Ultra-thin USB powered light box

A light box is an excellent tool for illustrators. It allows you to place a sheet of paper with a sketch on it, then place another piece of paper on top of it, and trace the original drawing. A lot of artists do a pencil sketch on a sheet of paper, then use a nicer piece of paper to trace the sketch in ink.

Andreas Ekberg, a wonderful illustrator who makes beautiful stenciled skateboards (like this Jackhammer Jill deck) and other things, told me about this USB light board. I already have a light board, and I've used it for over 30 years. It's a clunky metal box with fluorescent tubes and I used it draw illustrations for the early issues of the bOING bOING zine.

I ended up buying a 5mm-thick USB powered light box for my daughter for Christmas a few years back. It works so much better than my old-school light box. The brightness level is adjustable, the LEDs will last much longer than the bulbs (mine currently has one burnt out bulb and I've been using it that way for years), and best of all, it is much more portable. Read the rest

On sale: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way

I bought How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema when it came out in 1978, and I think it might still be the best how-to-draw book I've used. It covers a lot of territory in 160 pages - perspective, figure drawing, action, foreshortening, heads and faces, and composition. I found the last section, composition to be the most interesting.

I lost my first edition, but it has stayed in print so in 2010 I bought a new copy. As far as I can tell, it is exactly the same as the original.

Amazon has it on sale right now for [amazon_link asins='0671530771' template='PriceLink' store='boingboing' marketplace='US' link_id='4fc80d80-f6ce-44e6-9b31-14c3fe59b13c']

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Can candle wax loosen rusty nuts?

Project Farm wanted to see if candle wax could be used as a penetrating lubricant to loosen rusty nuts, so he set up a rigorous test to find out. His conclusion - candle wax applied to a hot nut doesn't help loosen it. It just won't penetrate onto the bolt.

He also tried special penetrating fluid designed to make it easier to loosen rusty nuts, called Seafoam Deep Creep, which really does do the job. Read the rest

An electric fence to keep snails out of your vegetable garden

Here's a vegetable gardener who didn't want to share his bounty with slugs and snails, so he strung an electric barrier around the perimeter of his raised bed garden. Anytime a voracious mollusk attempts to enter the garden, it must first crawl over a pair of electrified wires, where it receives a mild shock sufficient to thwart its plans.

The gardener has kindly posted instructions for others interested in making a 9 volt electric snail/slug fence. Read the rest

My kids-and-grownups project book, Maker Dad, on sale for Kindle: 99 cents

My DIY project book, Maker Dad is just $(removed) as a Kindle right now. Read the rest

Twist off your zip ties, don't cut them

If you cut a zip-tie tail with scissors, it leaves a sharp-edged stub. In this video, you'll learn how to use pliers to twist of the tail, which creates a stub without a sharp tail.

I just tried it (above photo) and it works. On the left is twist method. On the right is the scissors method (cutting as flush to the catch as possible). The tail on the twisted zip tie feels like a smooth, melted lump of plastic. Very cool!

[via Make's Tips of the Week] Read the rest

Introducing Boing Boing's Maker Box

Quarterly.co is launching a brand new Maker Box subscription. This new Maker box features DIY kits and hands-on projects perfect for makers of all ages. You’ll receive kits to build your own gadgets, electronics, quirky tools, and more. Each quarter will feature a new curator, new ideas and new projects. The first curator is Boing Boing! Each box will contain at least 3 kits and will cost $100. The box ships in February. Read the rest

How to separate and stack frighteningly strong neodymium magnets

Brainiac75 made a pair of wooden tools that he uses to separate and stack large neodymium magnet discs. I've pinched my fingers quite a few times with tiny neodymium magnet discs and have learned to respect them. These big ones are very dangerous. You could easily lose a finger if these magnets were to smack into one another. Please get some thick gloves, Brainiac75! Read the rest

How to turn a plastic bottle into 20 yards of string

I don't think I'll make string from a plastic bottle, but I enjoyed watching how this guy made his PET bottle-cutting tool with some screws, washers, and a pencil sharpener blade. Read the rest

Favorite tips from Gareth Branwyn, former editorial director of Make

My old friend Gareth Branwyn is the former Editorial Director of MAKE. He was also the senior editor at bOING bOING print, a section editor at Mondo 2000, and a Wired contributing editor for 12 years. Gareth has also written and edited over a dozen books. His most recent book, a combo best-of collection and “lazy man’s memoirs” is called Borg Like Me (& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems) Kevin Kelly and I recently interview Gareth for the Cool Tools Show podcast.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show Notes:

Notebook Keyword Index

"As you generate subjects, you write down those subjects along the outer edge of the back page, and then … as you write the subject in the content of the book, you just mark the corresponding area on the outer edge of the notebook — just a little black mark — and so then as you look through the edge of the notebook, you can see all … the black marks that connect to that line of the back cover index."

Bonding Plastic with a Dremel

"The basic idea is you just take a Dremel tool. If you want to bond 2 pieces of plastic, like you’ve worked on a 3D print that’s broken or you want to combine 2 pieces of a 3D print, you just slot a piece of plastic rod into a rotary tool and just place it as it spins around. Read the rest

I used this cool liquid plastic welding material to repair a broken butter tray door

Our refrigerator has a bad butter tray design. If you forget to lower the butter tray door and then close the refrigerator door, the butter tray door will get pinched between the refrigerator door and the refrigerator. If you close the refrigerator door too quickly, the butter tray door will crack.

