Worldway

frustration with losing small bits

39 posts in this topic

I'm starting the rigging of my boat and am getting very very frustrated,  I am trying to install the very tiny fittings and hardware.  However, I find that as I'm trying to manipulate an item with tweezers, the item eventually pops out and ends up in fitting heaven.  I have spent a lot of time on the ground looking for little tiny parts over the last couple of days.  Tonight was the last straw.  I lost a piece that I didn't have any spares of (because it was the fifth one I've lost).  Does anyone have any tips or hints how to stop this or perhaps do I need to invest more in a really good set of tweezers?

:angry:

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I hope you'll get some useful answers- I've spent a fair time on my knees hunting for little things.

 

I have a smooth floor so I use a bright LED headlamp to shine while I scan along at floor level (hence the knees or prone on the floor if necessary). They usually show up. Good flexibility exercise too!

 

I'm looking for a wood magnet but haven't sourced one yet!

Canute, John Allen, mtaylor and 5 others like this

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I've never tried it personally but I understand that jewelers have aprons that they can fasten to work surfaces thus forming a trough between their body and the work surface. I have used oven trays with raised lip of 1in or less to work in and supposedly contain errant parts. A piece of felt lining the pan helps to snag things.

 

Roger

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Best of luck with this. I swear, there is someplace in my workshop that IF I ever find it, I will be able to build three ships from all the parts!

Worldway, NenadM, maaaslo and 14 others like this

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Putting a towel on top of your bench will stop the "bounce" so when you drop it and it lands on the bench this prevents it from bouncing to the almighty fitting eating floor.

Try putting small pieces of heat shrink sleeves on the end of your tweezers to prevent slippage and bouncing to the almighty fitting eating floor.

Keep very bright flashlight and knee pads handy to search the almighty fitting eating floor

Cover that x#@$%^ floor with white carpeting or sheet :P  :)

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I asked my Admiral to make one of those aprons for me from a white colour heavy duty fabric (she was a seamstress in her early days) with velcro on the ends/part of the sides that can be hooked to velcro tape under the desk;  but I find they are not much help as many of the parts tend to fly off else where - but for things that fall are very useful.

 

Do you need to use tweezers? (ie is there a need to apply force etc to place the part?)  I use wax pencils, that some plastic modellers use to place small Photo Etch parts, to place very small parts that do not need to be pushed/pulled into position.

 

I also fitted a floating laminate wood floor (very light colour) and use the trick of the bright light/torch at an angle to the floor to try and locate the parts using the shadows cast by them against the light coloured floor.  For one activity, I even made a small plastic fence on dowel rods placed in offcut blocks of 2 x 4 to stand in place behind and to the side of the model to restrict the flying zones :) - sorry no pics as this was early on. You could also make this from stiff cardboard, shaped and taped together.

 

The biggest change I made however, was to get a range of good quality tweezers and small pliers.  Some of these are bent nose, some straight nose, needle nose, some locking, some serrated, some smooth jaw and other with rubber/nylon in the jaws to help hold the parts.  This helps a lot once you choose the right one for the job.

 

Good luck in finding those parts (you know they will turn up later when the job is done don't you? :))

 

cheers

 

Pat

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A fun exercise for me these days has been "planning" (more like dreaming about) a workshop.  Amongst the requirements I was listing was a floor that made it easy to find the little bits (and also make clean occasionally).  Uniform coloured, light coloured and hard surfaced come to mind.  That would help wouldn't it?

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Hi Pat,thanks for the response, Can I ask the make of your tweezers.  I'm thinking that is the big part of the problem. I think that using cheap tweezers doesn't afford enough grip.

 

Don, the heat shrink idea sounds great.  I'll definitely do that. Makes a ton of sense.

 

Thanks

mtaylor, Canute, donrobinson and 1 other like this

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Doug,

 

I'm probably my own worst enemy.  I have a small workshop in my basement with a light coloured vinyl floor.  However, when we moved in I put down a multi coloured rug.  It's probably the worst for trying to find something.  Not to mention that my workbench has a couple of lower shelves with sliding doors and I never close the doors.  Last night I found an important piece on one of the shelves under the bench.

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I bought the tweezers frrom various sources.  Some from electronics stores (used for PCB soldering etc), some from jewellers and even stamp guys (the flat blade type.  

 

The main ones I use are Swiss made - IDEALTEK.  the pair I use the most are model 123 sa, the other is a set with interchangeable noses/jaws (IDEALTEK 249 CFR SA)

 

I also use some very fine needle point  from REGINE (Swiss also) model 5 I think.

 

I hope this helps?

 

If I find the links I will edit this to include them.  Try this for a start: http://ideal-tek.com/    a google search, then look at images shows the vast array/range they have - not cheap though, but in my opinion well worth their price (Value for money)

 

cheers

 

Pat

 

PS - I also edited my earlier post to add a few extra bits of info.

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Pat asked a very good question (do u need to use treewers ) I find with treewers especially cheap ones like mine apply to much pressure and pop off it goes then I'm like a radar listening for the last location I usually end up finding the piece however point is try experimenting with other methods perhaps some blue tack on a short piece of dowel or maybe your own invention

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Derek,

 

I just got some cross-clamp tweezers from Lee Valley that I've been using to wrangle little blocks and dead-eyes.  They're cheap but they work pretty well for me.  I've seen the same ones in photos on a couple of other build logs

 

Cross-Clamp Tweezers, set of 2

 86K94.10 view_Off.gif acc_Off.gif tech_Off.gif instr_Off.gif $7.70

donrobinson, mtaylor, Canute and 1 other like this

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So Doug I placed an order with Lee Valley."Unfortunately" you have to spend $40 to get free shipping.  Therefore I "had to add" to my order to get it to $40. Darn I hate that.  But I added a sanding block and another set of tweezers.  I'm surprised the Admiral hasn't divorced me yet. 

