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Tom Sachs. (office-hours)

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Tom Sachs hosts an office hours that covers measuring, cutting and marking.



“My dad's father invented braces. He did Orthodontia in the basement.”
“I don't store things in my library that I could buy. Like on Amazon or eBay, I try and just get things that I know I'm going to use immediately.”
“You cut right down the middle. Let the blade do the work. Let it cut through. Don’t use a lot of force. Just do a few simple passes. You won’t cut yourself.”


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00:01:53 Tom Sachs: Welcome to office hours.

00:01:57 Tom Sachs: Really exciting day. We got the T - 48 hours and counting to the first Launch of SpaceX dragon, we’re going to space on the US made rocket made in America the first time in I don’t know how many years. Hi Tricia Stelzner say hi to Adam, are we excited? Yes, we are. Thank you uncle Elon for making a spaceship for us.

00:02:25 Tom Sachs: Um?

00:02:26 Tom Sachs: So your but. Go to if you want to see the live. Screening at launch.

00:02:30 Tom Sachs: Anyway, little. Talk here today about Joseph Cornell.

00:02:41 Tom Sachs: Alright, so he’s an artist n self-taught. I was born in 1903 and died in 1972 and He lived in Queens. This is his house on Utopia Parkway. Right, it’s probably kind of a little bit like where I am Queens and also he made his his sculptures in the basement. There I’ll show you some more pictures like he. Yeah, this is about the size of an iPad, maybe a little bit bigger, but these are sculptures that were meant to be handled. And. Self-taught he didn’t know how to paint or draw or do carpentry. His buddy Marcel Duchamp helped him in the basement doing carpentry and I feel a special connection with this guy because. He used to ride the subways when they were more elevated. You know whatever 50 years ago, the subways or 70 years ago were or above ground. Not so many underground and he would look at those subways at the views into people’s house. If you look at the elevated trains, you can always say beautiful views of Pigeon Coops and stuff. And he would go into Manhattan, which is a place where you could go to used bookstores there. There were like these places where you could find books which are kind of like iPads. They didn’t plug in there really reliable and inexpensive and they didn’t have illuminated screens, but you turn these pages made out of paper and words and images would be on them and you would find great little scraps and collage them into these sculptures and and again self-taught. Some people think he’s the only American surrealist. I’m not an art historian, but he worked in Queens in a basement like this.

00:04:23 Tom Sachs: Like my Grandfather. My mom’s father who is a Doctor Who did household repairs the basement. My dad’s father invented braces. He did Orthodontia in the basement. He used not only to escape the misery of married life, but to take. He would do the mechanical engineering for the braces and he would do photography of his patients and mold making so he had a full-service studio in in in the basement even had a drum machine where he’d play a traditional like klezmer stuff with the four tracks for different beats. And so I’m in Queens now doing a bunch of sculpture and I thought it would take a moment. And show you my Queen’s basement and how it kind of relates a little bit to Joseph Cornell’s legacy. And but more importantly, my family’s legacy, because the best thing we can always do is our. Is tell the story of our family, right? So we’re part of this ongoing tradition.

00:05:30 Tom Sachs: So here is my collage station. Alright. OK, that’s a good shot and Erum gonna bring you over. You might hear a voice in the background Erum. You wanna say hi to everyone? So that’s that’s Erum air underscore RUM Shah and she’s here to kind of like talk now I’m gonna you’re gonna be kind of like that which is not the same view as the camera Erum. But this kind of. Is that good or you want to be right behind the camera?

00:06:07 Erum Shah: No, I’m good. ‘cause I I can see your shot.

00:06:09 Tom Sachs: OK Alright Alright cool so yeah so this is my collage station and what I’m doing here is. Finding all kinds of little scraps like this is years. So when I ran out the door a couple months ago, I grabbed this box of stuff. This is like a a chocolate coin from Peter luger. Racist steakhouse this is a little Shaver. This is actually a fresh one. I haven’t used that. This is we’ve got this treacherous leaking gas line across the street. This is going to blow up the block. This is from that like but check out beach 130.