This happened a few months ago, and I couldn't find the piece that broke off. But it still had enough of the hinge left on it to function. Today, I forgot to lower the tray door again and the whole corner snapped off, rendering it non-functional. This time, I was able to find the broken piece. I reattached it with Bondic, a liquid plastic welding material that cures in 4 seconds when exposed to the UV LED. It creates a strong bond, especially if you roughen the surfaces of the broken pieces with coarse sandpaper. The resulting blob of plastic doesn't look good, but it beats paying $(removed) to buy a new "dairy bin assembly."

This video shows you how to use Bondic and gives examples of what you can repair with it:

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James Gurney made a neat 3D model from craft foam to help him paint a robot

James Gurney is the creator of the Dinotopia book series and is one of the best book illustrators alive today. His work is in the league of N.C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle.

James has a new instructional painting video called Fantasy in the Wild: Painting Concept Art on Location for sale as a direct download and on DVD. In the excerpt above, James shows how he made a small model of an excavator robot out of craft foam to assist him in painting an urban attack scene. James' teaching style is so friendly and warm. I have met him a couple of times, and this video captures his personality perfectly. Read the rest

One of my best purchases in 2015: magnetic tool holder

I bought this wall-mounted magnetic strip to have easy access to tools I need for simple household tasks: opening packages, hanging pictures, assembling furniture, tightening loose nuts, installing door locks, measuring things, simple plumbing repairs, etc. It's much better than keeping the tools in a kitchen drawer, because I can instantly find the tool(s) I need. The magnet is very strong, so I don't have to worry about a tool falling off. The strips come in various lengths. The one I bought is 24 inches long. The shortest I've seen on Amazon is seven inches. Read the rest

Hello Tokyo! is jam-packed with Tokyo-inspired images, ideas and fun craft projects

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Born in Australia, Ebony Bizys made the move to Tokyo five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. As the founder of the popular blog Hello Sandwich, Ebony has always been obsessed with Japanese culture, as well as cute stationary, colorful home décor, and all things DIY. This 224-page book manages to cram in as many pretty images, kawaii ideas, and adorable craft projects as it can hold. From a whimsical look into Ebony’s daily life and apartment in Tokyo, to tutorials for pom-pom cardigans and handmade camera straps (among many others), to insight into ‘bento’ and even tips for entertaining, Ebony is certainly one talented and creative lady.

For those who aren’t familiar with Ebony’s blog or even Japanese culture, they’re still sure to enjoy this publication for its overload of cute images and inspirational ideas. Ebony’s aim in producing Hello Tokyo was to inspire people to bring more fun and beauty into their everyday life. After reading this book numerous times, I truly believe that she has achieved this.

– Melanie Doncas

Hello Tokyo!: Handmade Projects and Fun Ideas for a Cute Tokyo-Inspired Lifestyle

by Ebony Bizys

Murdoch Books

2015, 192 pages, 7.1 x 9.5 x 0.9 inches (paperback) Read the rest

How to make a toothbrush out of tissue paper

"Meet Lyss, a chipper tissue paper enthusiast, as she guides you step-by-step in how to make essential items out of the world's most versatile material: tissue paper!" Read the rest

The Official ScratchJr Book: help your young kids learn to code

You're probably familiar with Scratch, the introductory programming language that allows kids (and adults) to create interactive stories, games, and animations. Scratch doesn't require lines of code to write programs. Instead, you build programs by snapping together colored blocks. (My book, Maker Dad, has an introduction to Scratch that shows how to make retro-style video games).

Scratch is perfect for kids 8 and up. Recently, MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Lab announced the release of ScratchJr, an even simpler programming language for young children (ages 5-7) to create interactive stories and games. It's free and runs on iPads and Android tablets.

Mitchel Resnick, who runs MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Lab, and Marina Umaschi Bers, a professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University, have a new book out called, The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code. The publisher sent me a copy, and it looks like a great way for parents to learn about ScratchJr so they can get their kids up to speed and let them go off on their own. With full color screenshots on every page, it provides a thorough overview of everything ScratchJr is capable of doing.

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Easy 1+2+3 projects from the pages of Make

Back in 2004, when designer David Albertson and I were creating a prototype for the magazine that would become MAKE, one the things we came up with was an item called 1+2+3. It was a one-pager with instructions for making a simple project in three steps. We ended up incorporating 1+2+3s into every issue of MAKE. This book collects 69 fully-illustrated 1+2+3 projects (including several that I wrote and illustrated) from the pages of MAKE.

Have you ever wanted to make your own "dice popper" (as seen in the game Trouble)? This book will show you how. You'll also learn how to make a projector that shines an alien head on the wall, an amusing "wobbler" made from two coins, a box that makes a great "boing" sound effect, a light-up hoodie, a simple motor, a $(removed) smart phone projector, and many more projects. This is a great book to go through with your kids. I guarantee they will say "Let's make that!" at least a few times.

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