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Tiny Tinker Tips, the obvious little things


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#1 Orpheus

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 01:22 PM

If you plan to disassemble an item often (or ever again) and it has inconvenient screws, such as Torx, tamper resistant Torx (with a center-pin),  triblade. Robertson (square slot) or one-way slotted, consider replacing the specialty screws with standard screws of the same length and thread. Save the specialty screws for your own use (or warranty returns, though you probably voided the living bejeebus out of the warranty by opening it in the first place)

If you save every extra or unneeded small screw you encounter, you will have a healthy stockpile in no time. As a youth, I scavenged parts from every broken mechanical/electrical device my family discarded; it saved my hash countless times.

--Orpheus

#2 D.Rabbit

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:06 PM

Your more then welcome to come dig through my scarp pile Orph.
It's just had a healthy infestation of old motors and hardware.
(ya see, I was at this auction...)

I did get in and dig out the most interesting bits, but I probably missed quite a few I have no idea what they are good for.

I was wondering, if I scanned up/photographed of some of my 50 kilo's of fresh hardware, (from another auction) if you could tell me what their original purpose was?

There are no better screws then Robertsons. IMHO They stay on the screw driver when you go to thread them and if you buy quality, they are easy to remove.

I will consider Phillips if I have quantity. It's nice that you can use the same driver for most of the many sizes, but they don't stay on the driver very well.

Torxs are mostly used for automotive and since I hung up my back yard mechanic's overalls after I waved good bye to the pick up truck, (or was that the yellow hatch back?) I tend to toss them. The same with slots. I only keep brass slots and use a hammer on them.

I do keep very old slots because I use to be able to sell them on eBay before other people got hip to my trick of selling them to repair antique furniture and flooded the market.
7 verses I know you're there behind the veil.

#3 Orpheus

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 07:41 PM

View PostD.Rabbit, on May 3 2009, 05:06 PM, said:

Your more then welcome to come dig through my scarp pile Orph.
It's just had a healthy infestation of old motors and hardware.
(ya see, I was at this auction...)
Don't tempt me, girl...

Quote

I was wondering, if I scanned up/photographed of some of my 50 kilo's of fresh hardware, (from another auction) if you could tell me what their original purpose was?
That might be a fun thread.

Quote

There are no better screws then Robertsons. IMHO They stay on the screw driver when you go to thread them and if you buy quality, they are easy to remove.
I could never quite get into them -- probably because I've only bought them for decking, and that size doesn't suit too many of my other uses. Other wise, most of my smaller projects are built with leftovers from my bigger ones. You do make a good case for them, though. Maybe I'll keep that in mind

Quote

I will consider Phillips if I have quantity. It's nice that you can use the same driver for most of the many sizes, but they don't stay on the driver very well.
You should consider trying Posidrive, Supadrive, Frearson or other cross drives.

Ever strip a Phillips screw, or have one that refused to drive properly in hardwood?? Believe it or not, Phillips screws are designed to "cam out" if very much force is applied!  Phillips were originally invented for aircraft construction, where overtightening could strip the soft aluminum threads. The other crosspoint drives will grip a screw under much higher torgue, size mismatches between driver and screw, and "one-ended hangs"

Most people treat them all the same, but the driver does make a difference. A Phillips or Frearson driver will drive most crosspoints well, but while a Supa-Drive tool will drive a Posi-drive screw, it doesn't work well the other way around.

qPhillips.gif qFrearson.gif qPozidriv.gif qSupadrv.gif
[Shaded areas are relatively shallow notches, not full depth]


Quote

Torxs are mostly used for automotive and since I hung up my back yard mechanic's overalls after I waved good bye to the pick up truck, (or was that the yellow hatch back?) I tend to toss them. The same with slots. I only keep brass slots and use a hammer on them.
I see Torx a lot on electronics, electrical and small mechanical devices made in the 1980s/90s as a sort of poor man's security screw (Frankly, I thought that was half the intent when they started using them in cars,  there, too. It sure wasn't on technical merit: the published torque ratings are well within crossdrive specs, and Torx are often used where stripping aluminum, sheet steel or plastic is a possibility.)

