Here’s another tool I wrote about earlier in the year. We mix a lot of shellac in our shop (among other things), and getting the flakes to dissolve quickly is always a challenge.
Enter the Intllab Magnetic Stirrer. This $30 gizmo dissolves flakes in short order with little effort on my part. I put the alcohol in a jar, dump in the flakes, drop in the magnetic stir bar and turn on the machine. Then I walk away and work on something else for a little while.
As several people have pointed out, another solution is to grind the flakes into a powder with a coffee bean grinder (which is about the same price as the magnetic stirrer). I’ve seen this done, and it works, too. But here’s the problem with that solution: It doesn’t use magnets, which are cool. (Also, I don’t own a bean grinder.)
I also use the magnetic stirrer for mixing milk paint powder and stirring the flatting paste into lacquer. (Try putting flatting paste in your coffee grinder.)
Is a magnetic stirrer essential to your workshop? No. But it’s a nice luxury and is great fun to play with.
— Christopher Schwarz