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 of and ground point 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, (dare I say it) plastic... or whatever. And whether they're for the garden, shop, animal shed, kitchen or wherever.
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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
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
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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