It's not that I dislike Torx (now that I have almost as many Torx drivers scattered around my life as crosspoints), but swapping drivers can really crimp my style and slow me down, especially in electronics, when I may have to switch between jeweler's screwdrivers and bulkier Torx drivers or Allen wrenches. a 3/32" Torx or hex is apparently "too big" for a jeweler's set (much less a good set), though a 3/32" (or 2.1mm) flathead comes in the middle of just about every set.

It's especially annoying on optical parts,. They must sell millions in fittings and external adapters fewer people would need if they used "easier" fasteners. It's sure driven me to jury-rig a lot

Quote

I do keep very old slots because I use to be able to sell them on eBay [...] to repair antique furniture
Sneaky! I like it!

#4 Orpheus

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 08:47 PM

For over a century, Popular Mechanics has had "Shop Notes" as column space fillers or a separate section. For almost as long, they've been publishing the notes as annual books (now sold as five-year compendia). However, in one of life's little lagniappes, the older Shop Notes books are out of copyright, and are even available for free download from Google books. A lot of those tips work just as well today....

... while others probably end as hilariously tragically, for everyone but the first guy who just got lucky.

q.gif
Don't try this at home, kiddies!



#5 D.Rabbit

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 11:21 PM

^
I must remember to book mark that tidbit for the next time my septic lines freeze up!

Quote

Don't tempt me, girl...
You don't really expect me to change my game plan do you?

#6 Orpheus

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 10:04 AM

This Popular Mechanic tip reminded me that when I was a  young man working on cars, I had two small drawers in my carry-all full of improvised jigs (one for wire, one for flat sheet metal) Steel picture hanging wire is surprisingly stiff in short lengths, and works well in fine jigs for screws too small for, say, 24 ga solid-core copper wire ("telephone wire") For really tiny work, a long strand from the shielding of a coax cable is about as stiff and fine as you're likely to have around the house.

There is a sort of magic involved in these things: sometimes a jury-rigged tool will magically have the perfect proportions for a wide range of tasks; others, less propitiously proportioned, just beg to be further modified on the next job, until they find their rightful role in life. I've long been amazed how some scraps just seem to to "suit" as almost no pricey manufactured tool does -- for example, the spacing between the original holes in the scrap stock may suit (in various combinations) many tasks I could never have foreseen. Call them "Swiss army scraps" -- unmarketable but priceless.

q.gif
Jigs for placing screws in tight spots



#7 Vapor Trails

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 06:54 PM

***reads thread title****

"Tiny Tinker Tips-the obvious little things."

For a second, I thought these were tips for men who weren't particularly well endowed. :p

:whistle: :look: :shy2: :bag:
Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#8 D.Rabbit

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 08:08 PM

^
It is GR you just have to know how to read between the lines.

Quote

is surprisingly stiff in short lengths,
and
about as stiff and fine as you're likely to have around the house.
and
There is a sort of magic involved in these things
and
they magically have the perfect proportions
Need I point out more?
So :p to you too.

#9 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 09:06 PM

View PostGhost Rider, on May 5 2009, 07:54 PM, said:

***reads thread title****

"Tiny Tinker Tips-the obvious little things."

For a second, I thought these were tips for men who weren't particularly well endowed. :p

:whistle: :look: :shy2: :bag:

LMAO!
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson

#10 Orpheus

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 09:23 PM

Did I really use "magical" twice in close proximity? Minus one point for style.

And "Swiss Army scraps"? Now that's an insult in any language! I must have a long, hard talk with me.

No, wait, not "long and hard". There are some things I won't do with myself. No matter how often people suggest it.

<obTip>
When cutting plywood sheets or other large panels on-site with a circular saw, one can have real problems with flexing, twisting, blade binding and/or panel breakage near the end of the cut, especially if there is any wind at all. Try buying a 1-2" thick 4'x8' panel of polystyrene or other rigid plastic insulation. 2" is better for 7 1/2" saws, but 1" is plenty for cordless 5 1/2 saws.

Place it flat on the floor, driveway or ground, place the panel on it, and set your circular saw so it only protrudes 1/2-1" through the plywood thickness (depending on the foam thickness you use). Be conservative if you're working on ground that is at all uneven: in a battle of blade vs ground, you and your project lose. Supported by the foam, the plywood won't flex -- you can even kneel atop the board and make some very nice long clean cuts.

