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by Andrew Benge
You want to do cool things and have cool stuff, but you don’t want to break the bank to do it. We totally get that. Fortunately, part of being a rogue is honing your crafting skills, and we've found all kinds of legitimately awesome things you can make out of the stuff that you were going to toss out, anyway. We're not talking about lame projects like egg crate flowerpots, either.
Melt Down Milk Jugs To Make ... Well, Anything
Milk jugs (or any other plastic labeled as HDPE -- a number 2 on the recycling logo) can be salvaged to make all kinds of things. Because this kind of plastic melts with low fumes at 350º F, it can be pressed into blocks, which can then be carved into anything you can imagine. Do you have a knife or a screwdriver with a broken handle? No problem:
If you're extra awesome, make giant D&D dice.
There's actually a huge community of HDPE crafters out there, and the projects are only limited by your imagination. Yes, it's true that when you first start searching for cool stuff to make, you're going to find roughly five trillion mallets and slingshots. But keep digging, and you're going to find some truly beautiful projects that range from practical things like bowls ...
For a touch of irony, fill it with homemade plastic fruit.
... to impressive pieces of art:
We won't tarnish this with a joke. It's too awesome.
Obviously, these are more about the crafting aspect than the need for the finished item. If you need a jointer's mallet or a bowl right away, you're just going to go to the store and buy those things. But if you have the time and you're looking to learn a new awesome skill, this is a pretty good place to start.
Turn Your Cardboard Into Firewood And Oil Lamps ... Or A VR Headset
With the rise of online shopping, cardboard boxes have become more prevalent in many homes than many realize. Instead of letting it collect until your garage looks like an abandoned warehouse, that cardboard can be made into quite a few useful things.
Can't get a VR headset? Make one with Google Cardboard. With cheap lenses from amazon, you can turn that old box into a world of excitement for you or your kids, as you become the cool parent on the block who made their own VR headset. You can find the official website here, or if you want to make one from scratch, here's a pretty awesome video, showing you how:
Have you ever seen those little "starter" pieces of firewood that they sell at gas stations and convenience stores? They're the "easy start" kind that you use in a fireplace or while camping to get your fire going. Yeah, don't buy those. You can make them with your scrap carboard.
All you have to do is tear up the cardboard, soak it, and stuff the scrap into toilet paper or paper towel rolls. For a little bonus, when the bricks are dry, pour some molten wax over them so that they get saturated. The resulting log will burn longer, and makes an easy and cheap alternative to the store bought stuff. With enough wax over the outside of the block, it even becomes waterproof, making it a great camping item.
Attach them end to end and joust your friends!
Did the power go out, and you don't have any candles, because you melted them all over chunks of cardboard to make fire logs? Don’t worry, just grab an empty can and cut a thick strip of cardboard so that it’s about the same width as the height of the can. Roll up the cardboard into a tight bundle like a cinnamon bun. Fill the empty can with a bit of cooking oil, then push the cardboard roll in the top and tug the center a bit higher than the top of the can.
It makes a great temporary oil lantern, but it should only be used outside, as the flame is clearly quite large. Also, do not blow out said flame, as you don’t want to blow flaming oil all over your desk, floors and children. Instead, smother the flame.
Make Clay From Toilet Paper
Why would you need to make clay in the first place? That's an understandable question; my editor asked the same thing. Angrily. The most important answer is: It's fun. But aside from that, it’s cheaper and more sturdy than the stuff you find in your average Wal-Mart. An 8.8 oz brick of air dry clay usually sells for around $5.00. Our version lets you make the clay yourself for pennies a pound. "Air-dry" clay is also a great crafting material, because the finished product doesn’t need to be fired, and it’s super versatile.
Maybe you don’t have enough HDPE to do the project you had in mind from the first entry in this article. You can use the clay to make a base and wrap the plastic around it, using the clay as a filler. When sprayed with a sealer, you can use the clay to make pots for plants, masks, or failing all that, just let your kids play with it.
We use this one to induce childhood nightmares. For science.
The materials are pretty simple: You'll need some toilet paper (let's skip the used version, because gross), glue, cornstarch and some joint compound (you can find that at pretty much any hardware store or Wal-Mart). There are all kinds of recipes and mix ratios for homemade clay, but this wonderful lady has some of the best versions we've seen:
Be sure to check out her whole channel, because not only does she have a few different mixtures of clay, but she's very good at answering questions from viewers. Plus her sculptures are pretty awesome.
Blue Light Blocking Glasses Made From Old Pill Bottles
Blue light blocking glasses and filters help block blue light from phones, TVs and computer screens. You may be thinking “So what? Sounds useless.” That’s where you’d be wrong. WRONG, I tell you! Well, mostly.
According to All About Vision, blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration, and absolutely contributes to eye strain when using digital devices. On top of that, blue light can also affect your circadian rhythm, affecting your sleeping patterns. This means that staying on your computer, watching TV or reading on your phone late into the evening can actually keep you awake longer. Wearing a pair of blockers helps keep those things from happening. These kinds of lenses are also popular among fishers, as they help reduce glare, haze and the reflection of blue light from the water and sky.
Making a pair of blue light filtering glasses is pretty simple. All you need are an old pair of sunglasses that you can pop the lenses out of, an orange pill bottle, something sharp to cut with and a steady, even heat source (a heat gun or a really hot blow dryer work great).
To get started, cut the pill bottle down the side, and then cut off the bottom, leaving you with a rectangle. Using heat-resistant gloves, warm up the plastic in order to flatten it out:
Remove leftover meds first. Otherwise things can get real freaky real fast.
Once you’ve flattened the plastic relatively well, place it on a silicone sheet in the oven at 300º for three minutes. When it comes out, weight it down with a book until it’s cooled. Next, pop the lenses out of an old pair of glasses and use them as a guide for cutting out your new blue-blocking lenses.
Pop the newly cut lenses into the glasses, and enjoy your full night’s sleep.
Make A Hammock (And Pretty Much Anything) Out Of Duct Tape
"Duct tape can fix anything" is an old joke that stretches back to the invention of duct tape ... but it's not an inaccurate claim. There are hobbyists who push the limits of what duct tape can be used for, often with some pretty amazing results. For instance, with just duct tape, a couple of sticks and a bit of rope, you can bring yourself to the height of relaxation by building a hammock.
Irony is resting in the hammock that induced your exhaustion.
For a Modern Rogue, however, practical uses are far more important than things like building a canoe, or a prom dress (though admittedly, those are both awesome, and we would totally make those). So what non-obvious uses does duct tape have for us rogues?
When camping, duct tape can be used as tinder for fire. Simply pull off a strip, fold it over on itself, and use a match or lighter to start it. It burns hot and reasonably slow to help get your dry grasses and sticks going. When folded into a bowl, it can be used to make an emergency compass, or you can make the container bigger, and carry water with it:
This is the only stretcher my insurance will cover.
As with all of the projects in this article, yes, it's much easier to just buy the stuff instead of making it yourself. But where's the fun in that? Crafting homemade stuff is a wonderful skill to hone, especially if you have kids or friends to invite into the process. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got 20 rolls of duct tape and a world to conquer.
Like this article? Check out "5 People Who Got Fed Up With Expensive Stuff And Just Built It Themselves" and "5 People Who Wanted More From Nintendo (Then Made It Themselves)".