The toilet flush handle at my mother's place is made of a couple of miscellaneous bits of hardware and the platen-release lever from a Selectric II typewriter. It works as well as the original, and looks better.
I've made dozens of useful gadgets out of typewriter and VCR parts.
The tongue/jaw drive mechanism for my Alien Hallowe'en costume is made out of a chunk of garage door track, a couple of hard-drive bearings, some typewriter bevel gears, the power seat pack from a '65 Mustang, a set of cheap vampire dentures, a gear from a Mechano clockwork motor, a cupboard door magnetic latch, a rubber seatbelt sheath from a '72 Buick, a small gate hinge, a curtain rod, and an electrical junction box.
Now, aren't you sorry you asked? :tongue:
I'm a pack-rat and I tend to save things that "might come in handy", despite my wife's pleas for me to throw out that "junk". I take particular pleasure in fixing things for her using "junk" that she had asked me to get rid of. She doesn't nag me as much as she once did, because of all the times the junk has come in handy.
My brother-in-law laughed when he saw how I routed AC power out to the back deck - I fed an extension cord through a bullet-hole in the garage window. Hey! the hole was there when we bought the place - it's such a neat round hole that it had to have been caused by some fast-moving projectile, and I'm assuming that it was a bullet. The fellow who lived here previously was not the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what I mean, so the assumption is probably correct.
Years ago my watch failed just before a long trip, so while at Radio Shack getting a few last minute parts, when I spotted a case of cheap watches for sale, I bought one. Paying virtually no attention to which one I picked, IIRC, I paid about twenty bucks for one I bought and still have.
It looks just like a Rolex and I have gotten a number of compliments. Once, a real big shot with a major US company even threatened to take my Rolex if the system wasn't ready by such and such a time. I swore that if the system wasn't up by the deadline that I would give him my watch, which apparently convinced him of my complete confidence and sent him on his way. :rofl:
I shave with soap and a manual razor. Don't see the need for shaving cream. And I use alcohol as after-shave rather than smelling like a cheap date. I smelled like Joe Namath for years - Brut.
For us the ultimate in making due is with our house. It's a long story, but the short version is that we had year's worth of upgrades, work, and spending for the property and buildings, the last concern being esthetics. After being back for seven years [rented it out for some years], only in the last year have we been able to start on renovating the interior of the house. The worst was the bathroom. All of our water appliances had been ruined with iron stains from bad water. It was flat out embarassing and depressing. And even now, Tsu or I may start ripping drywall from the kitchen [while screaming wildly] at any moment.
I just remembered one from the locksmithing days. When a trunk lock is busted, it needs to be opened from the inside. That entails removing the back of the rear seat and climbing through between the trusses. On some cars, there isn't room. My tool for doing it was a screwdriver hose-clamped to the end of a VW torsion bar, with a set of Vise-Grips to turn it.
I once needed to install some indicator lamps on a panel. There was just enough room behind the panel to mount the lights, but no room for wrenches or sockets to tighten the nuts. So I stuck the socket on the nut from behind and run the extension into the socket from the front through the empty lamp-holder. This way I could tighten it from the front.
A friend was giving me a ride home one night when we were about 5 miles away from home. He said to me: "I smell something hot." I didn't, I have a poor sense of smell. So he pulls the car over to check it out. It was about mid-night, on a rural road that is not lighted. He has no flashlight. By the time the car was stopped I could smell what I thought was a burning belt. He wanted to start walking but I'm not about to give up yet. I ask him if he has some mirrors or something shiny. He rips the vanity mirror off of the visor and hands me the lid of a cookie tin. I got out and told him to start the engine again and help me outside. One of us holds the mirror and the other the cookie tin lid to reflect the light from the headlights onto the inside of the engine compartment under the hood. I could see there was a stuck idler pulley on the belt. The back side of the belt wraps around the idler. I ask him if he has any oil in the car and to my amazement he does. I pour some on the belt to make it slide over the pulley. About half way home we stop and pour a little more on. I let him stay on the couch that night and the next day we take my car to get a new pulley and belt. At the last minute he decides he doesn't need the belt, just the pulley. Not a smart move in my opinion since the belt looked pretty bad before we poured oil on it. Oh well. When he pays for it I noticed it comes out to within 50 cents of what he had on him. I would have loaned him the money to buy the belt since I've known him for years, but he declined. We go home to put the pulley on and he goes on his merry way. But, about 6 months later he calls me because he is stalled about 10 miles away from my home with, you guessed it, a broken belt. There have been other times with him and his car too. He just plain neglects it. I remember one time I helped him put a brake hose on. It was about 10 minutes before closing time at any auto parts store because of a holiday. It was also an unplanned break-down. Oh well, how do you get good at improvising unless you let yourself get into those situations?
I once had to "nail" 2 pieces of common pine 2-by-4's together in a hurry. But I had no nails. All I had was a hammer and some deck screws.
My partner thought I was crazy to try to use deck screws as nails, but it worked fine with no splitting.