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Small homemade gadgets

 
pollinator
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I want to just begin a thread where we could show & describe homemade gadgets that we find useful.  With the word “gadget” I think of something “smaller than a breadbox” (a term my grandparents used when playing guessing games).  No doubt about it, larger apparatus, contrivances & contraptions can be extremely useful — but, if people want to, maybe we can start another thread for those.

I hope to get the ball rolling by showing some simple things.  The first pic shows a set of pipe jaws made from angle iron and steel tubing, stitch welded.  These can enable a vise to firmly hold round or square tubing, metal rod, rebar, etc. The second shows the pipe jaws in use in a vise.  I got the idea from this vid, and the guy has uploaded many more how-to's on his Youtube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ1_hy0CWdY

The third pic shows a welder's third hand (used for positioning metal parts before tack welding).  Made from rebar and 3/16" steel rod.

The fourth pic shows an auger I made from a large anodized steel tent peg (about 14" long).  I just cut off the loop at the top of the peg.  In a strong electric drill, this can be used for aerating the upper, 'unfinished' layers of compost piles.

The fifth is a fid for undoing tight knots in rope or thick cord.  It's admittedly pretty crude, and I made it from a long lag bolt.  I cut off the bolt's hex head and ground the point somewhat blunter.  Then I brazed it into a piece of copper pipe, as a handle.  The threads of the bolt actually have a grabbing action when you wheedle the point into a knot, giving enough extra grab to help undo the knot.

Please show useful gadgets you’ve made, be the materials wood, metal, leather, rubber... or what have you.  And whether they're for the garden, shop, animal shed, kitchen or wherever.
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Pipe Jaws for a vise
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Pipe Jaws in-use in a vise
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A Welder's Third Hand
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Compost Aerating Auger
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Auger in 1/2
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A crude (but effective) Fid
 
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thanks for the invite!  i adore creating homemade gadgets especially tools which might normally be expensive or out of my price range.  OH! smaller than a bread box?!  that parameter seems a bit small but heres a PMA alternator i made last year from a ceiling fan and some magnets
 
John McDoodle
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i didn't realize the parameters were "smaller than a breadbox"  most of my creations are farily large but here is a simple tool i made to remove / recycle brass fittings from old LP tanks.  
its a very handy tool and i've made a few hundred dollars with it from recycling old brass.  it gets abused and hit with 400 ft/lbs and its had no problem removing several hundred old valves.   one of my recent projects was a propane tank wood stove where i also used it for that project
 
Joel Bercardin
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I designed this as an alternative to the common small three-fingered garden claw.  At the time, there seemed to be no tools like it on the market in my region.  For weeding, we use a hoe for the broad-scale work. But a lot of the work of weeding gets down into small spaces right around plants in a vegetable bed.  The tool I made digs right in there.

The business end of this is made from 1/4″ steel rod. I cut a piece about 9″ long.  You can bend it by heating in a forge or with acetylene.  I heated nearly half of the rod into the bright-glowing orange heat range, and used a piece of 2″ diameter steel pipe (in a vise) as a form for shaping.  I used a hammer to coax the hot end of the rod into a sort of question-mark shape (reheating the rod as necessary while I worked it).  Cooling it after making the basic shape, I then heated the very tip-end of the rod and hammered it to a taper, which causes a slight flaring at the tip end of the profile.  So, once this taper was basically established, I did a bit of grinding (using a bench grinder, and a belt grinder) to remove any burrs and to give final shape to the tip.

When I was satisfied with the metal portion, I made a handle from a piece of ash wood (a 5″ section of an old broken shovel handle).  I shaped that into a comfortable handle using a coarse belt on a belt grinder.  Once I liked the feel of the shaped handle, I drilled a 5/16″ hole about 2″ into the appropriate end, and cleaned it out well. I scored shallow grooves into the shank end of the rod, and coated about an inch and a half of this shank-end with a fairly thin layer of epoxy glue — and pushed it fully into the handle.  I cleaned off excess that oozed.  I let the glue set and cure for about 48 hours.

