In the course of working on our proton packs I got to learn a few new skills and I thought I’d do a little write-up on some of it. I’ll try to explain what all these tools are useful for in case they’re new to you.
Dixon Reach Marker– This is probably my favorite new tool that I’ve found in a long time. I found out about them when Adam Savage used a similar marker in one of his Tested videos. The one he used was Pica brand but I came across the Dixon brand which I was able to buy at my local Lowe’s for a little over $3. As you can see from the picture this marker has a long thin metal shaft housing the felt tip marker. It’s great for poking down through drilled holes to mark whatever you happen to be attaching something to. Before finding this marker I’d use nails to poke down through the hole and try to make a little scratch to mark the placement. The marker is much quicker and less frustrating. They make them in pencil versions also!
Irwin Countersink Bits– These are for cutting out a cone-shaped recess over a pre-drilled hole. The head of the screw sits down in the cone so that it’s flush with the surface of the wood or whatever you happen to be drilling into. I never really felt like anything I’ve worked on called for countersunk screws so I never bought any bits for it. Then when we were working on the proton pack we realized the v-hook had dimples on the back and would need to be countersunk so it could sit flush against the thrower. I love excuses to buy new tools so we picked up this Irwin set at Lowe’s and soon had a perfectly flush v-hook. Now that I’ve used them I want to countersink all the screws.
General Automatic Center Punch– I can’t say exactly how I came across this but I wish I’d found it years ago. It puts little divots into the material so that your drill bit has a place to catch onto instead of skittering around. It was especially helpful when I had to drill into curved surfaces like the booster tube on the proton pack. I marked where the booster frame needed to be mounted with my handy Dixon marker then I used the center punch to make a little divot in the PVC and I was able to drill without any difficulty. That being said, I do have a tough time triggering the mechanism. It can be adjusted to use more or less force but even on the wimpiest setting I struggled a bit. I think it’s because of the way it has to be held. You have to hold it in a clinched fist and press down. There are other brands that have a bulb or a large flattened area on the end so you can press down with your palm, utilizing a more natural downward force. I think those would probably work better especially if you’re doing a lot of punching. I could try using something like Apoxie Sculpt to make a bulb for the end of mine.
Irwin Hanson Tap Set– Tapping tools are used for cutting threads into drilled holes so screws or bolts can be inserted. Tapping was another thing I just never had a reason to do before working on the proton packs. I was a little intimidated because it seemed like something that’d be easy to mess up but it’s actually really simple. Just go slow and if it feels like it’s getting caught, back it up a little then slowly try again. We had to thread several parts because there was just no other way to attach them so I got lots of practice. Now I can confidently declare “I’d tap that!”.