00:06:47 Tom Sachs: I’m not gonna. Never mind, we could go there here this is, oh hey, check it out. This is another box of crap this is like. My grandfathers compass from the car that my dad totaled. Long story, this is from Tokyo. This is a really sweet outlet. Male plug it swivels. This Is This Is This is a compact that’ll be part of the space program Chanel. Chanel can’t open it with one hand. This is kind of a cool thing. This is like A. This is a salvage kit. I made this Olivia and I are still. We still haven’t done it. This is like fish hooks for fishing stuff out of drains. Little kit string. Anyway so all this crap. This is some. From Joe Factor In LA. And I’m gonna take you around. These are some of my favorite things. This is these are pachinko balls from eBay. They even have the name of the maker on ‘em. These are switches. One ounce lead weights. Sorry what.

00:08:00 Erum: How do you know what you hold on to like? How do you make this collection? Is it just whatever you gravitate toward?

00:08:06 Tom Sachs: Towards so yeah, the question is like that just is how do you know what to hold on to? So I don’t like. I said a couple weeks ago. I do not believe in hoarding. You must build your library right and then you gotta go through a purge every once in awhile and it’s all about intuition, so I don’t. Store things in my library that I could buy. Like on Amazon or eBay, I try and just get things that I know I’m going to use immediately. Have an immediate use for or I’m going to. Or I think I might, you know, it’s like a hunch, but I try not to keep things that I don’t want like we are doing this thing.

00:08:44 Tom Sachs: I’m making all these shivs right now. These are for cutting dick holes in the bottom of foam. Right and and so these are all little shivs, and so this is like A. It would take like a Scalpel there’s an autopsy scalpel non sterile.

And then cut the handle off so it’s smaller, but then have a little lead weight with a plastic foot from one of the NASA chairs hot glued on with some hemp rope so it fits in your pocket and then this dangles like a dangler out of your jeans, right? So you can pull it out. And then here are some. These are some ovulation tests and but I took off the Strip and I put a little scalpel. So you’ve got this and this is oh, this is really good. This is a a cigarillo tip that I found in the street that was pretty gross, right? Yes, I cleaned in alcohol, Sheesh. And so I’m gluing them onto these cups. We’re going to dig into the cups a little bit. I think it’s OK. Erum stop me, this is your chance.

00:09:49 Erum: Why don’t you take us through the fundamentals of marking first.

00:09:50 Tom Sachs: First here, alright, OK, this is one of the Cup Steve steves Cup talk about that left. So yeah, OK marking cutting. Thanks for reminding me, but I think it’s good. You guys see a little bit of context of like why do all this stuff ‘cause there are a lot of schmucks on on YouTube or way better explaining how to mark and cut than me. If you want to learn, don’t listen to me. There are guys who are good teachers. They are teachers. I am an idiot, but I’m your idiot today for as long as you’re watching. So all right? Cutting this is really my favorite. OK, so let’s go from coarse to fine. These are really my favorite. These are aviation snips. I mean, these are monsters like this is a bandsaw blade look. Just cuts right through. I mean, I like a razor blade just like. I cut a razor blade in half. You could cut to a coin. I don’t have any metal money anymore because what’s that? But it goes through everything. This is for cutting through airplanes really strong. Totally overkill, but I like having it nearby because it makes me. Feel powerful and I made this sweet little like Mini Razor Blade. Alright so then oh so check this out so I got a box of stuff from Fisker’s in the mail. Gift. Thank you Coral and thank you Fiskars so you know sometimes in you get stuff that you don’t know. It looks like it’s a toy, but. These are great.

00:11:21 Tom Sachs: This is a great halfway house tool. ‘cause Yeah you can cut scissors with this right? You can cut paper with tape only. Do I have paper? Here. Yeah. Oh yeah, here. You can cut paper with aviation snips, but they’re heavy, right? It’s very heavy. Your gonna get tired, but this is great. ‘cause this cuts heavy. An fine right still heavy springloaded. It’s really nice. I highly recommend these and then the step down from this is Mom’s favorite scissors, right so?

