fathersday2 Hats Off to You, Dad!

As people are often quick to point out, Father’s and Mother’s Days are Hallmark holidays, designed to sell greeting cards. But knowing that, I’m still all for any holiday that ritually acknowledges the people in our lives. I don’t think we do nearly enough to celebrate each other, the work we do, the sacrifices we make, and the unique contributions we make in each others lives. (I just don’t give pre-made greeting cards. I have a ball making my own.)

So, here’s to my dad, my granddad, and all of the other male mentors and father figures in my life. And in yours. Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

We ran a conversation piece earlier in the week on the “Craziest Thing Your Dad Ever Made (or Attemped to MAKE).” Here are some of the highlights:

Sewinsi writes: “…he made a tool for inserting hearing aids….. that resulted in not one, but two trips to the audiologist to have them removed.”

Jesse Smith: “My dad built a Van’s RV-4 experimental aircraft (http://www.vansaircraft.com/public/rv-4int.htm) over 7 years when I was a kid. I was the “buck boy”, who climbed inside the fuselage to apply counter-pressure to the rivets with a bucking bar while he riveted. He had to learn welding, metalwork, electronics, fiberglass making, and a dozen other things to get that bad boy off the ground. He built it so well, it was certified for aerobatics and he joined a formation flying group! He told me that when he got it certified, it performed just fine past 8 G’s, at which point he almost blacked out!”

Dbarak: “My dad tried to make a sailboat once by “attaching” a water ski to the bottom of a small life raft using screws (the bottom didn’t have air). He then tried to make a mast and boom using 1×1 pine wood and a sail using red (cotton?) fabric. He didn’t have a clue about the aerodynamics of a sail (needless to say, I didn’t at that age either). It didn’t take long, once we got it in the water, to figure out it wasn’t going to work. Thankfully his other DIY projects have actually turned out fairly well.”

Sten Turpin: “My dad once tried to build an electric fence to keep raccoons out of his lotus pond. He connected chain-link to the 120V line out of an outdoor light fixture. Oddly, it kept shorting out. (That was the craziest thing I saw him build, but he did a lot of awesome stuff, too, like our deck, his new porch, a tiny log cabin out of trees he took down).”

Chuck: “I’ll never forget the time my dad installed a used ceiling fan on our patio. It was out of balance and made noise so he was determined to balance it. Using what was at hand he scotch-taped an ink pen to one of the blades and turned it on to check it. After moving the pen from blade to blade and positioning it just right, he found the sweet spot and it worked perfectly. Then my step mother walked out and said ‘What are all these tiny black spots all over the wall?’ The centifugal force of the fan had flung ink in a cool pattern on the patio walls. To this day he swears this never happened.”

KellySchrock: “My dad is a maker from way back. He’s a farmer, with a Master’s in music. When I was 5, he made a “dart thrower” out of a stick, some string, and some darts he carved out of cedar shingles (sort of like lawn darts, but they flew much further and weren’t heavy enough to do much damage if they hit you). One Christmas, he locked us all out of the basement and made all of our Christmas presents. My younger brother’s gift was a wooden barn with sliding doors, a folding roof, a loft with a sliding ramp for running toy tractors up and down it, and windows. He still has it 35 years later.”

Robb Sadler: “My youngest memory is that he made me a toy table saw using an erector set motor drive and one of the gears as a blade that i sat at for hours and cut paper. He also built me a cool console made of steel and thick plexiglass that had open sides and wired up 120v switches and motors and lights inside. I also played with that for hours. It wasn’t that safe, but it was a lot of fun. I am thinking of doing a 12v version maybe with the kids this weekend.

Love you Dad!”

You can see all of the crazy (and not so crazy) dad builds on the original post.

And don’t forget our downloadable maker cards for dad, which includes the popular Tips My Dad Says card. You can see last year’s Father’s Day discussion that led to that card, with plenty of other tips and words of wisdom from maker dads.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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