Assorted notes on supplies for ‘making’

Created on Thursday, June 30, 2016. I last modified it on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

Every time I make something, I come up with ideas for where to get new materials and what to use those materials on.


1. Tools

  • A 3D printer is like a second pair of hands! What I often do is get an idea and start printing some of the most basic parts for test-fitting while I’m still designing everything else. When I designed the Kettle-Pod, for example, the first thing I made was the basic three-hole coupler so that I could start envisioning all of the other components that would fit onto the assembled arm.
  • I find a ball-head Panavise very helpful for electronics work, but not much else.
  • I have an inexpensive hobby vise and I actually get a lot of use out of it. It’s very good for holding stuff while I hammer or file them.
  • My soldering station is the Atten 937b. It’s dirt cheap and I like it. New tips are cheap from eBay too.
  • It’s nice to have two hot glue guns: A weak, cold one and a beefy, hot one.
    • The cold gun is for cardboard prototyping and gluing to 3D-printed objects. It sets quickly so you don’t have to hold cardboard panels together for five minutes, and the low heat means less warping of plastics.
    • The hot gun is for everything else. The hot gun is also useful for gluing funny shapes because the high heat gives you more working time.
  • Cheap tweezers are always bad.

2. Working with cardboard

  • Cardboard boxes for carrying purchased items are free at Bunnings (hardware store), but it is worthwhile to buy fresh boxes from them anyway. The cardboard is pristine and consistent, so it’s much easier to work with and the results look better.
  • Hot glue for cardboard prototyping. Don’t bother with anything else.

3. Working with craft foam sheets

  • Craft foam (ethylene-vinyl acetate, EVA) sheets are an excellent material for items that are going to be handled or worn. They come in a bunch of different colours, they feel pleasant in the hand, can be easily found up to A3 size in stores, are completely opaque, and can take spraypaint.
  • Can be marked with pencils or pens, or a temporary mark can be made by denting the sheet. This mark lasts for a few minutes and can be followed for cutting.
  • Sheets can be easily cut with scissors, blades, and cutting compasses.
  • High-temperature hot glue works very well for craft foam, it gives a long working time for gluing curves and creates a durable and flexible joint.
    • When hot-gluing craft foam, you can avoid squeeze-out ruining the face of the work by applying a very small amount of glue to one of the parts and then rolling the second part onto it. Start by bringing the two display faces into contact (like /) and then straighten them out (like   ). The excess glue will be squeezed out of the back of the joint and the display side will be clean.
  • Super glue can be used for cosmetic joins. I used it to glue squares of white and black foam (salt and pepper) to a foam cheese cracker.
  • Facing cuts can be made in craft foam using sharp blades. This is a good way to clean up any unwanted glue squeeze-out.

4. Adhesives

  • Scotch Restickable Strips make great retentive surfaces. I use them on lab mixers to provide a tacky surface that stops bottles from vibrating off.
  • Buy super glue in packs of small tubes so that you’ve always got some.
    • Never super glue a nut into a hole and then screw something into it. The screw will get stuck, of course. Super glue is not Loctite but it’s pretty close.
  • Loctite is a really good thing to have. Get Loctite 263 for permanent bonds and 243 for temporary vibration-resistant bonds. You can turn a near-useless grub screw into a very handy custom screw just by bonding a nut or thumbwheel to it with 263.

5. Electronic components

  • When it comes to blower fans, I have had some good experiences with ones labelled, “Gdt brushless DC fan, Bearing: Sleeve, DC 12V 0.12A” manufactured by Shenzhen Gdstime Technology Co. Ltd. Other brands and models that I’ve tried are not as powerful as these. This blower fan produces enough thrust to slowly walk itself across the table.
  • Following closely, though, is the AV-5015S 12V 0.10A blower fan.
  • ‘Penga Technology’ brand 12V-DC blower fans (they don’t even label the amperage) are the weakest I’ve tried.
  • A common trick in consumer electronics is to add weights to a product to make it feel more substantial than it really is. You can do the same thing by adding fishing weights to yours, just hot-glue them in. They also sell adhesive lead weights for balancing golf clubs, but those are very light compared to a single fishing weight.

7. Fasteners

  • Bunnings sells M3 screws, but does not sell M3 nuts :/ Furthermore, Bunnings does not sell hex or posidrive metric screws! Only bolt heads and Phillips drive.
That's all there is, there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2022.