00:11:58 Tom Sachs: More moms good scissors and when I was a kid I used to get in trouble because we had these horrible scissors that were silver with black paint, painted handles and a loose screw and they hurt your hands and my little small weak hands and I couldn’t do anything with him and I would sneak these scissors and she always knew when I’d sneak them and I would always get busted, I was like how do you know? An I never knew how she knew but later did I only then the later they found out that there’s little residue here. Let’s see if I can show you the residue. You can’t see it’s too fine, but when you cut through scotch tape. Right? You’re making a little zine. I tape it and I fold it a tape it. Oh it’s such a shitty job. So I think it’s like I’ll make a smaller Zine right so? You tape it. You leave a little gap tiny look at like the width of piece of paper and then you fold it and then you tape it. Alright and then. It’s all tape everywhere, so you just like go through and like clean it up. But every time you cut it, there’s a little bit of glue residue on those. On the Scissor Blade, so she would find that she’d know that I’d fucked with her stuff and I’d get in troubs. Anyway, I think this is the best value scissor money can buy. Super high quality, but not like those. What was the name of? In kill Bill of the sword. Um? Someone by now someone should have typed in the name of the built sword from kill bill. Anyway, there’s a company that makes scissors like $300 in Japan. Does it come up yet?

00:13:43 Tom Sachs: Oh please! Are you not listening Instagram? What the fuck? Hattori Hanzo. Thank you hechtel God, thank you. Yeah these are not Hattori Hanzo scissors but you know the tools are there to get the job done and that’s what’s important and. Um? Also, I thought was really impressed like that. I got this little pack from Fiskars, two of like, oh this is real crap. When I opened it was like, oh, this is like one of those things that you throw away ‘cause it had this. This back form terrible thing, but this little this. Is incredible. It’s a chisel an I always have a chisel or a scraper to scrape the hot glue off my cutting mat. Or you know for cutting stuff like you can cut stuff with a chisel or prying. This thing is heavy duty and these this is very this is this is where are you? This is stout, so this is an improvement over A. Over a scalpel, it’s like very like it does not flex. This is useless. Don’t use that, but this is heaven and I’m gonna get more of these blades. So or if you have ‘em, send ‘em because these are nice. And then on my just stepping down.

00:15:00 Tom Sachs: So again, we went from aviation snips to I don’t even know what these general purpose sniper called to mom’s favorite scissors or moms. Good scissors to these guys now check this shit out. Is there this is Japanese steel. Spring loaded. Got kind of a Chinci like you can hear this spring. I don’t know if you can hear that. Sounds cheesy, but the action is so good. I mean check this out. Look at this. And sometimes you just want something light. If you’re cutting this with these scissors like you can do it. You know it it it can be done, but if you’re working all day you wanna enjoy it. It’s like yeah, we’re surviving the apocalypse but at what cost, right? Like we still enjoy our lives. This isn’t about.

00:15:59 Erum: Satisfying to cut.

00:16:01 Tom Sachs: Yeah, I think it’s way more satisfying with like the tool that just barely does it. This isn’t about having like. A Glock an a M4. It’s about having extra Virgin Olive oil. So. You know, like. Oh she’s too big. Oh, I don’t want to cut into her beautiful. First, let’s see will she fit? Yeah. Yeah, this is the King of glue guns. If you really get pro get this one. It’s got an on off switch.

00:16:53 Tom Sachs: Oh hello. Yeah, and that’s dorothys little that’s. It’s glued in. I gotta I gotta heat that up a little bit. Alright, and then, let’s just say that’s two coarse, right? You did. You did well with. The scissors Then you move down to things that you have to hold with the hand, and I I like the Olfa. Right this size? What size is it? It’s oh. Oh, it’s metric. Sorry I’m not going to tell you, but I mean it measures about like 3/4 of an inch but. Yes, in actuality. This is called a 8 Millimeter. Yeah, it’s 8 millimeters, so I like these awful blades. Been using for years. Who built endless projects with these? These are great, but then if you want to go down once further, you go down to a scalpel. And when I was making models in England we made everything with Scalpels. In US we use x-acto. Those x-actos are much stiffer, they’re more, they’re more like this. But the x-acto handles aren’t. Compellingly confident, confident.

