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Make: Asks is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: Every project is a learning experience, to be sure. But what is one you can remember that did not come out the way you intended, and perhaps was even unusable when finished? What did you learn from this?

I once attempted to make a hanging dome for a ceiling light fixture out of reused PETE plastic packaging. The final product looked absolutely hideous and my wife promptly told me to take it down. Lesson learned – there’s something to be said for aesthetics.

Post your responses in the comments section.

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.


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Comments

  1. rocketguy1701 says:

    Well, I was just considering 3D printing a lampshade. Consider me forewarned…

  2. Lincoln Carlin says:

    I recently made a MIDI 25-note pedal board, using a set of old organ pedals. To trigger each pedal I used magnetic reed switches on a strip with magnets mounted to each pedal. I spent hours adjusting the height of each switch and contact point between switch and magnet. When all was finally assembled and finished I set it up and began to play. Unfortunately, the pedals were so heavy they shattered every switch. I was so ticked off. Ultimately, found a much easier way to trigger events with the pedals. Just wasted so much time I could have otherwise spent drinking! LOL

  3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rightkeyrepair/3122130153/lightbox/ … Kind of says it all. The answer is “No”, I did not get it working.

  4. Wilson! says:

    I once tried to take the tool-free drive cage out of an old Compaq computer case (it was really ingenious, with a simple lever to release the optical and hard drives) and graft it into a no-name case that had a nice tool-free removable motherboard tray, but the drive cage required screws. I would also need to retrofit the front plastic bezel from the Compaq case to the other one. And give it all a spiffy paint job. It was to be the last computer case I’d ever need, though…

    After measuring, drilling, cutting, riveting, painting… oh crap … drilling out rivets, measuring some more, drilling some more, riveting some more, I had mangled it all so badly that it wasn’t rigid. Who needs a loosey-goosey computer case?

    If only I had another copy of each of those cases, I could have pulled it off after gaining much knowledge the first time around. Alas, it all wound up in a cardboard box by the curb on bulky-item pickup day. I think someone came and grabbed all the metal pieces for scrap. ..

  5. Robert says:

    I once tried to make a compost drum from a 55 gallon metal barrel I got the idea to drill holes in it for air then lay it on wheels to make it easy to turn. I used inline roller-skate wheels thinking with the barrel resting on the skateboard wheels I would just have to roll the barrel to turn the compost.

    The weight of the barrel caused it to dent where it made contact with the barrel and the barrel would not budge.

  6. Several years ago I bought two under-dressers with the intent of building beds for my kids. Four big drawers, give the kids more floor space in their rooms, what could possibly go wrong?

    Well, not building the beds, of course. I had bitten off way more than my woodworking skills could chew.

    Eventually, I built a monstrously ugly bed for my daughter. She used it for a while to humor the old man, then asked me to take it away so she could just use a regular dresser.

    Lesson learned: Make sure you have what it takes to follow through before you drop a few hundred dollars on a huge item the size of a refrigerator. Or, especially, two of them.

  7. joe duffy says:

    I tried to fix an ionized lead acid battery by putting 24V into it for a few days. I ended up with acid on my dresser, a 400 degree, broken battery, and a fried power supply. Not such a good idea.

  8. ednspace says:

    I once tried to make Casein paint out of big surplus of milk. I let the milk curdle and then put it into big gunny sack bags and hung it from a shed roof to dry. Only problem, it didn’t dry, but turned into bags of the things that eventually turn into fly’s. I had to eventually admit defeat, dig a hole and deal with the overwhelming smell while I buried it. Lesson learned, paint is not that expensive at the hardware store after all.

  9. Charles says:

    A mishap during a an attempt to empirically determine the bursting strength of a soda pop bottle resulting in hearing damage.

  10. [...] the piece MAKE Asks: Worst Projects, OneSprague remarks: I once tried to make Casein paint out of big surplus of milk. I let the milk [...]

  11. [...] the piece MAKE Asks: Worst Projects, OneSprague remarks: I once tried to make Casein paint out of big surplus of milk. I let the milk [...]