I wonder if, when manufacturers produce a fairly basic product, they realise the full potential of that article. Take farmers for example, it’s not the big impressive looking machinery, the oversized tractors covered in big flashy lights that keeps the farms going. These implements only seem to serve the purpose of holding traffic up on roads with the “see me, I have a big flashy tractor and you can’t get past” attitude. The success of every farm is down to binder twine. The better the farmer, the more innovative uses he can find for binder twine. It serves as a make-shift belt to hold up his trousers or tied round the trouser leg to stop mice running up it – or both. It ties up gates, holds broken bits of machinery together, a tether for animals – the list of uses it has is endless and yes it is used for the purpose it was made for.
With me, for years, my all purpose tool kit was a manicure set and a shoe. When the simple task of changing a plug, the nail file made an excellent screwdriver and the scissors used to strip back wire if necessary. Hanging a picture, no problems there, this is where the shoe came in handy, it did have to have a solid heel of course and a chair served as a step ladder to reach the right height.
I can now add Duct Tape to my list of ‘most useful underestimated products’. I have used it to seal parcels and when my Power Supply Unit for my old computer packed in and I was given a replacement which was too big to fit inside the casing, so it was fastened to the outside with Duct Tape. Of course I know it’s not advisable but it did give me the time to wipe the hard drive before disposing of the computer since it had found a new home through Freecycle.
Although it has been used many times for different purposes, including in the medical supply kit when I used it to keep a dressing dry when I burned my arm and I wanted to protect it when showering. I may have looked a bit like a steel clad robot, but it worked.
My recycling and upcycling instinct works automatically now and my latest project, having found a large gravel tray in a skip, was to turn it into a propagator to cope with several of small seed trays at a time.
When I bought my greenhouse, I wanted full-length toughened glass, not realising that replacing even one pane of glass would be so expensive and after two years of losing glass thanks to storm damage, I thought I would try replacing it with double walled polycarbonate. It has been a huge success and as the sheets are longer than needed, there have been some offcuts and I thought this would be an ideal cover for the gravel tray.
The channels in the polycarbonate are welcoming to dirt and insects and need to be sealed off. Why use the purpose-made tape when you have something else which serves the purpose just as well. Besides Duct Tape, the side binders were also good for edging the sheets and gave a bit of added strength to the edges. The whole thing needs to be collapsible for storage so the corners of the walls were joined with Duct Tape. The lid is in two parts and they just sit on top for easy removal. Spare trimmings from cutting the polycarbonate were stuck inside at the top with some double-sided carpet tape to help keep the lid in place. To lift the main top off, a handle was needed so short lengths of side binders, covered with Duct Tape, which stuck it to the top, makes a very good handle until I find a better alternative. I had to reduce the height of it unfortunately to accommodate the bracket for the guttering I use as a shelf. It’s still a bit rough looking so there is still a bit of tweaking here and there to tidy it up but it was made from bits and pieces I already had in the house, and a little bit of imagination.
It’s heated from below by the rabbit’s disused electric blanket. A piece of foam underlay separates the blanket from the tray.
I hope none of the manufacturers realise that their humble products have such a myriad of uses or they could jump on the bandwagon and raise the prices. JML might even advertise them as a new gadget, who knows the lengths they would go to.
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