Make it, do without, repair it, maintain it.

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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1583
Make it, do without, repair it, maintain it.

This is more of a handyman/crafter thread. Are there any DIY hacks you might share?

Make it might mean making gifts, but it also migh mean making your own woodstove, your own fish pond, or your own socks.

Do without means what supposedly "necessary" modern convenience did you find you could live without, at least temporarily?

Repair it should cover anything from 101 uses for a hot glue gun (those things are amazing) to DIY shoe repair to beginner fixes of equiment.

Maintain it will mean anything easy that keeps things running longer so we spend less money.

Thanks in advance for any responses. None of us is as smart as all of us!

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1583
Make it: gifts

The holidays are coming, so I'm going to start with some of the things I'm doing or have seen done regarding homemade presents. Nothing says you have to take a trip to the insanely crowded mall or that you have to visit cyberspace and part with wads of cash to give nice gifts.

  • I put up extra jam to give. The secret with jam-gift success seems to be hand-printed labels and smaller jars.
  • You can sew sachets filled with home-grown lavender.
  • Dried flower arragements in old-fashioned tea cup and saucers.
  • Some people knit or crochet scarves. You can also get remant silk and sew scarves if you learn how to make a French rolled seam.
  • Last year for some of my christmas gifts I made home-sewn catnip cat toys out of felt, cotton pillow stuffing, homegrown catnip (but you can buy that cheaply enough), buttons, thread, and--in one case--a piece of twine and a stick. The cat toy on a string/stick was a huge hit and the others were warmly received. I sewed them all in one evening.
  • One year we took seashell collection, a rock collection (mostly fist-sized rocks), and a 3/4" thick clear pine board we had a woodcrafter friend cut into 3" x 4 1/2" with routered edges. We stained the wood bases, laquered them with clear nail polish, and glued on a large rock each. Then I artistically glued a few shells around each one. Voila! Paperweights. We saw them in places of honor in many relatives' homes years later. If you have a collection of anything, see how it might be reworked into gifts.
  • And, of course, you can always bake cookies and use them as an excuse to visit the neighbors. ;-)
ZogTheFuzzy's picture
ZogTheFuzzy
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Grape Jelly

My daughter and I picked some grapes from a generous friend's garden and made a batch of jelly and some grape syrup.  Though somewhat time consuming, it was very fun and very easy.  My wife's been calling me the househusband ever since.  :)

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Online)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1876
Grape Jelly rocks!

Zog -

I made my first batch of grape jelly last month with some grapes from a local friend's vines.

I was actually surprised at how easy it was to make. And even more surprised at how AMAZING it tasted.

I grew up in New England on Concord grape jelly, so I consider myself a bit of a grape jelly snob. This homemade batch was as good if not better than any I had ever tasted.

Am lamenting I started at the very end of harvest season. Am looking forward excitedly to next year, when I plan to can up shelvesful of jelly.

(FYI: I started making jam earlier this summer from the many blackberry bushes that grow wild on our new property. Thought that was my favorite spread until the recent grape jelly discovery...)

Doug's picture
Doug
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Posts: 2763
jelly

Way to go Adam, Zog and Safewrite.  We made a batch of jelly from our first crop of quinces.  I had never had any, but my wife insisted on putting in a couple trees.  It's really good.

Last year we made enough grape jelly to last us for several years.  Friends of friends let us pick in their vineyards before they harvested.

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
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Posts: 209
Jelly and Jam Jars

Safewrite  Good subject . And it's true that the secret to those homemade jellies and jams are small 250 ml jars.  People seem to love the 

special attention that's done to the wrapping......making it more precious, exclusive. Give them a boutique appeareance.

Cut round colorful fabrics and cover the  lid  and fix it there with straw string , make a bow. Why not add to the jar a small spoon (expresso spoon) attached to the jar. Give a small collection of the different jellies and jams that was made. Decorate each flavor differently. 

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Posts: 492
Quick fix

Safewrite,

In the spirit of the thread, here is a quick, easy and cheap way to fix a hole where the screw has stripped out of wood and will no longer hold. Cabinets, door frames, furniture etc. Nothing complicated, just use a match stick (not the head!) or tooth picks, push into the hole and then snap them off by pushing sideways. I usually can jam the match in twice or a tooth pick maybe 3-4 times. You just need enough to hold temporarily while you put your screw back in. Push as you are screwing.

