Jump to content

Favorite non-tool tool


Mike Andriacco

Recommended Posts

Since there are so many creative problem solvers in this forum, I thought this might be a fun little topic (and a great way to share some awesome tips). So here goes:

 

What is your favorite non-tool, tool and how do you use it? I'm not talking about repurposing tools here, but rather something that isn't normally considered a tool that you use to great advantage in the shop.

 

I'll start. My favorites are an old phone book and Popsicle sticks. The phone book has so many uses for me. I mix my epoxy on a page and when I'm done, I tear it off and toss it in trash, revealing a fresh page. I also use the pages for occasional stropping in place of newspaper or to glue a joint I want to break apart later. The Popsicle sticks I use for mixing, to keep a clamp from marring a surface, to shim something, or to make little mini custom sanding sticks.

 

I'd love to hear your ideas and tips!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fun topic idea. I like the phone book thing. I may nail one to my wall tonight...

 

I get a lot of mileage out of some simple aluminum blocks. I have a bunch of them that are various sizes left over from machining projects. Each workbench has a couple sitting in the corner. Most are small in the 1/2" to 2" range. It seems I am always reaching for one when i need a square edge or flat surface to reference or align something. Sometimes I use them as micro sanding blocks. I find them just about as useful as the proverbial pointed stick.

-Brian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chunks of micarta. Sanding sticks, spudgers, non marring clamping blocks. You can drill and tap it to make fixtures. I bought a box of a 1000 "craft" sticks from the local craft store, it may be a lifetime supply. Condiment cups (the little plastic ones) are great epoxy cups, I get them from the local restaurant supply house, the little stainless side cups are great for stain, solvents and stuff.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

+1 for the condiment cups. A few years back some people I lived with decided it was a good idea to get an industrial sized box of them for cooking and stuff, but no one used more than a doze. Now I have infinite cups for epoxy, glue, stain, what have you.

 

Might be cheating, but the contents of my scrap bin are surprisingly useful for non forging needs ranging from weights to supplement clamps when gluing (mostly for wood, not metal) to fashioning shims or even fashioning odd screwdrivers out of. For that reason, I don't throw out any steel, whatever the source, and have found that one 2" bit of pipe from three years ago critical to some job or another.

 

Along the same thought, scrap leather is tremendously useful. For soft jaws in the vice, a surface to clamp against to prevent slippage, shims, spacers, too many to name.

 

Last one that is actually useful and more along the line of how your question is worded, string. String is great! I hardly ever tie stuff with it, but I use it for all sorts of other things. The most frequent is probably to use as a flexible measuring utensil for figuring out the length of complex curves or angles against which straight edges will not be accurate. More, it is the perfect thing for finding centres of stuff. Just fold it in half and there you go! Relative measure is highly under rated, in my opinion. Doesn't matter if it is 7" and some crazy fraction if you can accurately find the middle with a length of string. A few times I have also used it as a straight edge/reference line, sort of like one of those chalk lines for laying out drywall without the chalk.

Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

-Shards of the Dark Age- my blog
-Nine Worlds Workshop-
-Last Apocalypse Forge-

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My workbench has a second layer of plywood nailed on at the corners; enough pressure to slip my blades in for a knife vise. Works pretty well.

Trying to make each knife just a little better than the last

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Caleb, that's a good idea. Hockey pucks. Cut in half and sanded smooth I use them for sanding blocks. You can contour them easily, and small pieces make nice detail sanders. A piece of smooth tile or a piece of glass for making surfaces flat.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ohh! Geoff reminded me of another one I couldn't live without. I have a hunk of granite counter top scrap that makes a marvelous flat surface for either sanding something flat, or gluing up something that need a flat reference base. My piece was a cutout for a sink opening.

  • Like 1

-Brian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

+1 on the granite slab. And leather scraps. And string.

 

I keep a pack of the cheap pine shim wedges you get at the big-box store for doors & windows. I use them constantly to level things up on the drill press. They make good disposable putty knives. And with adhesive sandpaper, they can be quickly ground into custon detail sanders.

