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Make: Asks is a new weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column will spark interesting conversation and that we’ll get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: What was the first thing ever you took apart? Were you able to reassemble it?

Post your responses in the comments section.

Michael Colombo

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

  • slvdc1

    my mom’s VCR….and no I didn’t attempt to reassemble it. I was 6

  • Rob


    Performed a few motor and axle swaps as a wee lad :)

    • papabear54321

      I was about 12 when Stompers came out, so I actually got pretty good at disassembling and reassembling them.

  • mbheath1

    A car radio I found on the side of the road. I was probably 6. I tried to reassemble, but had extra (obviously unimportant) parts left over…

  • Wicker

    My bike as a kid. I did get it back together too! I would have been killed by my father and unable to write this had I not.

  • mpilchfamily

    Hard to say really… I had to be 3 or 4 at the time. Ever since i realized what a screw driver could do and could handle one i have been taking things apart. I think the first thing was my He-man Attack Trak. Got that back together with no problem.

  • ka1axy

    My parents used to give me things to take apart when I was a kid. An old alarm clock was the first thing I destroyed. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I started taking things apart more carefully. I still do it.

  • Ben

    The front door knob when I was 3. I used a flat head screwdriver to remove phillips screws.

  • papabear54321

    First thing I remember taking apart was an alarm clock. The old fashioned kind about 6 inches in diameter, with two bells on top. I wanted to know what was inside it. I didn’t think about putting it back together until it was completely disassembled. I made an effort, but it quickly became obvious that I would not be able to completely reassemble it. I was 6.

  • FredB

    My little brother.

    • ChrisW

      It had to be said.

  • FredB

    I’m kidding! I’m kidding!

  • donner

    I was around 4 or 5 and i took apart the toaster – reassembled but had a whole mess of leftovers. I put it back on the countertop and never admitted that it was me that broke the toaster (we had a new one by the end of the week.)

  • Leo Johnson

    my radio, was probably around 7 or 8, got it back together, but after that my parents bought me kits from radio shack with the little springs and wires. triede to find one for my nephew, but not made any more.

    • jammitweapon

      Elenco was the company that Radio Shack bought the spring terminal kits from. Elenco still sells them. Pololu is another company that sells Elenco spring kits. Do a Google search for those two companies.

  • spiridios

    I must’ve been around 4 or 5, and it was either a toy choo choo train or my hotwheels gas station. I know I took that train apart and put it back together too many times to count. There were never any extra parts and it always worked when done. After that, my parents used to buy stuff from thrift stores for me to dismantle, since taking the same thing apart just to put it back together gets old after a while.

  • mpechner

    I used to disassemble toys. Did not always get them back together.

  • helicopterjeff

    My old fisher price record player. never worked right after that. i hid it in the closet and hoped that time would fix it….

    • Michael Colombo

      Ha! I remember magically thinking that time would work out whatever was broken in something. Funny how there’s that similarity.

      • Kenneth Oldfield

        It is a well observed fact that time fixes old Volkswagens…

  • Daniel

    Talking G.I. Joe Commander, yes I got him back together and he was actually able to talk!

  • Joe Ratulowski

    An old alarm clock. The kind with the numbers that flip. I did not try to reassemble and was strongly discouraged from taking apart anything else.

  • R. Mark Adams

    The vaccuum cleaner – it had stopped working, and I took it part to find out what made it tick. Amused parents pulled plug before I killed myself. I did get it back together and working, BTW.

  • randomjnerd

    I can’t say with any certainty, as family stories have me taking stuff apart at an age I can’t remember. The one I can confirm, as I did put it back together, is the lawnmower at age 2 1/2. My father saved the bits, and scrounged a replacement mower. I put it back together (as in running) at age 9. (the go-kart instinct gets very strong around then)

    I now encourage kids to take stuff apart – how things work, the direct route.

  • Arno Brosi

    I think it was a model steam locomotive,it sort of got back together in its original state.

  • bitflung

    i must have been between 3 and 6 – took apart our TRS-80 to see how it worked, pop joined me and ‘we’ (i think really just ‘he’) put it back together without issue.

    a few years later it was common practice for me to fix the computers at his office (he owns a land surveying firm). years after that i opened a successful computer repair shop. i give my folks most of the credit for all of that: having toyed with real stuff as a kid there was nothing in the machine that scared me off.

    no one’s perfect though – i recall them banishing me from the computer because my english grades weren’t good enough; at the time i was teaching myself pascal (no such thing as a programming course in all my years of school prior to college) and they saw that as some sort of computer game. no, years later, i’m a professional computer engineer that didn’t learn any meaningful programming language until college. i’ve often wondered: if getting my hands inside a computer made the hardware so intuitive to me, what would my programming skills be like today if i’d been allowed to keep learning pascal back then?

  • J Campbell

    My first disassembly was a toad. Maybe that explains why I became a biologist

  • phlamingo (@phlamingo)

    One of those nifty folding travel alarms, with the wind-up spring and all the little brass gears. Never got it back together.

    Funny thing, I found one just like it (as well as I can remember) at a thrift store recently, and repeated the whole experience … including not getting it back together.

    It was just as much fun forty-odd years later.


    At kindergarden age I used to take apart those tin toys (it was the 60’s) that used all the little bent tabs to hold together. They usually had those momentum driven sparking wheel mechanisms inside. I could only put them back together so far, then dad would have to finish. Learned quickly about metal fatigue at a young age!
    (Yes, it was a long time ago when dinosaurs roamed, but at least I watched the moon landing live!)

    • Kenneth Oldfield

      Yay for vintage. Moon landing, Kennedy assassination, so many things happened in our day.

  • DraWIt

    My dolls. The heads arms and legs, although a fairly tight press fit, could turn. Some arme were held in place by rubberbands on internal, in-molded hooks. The material difference between the body and the appendages was interesting. I was told that I wasn’t going to get any more dolls….. so I just made them instead!

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