The screw acts as a wedge and pushes your small bits of wood to the sides and friction holds everything just like new (well almost).

Mark

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Posts: 409
Love it! Great thread, safewrite!

Under "repair it," I want to share this article on the idea of a "repair cafe" concept where community members volunteer their time to help fix other people's repairable, potentially useful stuff.  I love this idea so much and hope to see it happen locally.

One of my favorite always-have-on-hand quick-fixes is superglue gel (not liquid).  I know there are arguments for not using it (namely, it has toxic fumes and it's brittle as far as glues go), but in my busy household it has fixed and saved more things than I can count, simply because I didn't have the time to set a broken thing aside and follow up with a classier fix.  I've also used it to "stitch" finger wounds, allowing us to avoid the ER on occasion.

I diligently mend and patch our precious woolen (merino) long johns -- an investment -- and my kids are "trained" to hand them over when a pinhole appears.  ;-)  I also require my kids to wear slippers or shoes at home over their precious wool socks and always wear some kind of socks when wearing footwear (except for sandals) to keep shoes and boots from getting stinky.  My goal is to get woolens, boots, etc, through all of my kids and at least one other kid's use. 

I feel that we are stewards of the items in our possession, and it's our responsibility to care well for them so they can continue to be useful.  I have a couple of friends who are trained/gifted/resourceful and who can be called upon to fix things to extend their longevity -- repair a drawer so a bureau remains useful, fix a broken peg on a coat rack, etc. 

We've learned to "do without" disposable products.  I've found there are a few that I strongly prefer to use, and so I do buy them (namely, dental flossers for my kids, and paper kleenex for really horrible colds, and toilet paper for part-time use), but we've found that ~12" squares cut from soft, old T-shirts do very well as handkerchiefs, cut-up old towels and old cloth diaper wipes work fine for "family cloth" (TP alternative), cheap washcloths are better than paper towels, and old cloth diapers (prefolds) are super-absorbent for kitchen spills.  However, I'm mindful that this is easy for us because we have a modern electric washer and dryer, and without that I might be less enthusiastic...or not.

As far as "do without," I honestly have to think very hard to come up with anything, because I've mostly just dropped what I don't use from my thinking.  We don't have TV, for one thing.  My kids do not have the "latest gadgets" or the "new fashions" or anything like that -- helps that we did away with most mainstream advertising exposure when the TV left.  I feel like I'm kind of out of touch with what we might be missing, and therefore I don't miss it!

No air conditioning here, and we are making do without central heating in our current house -- we have an oil furnace, but I don't intend to use it, in favor of the woodstove and a single hot-air solar panel.  Also, our woolen long-johns and socks, along with other layers and strategies, keep us warm.

Small thing, but when I use my computer printer, I always print in grayscale in draft mode.  Uses no color ink and half the black ink.  Extends the life of the ink cartridge.  Not so critical in the context of long-term issues, but it helps pinch pennies and free them up for other needed things right now.

I'm looking forward to other ideas.  Hope to add more as they come to mind.

safewrite wrote:

This is more of a handyman/crafter thread. Are there any DIY hacks you might share?

Make it might mean making gifts, but it also migh mean making your own woodstove, your own fish pond, or your own socks.

Do without means what supposedly "necessary" modern convenience did you find you could live without, at least temporarily?

Repair it should cover anything from 101 uses for a hot glue gun (those things are amazing) to DIY shoe repair to beginner fixes of equiment.

Maintain it will mean anything easy that keeps things running longer so we spend less money.

Thanks in advance for any responses. None of us is as smart as all of us!

Nervous Nelly's picture
Nervous Nelly
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 23 2011
Posts: 209
Quick Fix

Just add carpenter's glue to that recipe ...let it set and it's as good as new.

Woodman's picture
Woodman
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Posts: 1027
Bake your bread

I bake our own bread, just the simple italian bread recipe off the bread flour package, from scratch, no fancy machine.  While it saves money, the best thing is it tastes way better than store bought and my kids prefer it.

We do fine without TV too.

albinorhino's picture
albinorhino
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Joined: Dec 14 2009
Posts: 23
Repair it, maintain it

Safewrite wrote: Are there any DIY hacks you might share?