00:18:28 Tom Sachs: And Scalpel Scalpers are good. And you can get individual scalpel blades. And I’ll take like a scalpel blade. For example. And then what is this? This is like a. I think from I don’t know if this is for makeup, for for caviar, but I found it. And. I’m gonna actually. I don’t like that. I’m gonna put on this and. I’m gonna make like a little dickhole shiv handle. Right, so glue that on. And then you think that’s going to break off while you’re right, so you take a little bit of fibrous material. My favorite fibered material is paper. And then. Hot glue it on. And then put in a vice while it’s cooling. These are amazing. Totally overkill for this, but Klein tools my fav. Glow in the dark handle needle nose pliers. I just like having him around always because it gives me confidence. I know I can get through any situation. Can even I mean they just are very powerful and you can cut stuff with that. I mean can you cut paper with it? With that? You can.

00:19:59 Tom Sachs: If if it’s a high quality one like this on, it’ll like the jaws are lined up and it will actually cut paper, so I think it’s important to not be afraid of having the wrong tool. Not be afraid of like someone just wrote. I saw never cut through tape. Yeah, absolutely. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife. But you’re gonna covet, you just aren’t supposed to. You know that the covetousness is a feeling. It’s the action that you take things important when you have these 10 bullets and rules that they just remember their guidelines. I mean shit happens. You know? But if you want to kind of try and avoid it, look at that. Oh, that is a nice little dick hole shift and. I’m gonna put this in here. It’s a little tight So what I’ll do is I turn on my wood burner.

00:21:13 Tom Sachs: Alright, and then let’s go back. Maybe this is going to be Dorothy’s? Will, chiv. So there anyway. So this is going to go back in my shiv collection to install for later, so I didn’t tell you anything about marking. Sorry. What’s that?

00:21:44 Erum: You can really cut with attitude.

00:21:49 Tom Sachs: Yeah, that’s true. So and then. And by the way, and these are razor sharp. These are for cutting into you into your body there dirt cheap you can buy him also the handle on it sterile like when you use him in a hospital. They use these disposable handles. You can get nice silver handles. You put these on for the shop is maybe a better value. But it’s kind of cool to get these handled ones. Oops, I didn’t do such a good job. I took that off too fast.

00:22:19 Tom Sachs: But that’s kinda cool, and what’s also nice about a scalpel if you care like so. This is the same type is I cut the handle off on the bandsaw so you can do it like real fast. An I like to sand plastic on this thing. Is for a dollar. You’ve got a razor sharp knife. That’ll open anything if it’s in your pocket when you go through TSA you like surrender it. It’s not like. Um? Going through TSA. With this thing. In your pocket ‘cause you forgot. And. You know it’s like kind of a bummer. ‘cause it’s like very special and rare. So you know I’ve lost these, but they have numbers on them, so they actually come back to me the long way. That’s another story.

00:23:29 Erum: Move the camera back. We can’t see you.

00:23:31 Tom Sachs: Oh Shit alright, sorry. Ah. Uh. There OK, so that’s yeah, that’s the $1 knife.

00:23:43 Tom Sachs: Razor sharp and you want like so when you go through TSA or whatever or to a club you have to surrender. It’s like whatever here. Keep it. Have a nice day go cut your dick off but if you have this in your pocket which is like an heirloom. This will last many lifetimes if we lose that. It’s kind of a bummer. And also by the way. Just a little heads up like this little knife like. Disposable or whatever, like if it gets dull. You can sharpen that too. And make that razor sharp. With a, you know a stone or the bottom of a ceramic Cup, alright?

00:24:25 Tom Sachs: So marking all you need to know about marking. Alright, kind of. Whatever really one thing, but I’ll I’ll drag it out to make it more important. I think the most important tool in the shop is a tape measure, so any of you who want to be part of the team. Get a tape measure. It doesn’t matter what brand, doesn’t matter if it’s inches or metric. We use inches, but sometimes metrics good. Specially if your job is measuring an Ofla blade. Right, that’s 8 millimeter. Sometimes you need it. So get a tape measure. I really like a calliper digital calliper. These used to be very expensive and hard to read. Now they’re super cheap. What’s cool about this is you can measure. Stuff like this clamp it. Boom.

