Make and Mend month

Make and Mend month

The term “make and mend” is a military one, most notably from the Royal Navy, and refers to a day, usually a Sunday, where the sailors would have some down time to fix their kit, mend their uniform, make other repairs, and more importantly, lay around on the decks of their ships, soaking up some rays. This month, we don’t want you sunbathing (not on our time, anyway), but we do want to see you taking some time for repairing and maintaining the tech in your life. And telling us about it.

Even many of us makers are still prone to tossing out perfectly good appliances, computers, gardening tools, and other tech or tools that die or get worn out. I had an espresso machine that had a broken part (the filter holder). I came really close to throwing the whole unit out, using it as an excuse to get a newer, swankier model. But I decided to go ahead and fix it. I went to the manufacturer’s website, found their parts catalog, and bought the part (for under $10 incl. shipping). Inspired by the arrival of the shiny new part, I thoroughly cleaned, checked the wiring, etc. on the rest of the machine, and put it all back together. It wasn’t a big-deal repair, but that’s kind of the point. It didn’t take much, and I had a good-as-new machine. And since then, as fate would have it, I’ve stopped drinking a lot of espresso, so I didn’t really need a new machine — this one will serve my limited purposes for years to come. I didn’t have to blow $200 on a new model and this one didn’t end up in a landfill.

This month, we’re going to be “celebrating” the humble arts of maintenance, repair, making do with what you have, and learning more about the gadgets in our lives and how to keep them running.

We’d like to hear from you; have you share your maintenance and repair stories, ideas, and tips. We’re especially interested in stories about any modern technology you’ve discovered that was obviously designed with opening and fixing in mind. On an episode of Make: Television, Mr. Jalopy talked about discovering the circuit diagram and parts info inside of a radio pulled from his Chevy Camaro. In the piece, he talks about repairability as a design ideal (and how that designed-in repairability allows for modifiability). As he puts it: “This isn’t going to be a maker revolution started from corporations. This is going to be from the compassionate engineers, exhibiting extraordinary grace, to know what we are looking for and to bring us the products that we need.”

We want to hear about your discoveries of such compassion and designed-in repairability (or the inverse — products that were designed to keep you out that you overcame and fixed anyway). Leave your stories and ideas in the comments below.

What’s with the photo?: The picture above is of the infamous “Asus Repair Kit” (as in Asus motherboards). While “percussive maintenance” (whacking the devil out of a machine to bring it back to life) is a technique that works in a surprising number of cases, a sledge to a mobo is not considered a “make and mend.”

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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