I rubbed some vegetable oil into the handle to give a bit of resistance to the moisture that’s always there with both sweaty working hands and garden soils.

I find myself using this tool far more often than a trowel or standard claw for weeding.  So I made another one, too.  People who have sometimes helped us with weeding our gardens, and who had their choice among many tools, have said this “one-finger” gadget wound up being their tool of choice.
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This is a log splitter i made and the plow type thing i made it from. I cut it out of plow. Forged the curve out to make it flat. Welded sucker rod handle to it. Quenched it.

It works well. I can beat on it pretty good. The handle gives me control
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Joel Bercardin
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wayne fajkus wrote:This is a log splitter i made and the plow type thing i made it from. I cut it out of plow. Forged the curve out to make it flat. Welded sucker rod handle to it. Quenched it.

It works well. I can beat on it pretty good. The handle gives me control


Looks like it does the job, Wayne. Nice sensible piece. 👍
 
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I keep meaning to post a few of the things I've made here, but not getting around to it.  Let me try to rectify that this evening.  Hopefully I can remember how to post images!

I'll start with an image of the tools I spend most of my working hours with.  If this works and you can see the image then it is of a bunch of chase and repousse tools, the majority of which I've made over the years.  These are pretty specialized and likely not of much use to most reading this.  Essentially they are various shaped punches used to shape metal by hammering in designs and textures.  In my workshops I always tell my students that if they are really serious about this sort of work they NEED to know how to make their own tools.  That way the lack of a tool is never the limiting factor in creating a design.  If you can imagine what sort of shape you need then you just stop and make the tool.  Eventually you have a collection that suits the needs of your design style.  The same sentiment could apply to being able to make tools and gadgets in general.  If you are able to make them yourself then you've eliminated a limiting factor in your life!

Also in this picture is a box I made to hold my first set of chasing tools.  It was made of lace wood with hand made metal parts.  In this case I even made the nails!  I did this back in college... when I thought I never had any free time.  Now that I'm in the real world I've never dedicated the time to make any boxes for all the new tools you see piled up in front of it.

The blue pencil looking thing in the photo is another simple tool I cobbled together that might be of use to more people.  It's sort of like a scribe, but whereas a scribe is designed to scratch a line into metal this tool doesn't really dig into the metal.  I think of it as a micro burnisher.  What it does is more like polishing a narrow line on metal.  I usually first draw out my designs in pencil.  Pencil, however, will easily rub away before I can really get things hammered in and firmly established.  This micro burnisher is used to go back over my pencil lines to make something that won't rub away, but doesn't really mar the surface.  I made it using what is called a clutch, a drafting tool.  If you push the end of it 3 jaws come out the front.  Generally it is holding a pencil led.  In this case I removed the pencil part and replaced it with the remnants of an old Dremmel type grinding wheel where just the metal shaft was left.  I shaped and polished the end of the shaft so it's not sharp enough to really scratch.  Instead it just rubs in a thin polished line.
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Tools for chase and repousse work
 
David Huang
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I seem to have screwed up my second post so let me try this again.

I posted this next tool in one of the Rocket Mass Heater threads when I first made it.  I've been using it now for a couple months with my new RMH and am generally happy with it.  It's my ash clean out tool.  The handle might be better a couple inches longer as I have to reach quite far back in the burn tunnel with this one to get everything all the way back.  However, I worry that if it's longer it will be awkward to get into and out of the burn tunnel.  I don't know.  I guess at some point I need to make a new, longer one to see if it is better or not.