00:25:26 Tom Sachs: Oh, it’s .7 of an inch or. 17 millimeters why I say was eight? What the? What’s wrong with me? Oh yeah. It’s 18 millimeters, not 8. Sorry, so yeah there. Yeah 18 Mil. 18 millimeters See? 17.8 a 10th of a millimeter off.

00:26:08 Tom Sachs: OK, so that’s really cool, and what’s good about this? You can measure outside dimensions. Can measure inside dimensions. Those two little dillies there. See that can you see that Inside dimensions outside dimensions. Did you see? That should do it again.

00:26:30 Erum: Bring you to the center more. Yeah, right there, that’s perfect.

00:26:34 Tom Sachs: Right? Outside dimensions. How wide is that little gap inside dimensions there? 8.7 millimeters or .34 of an inch, right, and then you’re ready for this mindblower. Check it out. See that Little Dingus on the end. Depth. Point 14. How deep is the hole? How deep do I need to make a screw head stick out of a wall? So I can hang this thing on it. Ah, well, that’s about right. .9 of an inch. Or what’s the minimum? .5 two and ensure how thick is this fucker? What does that say? Oh my God, point. .6 of an inch alright and then so alright.

00:27:47 Tom Sachs: Now measuring so also. Yeah, get one of these too. This is the most expensive one. Starrett Combo Square. Just get anyone that’s got good markings. The reason why I want you to get this is ‘cause you can get good 90 degrees. You can line stuff up. Carefully. And then you mark it. Right and like.

00:28:19 Erum: Yeah yes matter decimals or fractions when measuring. What do you? What do you default to?

00:28:27 Tom Sachs: Just like decimals or fractions. Well, if you I can’t really show, maybe I can show you and I I use them both. Um, and that’s why if you on the back of my phone I have this chart, so use this little mirror. Can you see that? Woah. There so I keep it fractional decimal chart on my phone because I use both at all times so. That’s the answer is both. There’s a time place for both, but you know, like this tool does. Decimals and this one does fractions, so you need both and you know it. I know it’s really overwhelming, but you know, if you don’t, if you have trouble with fractions, maybe we should have fractions session, but the first thing rule of fractions is like $0.50 is half of a dollar, so it’s .5. A quarter is $0.25, so that’s like. .25 Two quarters is $0.50 or or half three quarters is .75. Right, four quarters is is 1, so just start with those you know. Just do things to start with your with your quarter, half and quarters just do 3/4 in quarter and an end. .25 is that’s close enough, you can get finer than that and you will, but let’s just if you have any issues with fractions, you got fraction fear. Just start with 2520, five, $0.25 can also do $0.10. That’s a 10th of this of an inch or 5 cents. The nickel .5. So, but those aren’t really useful fractions. Start with a quarter.

00:30:17 Tom Sachs: Um so alright hey, look at that. We got a line. And. Check it out. We got a line so. I’m gonna do it the way I like to do it with this scissor right. Put this guy back.

00:30:35 Erum: Can you turn the view onto the cutting board a little mo..

00:30:37 Tom Sachs: Yeah, yeah. So see this line. That’s got thickness. You know what? Let’s do this again. Let’s make this a little more obvious.

00:31:14 Tom Sachs: Alright. So. Wait, do I cut the middle of the line or to the right or the left? Doesn’t really matter. But if you cut to the middle of the line. We’ve got a lot of room for error. Is this crankcase 70 my favorite tool and this is a highly modified one with this pocket clip made out of plywood and epoxy and the old cap. Craig. Please for God Sakes. The old cap so much more reliable. So I was cut to one side of the line. And I think you’ll find when you’re being precise. That’s when you really want a lighter scissors. You have more dexterity.

00:32:16 Erum: Will you move towards the crank more better and then you’ll be centered.

