Archive for March, 2008


14 March 2008

It’s about time for a little bit of Friday humour. Here’s one for the DIY/mechanics amongst us.

Found at

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted vertical stabilizer which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light . Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned cleco calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, “Oh sh*t!”
ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.
SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.
PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.
BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction of intense welding< /SPAN> heat to the palm of your hand.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.
TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.
HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.
EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off a trapped hydraulic jack handle.
E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible future use.
BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminium sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.
TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.
CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids and for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt, but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.
STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.
PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.
HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.
MECHANIC’S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.
DAMMIT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling “DAMMIT” at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Moribund Overkill

13 March 2008

For quite a few years now, AutoCAD’s Express tools have included a great command called “Overkill.” It’s found in the Express pulldown menu, under Modify/Delete duplicate objects. Or you can simply type “overkill” at the command line.

However, users have complained that it often doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do when you give it a mixture of lines and polylines. If, for example, you select both a polyline and line drawn on top of each other, overkill doesn’t work. Funny that, because I’m sure it used to work properly in earlier AutoCADs!

Anyway, after a lot of stumbling around, and bearing in mind the previous comment, I’ve discovered that overkill seems to be dependent on the PEDITACCEPT system variable. We all breathed a sigh of relief when PEDITACCEPT was introduced to AutoCAD in around version 2004. Naturally, we set it to 1 so we wouldn’t get that annoying message asking if we were sure we wanted to turn it into a polyline (doh – what do they think we were using the pedit command for, then?)

Now, it seems that setting PEDITACCEPT to 1 kills that function in the overkill command. If you set PEDITACCEPT to 0 before you run overkill, then it works. Set PEDITACCEPT back to 1 after you finish and all will be tickety-boo!


12 March 2008

At the February meeting, Mark Miller demonstrated a neat little program called Sidekick.


Sidekick is a reference program for the Mechanical Engineer. It basically consists of a number of reference screens with information on screw data (metric and imperial), holes, wrench clearances and more.

Best of all is the price – it’s free! Download it from

Can’t Find Your Help File?

5 March 2008


One of our users had a problem in that their AutoCAD help file went missing. Instead of getting help when they pressed F1, they got a dialog box claiming that AutoCAD “cannot find help file.”

It’s an easy fix: go into AutoCAD’s Options dialog and set the Help file location under “Help and Miscellaneous File Names” in the Files Tab. It should be (for AutoCAD 2007):

C:program filesautocad 2007helpacad170.chm.

The Wonderful Wide Web

5 March 2008

Ellipse Template

For those of us who get all misty eyed in the nostalgia of ellipse templates, rapidograph pens and adjustable triangles, check out the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies:
It’s amazing how quickly these things have become symbols of a past, glorious, era.