Sunday, December 15, 2013

How to Shape a Foam Mold for Building Skateboards

Once you have laid out the features on your mold (concave, kick/nose tails, drops), you are ready to shape the foam to your design.

The mold can be made out of foam, mdf or other stable and shapeable materials. The denser the material, the more it will hold up over multiple pressings, but the harder it will be to shape.

Let's get started:

Set the blade of the utility knife just above the depth of the side profile line and make a series of cuts across the foam, about 1" apart.

You can see the cuts I made on the tail of the deck in this photo. Make sure you do not cut below the profile line. Using a saw cut above the profile line as shown. If you don’t have a saw, the utility knife blade will work as well, turned on it’s edge.

Remove the excess pieces of foam.

A little messy looking but don’t worry, you will be smoothing this out with the sanding block.

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4th of July Star Shield Nail Art

star nail art.jpgI wanted something fun and simple for the 4th of July and I came up with this.  It was a little difficult for me since I'm a horrible drawer, but I don't think you need to be great at drawing to do this :)

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How Do I Deal With Pet Hair Getting Everywhere?

As nearly anyone who cares for an animal can tell you, pet hair is a nuisance. It loves clinging to carpets and fabrics and mocks your silly attempts to vacuum it up. If you have cats (or some types of dogs), that hair also floats, settling down onto just about everything you own.

Fuzzy Furball writes:

Recently I adopted/rescued a 6 year old German Shepherd. She's adorable and has adapted to my place with relative ease. However, her breed should be renamed to German Shedder. I'm asking you and your readers for tips to remove pet hair from essentially everything. Hardwood Floors (I vacuum with an older model Oreck and minutes later there's hair again), clothes, car upholstery, to food and water bowls.

Have some advice for Fuzzy Furball? Post it below!

Do you have a problem that needs solving and want help from the Lifehacker community? Email us at and we might post it. The best questions are broad enough to apply to other people and have many possible answers (so that you can get lots of opinions from your fellow readers). If you have a question that's specific to you or only has a single solution, send an email to instead.

Images by FantasyStock (deviantART).

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The final day to grab your data from Google Reader is July 15th, 2013.

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The Fashion Anchor Prevents Wardrobe Malfunctions

The Fashion Anchor is a great accessory for the well-dressed man and, despite the targeting towards gentlemen, woman. These super-strong glue dots keep two fabrics together, so you can avoid things like your dress shirt drifting open or your collars flapping out of place.

The anchors are 1/2 an inch in diameter and extremely sticky. As the video above shows, they have multiple uses for keeping your clothes together and well-positioned.

I found the anchors lasted all day and helped keep my undergarments from peeking out from under my clothes. (No more safety pin tricks!) However, one thing to note is these aren't repositionable, so anchor with care the first time. They come off cleanly by hand or in the washing machine, but shouldn't be dry cleaned or used with delicate fabrics.

At a currently discounted $9.99 for 36 dots, the anchors come out to about $0.28 per dot. They'd be great for special dress-up or work occasions or kept in your wallet for emergency wardrobe repairs.

The Fashion Anchor

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Rechargeable Helmet Light (electronics)

I was tired of having clip-on bike lights stolen and decided to build a set of head and tail lights into my helmet.  The final helmet has bright white LED headlights, flashing LED taillights and runs off a rechargeable Li-Po battery.   For an extra challenge I decided to do the switching and flashing entirely with analog components and use SMD electronics where possible for a smaller form factor.

I'll describe the process by which I designed and built the electronics.  The plastic enclosure I built wasn't anything special and I would redesign it if I repeated the project.  Schematics, layout and SPICE simulation are in the attached ZIP file.

Parts are detailed in the schematic in the next step.

Tools & Supplies:
- Laser cutter (at the TechShop)
- Soldering iron
- Tweezers
- Helping hands
- Toaster oven
- Spackle knife
- Painters tape
- Fine (<#70) drill bits, chuck and drill
- Dremel (or other tool capable of cutting PCB)
- Wire snips
- Needle nosed pliers
- Black spray paint
- PCB etchant
- Solder paste
- Electronics solder
- Li-Po charger

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Should I Buy My Next Phone Off-Contract?