00:32:22 Tom Sachs: Now what’s cool about that is you can see even where my error was or it went a little too far to the right. But only by seeing. Can you see only by seeing the error can you see can you improve? Alright, so always cut to one side line. Doesn’t matter what side. And it also kind of depends on on the situation. Here’s another thing that’s that’s interesting, like. When you make a cut, you know you can see how well you did. How’s my gap? Pretty good for paper. Alright, but maybe. That was too precise, so you can also like.

00:33:20 Tom Sachs: And I got old eyes so I’m gonna use my Opti visor, it really helps for if you’re nearsighted. How’s that angle?

00:33:53 Erum: Hey Tom. This is for precision, what you’re doing right?

00:33:55 Tom Sachs: Now, yeah, so if you’re going small, you know it’s a pretty. It’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. That’s a stripe. Whoah. Alright, so I think I mean there’s probably endless stuff to talk about measuring. But the other thing that I like about getting. One of these guys. Right Combo Square, it’s called. Is that you have? In the kit an engineers ruler, and it’s very important.

00:34:33 Tom Sachs: Gever Tully what’s up? Thanks for coming. Brightworks shoutout. Best school in the world. Everyone, by the way I see Gevers on the on the call read thing dangerous things. You should teach your children to do like play with fire and drive a car. It’s a great book. It’s important it’s part, it’s required reading. Um for parenting. So.

00:35:00 Tom Sachs: Yeah, OK, what I like about this ruler is it goes all the way to the end. So that is one whole inch at the end. It’s exactly an inch alright, so what’s cool about that? So you got a piece of paper, right? You’re dicking around? You don’t really know what to do. You can like draw a line. And then you can cut it. Right, or you can just like, maybe it’s not that critical or you can what I like to do sometimes is if you measure you gotta line. Yeah this is like this is kind of a good one. You have parallel line with that. How do you get a line parallel? Imagine it’s bigger on a piece of plywood. I’m doing this real small. Start with a bigger sheet. And you want lines parallel with that? Well, Real Simple. See is make it 1 inch. So you line this little mark. Up with the top or the bottom, but always just pick one side the mark on the ruler with a mark on the pens on the paper you make a line and you move it over. You do the same. You line it up and then for insurance you do a third. And then you take the rule and you line it up with those two outer marks. The middle one is for insurance. And you draw the line. And those are parallel. Right? And maybe your to lazy to even draw. Maybe you don’t even want to do that. Maybe you just wanna like line it up. Cause this is also an inch wide. So maybe you just wanna line it up with the edge and just grab your little knife and you cut it like that. Oh here’s another little tip. Right? Cut piece of paper. Cut in half here’s another little tip. When your cutting. I’m gonna show you with a bigger longer blade right. Just so you can see. Hattori Hanzō says You don’t cut like this into your hand. You don’t cut like that away from your hand. You cut right down the middle. Let the blade do the work. Let it cut through. Don’t use a lot of force. Just do a few simple passes. You won’t cut yourself. If your only doing this. If your thinking about something else. If you’re an idiot and your explaining how to cut paper on Instagram, you might cut yourself. But if your only cutting you will not cut yourself. Alright. That’s it.

00:38:10 Erum: Was that your sage advice Tom?

00:38:12 Tom Sachs: OK. So. Thanks for watching, just ahh a little station identification, this is Tom Sachs, this is the end of office hours for today. If you are tuning in late, really exciting news we’ve got our first launch of the dragon SpaceX dragon spaceship going to the space station. I think in t-48 hours approximately, you can go to and watch that. It’s the first time, that a rocket has lifted off from US soil, in, since the shuttle ended in I dunno. What was that? Eight years ago or something? Nine years ago? SpaceX, private company is doing this. It’s fantastic, I mean the USPS doesn’t work as well as FedEx and UPS. And NASA doesn’t work as well as SpaceX as far as delivery systems. So were taking matters into our hands as individuals. I think this is a great opportunity to remember that and never forget. So ah. Keep your dick in a vice.

00:39:28 Erum: Tom, see if you can post a story.

00:39:30 Tom Sachs: End now.