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MAKE Asks: Making out of Necessity

MAKE Asks: Making out of Necessity

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: Sometimes we make things just for the fun of it, and sometime it’s to make our lives a little more streamlined. What is something you have made specifically to make your everyday life just a little bit easier?

I once had a job with a screen door in the back that had no spring on it. It wouldn’t close on its own, much to the frustration of my co-workers. I tied a string to the top of the door, ran it through an eye-bolt on the door frame, and weighed it down with a full bottle of water. It worked like a charm, and my boss thought it was hilarious — trying it out over and over again when he first found it. It was a simple hack, but it had great utility.

Post your responses in the comments section.

16 thoughts on “MAKE Asks: Making out of Necessity

  1. trkemp says:

    Many years ago I was on a motorcycle camping trip with a friend. He had just rebuilt his bike from scratch. Somewhere in putting the bike back together he lost the cover for his distributer. We’d gotten a few hundred miles and could see a huge thunderstorm up ahead. He signalled for me to pull into a gas station and then he freaked out. I told him not to worry.

    I went into the gas station and bought the cheapest thing they had in an aluminum can. I dumped the contents, Tore a hole all the way down the side of the can with a screwdriver then tore off the top and bottom of the can to get a sheet of aluminum. I tore it down to the right size with my fingers and duct taped it over the distributer. Not only did it keep everything dry through the storm, he left it on for as long as I can remember.

  2. Dave Jacoby says:

    I have two PCs on my desk, and use Synergy to share the keyboard so I don’t need to have to have too many peripherals on my desk. But, I need to be able to log into both, and Synergy comes in after boot. So, I have an IOGear KVM.

    When I went to Logitech Unifying wireless kit, I found it wouldn’t send the Scroll Lock character I needed, so, inspired by the Make video, I got a Teensy microcontroller and a Staples “Easy” button, and modified the button so that it would send a signal to the Teensy when it was pressed, then wrote code to send the Scroll Lock double-tap I need.

  3. balloondoggle says:

    My daughter’s disability made it impossible for her to sit up in a bathtub on her own. Medical equipment is stupid-expensive and is always a compromise because it isn’t custom, so I made her a bath chair with PVC, rubber-coated fabric and plastic lacing. It was like a beach lounge chair for the tub and fit her perfectly. It has since gone to another family in a similar situation.

    I also made two boxes that we could record messages on that she could play back using a head switch. $20 for the pair, while equipment companies wanted $70 or more for the same thing. We used them to let her tell knock-knock jokes!

    When I replaced the caster wheels on her wheelchair with light-up scooter wheels, I had to fabricate spacers from aluminum tubing that would clamp the bearings without interfering with the wheel rotation. She lit up every room she entered with those!

  4. jamesbx says:

    Doing this around my shops is too easy, so I’ll stick to roadside repairs:
    – My tie-rod end popped out of the steering knuckle, and sent me into a ditch in the middle of nowhere/tobacco field. I jacked it up, used an old coat hanger that was in the trunk through the cotter pin hole to get it on home.

    – My bypass hose blew out in the middle of nowhere/ Kansas. I had a garden hose in the back of the truck for my pressure washer. Hose clamps, duct tape reinforcement, and I was back in business.

    – My transmission coolant line let loose 500 miles from home. Once again, duct tape and hose clamps.

    At this point, I won’t drive cross country without duct tape, hose clamps, electrical tape, and some wire.

    1. Trav says:

      I’ll follow yours up with one of my roadside repairs. The 2 gallon gas tank I use to fill my string trimmer tank split the upper half of the cap off from the lower half with the threads. Not wanting to stop and dig out a funnel or go to the store to buy a new cap, I looked around for what I had. I had a soda or water bottle that I had picked up off the yard, so I cut a ring out of it. I slid that over the cap (off of the gas tank) and held it in the exhaust of the lawnmower. It worked like heat shrink tube under a heat gun. Has worked so well I haven’t replaced it in 2 summers of mowing.

  5. rolandblaisRolando says:

    I do a lot of network tracing at work. I needed a more portable solution than my luggable laptop and Wireshark. So I repurposed my Pi, added an Adafruit 16×2 display, and a Mophie JuiceBox, threw together some Python code, and now I have a very portable device that will tell me the switch and port it’s plugged into from any live network jack.

  6. Karl says:

    I built a sing away shelf for my laptop next to my workshop workbench.

    I also built several storage boxes out of mdf so they could handle a lot of abuse.

    I have lost count of how many jigs or tools I have made between jewelry and larger projects.

  7. christopher hudmon says:

    My own lg home.
    And make any thing. I wish to. They joke at me by calling me the : mr. M. Swuart. Ha ha..

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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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