Dear Lifehacker,
Like most people, I wait until my contract expires to get a new phone so I can take advantage of my carrier's contract subsidies. So far I haven't run into any problems, but I'm wondering if there are any advantages to paying full price for my next phone and going contract-free?

Phone Freedom

Dear P.F.,
Depending on your situation, cellphone contracts can add a bit of complication to your life or they can make no difference at all. Paying full price for your phone, however, puts you in a better situation to negotiate with your carrier—or any carrier, for that matter.

Should I Buy My Next Phone Off-Contract?

Obviously, when you don't "sign" a contract with a cellular provider you can leave whenever you choose. You have freedom to do whatever you want, essentially, without incurring any fees in the process. On top of that, you get a few other benefits because you will end up purchasing an unlocked phone (or a phone your carrier will unlock for you upon request). This means when you travel you can just swap in another SIM card without your phone having a hissy fit. When you have a locked phone, you're required to roam while abroad (if you even get reception) and pay the associated high costs. If you leave your country of origin with any regularity, you want to have an unlocked phone in your pocket.

While the upfront cost of an off-contract, unlocked phone can feel a little daunting, know you'll make a good portion of that money back when you sell the phone and buy a new one. While paying full price will always cost you more, even with the money you make back when selling, if you replace your phone on a regular basis (i.e. approximately ever year) you can keep your losses low. For advice on selling your phone (or any other gadget, for that matter), consult our guide.

Should I Buy My Next Phone Off-Contract?

You can always negotiate with your cellular provider. When they don't have you tied down by a contract with an early termination fee looming over your head, you have nothing to lose by leaving at any time. If you want a discount, you can call up your carrier and just ask for one. Let them know your plan costs too much, you found something cheaper elsewhere, and feel like you have to leave but you'll stay if they can offer you some sort of discount. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't, so you may need to call back and talk to a few different representatives.

Some service providers also have a special department of "retention specialists" (the name varies by company) that you can speak to if you want to cancel. These workers can provide you with a deal. When you call to ask about canceling your service, the company may transfer you to that department after a quick discussion with a standard customer representative.

Should I Buy My Next Phone Off-Contract?

Contracts don't screw you over at every turn, and a $325 early termination fee (ETF) seems worse than the reality. ETFs shrink throughout the term of your contract until they don't exist at all. If you stay on contract for a year, decide you want to leave, and just pay the minimized fee, you can have most of the off-contract benefits described above without the need to pay full price for your phone. If you don't travel abroad much or at all, you might prefer to stay on contract because you can always escape when you need to. Let's take a look at the math.

A 16GB iPhone costs $200 subsidized and $649 unlocked. AT&T charges a $325 ETF and Verizon charges $350. Both carriers allow you to cancel without penalty in the first month and subtract $10 for each full month of service you complete. So, in reality, AT&T charges $315 and Verizon $340. Let's use Verizon as the example because they charge more. If you cancelled service after the first month, you'd pay a maximum of $540 for your 16GB iPhone. That's $109 less than if you purchased it unlocked and that gap grows by $10 every month you stick with your contract. That means you ought to stick to your contract for as long as possible and pay the ETF if you want your freedom before the two-year period ends. While carriers don't necessarily have to unlock your phone after you've cancelled your contract early, off-contract and unlocked phones tend to go for about the same amount of money when resold so it really doesn't matter unless you need to unlock for traveling abroad.

Not all phones cost $649 minimum nor have quite the resale value of an iPhone. Before you sign a contract, ensure that paying the ETF won't actually cost you more than buying an unlocked phone at the start. If not, sticking to your contract can be more cost-effective and you should consider it if you don't plan to travel out of the country or switch carriers and/or phones anytime soon.


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Title image remixed from an original by Kae Deezign (Shutterstock). Photos by Victor1558 and Jack Dorsey.