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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Hi Steve. I've never heard of hot pearl glue. Can you tell us a bit more about it and how it is to work with it?



Pearl glue works in much the same way as hide glue. You have to soak it for 24 hours then warm it up, hence the slow cooker. It seems to have all the advantages of hide glue in as much as heat will allow you to dissasemble and is workable for a little longer then hide glue. I keep mine in the slow cooker and top it up with water as it evaporates. Not been using it long but found it easy to use.

Regarding the cheap clamps, usually it's the end that breaks not the clamp mechanism. I use them for jigs and hold downs. If you cut a slot in plywood there still enough of the end to hold it in place. You can cut the bar down drill holes in it attach an angle bracket and you've got a hold down clamp. 

This is old news but maybe new news for somebody. I use a small crockpot/slow cooker for a glue pot. Someone posted finding one at a second hand store. That is how I found my first glue pot that lasted several years till the thermostat went wacko.

Shortly thereafter I found a new small crockpot at Target for $10.00. It has no settings but luckily keeps the water at just around 140 degrees. Plug and play!

I've seen the same crockpot under different brand names but here is a picture should you go stalking one in the wild.


Excellent idea. I use a coffee warmer with a thin Pyrex custard dish. Takes about 20 minutes

to melt down a small amount.

Here's the article that inspired my glue pot.

Needed a very thin chisel the other night. Having picked up a number of latch hooks (for rug making, I think) at the local thrift because they have nice little beech handles, I carefully ground a couple and honed them up. Funny thing is the little plastic-handled ones seem to have a bit better steel. They may have high enough carbon content to be heat treated, but for the ocassional use, the edge holds fine. The yellow one pictured, the one that I needed, seems fine. Cost a quarter apiece, and I didn't need to wait for a mail order. 


Hey... it's a small world!  I use one of those same latch hooks for stretching springs on and off a tremolo set-up. It works great and it keeps the springs from flying all over the room!  

Thanks to your idea, I might have to investigate the "thin chisel" possibilities.

A great source of metal for oddball chisel making is any fencing academy. The foils and epees we use are pretty nice steel, and are annealed very particularly so that they break off at right angles to the blade, so that we don't die every time a blade shatters. Most academies have a bucket with random broken chunks of metal to use.

Ice Picks. High carbon steel and make fine small chisels. Cost about 2 dollars these days. (they were a dime when i was a kid.Toys i shouldn't have been playing with)

look for "Old Hickory" brand. I've seen them sold by the dozen from some online sources


When it comes to cheap clamps these have to be to cheapest, clothes pegs. They are ideal for clamping up kerfing and small items. They cost about three quid for fifty.


One more thing, I' ve read on various sites about the best way to clean files. Well, as someone who spent a year of a four year apprenticeship with a file in his hand, the best way is to lightly rub he file with blackboard chalk which helps prevent clogging and than clean with a file card - a sort of short haired wire brush.

Hi Steve,

Your comment jogged my mind back to my apprenticeship at the Royal School of Technical Training in the early 70's.   Cold open hangars, a sea of work benches and endless filing of blocks of metal and drilling and tapping and fitting and so on.   I remember the chalk!  This is just pure nostalgia and I thank you sincerely for this slight pause in the daily routine.



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