Unsung heroes of the workbench

Most of us are familiar with third hands and DMMs, but fusible silicone tape or freeze spray?

Where would we be without the ingenious and sometimes wacky essentials that adorn the workbench? If you have a pet name for your magnifier/solder holder/third hand combo, and you always have a can of air duster close by, you're going to love this top 10 list of lesser-known yet equally valuable tools, accessories and consumables.

1 Solder paste
Perfect for SMD work and fiddly joints that are difficult to solder in the usual way, this is simply applied by syringe wherever it's needed and then heated with a soldering iron. Store it in the fridge and let it naturally warm up to ambient temperature before use.

2 Liquid insulation
When neither heat shrink nor tape are practical options, use liquid insulation instead. It dries to an extremely tough coating that’s resistant to salt and acid, stays flexible, and won’t crack or peel.

3 Wire glue
Like the opposite of liquid insulation, and similar to a ‘cold’ version of solder paste, this conductive adhesive lets you create permanent solder-like joints in heat-sensitive situations.

4 Fusible silicone tape
With countless uses ranging from insulating wires that are tough to protect with heat shrink, to making an emergency seal around a leaking pipe, this adhesive-free tape fuses to itself on contact. It also stays flexible to -50°C, withstands heat up to 260°C and insulates to 400V.

5 Refrigerant spray
Need to drop the temperature, pronto? This ozone-safe, non-CFC freeze spray provides the rapid cooling you need.

6 Corrosion buster pen
Like a handheld micro sandblaster, this tool has 20,000 abrasive bristles to clean away dirt, wax, rust and other contaminants from the tightest crevices – such as the terminals of a device that had batteries left in it for years.

7 Magnetic mat
All those tiny fasteners and random bits of hardware will never escape again. With marked grid lines and marker included, this mat can act as a whiteboard for making notes and easily identifying the parts it’s holding.

8 Steel-reinforced epoxy putty
You might have used two-part putty that cures hard after being kneaded; this version is reinforced with particles of stainless steel for a super-strong finished material that’s safe for exposure to drinking water and withstands up to 148°C.

9 Dry lubricant
Spray a water-displacing film of PTFE (commonly known as Teflon) to lubricate plastic gears and prevent corrosion of ferrous metals.

10 Cable tie gun
You’ll never resort to using pliers – or worse, your teeth – to tighten cable ties again. This automatic tool features tension adjustment and clips off ties after tightening.


- February 2022

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