 

In the hot shop, I have a round piece of maple that I got from the wood pile and a dogwood branch that's about 2.5"x16". Some guys have fancy wood mallets, but I use these to counterbend blades and straighten twists in iron work that might be crooked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got an old tombstone for free from a headstone place, guess it was not picked up or something, but it is great as a leather anvil, a surface plate for flattening, and numerous other cool tasks. I use the back so as not to get creeped out, lol.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree with the popsicle sticks, they may be the most used tools for assembly for me. Same with leather scraps, always good to have around. Something I saw recently which I liked a lot was using a piece of wood with a cork surface as a polishing surface to clamp to.

 

Having magnets around is something I always take for granted, whether it's for suspending something in the etch tank or for making it harder to spill my borax pan on the ground they always come in handy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mine is a piece of 1.5x1.5" poplar I bought when I was first making knives to use for handles. Before I had a vise it was how I fixtured everything, by clamping the piece to it and either clamping it to a table or sitting on it. Now I use it mostly put it in my vise to clamp blades to for sanding. It shows all the old use with a "finish" or 3 in 1 oil and steel sanding chips.

 

Aiden

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A an older style hair dryer..my shop in not heated. I blow hot air under my shirt and down my pant legs for about 1 min....this keep me going for about 10 min. I love it.

 

Jan

Heh heh heh! I use one for a blower.

 

Wood scraps are probably my most used non-tool tool. I have one square piece I use as a sanding block, and another with my belt sander I use to hold blades squarely against the belt (when rough sanding the sides).

 

Baling twine and iron tie wire are two other things I use a lot along with a lot of scrap metal for weights.

B)

 

Truth simply is. Whether you like that truth or not is totally irrelevant.

https://www.facebook.com/StormsForge">https://www.facebook.com/StormsForge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Having magnets around is something I always take for granted, whether it's for suspending something in the etch tank or for making it harder to spill my borax pan on the ground they always come in handy.

 

Thank you Emilliano! You have just solved by borax can issue! :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My right upper leg, is one. It's a workbench that's available anywhere I go. Second is a flat more or less square piece of oak about 30x30cm, which I use as cutting board, backing board when I make sand moulds, for making clay moulds on, use it as a rest for a small anvil, as backing when filing things, etc. etc. It's a brilliant allround lap work bench, mostly used when I sit on the couch and still want to be working on things. Another thing I use a lot is a failed knife. It's horrid in shape to look at, and made from mild steel. But it's my favorite tool for doing rough shaping in wood. The balance is just perfect for chopping with great control. Some other examples are some antler tines, which are off-cuts from making handles. I have 3 that are so perfectly shaped for all kinds of mould making works, from shaping clay moulds, sand moulds, shaping wax, even for carving soapstone moulds. If I loose one of these, I panic, as they are practically irreplaceable. And various cups and pots I use for making mixes of all sorts. Oh, and the magic spoon. Which is a spoon, on a stick, for scooping charcoal out of a crucible before casting, followed by a magic blowpipe, which is a piece of copper tube with the end squeezed, which is used to blow off remaining bits of charcoal from the metal surface. For bronze age metalworking I had a whole array of sticks, stones, bits of wood, leather etc. that all had very specific functions. But that's a whole different ball game.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I lost my bone folder and started using a bit of walrus tusk instead , I much prefer it the naturally rounded tip really eases the leather.....

forging soul in to steel

 

owenbush.co.uk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can put sandpaper in a jewelers saw and it works so nice for handles and really annoying to sand spots, I usually fold paper once to strengthen it but it can still be delicate, sanding belts work no problem, just cut them to the right width.

 

I forgot to mention, its like sanding with a slack belt on a belt sander, it wont work on flats.

Also, I just remembered, you can apply pressure to the back of the paper with a finger for detail work, its about the same as just holding the sandpaper in your hand but if you already have the tool out you can do that.

Edited by steven smith
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got a bunch of non-tool tools here... :ph34r: . My favorites: A mill ball, just a big steel ball of about 3" I use for dishing forms in sheet metal...A chunk of raw sandstone from up in northern NM, which I use for roughly scraping off scale while drawing temper....A large tree stump, which I use along with a wooden mallet for dent-free bending of objects.

My hand-forged knives and tools at Etsy.com: http://www.etsy.com/shop/oldschooltools

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...