.

Buck is also the form or model used in vacuum forming.

Ferrules are also used in electronics to terminate the end of stranded wire so that they can be connected securely to a screw terminal.

Greeble might be misspelled, since it’s pronounced gree-blee.

Log jam is interesting. I’ve started using the supermarket/retail term go-backs for all those materials you end up not needing but that you don’t immediately return to storage. I’ve found it liberating to have a container for all my go-backs to prevent mindless but time-consuming interruptions. When I’m not being productive, I can sort through my “go-backs” to get all those resistors, screws, and PVC pipe connectors back into their proper bins.

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I have another couple…

Shy - Opposite of Proud (See above) Not Flush.
Spall - See Tear-out above.
Gall - Smeared melty metal stuck to a cutting tool.
Strangle (A tool) Most usually a hammer - To hold it by the middle rather than by the end as the designer of the tool intended. Generally a result of a lack of confidence.
Arris - The sharp edge where two surfaces meet. Best removed for safety unless there is a compelling reason to retain it.


Proud (and Shy) and Hog Out are vintage if not ancient terms in woodworking. Scab On is another, wherein a maker attaches a supplemental piece of material for structural purposes (unlike Greeble, which is added for effect).


May I add “Bodge”?

Colliins has the def that is closest to how I use the word - to half-assedly stick stuff together or fix. The mostly successful side of “Botch”


I’ve always considered ‘bodge’ to be a temporary, good-enough, on-the-fly mend meant to be revisited when the need to have a working part isn’t urgent or immediate. Sometimes a bodge will become semi-permanent: “My friend bodged a fix on his muffler using JBWeld, then lost his job. The bodge is still going strong, and probably will be with the car when it gets eventually sold.”


By all means!

There needs to be another word for when you (more or less permanently) disable or remove one part of a system to get the rest of the system functioning again.

Everyone I ask says this is just a ‘bodge’ but for me that doesn’t feel right.

As an example, most modern motorcycles have a series of cut-outs to prevent the machine being operated say if the side stand is down and the bike is in gear. But the side-stand switch (sensor) lives at the bottom part of the bike and attracts dirt, chain-oil and other sorts of filth and will fail sooner or later. I generally remove all the cut-outs on my bikes in the interests of reliability and versatility - Because sometimes I NEED the starter motor to turn with the bike in gear.

I don’t know the right word for that sort of modification.


Ñyomp - the act of tripping the end off a piece of wood using a chop saw without a lot of precision, to get it to fit. Word is onomatopoeia for the sound made by an electric miter saw.

“Take a ñyomp off of that would ya”


What’s in the Altoids cans?

“Have you got any grollings?”

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Useful list. Many of these terms are new to me.

As usual, it all depends. This sort of pliers, used judiciously (see Feel) will serve if a wrench is not handy, and will work on pipes and irregular objects as well. It’s certainly better than using a SAE-sized wrench on a metric bolt or vice versa.

If persuasion doesn’t work, get a Commander.

aka Choke. Same origin, I assume.

It’s a common observation,
Advice that never fails
The more you choke the hammer
The more you bend the nails.
– anonymous carpenter

Would that be the same as “jury rig”?


Beat me to it, so…

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Knitting – Coined by my old programming/hypermedia partner, Peter Sugarman , knitting is any repetitive, low-mental task that you can easily background or perform when you need a break from more taxing work. “I’ll do some knitting and fold these brochures while we talk.”

Could you more clearly demonstrate your contempt for traditionally female making?

Knitting requires attention and skill - it requires skills of a very high order indeed to treat it as a background activity.

And they wonder why women are underrepresented


I like the idea in theory. In practice it just means space deliberately made unavailable for books.

“Smoke test” is possibly a borrowing from the older typographical sense, where a new sort (an individual piece of type for a given character, ligature, or glyph) being carved is held over a smoky flame and pressed to a sheet of paper to test how it looks without needing to get ink on it. Metafont has an explicit smoke mode when designing a font.

The result of a failed electronics smoke test is a very characteristic smell, which in my experience is often called a “brown smell”.

I’ve heard it said that the mark of an experienced technician is that they know you have to hit it. The mark of an expert technician is that they know where to hit it. The mark of a master technician is that they know how hard to hit it.

Also to prevent tear out on the back surface.

And from the comments: Bodge is a technical term in woodworking for working with green wood.

(Edited to fix typos and image that were bugging me)


Close enough for jazz! :grin:

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Swing Wrench - when you pick up the closest tool available to whack something.

He-Man - to wrench on something way more than is necessary. See also: Gorilla Tight

German Torque - to tighten without a torque wrench until you are satisfied it is göod-n-tight

Painter’s chisel / electrician’s chisel - a flat-head screw driver

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Close enough for government work!

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Always remember: Nach fest kommt lose!

As in:

Nach ganz fest kommt ab. Nach ab kommt Wasser.