Regardless, I'm pleased with it's performance.  It works quite good to both scrape the ash from the back of the burn tunnel forward, and then to scoop it up and out.  I designed it for my 6 inch system, making it about 4 inches wide so it just takes two easy passes to get everything.  I could have made it wider so it would just take one pass, but I thought that would actually make it more awkward to  use since a tight fit would mean having my angle off just a bit to one side or the other would cause the tool to hit and jam against the sides.  It could probably work as it for an 8 inch system, but I suspect making it a bit wider would be better for that size system.
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RMH clean out tool
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RMH clean out tool from a slightly different angle
 
Joel Bercardin
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David Huang wrote:
The blue pencil looking thing in the photo is another simple tool I cobbled together that might be of use to more people.  It's sort of like a scribe, but whereas a scribe is designed to scratch a line into metal this tool doesn't really dig into the metal.  I think of it as a micro burnisher.  What it does is more like polishing a narrow line on metal.  I usually first draw out my designs in pencil.  Pencil, however, will easily rub away before I can really get things hammered in and firmly established.  This micro burnisher is used to go back over my pencil lines to make something that won't rub away, but doesn't really mar the surface.  I made it using what is called a clutch, a drafting tool.  If you push the end of it 3 jaws come out the front.  Generally it is holding a pencil led.  In this case I removed the pencil part and replaced it with the remnants of an old Dremmel type grinding wheel where just the metal shaft was left.  I shaped and polished the end of the shaft so it's not sharp enough to really scratch.  Instead it just rubs in a thin polished line.


David, interesting idea.  I have three questions about your scribe: 1) any possibility of getting a close-up pic of the point you fashioned?  2) can it leave a distinct enough mark on mild steel (as opposed to just on softer metals)?  3) if so, can the line this scribe makes on steel be visible as something you can follow with darkish goggles over your eyes while using an O/A cutting torch?
 
David Huang
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Joel Bercardin wrote:

David Huang wrote:
The blue pencil looking thing in the photo is another simple tool I cobbled together that might be of use to more people.  It's sort of like a scribe, but whereas a scribe is designed to scratch a line into metal this tool doesn't really dig into the metal.  I think of it as a micro burnisher.  What it does is more like polishing a narrow line on metal.  I usually first draw out my designs in pencil.  Pencil, however, will easily rub away before I can really get things hammered in and firmly established.  This micro burnisher is used to go back over my pencil lines to make something that won't rub away, but doesn't really mar the surface.  I made it using what is called a clutch, a drafting tool.  If you push the end of it 3 jaws come out the front.  Generally it is holding a pencil led.  In this case I removed the pencil part and replaced it with the remnants of an old Dremmel type grinding wheel where just the metal shaft was left.  I shaped and polished the end of the shaft so it's not sharp enough to really scratch.  Instead it just rubs in a thin polished line.


David, interesting idea.  I have three questions about your scribe: 1) any possibility of getting a close-up pic of the point you fashioned?  2) can it leave a distinct enough mark on mild steel (as opposed to just on softer metals)?  3) if so, can the line this scribe makes on steel be visible as something you can follow with darkish goggles over your eyes while using an O/A cutting torch?



The close up shot I can do.  You should find that below.  I just ran out to the studio and tried it on an old piece of what I believe is mild steel.  The mark was very faint.  It certainly works better on softer non-ferrous metals.  Even here though I will often find myself using the burnished line as a guide I can see if I hold it just right in the light.  Then I go back over it with pencil in small sections as I work.  This lets me have a more visible line to work with in the area I'm working at the moment, yet not be concerned about rubbing away the carefully created design I spent hours developing.  You can still see the line on the mild steel if you hold it just right in the light.  I didn't bother trying to get a picture of this though.  However, I highly doubt you'd be able to see it well enough to use as a guide wearing dark goggles.  I suppose there is the possibility that the light of the O/A torch would work out right to see it with goggles on, but I don't know.  I don't have that type torch to try and see.
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close up of micro burnisher tip
 
David Huang
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While I was just out in the studio checking to see how the micro burnisher worked on the steel I grabbed a couple shots of other minor tools I've made.  The first is a couple pair of tongs.  The larger steel pair is a really crappy job I made in college during a short blacksmithing workshop.  It was my first introduction to working hot steel and leaves much to be desired, yet it's been a useful tool I use often.

The next pair are copper tongs I made out of some thick copper scrap I had.  I really feel like this should be a basic beginner project for jeweler metalsmiths who all need a set of copper tongs for the pickle pot used to clean metal.  Instead most purchase really flimsy sets for too much money.

