My various inboxes and social media feeds lit up yesterday with this Russian “life hacks” video that had clearly gone viral. I always find these life and shop hacks videos, animated GIFs, and web pages to be fascinating. I have long contended that a lot of our attraction to such collections, to tips, hacks, short cuts, time-savers, etc. is not necessarily that we’re going to incorporate many of these into our day-to-day life and work. We’re often most attracted to what they inspire in us — that sense of possibility, the “Yankee ingenuity” they exhibit, the way in which a problem is creatively solved with limited tools and materials, and the way in which disparate things that don’t usually go together are combined into something innovative and useful.

The disposable lighter glue gun below is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I can’t imagine that many people will actually make such a contraption, or that it is really all that useful, but looking at it does fan some creative spark in us. It’s all about looking at the world, at the tools and materials around us, and seeing them in a new way. And it’s always good to be reminded of that.

Here are 5 of the hacks from the video that I particularly liked:

Make a Cheese Grater from a Tin Can

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Drill a matrix of holes in the side a tin can and then bend the holes outward to create a cutting edge on each of them. As a bonus, the grated food gets collected inside of the can.

Dual-sided Toothbrush Chain Cleaner

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Clean your bike chain by taping two old toothbrushes together.

Make a Retractable Hacksaw

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Remove the blade from a retractable utility knife and use it as a template to cut a piece of hacksaw blade to size. Replace the blade with the hacksaw and you now have a hacksaw that you can safely carry in your pocket.

Breaking a Padlock with Two Crescent Wrenches

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Here he uses the leveraging power of two open-end wrenches to break open a padlock. This looks like a very chintzy lock. I wonder if this would work on a good lock?

Disposable Lighter Glue Gun

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Using tin cut from a can to make a glue stick holder, he fashions a poor man’s glue gun by taping the holder to the top of a disposable lighter. You can always just heat the end of a glue stick in a pinch, but this is still a clever little idea.

The Easiest Plastic String Maker

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We’ve seen a number of these little widgets for cutting up soda bottles into plastic string. This one is the simplest yet — just six washers, two screws, and the blade from a school box pencil sharpener.

We’re always on the lookout for shop tips and clever hacks. If you’ve run into any such tips or viral hacks videos, please share with us in the comments.

[Thanks to Dawn Rogala and Dave Kellar]