My favorite Maker tips for 2022

Originally published at: My favorite Maker tips for 2022 | Boing Boing


I do this with everything – especially engines, which have a variety of similar-but-different bolts and screws.


If anyone needs tips on losing the perfect pair, hit us up, we’re geniuses at it.


I can so relate to Adam’s video!

My first job out of high school was in a precision grinding job shop, where we’d take the chonky metal things that the customers’ machinists carved out in their lathes, and grind them carefully down to high-precision finished dimensions.

We had an inspection room where the gauge blocks and other inspection equipment was kept air conditioned to 68 degrees. We would set up our calibrated handheld dial micrometers in the inspection room, then bring them out to the shop floor, but the reference set of gauge blocks never left the room.

Everything was measured by wringing stacks of gauge blocks together, and using dial micrometers to compare the reference stack to the actual parts. It was common for us to hold tolerances to +.0000/-.0005", which is within five ten-thousandths of an inch. (The shop foreman occasionally took in a few jobs that had tolerances tighter than .0001", but he ran those personally and kept us grinder monkeys far away from those parts.)

For me, the “measurement epiphany” came when we were grinding a basket full of half-inch diameter pistons for a customer. The pistons were heat-treated before being sent to us. Because heat treating will warp metal, the parts were deliberately made way oversized to give us plenty of extra stock to grind them round, true, and smooth. Being oversized meant we had to send them through a grinding machine multiple times to “rough grind” the excess material away before precision grinding them down to their finished dimensions. Each pass through the machine we would remove about .020" inches, then narrow the grinding wheels, grind another .020", and so on. Even though the grinding machine flooded the parts with coolant, hogging off that much material generated a lot of heat. After the parts had made a half dozen trips through the grinder, the parts in the basket had gotten almost too hot to handle.

I remember taking one of the hot rough parts as it came out of the machine and measuring it in the handheld micrometer. As I held it, the dial rapidly swung from +.001 all the way across the gauge to -.001 as it quickly cooled down. I realized I am watching metal shrink!, and that thought just blew my mind.


I intuited this trick long enough ago that I don’t remember how far back I’ve been doing it, I thought everyone did it?


my auto mechanic friend showed me the trick about laying down all the parts to something on the floor or table in a single line and in order, which I may never have intuited myself but is just such a great life hack


Yeah, me too. My dad probably taught me long long ago.

I’ve often used an empty egg carton


You do have to be slightly careful with the “buy the cheapest tool” strategy. Sometimes a cheap tool just doesn’t work well enough for you to “learn how to use it, and see if it integrates into your process and into your shop”.


… does fixing a sleeping-bag zipper with a stiff old pair of pliers I inherited count as “making” :thinking:

1 Like

ha, I just did this on a bag last night. for years I thought the zipper was fucked but the pull was still in the bag. I happened to notice one side was wider and unattached; wedged it open a little more, popped it back into the zipper and clamped the wide end down with channel locks and viola! I had no idea this was a thing but I’m fixing my parka next .

I wonder if there is some radical redesign out there with no metal parts

You’d think the zipper would be the easiest to make indestructable but instead it’s the first thing to wear out

1 Like

does fixing a sleeping-bag zipper with a stiff old pair of pliers I inherited count as “making"


1 Like

If I recall correctly, Mythbusters tested the pirate eye-patch for dark adaptation and found it plausible if you’re willing and able to give up binocular vision, which would seem to have its own advantages on ships and in close quarters combat.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.