I much prefer closed cell (usually pink or blue, with a smooth surface) over open cell (which looks/feels like a styrofoam cup). Open cell is more brittle and makes a fluffy cloud of staticy particles if you cut into it cut, but sometimes it's all I could get in 1"/2" thickness (this seems to be changing) My closed-cell sheet cost ~$20, and even after many years, it doesn't look like I'll need to replace it any time soon. A newer type of foam called polyisocyanurate (PIR), or even the somewhat older polyurethane (PUR) sheets look like they'd probably work, too, but I've never tried them.

I cut mine into four 2'x4' sheets for supreme ease of transport. This also usually lets me position the pieces on a way that doesn't require me to cut through the foam at all; I can usually arrange to cut in a space between panels or in a slot I've already cut into the foam in the past. This greatly increases longevity, and decreases cleanup.

Safety demands that you be careful not to completely penetrate the foam, of course, but this is a LOT cheaper than a portable table saw plus extensions, folding panel table, etc.  -- and a lot easier to pack. Indeed, it is cheap enough that you can just pick up a sheet at the local hardware warehouse if you forget to pack it, or have to do an unexpected repair on your vacation cabin.

This is one idea I really wish I'd had when I was starting out and didn't have a basement shop. I sometimes do quick panel cuts on foam, even when there is a full table saw available, because it's so much easier to manage alone.

At a similar cost, you can make a cheap portable sawhorse panel-cut table in an hour, but that's more a project than a tip.

#11 D.Rabbit

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:12 AM

View PostOrpheus, on May 5 2009, 10:23 PM, said:

Did I really use "magical" twice in close proximity? Minus one point for style.
It happens to the best of us.

Quote

And "Swiss Army scraps"? Now that's an insult in any language! I must have a long, hard talk with me.
No, wait, not "long and hard". There are some things I won't do with myself. No matter how often people suggest it.

You can stop that bragging right now. This is a family board. ;)

Great tip on the plywood cutting, if I ever have to deal with a full sheet, it will come in handy.

#12 Vapor Trails

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 11:37 AM

View PostLord of the Sword, on May 5 2009, 09:06 PM, said:

View PostGhost Rider, on May 5 2009, 07:54 PM, said:

***reads thread title****

"Tiny Tinker Tips-the obvious little things."

For a second, I thought these were tips for men who weren't particularly well endowed. :p

:whistle: :look: :shy2: :bag:

LMAO!

"FORM...BLAZING SWORD!!!!"

"AND I'LL FORM....THE HEAD!!!!!"


:whistle:  :baby: :1eye: :shy2: :alert:
Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#13 Vapor Trails

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 11:54 AM

View PostOrpheus, on May 5 2009, 09:23 PM, said:

Did I really use "magical" twice in close proximity? Minus one point for style.

You have a NAME for it?! Nooooooo-we're not TOO vain. :p  :rolleyes:

And dude, we're not interested in HOW many times you've used it, in WHAT proximity, and in WHAT STYLE. You're not being graded on this!!! :p

(Besides, I think the ladies here seem pretty satisfied, but I do hear that Lil was grumbling about you under her breath.  :whistle: )

:ninja:
Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#14 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:00 PM

View PostGhost Rider, on May 6 2009, 12:37 PM, said:

"FORM...BLAZING SWORD!!!!"

"AND I'LL FORM....THE HEAD!!!!!"


:whistle:  :baby: :1eye: :shy2: :alert:

ROFLMAO!  :howling:  :howling:  :howling:

Oh you could give a dirty meaning to Voltron....LMAO!
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson

#15 Vapor Trails

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 04:36 PM

View PostLord of the Sword, on May 6 2009, 12:00 PM, said:

View PostGhost Rider, on May 6 2009, 12:37 PM, said:

"FORM...BLAZING SWORD!!!!"

"AND I'LL FORM....THE HEAD!!!!!"


:whistle:  :baby: :1eye: :shy2: :alert:

ROFLMAO!  :howling:  :howling:  :howling:

Oh you could give a dirty meaning to Voltron....LMAO!

This coming from the guy with the smutty handle. :p :p

Instead of the bear, maybe you need this particular smiley as an avatar:

:1eye:

There's a reason I used it in the last post.

:angel_not:
Posted Image

Politicians are like bananas; they hang together, they're all yellow, and there's not a straight one among them.

"We're relevant for $ and a vote once every two years. Beyond that, we're completely irrelevant, except of course to consume, and preach the gospel according to [insert political demigod here]."--Cait

#16 Orpheus

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 06:27 PM

I should have thought of this sooner, but my tortuous path only qualifies this as an "obvious little thing".