In the second photo the bent steel bars you see in the vises are a set of raising stakes I made.  These are used to form metal around when making bowls or other sculptural objects.  I made them from misc. bar stock I got at the scrap yard for pennies per pound shortly before I graduated from college.  The commercially made tool for this use is generally a T-stake which is a slightly different form, and usually $300 to $400 a piece new.  At this point I could afford to purchase T-stakes but have found my version to be much more versatile.  Currently they are in an up right position for a planishing operation I was doing earlier today.  This is what I like about them.  I can easily alter the angle they are at which one can't do as well with a T-stake.
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A couple pair of tongs
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Raising stakes for forming metal
 
David Huang
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Finally, I thought I'd share this homemade 12 volt LED light I made many years ago when LED technology was just starting to develop to be bright enough for real illumination.  I took an old short tube florescent desk lamp, the brown one in the photo (not the red one), and basically stripped out the guts.  Then I bought a small pack of what were at the time higher lumen "white" LEDs along with some resisters to adjust the voltage to what the LEDs needed.  Next, using a thin piece of scrap wood I drilled a bunch of holes to mount everything.  I don't think I even soldered the wires but rather twisted all the leads together well and made sure they were placed such that they wouldn't short out against each other.  Finally I wired it up to a toggle switch and a longer wire with alligator clips at the end that I clamp onto a 12 volt battery.  I'm sure this contraption wouldn't get UL certified but it works!  The color quality of the light isn't great but I'll still use it occasionally if I need more illumination at my jewelers bench than the other light provides, or I run out there in the dark of the night and want some light to see by but don't want to bother turning on the inverter to generate normal AC from the small off grid solar system that powers this building.  The 12 volt light is wired directly to the battery bank so I can just flip the toggle switch to get light.  :)
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Homemade 12 volt LED light
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better shot of the LED section of the light
 
Joel Bercardin
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No fine-toolmaking in this gadget I’m illustrating (pic at bottom).  But the thing is useful.

I had picked up an old screwdriver (1930s style), and using a grinder, I’d rounded its tip — to turn it into a tool for assorted prying functions: moving V-belts from pulleys, prying things apart, paint cans, etc.  And much later, I came upon the Youtube vid I’ve uploaded, showing a couple of useful “screwdriver hacks”.  So I decided to take my modified screwdriver one step further and make it useful for a second application, as well.  By simply drilling two holes (in toward the tip), steel wire can be fed through to do wire tightening as illustrated in the video.



The screwdriver I adapted is about 9” long overall, with a comfortable handle.  I believe there’s an advantage to making a wire tightener from a shorter screwdriver than shown in the vid.  A long screwdriver would probably be quite a bit more awkward to use for this adapted purpose.
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Modified screwdriver
 
Joel Bercardin
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I’m making the gadget this guy explains in his video.  It’s a panel carrier or panel handle.  (I’ve uploaded a screen shot of the guy himself that shows him demonstrating how it’s used.)  It's useful if you need to carry plywood, oriented strand board, drywall… you know, “sheet stock”.  Do you use any of that for subflooring, shop floor, sheathing, bright-reflective interior walls, etc?

He's titled it a genius invention, but it's not really his original idea.  He simply shows a good way to make one.  Here’s his how-to video:  


As soon as I’ve got mine photographed, I’ll "edit" and add a pic of it here.  Edit:  Okay, I took a picture so it's now in my post.  The one modification I made to what's shown in the video is that I used round steel tubing, instead of square, for the grip itself — since (for me at least) it makes it more comfortable.


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David Huang
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The plywood carrier is a great idea!  Your alteration of making the handle grip part from round stock instead of square is a good one.  I would imagine one could wrap it with something to make it even more comfortable too.  This is a tool I could have used many times in all my homestead building projects where I seem to find myself hauling full panel sheets of one thing or another back and forth between my outbuildings!  I might try making one of these sometime for future projects.
 
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Joel Bercardin wrote: “smaller than a breadbox” (a term my grandparents used when playing guessing games).



