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Tool and shop tips & tricks FAQ

320780 Views 287 Replies 204 Participants Last post by  binksman
I thought we should start a thread where can share our most useful tips and tricks.

I'll start with how I learned to seal threaded pipes for air and liquid. I learned this from a journeyman plumber. Since I have been using his method, I have yet to have to re-do an air or liquid threaded fitting. Brandon asked how others did this in his thread on shop air.

First wrap the threads with Teflon tape. Then use Whitlam's Blue magic sealer on top of the Teflon tape. Assemble the parts. It's good to go right away.

The Blue magic semi hardens enough overnight that if you touch it, it won't rub off.

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I plumbed my entire shop for air and used that stuff, I didn't use any tape on anything tho. I had 0 leaks.. Definately good stuff, not quite as messy as other stuff..
When wiring anything always leave extra incase you need to move it, mess up, etc. Also when wiring using screw terminals strip a few inches off the wire the wrap it around the screw, tighten screw and cut off excess. When soldering copper I use a piece of radiator cover as a heat shield, makes it much easier. When removing old stuborn rusted cast iron hit it with a hammer to crack it. And the pre-taped corner bead is much faster and easier to install
When cutting ANYTHING out of steel, the white out brande markers used for paper mistakes are the bomb. Won't burn off from torch work, and super easy to see through goggles. They even cherry up a little when you get them hot making them even easier to see :D
Take into account cutting wheel thickness when using a chop saw, mulit-cutter or grinder.
When soldering 2 wires together use the plastic cap from a spray paint can to hold the wires. Just cut slits in opposite sides of the cap and slip the wires in the slits to hold em in place, leaving your hands free to hold the iron/gun and the solder.

I found this tip in car craft and did a quick search for a pic to better demonstrate it but came up empty handed.
To clean a workbench of metal chips, use a strong magnet with a shop towel wrapped around it to pick them up. Pull the towel off of the magnet over a trash can to get rid of them.

When making duplicate brackets, stack them evenly and tackweld them together before drilling the holes.
Old squirrel cage fans scavenged from furnaces make great welding fume exhaust fans. I found a 4 speed and hooked-up a 4 position switch so I could change the speed depending upon the fume volume (low speed is not used).

Here is an idea I had but have not tried yet: Use an old school pull-up window shade rod and replace the shade material with something spark and grinding slag resistant. Mount the thing vertically to the wall next your grinding/welding area and put a hook on the ceiling to catch one end of it when it is extended. Retract it when you are not welding or grinding to free-up your space. I just am not sure if I can find a shade roller tall enough and not sure what material is best to use. I see these green transluscent sheets on the doscovery channel shows that appear to be for screening grinding dust and/or screening/filtering welding light, but have not tried to find a source for anything similar yet. I still just hollar: "Close your damn eyes" before I start welding! :D
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If you weld a lot of small parts (things that you can hold with one hand);

Make yourself a dedicated aluminum welding table, 2 ft square. drill and tap a dozen holes in it. Keep a bunch of different length bolts, fender washers and such in a box underneath.

When you need to firmly hold two little parts together and weld them up, set the parts together on the table and bolt them down.

Put the ground clamp on the table, and you don't have to fight for room when your driving the stinger.

Lowtorious said:
Take into account cutting wheel thickness when using a chop saw, mulit-cutter or grinder.
The term is "kerf". ;)
Why not sticky this thread???

I've posted this one before:

This is for filling transmissions, differentials, or transfer cases. You can get inexpensive plastic oil pumps at most part stores. Fit them to a 1 gallon jug. Put a piece of brake line in the end of the clear plastic line. A bend in the brake line helps keep it in the transfer case or differential filler hole while pumping the oil in. Cut a hole in the top of the jug, near the handle, and fit a rubber electrical grommet in it. This is a place to store the brake line when not in use (to avoid a dripping mess).

