Homemade Devices Excerpt

Cubby box

Perhaps you have seen type trays with many small compartments hung on a wall in someone's home. People often place some interesting object in each of the many cubbyholes. I have seen these type trays for sale at flea markets for $15 to $20. The trays originally were used to hold type letters used in printing. You can make a similar tray from cardboard to display small objects such as an interesting rock, a valued penknife, an unusual small container or any other thing you wish to display.

This project requires patience. It will likely take several hours of your time. But it may take a week to complete because you may need to wait many times as glue dries. If you are using white glue it is best to tilt the tray so the glue settles in the joints you are gluing at the time. When that glue is dry tilt the tray so other joints can be glued.

I used two pizza boxes for cardboard. Cut the lid from one of the boxes. Use which ever half of the box that seems most suitable as the main part of the cubby box. To improve the tray's appearance, you may want to use another piece of cardboard to cover the inside bottom of the box. That way a stain can be covered or an attractive logo (name or picture) of the pizza shop can be made visible. You can cut the flanges (narrow edge pieces) off one of the halves so that you have a flat piece, cut it to size so that it fits inside the other box half, apply glue and use weights on top to hold it together until the glue dries.

Scissors are safest for cutting the cardboard but a very sharp utility or hobby knife tends to bend/crease the cardboard less. If you use any type of knife be sure to follow this rule. Never push the knife toward any part of your body. The knife can suddenly move easier than you expect. You don't have time to ease up on pushing and the knife moves fast and much farther than you want it to. That can happen so quickly that you don't stop pushing until after you have given yourself a bad cut. If you are under 12 years old get an older person to do the cutting for you.

Cut 6 or 7 strips of cardboard long enough and wide enough to use as shelves inside the cubby box. Then cut shorter pieces that will hold the shelves in place. Try to get all the short pieces the same length so the shelves will be straight. Tie a piece of string to a thick rubber band. Run the string around the box and tie it to the rubber band again so the rubber band is stretched and so holds the string tight. That pushes in the edges of the box enough so the short cardboard pieces can be squeezed between the shelves and so held in place until they can be glued. If the last short piece in each column isn't the right length, just cut that last piece shorter or cut a new one that is longer. The string also acts as a guide so all the short pieces can be in a nice looking straight line. Use a rubber band and string for each column of short pieces. Space the columns 2 to 3 inches apart. The box will look okay if the columns are all somewhat different distances apart. That way the larger cubbyholes will hold the larger objects.

Glue all the places where there are joints: where shelves or short pieces touch each other, where they touch the bottom of the box and where they touch the flanges of the box. Finally take a piece of string about 6 inches long and fold it into a U shape. Glue the straight parts of the U to the back (behind surface) of the box so the bottom of the U is up. That makes a loop that can later be put over of nail to hang the cubby box on the wall. Glue one loop near the left edge and another loop near the right edge. Having two loops keeps the box hanging straight.


I suppose everyone has some desire to be a whole lot bigger. Walking on stilts is a bit like an instant size boost and is an impressive stunt that challenges balance and coordination. If the stilts will be used by children under 10 years old, use two pieces of 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch by 4 foot pine or fir. Use thicker, stronger and longer poles for larger people. For most people of medium size 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 may be okay if it has no knots, cross grain, or other weaknesses and you don't use the stilts to boost your height more than 20 inches.

The platforms where you put your feet can be made by cutting a 6 inch long 2 by 4 block diagonally to give 2 right triangles each with a 3 1/2 inch side and a 6 inch side.

Drill a 5/16 hole parallel to the 3 1/2 inch side and maybe 1 1/2 inches from it.

Drill another 5/16 hole through the pole 6 or 12 inches from one end. Attach the platform to the pole with a 5/16 bolt, nut and washer. Drive a 6d nail (about 2 inches long) into the platform where it is 3/4 inch or so thick to keep the platform from pivoting around the bolt. If you don't have a drill and are using a soft wood like fir, the platforms can be attached with a couple of 3 inch drywall screws. Large nails could be used but it will be more difficult to change the position of the platforms latter.

It is probably best for beginners to place the platform as low as possible on the pole. The platform can be raised 3 to 6 inches at a time as the user's skill level increases.