No need to be nasty, Joel ;)
 
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A breadbox is a metal box with some ventilation. If you make/buy crusty european style bread, and store it in a paper bag in the breadbox, it a) doesn't mold in my climate (YMMV) and b) the crust develops a little as the bread slowly dries. In about 5 days -- if you can make a loaf last that long -- it's only suitable for french toast; a bit stale. A useless tool if you like soft american bread -- store that in plastic.
I'm old enough to be a grandmother, probably not yours.
 
Joel Bercardin
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I could post a list of Youtubers who have sites where they're showing how they made this or that useful gadget.  Most of the guys I've bookmarked are putting up new posts every two or three days!

I've hesitated to do that, because my hope when starting this thread was that people here on Permies would post showing and describing what they'd done.  After all, we're an online community of DIYers — in the garden, the food forest, the pasture, the greenhouse, the kitchen, the builder's zone, the electrical-power domain...

Just thought I'd say.
 
David Huang
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I suppose it would be fitting for me to post my copper tong project here as well.  I posted first over in the metalworking badge PEP thread, but not everyone goes to every thread of course!

Well, I'm not actually going to post the whole thing here, just a link to the blog post on my site since it's kinda long.  https://theartisthomestead.com/copper-tongs-a-simple-beginner-project/

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A picture of the finished copper tongs.
 
Joel Bercardin
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David, I like your instructions for making the tongs, as given on that linked site of yours.  Maybe once I've run out of need for more everyday, fairly clunky (but functional & handy) things that I've been focused on, I'll try making something finer like the tongs you've designed.
 
David Huang
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Joel, we all tend to focus on what we use in everyday life.  Of course all our lives are different, which is good or things would get boring!  For me the tongs are an everyday use sort of thing, but they certainly wouldn't be for most people/professions.  :)  

At some point I do intend to make a kindling cracker and document it.  I'll share that when I do as it's something anyone who has a rocket mass heater would want.
 
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David,
Once I saw your chasing and repousse tools I took a look at my bench and was amazed at how many of my jewelry tools I had that were made just because no one had just what I wanted. Glanced over at the forge area and the same thing tongs, bending jigs all made on site. Being able to make those "Handy Things" and being able to visualize the new tool or repurpose a tool is satisfying. My "handy thing" is a crescent wrench with a hole drilled in each side face and a pin placed in each hole creating an adjustable spanner wrench for taking off angle grinder discs When I can never find the stock tool.
 
David Huang
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Robert, that's a great idea for an adjustable spanner wrench!  I think Jewelers especially do and should make many of their own tools.  Often the tools are small and fairly simple to make, thus as jewelers we should easily have the skills and equipment to make them!
 
Robert Ray
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When you think of all the skills you learn as a jeweler: casting, mold making, hydraulic forming, I find myself doing things that are non jewelry specific all the time. Casting resin knobs that have been lost from radios, resin and metal knobs from vintage pots, auto dashboards knobs, silver soldering parts on a vintage coffeer maker for a mountain lodge nearby. I hate repairing jewelry but like making my own  jewelry, the odd off jobs are fun and add to my skill set.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Here’s my “hack” (gadget?) for keeping your angle-grinder wrench located and handy.  I have four grinders of two different makes, and they all use the same size/type of spanner or wrench.  Normally, I do keep one in a tool tray with various discs, but it has happened that I’ve temporarily misplaced it or that the tray is inconveniently far away from where I’m working.

Okay, so I cut a short piece of old 110/120volt power cord with a male plug end.  I cut off the “hot” prong (in N.America the one that goes into the narrower slot of the receptacle or extension-cord plug), so the remaining prongs are neutral and ground.  That way, there's no possibility of electricity going into the short remaining bit of cord — hence the gadget is safe. The remaining two prongs insure the plug can only be inserted with the proper, safe orientation.

Then I super-tightly taped a grinder wrench to the piece of power cord.  Getting it tight is important so that the wrench will never slip from the bit of cord.