You can also make a version without a pump. Just put a brake line through the jug cap that reaches the bottom of the jug. Use a blow gun on an airline to pressurize the jug (regulate your pressure down). Place it in the nozzle storage hole to force the oil down to the bottom of the jug, up the brake line, and out.
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The above fluid pump trick is pretty handy. We have a roll-around cart with four "canisters" made out of 8" pipe that have nozzles, fill caps, and air line fittings with check valves for filling gear oil of different weights and brands. Much easier to use than a pump when you are underneath a vehicle. A single regulator for air pressure is switched to each canister with a short hose, there is a bolt screwed into the top of each cylinder to vent air when finished, the petcock valves on the spouts don't leak though. Each one holds about a gallon - plenty for pickups but I need to refill on some truck diffs.

prolly cost around $25 bucks in pipe fittings and caps and wheels came off a couple lawn mowers, you could probably just use an entire lawnmower deck if you want to go super ghetto.
When mixing epoxy's and the like, flip over a spray paint can and mix it in the bottom.

When doing wiring on your truck, run some fishing line in with the wire so its easy to feed in additional wires later.
this is an awesome thread! someone needs to sticky it for sure...

here's my trick o' the day, i learned it from my car audio install buddy.

if you ever need to run more than 1 wire somewhere in your rig, or wherever. you can easily wind them together with a vise and a drill.

take 2 wires, put 'em side to side, clamp 1 end of both wires down in a vise, and stick the other ends in the end of the drill, tighten the chuck down so that it holds the wire, but not crushing the wire. and drill away! this makes them wind together really well. you can usually do this for 2-3 wires, and if you have 4.. make 2 groups of 2 wound wires, and then take those 2 and do the same thing, except wind them the opposite way in the drill... it comes out perfect.

makes some really clean wiring that way.
Cheap cutoff tool.

Ever burn out your good friends Milwaukee straight cutoff tool and not have anything to work with? Take the collet adapter from the end and put it in your corded drill. Now you can attach the cutoff wheels. a reversible drill seems to work great. In a pinch, you can finish cutoff work like this.
Yesterday, I was down in the machine shop and could've used a brake. However, the shop doesn't have one. So I took a piece of angle iron a couple of c clamps, some vise-grips, and a dead blow hammer and made a jury-rigged temporary brake. With the thin gauge sheet metal I was working with, I secured pliers on the ends and in the middle. After making a final alignment, I bent the metal upward. Once the metal deflected upward, I used the hammer to pound it to 90*. Then, I opened the jaws wider and bent the metal downward towards the mating surface. Once past 140*, I completed the bend once again, with the hammer.
one other variation of the oil pump is to use an insecticide sprayer. you can cut the spray nozzle off of the wand with a small pipe cutter, and use it just like that. you may even be able to find a pump sprayer that has a port for pressurizing/filling with water, then just plumb compressed air into that port, and no pumping is required. make sure to find a sprayer with viton seals (they usually brag/mention it on the box).

i use these thread chasing nuts from mcmaster. for $8, they are incredibly useful to clean dinged and mucked up threads and a world cheaper than a regular die set. they have all different sized sets in standard and metric.
mcmaster carr part number : 2667A11
you can enter this pn or look up the phrase "Tight-Spot Hex Rethreading Die Set" on

BTT with another tip:

To clean the plastic lens cover on your welding hood, try toothpaste, because it's a very mild abrasive. Use a soft cloth, a small amount of toothpaste, and a bowl of water. Scrub, rinse with water, repeat as necessary.
I use a blender with a screen over the blade at the bottom for cleaning hardware I am reusing.

Drop in the nuts and bolts, dump in some cleaner and zoom zoom clean as a whistle and ready to go.
If you are ever in a pinch for a magnet to reach a nut or screw that's in a hard to reach location you can take a screwdriver and wrap a length of insulated wire around the shaft (I usually do about 12 wraps around). You then touch one end of the wire to the positive and the other end to the negative pole on your battery for a couple of seconds, remove the wire and you're good to go. One word of caution is that the wire can get hot so maybe I held the wire on too long but I thought I would warn you before you torched your hand.

When you are done with your screwdriver needing to be magnetized you pass the shaft through the middle of a soldering iron that has the copper "loop" with two poles.
That flippen scares me !!!!! I wanna see pics of you doing this with some heavy gauge and a fresh Optima :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
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