I am always on the lookout for a new or different tool or method, and the cheaper the better. Here are some items that I've found lately that worked out well.

My wife uses false finger nails, and part of the kit are these great little sanding boards; stiff foam with fine and finer grits. I guess around 220 and 300 maybe. Work great for sanding carved tops, neck angles, etc. Check with the wife, girlfriend, sister, etc.

Another item found at the big box store, is double-sided masking tape. I believe this was Duck brand, and it's incredibly cheap, and holds very well. I loosen it with the old standby, naptha dripped under the template. I was having trouble with the other stuff being very thin, but this is a little thicker and conforms to tiny irregularities. 

Last item is a cheapie nail file. I believe these are diamond coated, as they stay sharp a long time, but cost only about a buck or less. 

Thanks to Frank's site for the inspiration to look for new uses for old or free stuff. I'm always picking up old knives for other uses. Cheers.

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Freebie or cheap?Reminds me of a story.In my lifetime I have done many things to put bread on the table.One of those things was as a solid glass sculpter.Some of you may not know what that is(we sit in malls at xmas and make santa clauses and unicorns and stuff out of solid glass).Anyway It was in Ohio in August,while setting up my (joint,at a carnival midway)a fella next to me was doing the same, pounding stakes into the ground.A young fella was watching and commented I see you bought a new whatchamacallit you should have said something I could have got you a cheaper one.The poor guy looked up with sweat pouring off of him,and in a voice as kind as could be said"I buy the best I can afford to buy.Lord knows I have enough problems with that.

Hi Randall.

I too scour the "cosmetics" sections for useful items.  I agree that the fingernail "smoothing" boards come in really handy.  Their uses are many.

Here's my find.  I found a thing called "knocking pliers" in the archery dept. at a local Wmt store.  It's essentially the exact same thing that Stew-Mac & others sell as "fret tang mashers".  In the archery store, it's only $3. !!!!!!!

My favorite fret polishing touch-up dressing stick is made by LaCross cosmetics.  It's pink on one side (8k grit) and white on the other (12k grit).  I find them at the "Dollar Tree" chain. For a buck apiece, you can get dozens of jobs out of a single stick. They also occasionally have the equivalent of the triple grit Micro Mesh polishing stick. Again, only a dollar.

I think that we're all frugal by nature.....and that's a good thing(-:

Thanks for bringing this subject up Randall.

Best of luck & have a great week.(-:

Could you post a picture? I might be able to find them here in Venezuela under a different name.

Here's a mundane yet cheap thing. I use those cheap 'Chip' bushes for various things. After the initial use, I cut them very short for cleaning files, fretboards, hardware, etc...  the wood handles are sometimes useful for making little things.

A toothbrush works well.

  I  keep some sheets of the thin cardboard that Costco uses to separate the layers of paper towels and toilet paper on the pallets in their stores. They are cut to the size of the pallet and are finished white on one side and gray on the other ( think tennis shoe boxes). They are great for laying out  plans or masking or lots of other things you can think of. Besides that, they are free.

  When I need some, I can usually find at least one or two that are uncovered enough to roll up and take with me to the checkout. No charge. I've been told that some of the local teachers also do this for craft materials in their class rooms.  In fact I have several sheets of it taped together in my living room where my daughter and I are painting new casement trim to install through out our house. 

I don't know if this counts for what this thread is about, exactly, but I'm a curbside treasure hunter. Some stuff is common, like that laminate flooring material which is basically MDF around 1/4" thick (might be about 1/16" thicker, but I'm too lazy to go check). quite decent template material. Pallets for hardwood scrap. I have 7 "surrogate" bodies for bolting necks to for doing fret/nut work. all made from curbside pallet poplar and oak. I've also made several tapered neck shims from it.

Corian scrap from the kitchen counter-top fabrication shop = free nut blank material.

Even the extremely common LDF (what I call low density fiberboard) from those crappy pieces of furniture, is often useful. 

Saw my Dentist today. He gave me 3 used dental tools. One of them is a really nice little chisel looking thing. Free, all i had to do was ask. He told me he may have more for me down the line. This is a great thread. Im a scrounger, and may have more to add in the coming days.

All those stupid promotional fake credit cards make good glue spreaders, shims, clamping surfaces, all kinds of stuff.

Let us not forget old socks and t-shirts (I can't bring myself to use old underwear though). I did use an old sock on a shop vac today, as I created a vacuum to suck a bit of CA glue through a crack. Straining lacquer, polishing, wiping up glue.

As a teacher, I have a fair supply of popsicle sticks and clothespins at the end of every year. Those come in handy.

And, for those who do woodturning, old guitar strings make excellent burning tools.

Thanks for mentioning "promo" credit cards Mark.

Will Kelly's article in VG Mag a couple months ago showed him using a credit card with a beveled edge. He used it as a tool to clean the fingerboard gunk that builds-up right next to the frets.

Well, I made one.  It works like a champ. It has no abrasive qualities but it gets under that gunk and lifts it cleanly away. It turned a "chore" process into a quick & easy job.

I also use heavy duty cotton thread coated in the ubiquitous pink metal polish to polish nut slots & saddle slots on T-o-M bridges.  It's a much better final step than Mitchell abrasive cords by themselves. 

Gee wiz...I also made jack puller (for hollow-bodies & acoustics) out of a modified/ground down 1/4" plug epoxied onto the end of a 16" section of a bass guitar's E string.  The flexibility it allows is phenomenal.

Stew Mac just introduced a machined jack installation tool "puller" made from brass.  It's one of Frank Ford's very refined designs. The "capture ring" is simply BRILLIANT Frank (:

It appeared on their website the same day I sent them almost the same design (sans the capture ring), but suggested it be made from Delrin for added flexibility.  They agreed I was a day late and a dollar short....but liked the idea of Delrin.

It is SO much fun finding and making tools & gadgets.  For me, the passion started with the instructions contained in a sidebar in a Stew Mac catalog on how to put safe edges on a triangular file for fret dressing.

BTW Mark..I'm totally with you on the rag-bag underwear. Good cotton material but.............I know where it's been (;

Magnetic business cards that seem to show up everywhere can be stuck to a scraper to keep your fingers cool.(not original to me,,,learned about it from a  Robert O'Brien video)

I once made stain for a mandolin i built by soaking a plug of chewing tobacco in ammonia. It looked good, but the mandolin smelled like a cigarette for the first couple of years.That was 30 years ago and I still have the mandolin, and the color has never faded at all.

old fashion beer can openers seem to be made from fairly good steel, and i used to make all sorts of blades from them, but i think they are becoming collectible these days, so i don't cut them up anymore....not saying i wouldn't if really needed to.   

Bad DVDs, CDs. Ain't good for nothin but turning into radius gauges, I guess.



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