So whenever I’m using an angle grinder, I can have this wrench ‘plugged in’ to the outlet I’m taking power from.  Also works handily if I’ve plugged into an extension cord where there are two or more female plug ends.
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Unelectrified wrench, handy there in the power-strip
 
David Huang
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Today I finished making a kindling splitting tool.  It works awesome!  If anyone is interest I posted a sort of tutorial about it over on my blog site.  https://theartisthomestead.com/an-incredible-tool-for-splitting-kindling/
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My new kindling splitter.
 
Posts: 280
Location: Philippines
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My son just fix his punctured bikes tire with my homemade tire repair. I miss to take photos. . I'm posting it anyway because this is a very useful gadget for everyone. But it is simple enough for any handyman to copy if I describe. You'll need a compressor and a super glue. make a contraption that connects the suction side of compressor to the tire valve. You are going to suck air to make the inside of tire vacuum then drop super glue in the puncture it will be suck through the hole. ones you notice it going inside release the valve connector from the tire while simultaneously make one more drop of super glue. Works every time fro me. I use my converted heat sealer. picture below. I bought the cheapest sealer. remove the tiny compressor and replace it with a huge one from the broken fridge. ooops sorry cant find the pic. will post it when I find.

By the way it works only for tubeless tires. It is actually easier to repair a tire with this than changing tire. Normally when there is puncture you can find the nail or whatever and if you carry a small 12 volts compressor in your car you can repair just anywhere. Also i tried silicon and hot glue they work fine also.

edit to add the pic: converted vacuum sealer. with the huge compressor it probably will outlive me:) It is the third compressor that I use for tire repair since I invented the system 14 years ago. Have repaired countless tires and it works everytime
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julian Gerona
Posts: 280
Location: Philippines
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But I found this instead. A self massage device made from a orbital sander. there are three slots of different height so I am able to adjust up to my shoulders and butt the lowest. The good thing about this is that I dont have to tell the masseur " move a liitle to the left, down.yes yes that oh its sooo good" hahaha. By the way it comes with a triac speed control. A light dimmer switch will work provided the wattage capacity can handle the sander.
Oh and I glued a soft and thick rubber on the nose so as not to hurt my back
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julian Gerona
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earthquake alarm: I was ones dreamed in my sleep, 4 or 5 am, that there is an earthquake and the house is shaking. turned out the house is actually shaking :):).
So one weekend I decided to teach my 3 boys how to use a simple magnetic relay switch. The result is an earthquake alarm. That huge doorbell can wake up a dead mouse haha. It has work twice since its creation one and a half years ago.
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julian Gerona
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Location: Philippines
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stove top grill- for those who love grilled fish or meat but are lazy to make embers just like me:) Actually its a plate grill. put metal plate on top of stove put some leaves I use banana avocado and guyabano leaves. we have this at the back. Guyabano seems to add more flavor. put fish or meat add flavoring and fire low fire only. I also avoid fried when we dont have homemade cooking oil. So this is quite helpful.
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Joel Bercardin
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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A couple years ago I thought of a way to make my sprinkler stands more versatile and, at the same time, make managing the sprinklers a shade easier.  I can keep a couple of sprinkler stands each pretty much in it’s own area, and minimize the trouble & plant-damage of dragging stands and hoses around.

I’ve pictured one stand, prior to adding my new type of fitting at its top.  Usually we want to use one of two types of sprinkling heads. One is an "impact" type (on the right in the pic), which shoots out a strong pulsed stream of water, tending to discharge water quite a ways though providing rather little of it to the soil near the sprinkler stand.  The other is locally called a "butterfly" type (on the left), which spreads an umbrella of soft rain-like water, but has a smaller radius of effect, closer to the sprinkler.

Detailed ‘how-to’ explanation would require too much text here, but I used common brass and galvanized-steel fittings, bought from a building-supply plumbing section.  I put a hose snap-on coupler on the upright pipe of each standpipe, and fitted each of the sprinkler heads themselves with the appropriate components.  Hence the sprinkler heads have become easily interchangeable in a matter of seconds.

(I think it's pretty likely that some company or another has mass produced an attachment system like the one I've made, but I haven't seen it for sale in the local farmers' or gardeners' supply stores.  Anyhow, I do enjoy DIY.)

