Nothing earth shattering here but thought I would share it anyways.
1. Cutting shafts to size.
Problem: When cutting raw shafts in half with a coping saw the end would split and crack.
Solution: Use a knife instead of a saw. Take the knife and scribe a circle around the perimeter. Once you have a nice circle cut deeper. Once the cut is sufficiently deep snap the shaft. If you did the cut well it should make a nice break with only a small messy area.
Seems to work well and is faster, and cleaner, than using the coping saw. The process is easier to do than to describe
2. Painting the shaft. (I'm Rather proud of this one)
Problem: Getting a nice smooth coat of paint on the bolt with only a minimum of mess.
Solution: Using an old T-shirt and masking tape. Dip the t-shirt (or any rag of your choice) in the paint and rub on. Just that simple and easy.
It puts on a nice thin coat that dries in only a few minutes. Granted it make take 2-4 coats to get the desired color but it dries so fast that it doesn't matter. The masking tape is to mask the line between colors.
Don't soak the rag in the paint. A little goes a long way and if it doesn't cover all just dip in again and keep going.
Use one hand to hold the shafts and one to apply the paint and don't change. Otherwise you'll end up with little paint figure prints in all the wrong places.
I have tried all the traditional and new methods. Dip tubes, Ecodipper, spray paints but the t-shirt method was by far the quickest and cleanest method of painting. It was so simple and neat I wish I would have figured this out earlier