Dieselpunk bicycle fender

My daughter loves her new bike. My daughter loves wearing skirts over bicycle shorts. My daughter’s skirts touch the rear wheel and get dirty. I built a rear fender for her bike.

I used aluminum flashing, overlapping three sheets.

I attempted to spot weld them together, but this was too powerful. Mostly, I melted holes through the flashing.

This turned out to be a good way to “drill” holes.

Which I then bored out with an awl and used pop rivets to fasten.


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Custom Car Door Pull Strap

Sunny Los Angeles is hell on plastic car parts. Sure, nothing rusts, which is nice, but my fifteen year old VW Passat is crumbling, bit by bit. The latest piece to go was the interior front passenger door pull handle.

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Rather than hit the salvage yard or eBay for a proper part, I decided to replace it with a leather strap. I cut a scrap down to size, punched holes in the ends and screwed them in. I had lost one of the stock handle screws, and oddly enough the first proper sized screw I came across in my workshop was the quick-release wheel screw assembly from an old French bicycle. So, that’s why you’ll see a little aluminum cam handle peeking out.

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The longer I keep this car, the more it will look like a pirate ship.

Dangerous power adapter

From the this-is-a-terrible-idea-but-I’m-going-to-do-it-anyway department:

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I’m in Zürich this week visiting the Disney Research lab and I forgot to bring plug adapters for my Macbook. No problem, this is why I carry thick vague copper wire in my bag and check a multitool in my luggage.

Please don’t try this at home. Or in a hotel.

Cool Tools Interview

Mark Frauenfelder and Kevin Kelly at the super excellent Cool Tools site recently interviewed me for their terrific Cool Tools Show podcast. We talked about some tool-like I recommend, including a coffee roaster, and gym rings. Stay tuned for the bonus, unexpected tool question at the end.

As Mark said,

Over at Cool Tools we interviewed my good friend John Edgar Park, who is one of the most interesting people I know. When he is not combing the streets for street sweeper blades to turn into picklocks, or practicing impossible yoga positions, or roasting his own coffee, he’s doing secret things at the research wing of Disney Imagineering. Kevin Kelly and I asked him to tell us about some of his favorite tools, which you can learn about in this episode of the Cool Tools Show, and by reading the show notes (Why not subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode?)

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Make a Light-up Magic Wand

The elementary school variety show producer (yes, producer — we take this seriously!) asked if I could build some lighted magic wand props for one of the acts. “Heck yes!,” I said. I love building props.

Here’s how I built them:

  1. Start with an LED flashlight for the end cap switch, handle, and battery holder. Doing these things from scratch can be a pain. $5 lights worked great, you may be able to go cheaper.
  2. Remove the bulb, solder in leads and wires to extend the length, solder on a nice, fat 10mm LED.
  3. Use three street sweeper blades to form the wand structure, zip tie and tape them to the barrel.
  4. Heat shrink tubing to hold the LED nicely to the sweeper blade tips.
  5. Wrap the wand in masking paper. Glue the paper on, being sure to wrinkle and crease it like gnarled wood.
  6. Stain with wood stain, paint it, dry brush lighter colors at the peaks to increase the read on stage to the audience. Polyurethane the paper.

Here’s a visual guide to my method. UPDATE: The wands survived dress rehearsal and three performances! See bottom of this post for a photo of the young wizards in action.

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