Mixing things on a home-project scale can be a surprising hassle. Even if you have a small concrete mixer, cleaning it up and drying it out afterwards can be a chore -- those things never seem to be designed for easy interior access.

I was going to do some pot gardening today -- gardening in pots, not of pot [Oh, stop with the skeptical chortles. Recreational herbage wouldn't even begin to make a dent in  banged up brain like mine; I almost wish it could!]-- and needed to mix a few hundred pounds of soil, sand, vermiculite, mulch, etc. to make a light mix that would let roots through easily, and drain well while nonetheless retaining substantial moisture if I get forgetful with the hose.

I found myself yearning for a solution I'd used many years ago: a commercial washing machine "bucket" from the 1970s -- a sturdy drum with large "agitator" ribs molded into its sides. I'd epoxied some heavy plastic sheet inside it for a completely unrelated project, and later realized I could dump in 100lbs or more of ingredient and roll it around on the ground to get a thorough mixture in just a minute or so. Unfortunately, I lost that monstrosity several moves ago.

Was reminded of this while doing the laundry, looking at my washer's miniload bucket -- which has too small a capacity to be useful for this, especially since it'd need plenty of empty room to get a good tumbling action. Besides, its agitating ribs are mostly in the center, with only one token rib spiraling the outside. I've tried industrial drums and pails, but their smooth sides don't do nearly as quick and uniform a job of mixing.

It occurred to me that the internet might yield a source of commercial washer drums, and I found that someone had commercialized this idea for mixing soil and home-project batches of concrete (which I hadn't  considered -- I may just sell my hard-to-clean mixer) under names like Scepter and Odjob. Unfortunately, it seems that the early gardeners and home-improvers (almost everyone starts earlier than New England) had pretty much cleaned out the stock from the cheaper places (~$10) leaving only the yuppie sites that skim the easy pickings who can't be bothered to check if their $40 gizmo can be had for $10 elsewhere

Well, I wasn't going to pay $40 for a banged up bucket. It occurred to me that I didn't need fancy shaped agitators. Half an hour later, I can report that a dozen short scraps of 2x4, lag-bolted edge-on to the inside of a tight-sealing 10-gal industrial pail works just fine -- probably better than an Odjob (based on the depth of the agitator) and with more durability and less leakage (based on a few BBS reviews)! 10 Gal may not sound like much, but a bathtub containing a bather only holds 20-30 gal of water. A 55gal drum would work, too, but it would be ridiculously heavy, and takes up a lot of space. I spare those for the *truly* crazy projects.

(If you don't have any industrial pails, don't pay True Value $10 for one. Just ask around: businesses/restaurants discard them every week. They are so useful that I feel every handyman should have a dozen 2-10gal industrial pails (and their tops) stacked in a corner. They can support hundreds of pounds indefinitely, almost never die (you must kill them -- if you can)) and free to replace, which encourages their use for all sort of non-container uses.)

#17 D.Rabbit

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 05:10 PM

What about a dryer drum? They have blades. You just have to seal all the vent holes, and tinker together a lid.
They are often enough, free for the taking at most land fills.

Quote

dozen short scraps of 2x4, lag-bolted edge-on
A dozen? Wonder there was any room left for your mix?

How about 4 2x6 set on and angle instead?

#18 Orpheus

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 07:13 PM

In fact, that drum I had *may* have been a dryer drum. I just always called it a washer drum without thinking.

As for the 12 pieces of wood, I should have been clearer:

I was using literal scraps (<8") to better conform to the curve of the 10gal-ish pail, bolting straight pieces to a curved surface. I couldn't slant them much without screwing the bolts in at poorly supported angles that could tear the plastic or wood in use. To get tilted paddles with bolts that were fairly square to the wood/pail, I used short scraps, tilted modestly: 4 near the bottom, another 4 (slanted the opposite way) near the middle, and 4 more near the top. Something like this:

q.gif qa.gif qb.gif

I wouldn't be surprised if your 4 longer "vertical" paddles worked nearly as well, but I wanted tilted paddles, had some short scraps handy, and have been disappointed by mixing in rolling pails before, so I went full bore vs starting easy and escalating.