If you live within easy walking distance of a small lake you may want to build this project. A sketch of the model boat appears at the bottom of this page. You will need a saw, scissors, duct tape, string, a large plastic bag, six empty plastic soda bottles and wood. Also helpful are a couple of six penny nails (about 2 inches long), a serrated edge knife and a hammer.

The instructions here are for a model boat with a mast about 42 inches tall. Use a shorter mast and smaller sail if it will be used in a breeze. Otherwise the boat will tip over. 3 liter soda bottles are used for the hulls. Use 2 liter or 1 liter bottles for smaller sized boats. First cut the top and bottom off of 2 bottles. Use a sawing motion with a serrated edge knife to make a slit and finish with a scissors. Make a lengthwise cut the full length of each of the resulting tubes. Insert the bottom end of two more bottles each halfway into a split tube. This connects the two bottles bottom to bottom. Wrap duct tape around the assembly with half the tape's width on an end of the tube and half on one of the bottles. Do the same for the other end. That completes one of the hulls. Repeat the process to make the second hull.

Straight lengths of tree branches can be used to build the rest of the boat. A diameter of about an inch will do nicely. You will need 2 pieces each 24 inches long, 2 pieces each 42 inches long and 2 pieces about 30 inches long. One of the 30 inch pieces will go along the bottom of the sail. It serves to keep the sail straight. That piece can be narrower than one inch. To help decrease sliding of the pieces of the boat, shallow notches can be sawed into the wood where one piece is connected to another piece or is connected to a bottle.

Lay the two hulls parallel to each other and about 22 inches apart. Place one of the 24 inch pieces so its ends rest on the necks of two bottles. Lash the stick to the hull by wrapping the junction tightly with string. If you are using thin string or fishing line, use about 8 feet for each joint. In the same manner put the other 24 inch piece at the other end of the hulls.

Cross a 30 inch piece and a 42 inch piece so they touch at the middle of the 30 and two inches from one end of the 42. If you have a hammer and a six penny nail drive the nail through the two pieces. If not lash them together securely. These two pieces will be the mast (42 inches) and the sail yard (30 inches). Cross the free end of the mast and the other 42 inch piece (which we will call the center beam). They should touch about 1 1/2 inches from the end of the mast and 18 inches from one end of the center beam. The sail yard should be at a right angle to the center beam. That is they should appear to cross each other if you look down at them from above with the mast upright. Drive a six penny nail through that connection. Lash the joint with string whether or not you use a nail. Next place the center beam so it crosses at the center of both 24 inch pieces. About 8 inches of center beam should extent at each end beyond the 24 inch pieces. Lash the joints.

To make the mast rigid heavy string is run from near the top of the mast to each of the hull ends. Begin by running the end of a piece of cord around both a bottle end and the 24 inch cross piece. Tie the end of the cord. Run the cord up to and around the mast just above the yard. Knot the cord there so it won't slip. Continue that same length of cord to one of the other hull ends and tie it there. Run a second cord in a similar manner using the remaining two hull ends. Try to end up with the mast straight up and down and all the heavy cord tight enough not to sag. To make the yard rigid, again tie a string end to the junction of a hull end and a cross beam. Run the string up to and around a yard end and then down to a hull end. Then do the same thing on the other side of the boat. To keep the string from slipping along the yard either cut a notch into the yard or drive in a small nail or tack.

Finally add the sail. Wrap the end of a string around the corner of a garbage bag. Use that string to tie that corner to one end of the yard. Tie the bag to the other end of the yard. Use the remaining stick tied in the same way to the bottom of the sail to keep the sail properly presented to the wind. Later you may add a kneel to the center beam to improve the boats tracking: perhaps a piece of aluminum siding, a couple of car license plates or even old phonograph records.


If you often find it annoying to remove boots as you enter the house, this project is for you. The bootjack makes the task easier especially if the boots are tight fitting or you are carrying something so that your hands are not free. Begin with a 3/4 inch thick board that is about 2 feet long and 6 inches wide. Cut a V shaped notch in one end. Use nails to attach a small piece of wood to keep the notched end raised above the floor. Keep the bootjack outside by the door where you most often enter wearing boots. Put one foot on the jack to hold it in place. Put the heel of the other foot in the notch and pull your foot out of the boot.

diamond Homemade Devices For Inventive Teens.
How to make things using household items. Especially for those about 12 to 16 years old.
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