I don't have any "hacks" to offer, just the general outlook on being your own handyman. I've made it a life-long practice to learn how things work and how to make minor repairs or replace parts to repair appliances, make home repairs, repair small engines, make and repair wood furniture, etc. I've been doing it for so long I guess I take this knowledge for granted. Along with accumulating knowledge, I've accumulated the tools required to accomplish the repairs or the building of whatever project happens to be the priority of the day. If I decide to do something new and don't have the knowledge, I start learning. The internet is a great resource for this! Generally speaking, in any community there is usually someone who has the knowledge or the skill you're seeking and who is also willing to teach.

Most people have it within themselves to learn any skill that comes to mind. Just accumulate the knowledge and practice until you're competent at it. Having the knowledge and skills to perform the normal handyman-type home repairs or minor auto repairs, such as replacing those front brake pads on the car, will help to make one more independent and keep some of that hard-earned money in one's pocket.

As one of my favorite authors from my youth put it: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects!" --Robert Heinlein

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2008
Posts: 266
repair magic!

Well, getting into "repair it" part of the discussion, I have this suggestion.  Get yourself to your local marine supply or maybe even a really good hardware store and pick up some of the West System Epoxy products.  This is basically "liquid plastic" in a mixable 2-part kit.  It can repair or even create almost anything.  Has a shelf life of years and years, maybe forever.  I could spend hours describing it's virtues and capabilities, but if you find the stuff, you'll also find the free handbook that describes it's uses and techniques for usage.  When items become unavailable or  repair is needed, you'll be glad you have some of this stuff.  Maybe you'll even decide to build a boat!  That'd be a good project for the Apocalypse.  Water World!  There are some other brands such as System Three which are probably as good, but we sell West Systems at our shop so that is what I'm familiar with.  Just be sure to use rubber gloves when playing with this stuff as toxic alergies can develop with prolonged contact.  Otherwise enjoy!  Aloha,  Steve.

albinorhino's picture
albinorhino
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2009
Posts: 23
Repair it supplies

To add to Thatchmo's recommendation (thanks!) and to continue my do-it-yourself handyman/mechanic theme, here is a partial list of supplies to have available, in no particular order.

1. Replacement llight switches, electrical outlets, and 14-gauge and 12-gauge interior, residential electrical wire and wire nuts (only for those who have the knowledge to work with electricity, which can have a lethal bite)
2. Engine oil and oil filters to change the oil in vehicles and yard machines
3. An assortment of wood screws and drywall screws, varying lengths and thread pitch.
4. An assortment of bolts, machine screws, nuts, and washers
5. Duct tape (of course!), electrical tape--buy the good stuff
6. Steel wire is great for temporary hold-parts-together repairs . It isn't often that I need wire for a repair, but when I do the cheap stuff at the home stores don't make the grade. The aircraft industry uses stainless steel safety wire. I recommend investing in 1-lb. containers of 0.020", 0.032", and 0.041"; and I recommend Aircraft Spruce Co as the vendor
7. Drywall compound for patching holes and gouges in the wall
8. If your home has the "old style" single-pane windows glazed into a frame, get some glazing compound
9. Plumbing supplies: Teflon tape, PVC & CPVC pipe, couplings, elbows, and cement and cement primer; same items in copper if you have copper plumbing, except you will need solder, acid soldering flux, and a propane/butane torch kit in lieu of cement and primer.
10. Light-weight, general purpose oil, such as 3-In-1 (is it still available?) or Kano Oil, because moving metal parts (door hinges, for example) ocassionally need to be lubricated.
11. Interior and exterior paint for touchups
12. Cleaning solvents. I keep on-hand paint thinner, lacquer thinner, Zep brand citrus cleaner concentrate
13. Any specialized cleaning/care products required by home and home shop machinery

jojokirk's picture
jojokirk
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 19 2012
Posts: 8
inkjet cartridges refilling

I save $$ by refilling our inkjet printer cartridges. I searched YouTube and Google for techniques and mail order bulk ink. I haven't bought cartridges for over two years and our color printer works great. It is great to have this ability and not have to run to the office supply store and be inconvenienced. Every printer is different and the technique can be challenging, but persevere. It does take a leap of faith to have the confidence in your success . Printer manufacturers discourage this by warning of loss of warranty, but it didn't deter me, and I have saved hundreds of dollars. It does take very careful technique, but now I can refill the cartridges in a few minutes.

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