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TM has covered all manner of stripped-screw removal before (e.g., screw extractor sets, screw pliers, EZ Grip Friction Drops — or the home-brew alternatives: spit and grinder dust, or spit and Comet Cleanser), but I’ve never seen this extractorless approach using a rubber band, as described in Apartment Therapy via Lifehacker. The concept is basically the same as friction drops: adding something to increase the grip, usually in combination with a slightly larger bit size.

Where do you think this approach ranks in the stripped-screw-removal methods? What about tools like the Alden Grabit? Do you have tried-and-true techniques, or do you just jump to the last resort, as Apartment Therapy also notes, the needle-nosed Vise Grips?

How To Remove a Stripped Screw Without an Extractor [Apartment Therapy]
Alden Grabit Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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The Make blog has a post on making a Pietenpol Air Camper (shown above is the G-BUCO, a nice example built by Alan Reading of Reading, Berkshire, England) for $2000. Bernard Pietenpol from Minnesota made his first homebuilt airplane, the Model T engine powered Sky Scout, in 1923. In 1929 he built a Model A engine-powered two-seat Air Camper and showed it to the editors of Modern Mechanics magazine, who subsequently published plans. Bernard improved the design, and, in 1933, published new plans, which are still available from a web site run by his son and grandson. Air Camper plans cost $100.

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Speaking of saddle cuts (e.g., TM drum smoker post on 1/18/2010), Instructables has a new posting on making perfect pipe saddle cuts with a bandsaw or chopsaw. For same diameter pipes, the author, samson3000, uses two cuts at approx. 35° close to, but not through, the center of the pipe so there’s a flat spot (as shown above), not a sharp point. An end view of the cut, pictured below, shows a pretty tight saddle.

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Intended as a demonstration of combination lock principles, the Wooden Combination Lock from Matthias Wandel is also fun piece of woodworking. A post on the Make blog has a YouTube video of the lock’s operation (which includes a short clip near the end about a Master combination lock vulnerability). Matthias has more details and photos on his web site. You can get detailed plans (which include a SketchUp model) from him for $7 .

The above two pictures show the tabbed rotors and unlocking slot. An additional video on the web site illustrates how to work out a left-right-left combination for these locks that’s different than the usual right-left-right combination.

Wooden Combination Lock [Manufacturer’s Site]

Rule #1: Don’t push on that funny-looking section of drywall next to the light switch in the MBR. As you can see from the picture above, I did not follow Rule #1, and must now invoke Rule #2: If you violate Rule #1, ask Toolmongers about the best way to repair drywall. I’ve successfully fixed larger, doorknob-sized holes in drywall before, so I’m not a complete idiot — which leads us to Rule #3: Never, ever again, say in presence of smart-aleck wife “I’m not a complete idiot” because she always replies “That’s right dear, you’re not a complete idiot.”

Anyway, my previous drywall repairs used the “standard” method of cutting a round or square section of new drywall, making that piece the template for cutting out around the hole, and then “gluing” the piece into place with joint or patching compound, often with something like a furring strip first installed as backing. However, I’m not sure how well this approach would work here where the repair is fairly small and right next to a switch box. The local big box has peel-n-stick 4″ × 4″ metal drywall repair patch thingies (thin aluminum with a plastic mesh overlay from Wal-Board Tools) that look promising, but I’ve never used one. I suppose I could always resort to the “just throw a bunch of joint compound at it” method.

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Don’t panic: the picture is from Snopes.com, and it is — actually was — a holiday display set up on a home in Kansas City. The resident dismantled the display because it — as you might expect — caused a few problems such as people stopping, often very quickly in the street, to “help”.

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The Mrs. and I are expecting our firstborn in a few months. Your life changes in unexpected ways with the mere mention of this event. One of side effects of this experience is that money starts disappearing for baby stuff. There are tons of items you must locate, one of which is a crib. After a day trucking through baby stores I decided that I could build one just as good as the ones I was seeing in the store. As so began my quest to do just that.

My first advice to anyone building their own crib is to not tell anyone you’re building your own crib. For some reason everyone you meet has an engineering degree all of the sudden, and on come endless streams of “How far apart are those slats?” or “Are you sure you know how to do this?” and my personal favorite “You can’t have any corners you know.” If you take all the advice you get from onlookers your child will be securely fastened in a heated, mythical orb that’s on the floor with no corners and no way out.

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On Instructables (via lifehacker) is — IMHO — a neat use of zip ties to repair a broken Ethernet (RJ45) plug. I don’t know how many of these plugs with a broken, or missing, little plastic locking tab thingy you have around your house, but I certainly have a few. And it’s just a little bit annoying when you grab one, plug it in, and have it fall out when you’re not looking. This Instructable shows how to fix them with a couple of appropriately-sized (head width of 4.3mm, but test fit in an RJ45 jack to make sure) and trimmed zip ties. As shown in the above picture, one zip tie, with its head thinned by a sharp knife, is secured to the Ethernet cable by another zip tie, and bent to act like a spring.

Repair A Broken Ethernet Plug [Instructables]

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I doubt that many Toolmongers have an electron microscope — much less the tiny tin beads used to calibrate their astigmatism — and a focused ion beam in their garage or shop. However, if they did, I’m sure one of them would have created something similar to the 10µm wide (1/5 the width of a typical human hair) “snowman” shown above. The UK’s National Physics Laboratory (NPL) used platinum deposition to weld the beads together to create the nose, and milled the eyes and smile with a focused ion beam.

I first saw this snowman on Fred Langa’s blog (What Comes Next?). Fred lists a New Scientist link that includes the original snowman in black and white plus another image of a microscopic Christmas tree.

One more thing: most Toolmongers and their kids will be building macroscopic snowmen this year. Got any cool/interesting/tool-wielding snowmen in your yard this season? Drop the pics in the Flickr pool!

Season’s Greetings [NPL]

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Over the holidays I was gifted by the joyous noise of screaming relatives trying to take a shower in the guest bathroom which had no hot water. It’s an issue that’s happened to Chuck and many others I know over the last few years, so, armed with the knowledge of friends that came before me, I headed to the local big box for a new shower faucet cartridge and an afternoon of fun-filled plumbing work.

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