Posts Tagged ‘Remakes’

Make a wine aerator from plumbing fittings

22 Nov

Letting wine breathe involves exposing it to air for up to 20 minutes before drinking it. This will generally improve a wine that has not yet fully aged, particularly a high-tannin red wine like a Syrah or Cabernet. On the other hand, a wine expert might gasp in horror (losing his monocle in the process) at letting a well-aged Pinot Noir breathe. Those of us with less-refined palates or a taste for bargain-hunting may get more bang for our bucks by letting our cheap wines mingle with the air before drinking them. Wine cannot breathe well in the bottle because there’s so little surface area exposed to air. Common breathing methods involve pouring wine into a decanter, which has a broad cross-section for maximum air exposure, or just pouring a glass and letting it sit for a while.

Of course, impatient cheapskates everywhere want to make this process go faster. Enter the wine aerator: a device intended to expose wine to a lot of air in a short time so that it can go from bottle to glass to mouth almost immediately. Vinturi makes a well-known, well-regarded aerator; it looks handsome and makes a cheerful slurping sound as wine funnels through it into your glass. However, the Vinturi aerator costs anywhere from $24 to $40 (that’s actually cheaper than it used to be), which is just enough that I decided to build my own aerator. I’ll show you how to do it with $10 worth of plumbing parts. Read the rest of this entry »


Build a camping stove from empty cans

16 Aug

When I’m camping, I much rather build a fire than fuss with a camping stove. A campfire becomes a center for the evening, while a stove is efficient by nature and doesn’t provide much of a hearth. Still, there are places where wood is scarce (wood-gathering is illegal in many state and national parks), and a lightweight stove is essential for many backpacking trips.

All a camping stove really needs to do is burn some kind of inexpensive fuel to heat a grill, a pot of water, or a frying pan. Punching careful holes in an empty can makes a perfectly functional stove that can burn all kinds of cheap fuels like mineral spirits (available at every hardware store in the country). I made the stove pictured here from a pair of aluminum cans. It actually burns so hot that can melt cheap aluminum grills; it left permanent dips in my backpacking grid after I let it cook a little too long. How’s that for do-it-yourself value?

My stove mostly followed this model, which combines aspects of the models described here and here. I left it unsanded and unpainted, so you can really see the seams where the parts come together. The flattened can top acts as a simmer ring; when it is placed atop the stove, it cuts off most of the jets while letting a limited flame come through the hole. You can also just build a second stove with fewer holes to use only for simmering. The stoves are so lightweight and cheap to make that having two of them isn’t a big deal.

If I were to make a new one today, I think I would follow the Super Cat design, which is so simple that it cannot fail. There is also a variation known as the Simmer Cat that would suffice for slower-cooking recipes.


The last set of speaker cables you’ll ever need

24 Jun

Banana plugs on audio cableNo price is too high for premium audio equipment if you’re an audiophile (pronounced “crazy person”). I appreciate expensive equipment but have no interest in spending lots of money for minimal improvements in sound quality. After a while, the features these folks lust after sound like ad executives playing Mad Libs. Gold-plated speaker connections? Vibration-proof turntables? Wooden, “tone-enhancing” volume knobs?

I once visited a man who had built an addition to his house solely for his stereo system. His speakers were taller than he was. From the floorboards to the ceiling, he had chosen all the structural materials based on their acoustic properties. He even had a separate electrical feed in order to isolate his power supply from any fluctuations caused by home appliances. All this overkill struck me as a bizarre fetish, but he loved his work. And overkill or not, I’ve never heard music sound better than it did at his house.

I doubt I’ll ever take my stereo that far, but I’ll keep upgrading my equipment on the cheap as opportunities arise. I stumbled across a tutorial at DIY Audio Projects on building audiophile-grade speaker cables and decided to try it out. The result: much better speaker cables than the thin RadioShack wires I’d been using since high school. These things are handsome and heavy-duty; you’ll never wish for a new set of speaker cables again (assuming that’s the sort of thing you wish for).

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How to build lightsabers

18 Jun

Sometimes I’ll find directions so good that they don’t need improving. The curator of The Big Yellow Box provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for building eight different types of lightsabers that look just like the “real” thing (minus the blade). I’ve made four different models. Any Star Wars fan who picks one up immediately starts making lightsaber noises and swinging them around the room.

They make great props for Halloween costumes as well as excellent mantle decorations. When given in pairs, they also make the nerdiest wedding presents anyone could ask for. Of course, since few people actually ask for lightsabers, even if they’re Star Wars fans, you might as well just surprise some happy couple and enjoy their looks of bewilderment. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Will Return’ clock for endless absences

04 Jun

ClockThe classic “Will Return” clock takes on a new meaning when it’s a working clock ticking away on your desk. Set it 30 minutes ahead and anyone looking for you will see that you’ll be back in half an hour. When they come back — oops! Must have missed me! All day, it will insist that you’ll be back in just 30 more minutes. If your coworkers aren’t very observant, you can probably keep this up for a while before getting canned. I guess you could keep it turned to the correct time instead.

I know ThinkGeek used to sell them, but this is so simple that it was begging for a remake. All you need is a clock mechanism (easily found in cheap clocks or craft stores) and the appropriate sign (easily found at office and hardware stores). Read the rest of this entry »