Canute, donrobinson, mtaylor and 1 other like this

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I found out a little while ago that they are in the works to open a store in Niagara Falls.  Should be opened soon. I would love to move back to Kingston but my life is here now,

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One way is to make your own bench apron by taking a standard apron and add velcro tabs to a folded edge based upon size of apron and velcro tabs to the underside edge of work bench. Use a white apron color for better visibility. This kind of apron is used by jewelers to catch bits of flying gold and silver parts. Just need to remember to remove apron when leaving the bench or you may get neck burn.

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I am no stranger to the subject, as probably very few of us are ...

 

Having become aware of the jewellers' apron idea, I bought myself a green gardening apron - green is kind to the eyes (which is why watchmakers have green bench-tops) and most of our parts are not green, so there is good contrasts. White becomes visibly dirty fast. In addition the gardening aprons are cheap. In fact jewellers use leather aprons. For two reasons: to catch flics of precious metals for recycling and also as a protection for their lap when they are soldering. Personally, I found attaching the apron to the work-bench not so useful, as I tend to roll around on my office-chair between the work-bench and the benches were I have my machines.

 

Having said that, it turns out that very few parts actually seem to fly downwards into my lap :(

 

A rug or carpet is not a good strategy for a workshop. Considering how much dust and swarf I mop up from my laminate flooring (which is installed floating on top of the real parquet of our rented appartment), I wouldn't want to have this in a rug/carpet (which is why I originally installed a patch of floating laminate on top of the fitted carpet of the appartment I rented at the time). Strategies to find parts on smooth flooring have already been discussed above - plus some people put an old ladies' stocking over the hose of a vacuum-cleaner and explore the floor with that.

 

As mentioned before, the problem with tweezers is that their springiness makes you to apply too much force. Tweezers aren't really meant to hold parts while you are working on them, but only for moving parts. Cheap tweezers are softer and hence you tend to apply even more force. Also they may not close very precisely or the two legs bend away sideways under force, which flipps the parts away. I bought good quality Dumont ones some 30 years ago and I am still happy with them.

 

Think of using pin-vices for holding parts, either the ones for holding round parts or the ones that look like miniature vice on a stick. This allows you to apply pressure judiously. There are various other types of clamps, often home-made, that can used for the purpose. There are examples here on the Forum, I think. Modified clothes pegs are another option. I also have a range of artery-clamps that I inherited from my father, but don't like them too much, as their two-step looking mechanism makes you applying too much force when opening them - not good for wood and it also leaves traces from the serrated tips on brass.

 

A good strategy to recover flying parts is to have a clean uncluttered work-top (not that I am adhering to this) and a sort of screen around your work-place that catches them. Not sure, whether the perforated hard-board at the back and one side of my bench really helps, but their is only a 10% chance that a part hits a hole I think.

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Derek,

 

I have found that you can put a small ball of putty on the end of a wooden dowel.  Moosh the piece (not too much) into the putty at the angle that you are going to be attaching the piece.  The putty will let go of the piece once you have super glued it in place.  It works for me anyway.

 

Rob

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For tweezer work, I've been putting a small amount of candle wax on the tips.   For finding the ones that get away, a piece of old panty hose or nylon stocking over the end of the shop vac hose seems to do the trick.   But there are still some bits that go flying and are out there in the 4th dimension apparently.

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There is a black hole somewhere that is sucking in all the parts that get loose.

I haven't seen mentioned tweezers with dimples on the ends.  I think they are used by either jewelers or people doing bead work.  The block goes in the dimples which help keep it between the tips of the tweezers.

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There are all sorts of weird tweezers in micro- and eye-surgery, really fine and expensive ones. They come with sort of channels to hold needles while suturing and hooks to pull on tissue or threads. They are often named by the surgeon, who seems to invented/proposed them. Castrovejo or Harms-Tübingen crop up on ebay.

 

And then there are those used in the piercing industry to fiddle metal thingies into various body parts, which seem to be rather coarse in comparison, but come in special shapes, to hold e.g. pearls.

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There are a pile of excellent suggestions here and i put a couple to good use tonight.  Lucky for me my Admiral has an eagle eye and found that one piece I really needed.

 

What impresses me the most is that most of you know how to think outside the box.  You have ideas that never would have crossed my mind.

 

I guess that's what being a member on such a fantastic forum is all about.

 

Thanks everyone

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My strategy is that if i can't find the part that fell to the floor within two minutes it is gone forever and a duplicate is made. I don't get aggravated any more when a part disappears and its replacement usually takes me half as long as the original.

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Dropping a part inside the ship is a different story I once turned my victory with most of the furniture and canons fully rigged upside down and shook for an agonising what seemed like ten minutes to retrieve a small ladder

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Greg, that comes with experience.  I'm sure I'll eventually not care so much

 

Steve, I feel your pain.

 

For my next build I figure if I use this I should be OK

 

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I like the hand and knee method, with carpet clear as much area around your work space remember a teeny weeny block that weighs absolutely nothing can bounce in any direction 3 to 4 feet. make like a puppy frenetically using both front paws scratch the carpet in all directions. If lucky they will pop up and hit you in the face.Then use the led light.

 

If you do not find it, briefly check every other day with just the light. Honestly you will be amazed what shows up over time. I have lost   several rings, blocks, and pins only to find all over time it's like you won the hide and seek or the ugly gnome that hides these things shows mercy on your soul.

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