Besides, I'm assessing the Ryobi batteries, so I've been leaning to toward the liberal side on cordless usage. Honestly, even with tilted paddles, 3 paddles per section would probably work better than 4 did, and 2 would probably be nearly as good.

In fact, I suspect that just bolting 6-12 random short scraps in random spots (vertically or at an angle) would work pretty well, and make better use of your scrap box. If I ever build another, I'll try that. It was probably the smooth sides of the pails that resulted in my earlier disappointing trials.

#19 Orpheus

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 09:46 PM

Forgot my tip of the day:

An old suitcase (especially those cardboard ones I can't imagine anyone traveling with anymore), carrying case, soft-sided carrier, etc. can be turned into a very nifty custom kit/project box, if filled with polyurethane foam. The low expansion type is easier for beginners to work with, but is harder/tougher when fully cured, though most types of expanding polyurethane are quite sturdy. One $6 can of e.g. "Great Stuff" makes several cases. Just lay your project out in advance and work steadily (don't rush, but don't allow interruptions/distractions). Foam in layers, not as one big blob. Google for tips on how to keep the nozzle and tube from clogging if you don't plan on using an entire can at once.

Larger alcoves can be molded directly from the intended contents (taped over with e.g. duct tape, electrical tape, wax paper, saran wrap, etc.) I usually pad the item a little (e.g. an extra layer of duct tape), so I can glue a layer of stretchy cloth over the completed foam surface for a snug fit, but sometimes it's better to cast a tight fit and trim/sand it down. Spaces/holders for small items/bits are easily cut in cardboard or packing foam inserts with a razor or carved  in harder foam with hand/power tool. You can even have kits within kits (e.g. a soldering supply kit in a electronics kit)

Though less elegant, layers/sections of corrugated cardboard or packing foam, glued together in a box, makes a custom project case you can modify on the fly.  I try to keep all my unfinished projects in them (which sometimes evolve into a design for the permanent kitbox for the completed project). An organized kit helps me keep my plans organized, as well as my parts, and helps keep a project going further into development, rather than grinding to a halt after a landmark stage. (You'll see what I mean as I finish writing up my webcam projects over the summer) I avoid styrofoam because it holds static that can damage some electronics and attracts dust to optics, but it's easy to work with. (more on this later)

It's not necessarily the right approach for everyone, but once you get used to this, you may never willingly go back.

#20 Mark

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 12:20 PM

View PostOrpheus, on May 8 2009, 08:46 PM, said:

Forgot my tip of the day:

An old suitcase (especially those cardboard ones I can't imagine anyone traveling with anymore), carrying case, soft-sided carrier, etc. can be turned into a very nifty custom kit/project box, if filled with polyurethane foam. The low expansion type is easier for beginners to work with, but is harder/tougher when fully cured, though most types of expanding polyurethane are quite sturdy. One $6 can of e.g. "Great Stuff" makes several cases. Just lay your project out in advance and work steadily (don't rush, but don't allow interruptions/distractions). Foam in layers, not as one big blob. Google for tips on how to keep the nozzle and tube from clogging if you don't plan on using an entire can at once.

Larger alcoves can be molded directly from the intended contents (taped over with e.g. duct tape, electrical tape, wax paper, saran wrap, etc.) I usually pad the item a little (e.g. an extra layer of duct tape), so I can glue a layer of stretchy cloth over the completed foam surface for a snug fit, but sometimes it's better to cast a tight fit and trim/sand it down. Spaces/holders for small items/bits are easily cut in cardboard or packing foam inserts with a razor or carved  in harder foam with hand/power tool. You can even have kits within kits (e.g. a soldering supply kit in a electronics kit)

Though less elegant, layers/sections of corrugated cardboard or packing foam, glued together in a box, makes a custom project case you can modify on the fly.  I try to keep all my unfinished projects in them (which sometimes evolve into a design for the permanent kitbox for the completed project). An organized kit helps me keep my plans organized, as well as my parts, and helps keep a project going further into development, rather than grinding to a halt after a landmark stage. (You'll see what I mean as I finish writing up my webcam projects over the summer) I avoid styrofoam because it holds static that can damage some electronics and attracts dust to optics, but it's easy to work with. (more on this later)

It's not necessarily the right approach for everyone, but once you get used to this, you may never willingly go back.

Mark: Would love to see the visual or description of how to make a mold for say, a hammer, out of of the spray poly-foam.
Mark
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