Buying a replacement isn't always the necessary solution when your stuff goes on the fritz. Fix common problems or altogether broken gear with these clever repair methods.
Photo by jeremyfoo.
10. Stripped screw holes
I've moved a wall-mounted magnetic knife block between four different homes in the last three years, and now its screws just spin endlessly in place. This weekend, I'll be gluing a golf tee inside the holes, then re-mounting that sucker on the kitchen wall. It's a trick that will only work with screws that are, of course, at least close to a golf tee's width, but it's a handy one for those of us who put a bit too much push into our drills. (Original post)
9. Booze-addled brains
A night out for drinks resulting in a rough morning is nobody's fault but your own, though persuasive friends and the weekend can be a volatile combination. Get a good night's sleep if you can, drink plenty of water, but while the night is still happening, try a booze-conscious diet. Not entirely easy to pull off, and it lends a less carefree attitude to the night, but it's far less inconvenient than waking up feeling like a truck tyre. The next morning, try a little ginseng. Photo by cutglassdecanter.
8. Shattered light bulbs
If it was a completely clean break between glass and metal socket, you could simply kill a circuit breaker and twist out a light bulb with pliers. But how often does anything ever break clean? If you've got a bulb to pull out with glass still hanging or you can't get at your circuit box, try a potato cut in half to embed the sharp bulb and socket in, then simply turn it left to unscrew the bulb. Now you're ready to replace the bulb, and you've got a reason to have hash browns with your next breakfast — using the non-bulb-removing potato half, of course. (Original post)
7. Constantly loose glasses
The screw that holds your glasses tight against your head? It's gone the way of seemingly everything on expensive and hard-to-fix items. When you finally get a miniature screwdriver and restore your snug fit, grab some clear nail polish and dab it over the top of the screws. It's enough of a bond to keep the screws from coming loose again, but you could still get them out if you needed to.
6. Splinter-stuffed hands
A simple tweezer session might free your hands of wood slivers, but sometimes they're just too tiny or too many to try and remove with micro-surgery. If you're fiending for a fix, try applying some glue to the afflicted skin, then peel it off to take the splinters with it. That's one of the more powerful splinter fixes, but you might be able to get away with a banana peel or bath and pumice stone to pull out those ugly little remainders of your latest wood project. Photo by furryscaly.
5. Shiny but scratched gadget bezels
Gadgets with shiny chrome finishes look great out of the box. A few days of actual use, however, can give you that why-can't-I-have-nice-things feeling. Smooth out your iPhone or any other gadget with a polished chrome-like finish by brushing the bezel evenly with a rough sponge. It's a bug that becomes a feature on your newly-unique phone. (Original post)
4. Failing hard drive
When your computer suddenly fails to boot up or starts randomly deciding it can't find certain files, the first thing you'll do is hope for, or confirm, a recent backup. If it looks like mechanical failure is the cause, and you need just a bit more data off that drive before it's gone for good, try sticking it in the freezer until it's good and cold, then let it reach room temperature again and give it another try. This passed-around tech geek-tip works as a last resort because when worn-out mechanical parts fail to connect and align properly, contracting them with cold, then allowing them to expand again, can sometimes restore things to barely working order just long enough to give you a little more time before the funeral.
3. Wet mobile phones and other gadgets
If telcos were nice, they'd realise that running water, beverages and rain are a part of everyday life. As it is, most mobile phones these days have paper inside that change colour when exposed to a little liquid, completely voiding your warranty. If your mobile phone is on the fritz after an unexpected bath, we've recommended a bowl of rice, a bit of kitty litter and, for certain phones in certain dire situations, even rubbing alcohol. They can't save your soaked gadget every single time, but when they do, you'll feel like celebrating — just keep the phone away from the table next time.
2. Cables run amok
The cables may still work, but they make your workspace look and feel like an utter mess. We've often featured our IKEA-assisted de-tangling technique, but for those unable to locate one of those custom wire baskets or facing a serious amount of cord length, reader Seandavid010 has illustrated the conversion of rain gutters into cord catchers using cheap hardware bits and a little time with a cordless screwdriver or drill. Paint the gutters any colour you'd like to match your walls or desk, and buy just the right amount to fit your needs.
1. Ugly, in-your-face web ads and annoyances
Pop-up ads, jittery Flash come-ons, auto-playing sound — they don't mean the whole web is broken, just a small, ugly part of it. Using Firefox and its strongest add-ons and settings can mostly eliminate the most unpleasant aspects of the web and regain some measure of control over what you see.
What's the cheapest fix you've found for a seemingly impossible problem? Share your uncommon methods in the comments.