The First Maker Space and Tech Community For Markham, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, & Vaughan.

We just happened to pick this one

Our recent fix-it night posts here and here seem to have a common thread: crappy Crappy Tire tools that need repairing. This week… well, we didn’t intend to pick on them. It was just the luck of the draw.


Small 12V tire compressors – the type that plugs into the cigarette lighter 12V accessory socket on your car – have cheap clips or screw-on ends to connect to the tire valve. Those ends are called air chucks. Probably because you need them to chuck air into the tire. The air chuck is always what seems to break on these stupid things. The rubber wears out on the clip types, the screw-on type doesn’t seem to match the threads on the valve, or they just plain fall apart. The rest of the compressor is fine. Go to Canadian Tire – and just to show we’re not picking just on them – Princess Auto or your other favourite hardware store, and none of them sell replacement parts. Hey, we try to buy local.

We have three with broken or very leaky air chucks. This is the one we grabbed for the repair. Anyone know what store sells the MotoMaster brand?

Fortunately, a certain large on-line shopping store has the part… once you figure out that it’s called after typing in things like valve… clip… air… tire.

We found a pack of two of these premium metal units for pretty cheap. We just happened to have an extra hose clamp lying around.

Next step is to get the old one off. You can try wresting with the crimped metal sleeve. That might be futile if glue was also applied. If you have enough hose, just cut it off.

The old worn-out clip type air chuck. The rubber inside is hard and cracked, no longer providing a seal.

Be sure to put the hose clamp on the hose before inserting the tube of the new chuck.

Tighten it up. This clamp might have been a little big… but it’s what we had.

Cut off the end with a tin snip or a chisel, and it’s better than new. In this case, way better than new with a far superior chuck.

Yeah, the two others we have are not MotoMaster brand. But we’re pretty sure we bought them at Crappy Tire.

Case closed. Desktop too.

We posted earlier about our project to make a lockable enclosure for the reception desk of our home, the David Dunlap Observatory. We left that post with a pretty crappy picture. Protective plastic was still covering it. 

Test usage showed an area for improvement. Sliding everything into place would work better with some handles.

Two at the front to guide into the locking tabs so we don’t hurt our dainty little fingers. Another one at the back to help slide it into the support brackets hidden under the top panel. All held in place with some strong rivets to prevent tampering.

A couple of coats rattle-can clear enamel and it’s ready to go. 

Here’s the overhead view from our amazing drone-cam.

Well, not really. We don’t have a drone. We just went up the stairs. But they’re really cool stairs. 


More tool repair

Nose to the grindstone

Last week we posted about our evening repairing crappy Crappy Tire tools. One tool  could not be fixed. Here once again is our picture of a pair of side-cutters that broke simply doing what side-cutters are supposed to do.

Reminds us of the old mechanic’s joke about there being two types of tools – Snap-On and snap-off.

Can’t fix… or so we thought.

Our metal master Miro wasn’t there that evening. He read the post and sent in a message: “We can fix that!”

How? Welding?

Nah.  It’s said that sculpting is easy – start with a piece of stone or clay, and take away everything that doesn’t look like your subject.

In this case, Miro ground it away.

And kept grinding.


Until it looked like this.

Compare that to the picture at the top!

The side cutters are now a little stubbier, but fully functional. They seem to cut better than before. Yes, it’s the same side cutters. The Mastercraft logo appears to have left out of embarrassment.

We also brought in some old drill bits that we soaked in rust remover. That stuff works wonders. But how well will the bits work? Has the edge been deteriorated by the rust?

Ylab member Gilles brought us a pretty amazing drill bit sharpener from the golden age of Black and Decker. Search all you want at any of the local hardware stores and you won’t find anything like this rig.

You pop the bit into the holder, and it holds it at the perfect angle for sharpening. The chuck has a nice indexing feature to rotate the bit exactly 180 degrees to sharpen both of the cutting edges. Nice depth control too so that the two cutting edges will be at exactly the same depth.

It only took a few seconds and the bit came out like new.

We sharpened up a few. Well, at least three. Because this is no two-bit operation.

Persistence pays off.

For our last bit of catching up on what’s been happening over the last few months, we get to show off some of the new materials ylab members have introduced to our maker space at the David Dunlap Observatory.

The laser cutter is always the touchiest thing. Before any new material goes on there, we look into the safety issues. The C in PVC stands for chloride. Not good. Similar issue with those nice chemicals in outdoor-grade plywood. Some of us recall – and frankly, wish to forget – that leather was deemed safe. Until we tried it. It smelled like a burning cow. Not the good BBQ kind.

