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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I keep finding uses for that green tubing that comes with the Dadarrio bulk string box. It fits perfectly in the end of the larger syringes. Put a magnet on the end and you can place it next to a hard to reach loose brace.If you heat it and clamp it it will hold a shape so you can squash down the end and sand it to get under braces.  It's just the right size to fit a cheap tuneamatic bridge with large mounting holes onto the smaller mounting posts. It  works as a replacement for the nylon washer on some machine heads. If you put a couple of inches of surgical tubing on the end of it, you can fit a pot shaft in the end of the surgical tubing and pull a pot through an archtop. The Dollar Store touch up markers are a good deal.

Clamps are expensive! I went to Do-it Center today. They have a new item. 12" Bar Clamps for $7.99!  I have bought other cheap clamps that were questionable quality, but these seem very solid, snug, and smooth working. The comparable Irwin clamps are $24.00. The kicker is that these have a Lifetime Warranty. Just return to the store if they break for replacement. I am going inquire about other sizes/prices.

the problem I've run into with some of these cheap clamps is that the 12" is the measurement of the bar, not the opening. I've got one that is a theoretical 12". and opens to about 6". And the throat is muy shallow as well, so it's pretty limited. Some are much better than others!

It does look like you can unscrew the end and put it on the other end to use as a spreader. That is cool.

I have 3 or 4 of the cheap 6 in. bar clamps from Harbor Freight. I think they were about a dollar each. I wouldn't trust something important to them because they just are not capable of  taking or holding much pressure. I use them for quick clamps when I need to check the fit or just need to hold something for a minute while I make adjustments or mark things.  If they were better quality they would sometimes be busying holding a glue up but since I don't trust them to do that, they are always available for a quick fit check.

Note: These clamps do open to twelve inches, and perform very well for the money!

Walmart clear plastic spice jars to make an outer shell for my guitar interior inspection light.(The light, and ballast box for it, was another curbside find.)


At Ikea today, I found a 3 pack of 7" cork coasters for $2.99. Perfect for sanding blocks.

Also, I can't tell you how much wood for jigs has come from the as-is section at Ikea. I hate the furniture, but when it comes to getting cheap buther-block shelves, or chunks of particleboard for a sled or a fixture, that place is great. I also like the cutting board material, the random hardware... the ice cream cones...

hi i got a really good money saving tip if you ever made a nut or saddle for your ax, i make a lot of them, if you look closly at the string spacing at the nut on any one of your axes you will probably find the space between the first and second string wider than the rest. i use a string spaceing rule from stumac. its worth its weight in gold. well heres were the saveings comes in, you can go to any hardware store that sells welding supplys, most all do. you can get a set of tip cleaners, there a little folding set of tiny round files that match just about any string size. the hole set cost 3bucks and some change. i pull them out of the container and bend a little handle on one end, makes it easyer to hold.

Some cheap things I use daily are popsicle sticks. Besides the obvious use as stirrers for adhesives and finishing products, cut diagonally they make great tools to clean glue squeeze-out from bridge re-glues, etc. A little double-sided tape and some sandpaper and they make great shape-able sanding sticks too. I get 'em from Hobby-Lobby by the box which lasts a looong time.

Also single-edge razor blades, dowel rods sharpened on the belt sander have a myriad of usues, as do those 4-way nail polishing sticks from the beauty supply store, the plastic sample cups and thier lids to mix stuff in or on. A lot of indespensable stuff, and you can pitch 'em when you're done!

When it comes to actual tools, I've learned the hard way about the lack of stregnth of clamps and things from places like Harbor Freight. Luckily the cash outlay was minimal which just goes to prove the old "get what you pay for" thing.

But that's another thread!

How about wooden toothpicks to fill a loose pick guard screw hole, etc.

A couple more -

Pipe cleaners are very useful for cleaning tuner holes, getting gunk out of screw holes, and cleaning parts of the peghead where there are little corners that a cleaning cloth just doesn't seem to get in.

And here's a cool one that I was shown the other day - ultra thin .003 inch shim stock. It makes the finest scraper for finish that you can make - yes, finer than a razor blade drawn across a screwdriver shaft. You clamp a chunk of the shim stock between two pieces of wood with just the finest bit protruding out, file it flat with a file, and use it like a very flimsy cabinet scraper. It doesn't make shavings, it makes dust. Just amazing.

Don't know if this counts as a tool, but I have recently been using hot pearl glue to repair a guitar. Not having a hob or stove on the shed to heat up the glue I used a slow cooker to keep the glue at a suitable temperature. It has worked superbly and for £2.99 from a charity shop can't be beat.


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