I hope the visuals make the set-up procedure understandable and repeatable by anyone who wants to go this route.
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Stand prior to new fitting
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Two types of sprinkler heads, w. fittings
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Here's how a head mounts
 
David Huang
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Thanks for that one Joel!  Those look like something I should see about making for my own gardens.
 
pollinator
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I've been wanting to share this for a while. It's called an "hypsomètre" in French but the English translation, hypsometer, isn't exactly the same tool (although they both do the same thing).
It uses the properties of similar triangles to measure the height of structures.

Mine is 28 inches long, the same distance from my eye to my fist. You can make the stick any length but matching it to your own size will simplify things (in this case a = b which means that a / b = 1).

To use: hold the stick vertically at arms length and move until it covers the whole object you want to measure. Mark the spot where you stand and count how many stick lengths between that spot and the object. If the stick is adjusted to your size then that distance is the object's height.

Here's an illustration that might help: Mesurer un arbre (ou autre élément vertical)

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Joel Bercardin
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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This illustrates how fanatical we can become in the cause of saving & repurposing! (LOL…)

I made two of these magnetic ground-connectors (for electric welding) from a scrap water-valve handle, a piece of scrap steel rod, and two stacked spare magnets. Made one for myself, one for a friend. These enable our welders’ ground clamps to be attached to awkward-shaped steel/iron surfaces. Because the magnets have stamped-steel “cups”, the whole little assembly transfers electric current.

I’d saved some valves that had cracked from water being trapped in them when unpredicted very-cold snaps occurred; the valves then sprayed out water from the cracks when they outside temperature thawed them! So for each of these thingies I used a handle along with two stacked (very strong) “cup magnets”, a little over 1” diameter — held together onto the handle by a bevel-headed screw & nut. I welded the tightened nut onto the screw to make the thingie solid. I also welded a short piece of 1/4” steel rod to the underside of the handle, because that allows a welder’s ground clamp to have a much better bite onto the handle portion of this device. (Two angle views shown...)
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Joel Bercardin
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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My wife is an artist and she needed to make twine of various weights, colors & textures. The device is driven by a cordless drill. I made the twine-maker from scrap materials — scrap boards, threaded hooks (plus washers & nuts), a wide rubber-band for a drive belt, and so on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddenqErLL0Q&feature=youtu.be
We’d found this video online, that explained a simple home-made design, and I made a liberal adaptation from what the guy explains & shows. He takes three casters apart and uses the wheels from them, but I made the “pulleys” using sections cut from 1.25” dowel.  (He calls his device a “rope maker”, though I believe that’s somewhat misleading. I know you could use the principle, but you’d likely need to scale it up to make rope any larger in diameter than a quarter inch.)

The guy who made that vid has another one where he shows the device in the twine-making process, but there are also a variety of other Youtube vids that show ways to do it that are maybe simpler and better. My wife has been making various sorts of twine from assorted kinds of string and even from thick, strong sewing thread. She pretty readily developed the knack for getting a smooth result. From what we’ve learned, you can use this type of device to make not only twine from a variety of natural or synthetic fibers… apparently some people who make knitted, crocheted, and woven items from yarn sometimes use devices like this to make yarn of increased thickness.
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author
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Location: Western North Dakota
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A coffee robot that will handle up to a pound of beans.  It is not automatic, you still need to monitor the roast to get the final product you want, but at least I don't have to turn the crank by hand for 20 minutes or so.  The motor with gearbox and power supply I purchased from American Science and Surplus, the hotplate from a local store, and the rest I constructed from scraps.  
 
Joel Bercardin
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Jon, thanks for your post w. vid.  Have you bought any other components from American Science & Surplus for devices you've made?
 
Jon Stika
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Location: Western North Dakota
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A few, but nothing as extensive as the coffee roasting robot.
 
Rototillers convert rich soil into dirt. Please note that this tiny ad is not a rototiller:
HARDY FRUIT TREES FOR ORGANIC AND PERMACULTURE
https://permies.com/t/132540/HARDY-FRUIT-TREES-ORGANIC-PERMACULTURE
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