But our members, if nothing else, are persistent. Member Dan of (a.k.a. Chewbacca) brought in some sheepskin that looked different enough to try. Great results for both cutting and engraving without affecting the local air quality index.

Sheepskin pattern all laid out after cutting. Way faster than punching in all those little holes/

Engraving works!

Ylab members Bryan and Craig have been exercising our Qidi 3D printer. It’s been stable through – the record so far – a 25 hour print job. But the result has always been that hard plastic stuff – ABS or PLA.

Bryan wanted something a little more flexible, and looked into thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). It’s a nice flexible material – kind of like silicone. Safety checks out. Temperature parameters check out – compatible with our 3D printer. 

First test: big fail. We think the material, in its spool form, was not rigid enough to be pulled through by the 3D printer’s printhead feeder gear. It melted but was not driven through.

But sheer bloody-mindedness diligence and persistence paid off. Bryan kept researching the issue, and found that, like other 3D printer materials, printing the right source and supplier makes a difference.

After a few tries, here’s the result – a nice, flexible disk. 

Will it bend?

Yes it will!

Bryan says his next attempt will be using the dual-extruder feature for a combined print of rigid and flexible materials.

Our final material is simple foam. Even if it’s safe, it can get all melty in the laser cutter. Melty good for 3D printer. Bad for laser cutter.

Ylab member Richard his own solution – a hot-wire foam cutter. Just hook up to DC power supply (we have that!) and it’s good to go.

Looks like a really skinny bandsaw.

Fast, no mess and a perfect curve.

We’ll be setting up classes and seminars for these new materials and featuring them at our open houses. Stay tuned.

We have a bunch tools at ylab, and some of them from Crappy Tire. We can call them that – after all, Canadian Tire fought for the use of that name. You would normally think we would be using their tools to fix other things. Nope. We had to fix the tools.

This  Mastercraft drill is about 4 years old, the first 3 1/2 years being unused in a unopened box. Still new, but out of warranty. We used it about 4 times… and it died. No grinding noises. No sparks. Just… stopped.


Opened it up, did a big of poking, and the problem was obvious. That white wire at the bottom coming out of the power cord. It goes into the power trigger. Just touched it, and it came right out. On the other side of that trigger control is a screw that had to be tightened to hold it in place. It was never tightened.


This is the model number, in case you want to not make the mistake of buying this drill. But it is working fine now that we’ve fixed it.

Then we come to our Crappy Tire pliers set. Probably about 3 years old, but still relatively lightly used.

Those insulating handle grips should not be sliding off like that. One of our members has a lightly used set at home that’s doing the same thing, so it’s not just us. We’re testing some decent quality spray adhesive to see if that will hold it in place.

Then there’s the side cutters. Let’s zoom in a little closer


When you’re snipping a wire, it’s the end of the wire that’s supposed to snip off, not the end of the side cutter.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a way of fixing that. Well, some of our members do… but it would not be worth the time and effort.

Come on, Crappy Tire. You should be doing better than that.













Your high-school periodic table was never this cool.

UNESCO has declared 2019 to the International Year of the Periodic Table to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Mendeleev periodic table. You know, that thing you studied in high-school chemistry.

Ylab member and high-school chemistry teacher Karen could not let that go unnoticed. Working with her students at  o they built their own giant periodic table.

The periodic table is proudly displayed at the school and looks fantastic.

Students made illustrations for each element and mounted them in CD jewel cases.

Karen made use of ylab’s laser cutter to add some framing, labels and other great touches.

Congratulations to Karen and all her students for this great effort!


A few of our posts involve some metalwork. That would not be possible without some serious hardware

Thanks to some donations and astute purchases we’ve picked up a couple of things over the summer.

We now have our own drill press. Bigger and better than the loaner unit we had sitting on the workbench. Just in time, too, since the loaner unit had to be returned. It comes has a killer vise and it’s own solid steel stand. Really solid. Profanity-to-get-it-carried-in solid.


Then there’s the horizontal metal bandsaw. A nifty piece of gear that uses gravity to keep the blade on the material.

Yeah, it’s kind of hard to understand what it does by just looking at it in the picture.

We’ve also picked up some minor things – like a pop riveter. We mention it because of this post where we did terrible things to a microwave. There was some nice shiny metal left over from the enclosure, so we used the riveter and some of the other new gear to make a tray for the riveter.

Spot the fabrication mistakes.

We’ll be kicking off some fall sessions to show everyone how to use this and other gear for your own cool projects.

We have more stuff. Check out posts like this one to see what else we’ve been up to with the metal stuff.