Cheap projects

I just recently joined Instructables, and I'm looking for cheap (not necessarily simple) projects that involve mechanics or making anything out of easily found materials. Something like LostRite's hidden blade or this Mechanical Hand. I'm in high school and don't yet have a job, so many of the projects i find are out of my budget. Thanks for any of your suggestions!

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Are you just looking for new ideas or do you have a project in mind? I would be happy to throw some cheap creative ideas your way to accomplish what you what for super cheap!
drapeta4 years ago
Also as far as cheap projects go paper mache is also super cheap, a blender and some paper, water, and away you go. You can use it for a lot of stuff, like mask making, or basic shapes to put clay on for sculptures, or to make hand made paper.
Dr. P4 years ago
Mechanics? See if anybody has old electronics--like a Palm Pilot or a discarded remote control. I'd love to see something interesting done with discarded and outdated "toys" that we all have tucked in boxes someplace. Good luck!
drapeta5 years ago
I just found a recipe for Polymer clay and couldn't believe how cheap it would be to make.  If you were looking for a cheap project that you could do a lot with, that might be it.  It is basically just glue, mineral oil and corn starch.  Polymer clay is an oven bake clay (270 degrees) and is a plastic that you can do a whole lot of sculpting with.
StayingClassy (author)  drapeta5 years ago
thanks for the suggestion! looks like pretty useful stuff too!
That's a cool recipe! I'd wonder how it compares to regular polymer clays, with regards to storage, plasticizers leaking out before it's cooked, strength and flexibility after it is baked, etc. Also, would it be safe to use that pot for food afterwards?

Polymer clays are pretty cheap though. The 2oz packages are fairly pricey but the sets are cheaper, if you want a collection of colours. The larger 1 to 2 pound packages (depending on type) are usually $10 or less (1lb has over 8 times the clay in the 2oz so it's a huge savings at 3 times or less the price). The cost goes down if you get the larger packages, but they're harder to come by, even online, not everyone has them available. But I digress...
drapeta Thrasym5 years ago
Actually, colored clay is much more expensive. Super sculpey 1 lb block in beige at minimum is approx 11 dollars (at least in chicago) You can color it yourself. I have not made the recipe yet, but I assume that if you made it and used it fresh it would be fairly durable. It says you can store it as well. I am thinking that the recipe would be the equiv to the original sculpey recipe, which isn't as strong. Though I think it is because it has more oil in it. I tend to bleed out the oil before i use that kind, and usually only use it as filler or for experiments.
Thrasym drapeta5 years ago
Sure. I understand that recipe is much cheaper, I am not arguing that, simply saying polymer clay is cheap to begin with. For the amount you get in 1lb, you can do a great many little sculptures. It's pennies on the dollar compared to epoxy putties. Even the highly inflated 2oz coloured packages go pretty far for the small scale stuff most people do. In that regard, your money goes a LONG way with most polymer clays.
drapeta Thrasym4 years ago
Ah! I must have missed that comparison. My bad! You are right, epoxies are TRES expensive. I have been branching out into a lot of different sorts of crafts and DIY's lately. What would one use epoxy putty for?
Thrasym drapeta4 years ago
2 part epoxy putties are used for lots of things. In short, they're basically a "filler" and a "hardener" that you mix together. It then gets rock solid without the need to bake. Takes anywhere from a couple minutes to a couple hours, usually, depending on the ratio and the product used.

They're all over the hardware and hobby stores, for automotive work (Bondo for car body work, JB Weld is fairly thin, so not so good to "sculpt" with, but it's really strong and durable and heat resistant so I use it all the time attaching armatures to bases and stuff), plumbing (putty to seal leaks and threads and to strengthen joints), household (putties to fix ceramics and fill holes in the wall and all kinds of things). I use them quite a bit for sculpting, Greenstuff, Magic Sculp, Miliput (are some of the more popular ones), just mix it up and sculpt it (you have anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or two while it's soft enough to push around), let it cure hard over the next few hours. It also works great to bulk out and/or solidify armatures for larger sculpts you'll do in other mediums like oil based clays, just mix it up and squish it into the joints before curing. Most can be baked once cured, not before though, if you're doing polymer but I haven't seen any that will stand up to a kiln or anything like that. Mostly, probably not cost effective to use as a "bulking" agent, but, it can be really nice to use to keep an armature in position. It's no better than baking off some Sculpey (usually) but you save the hassle of having to do that.

If you're interested in trying it out, I'd suggest looking for the LONGEST curing time on the sticks of putties in the plumber section (many cure super quick, in minutes, because that helps plumbers and home owners fix things easier) or getting something like Magic Sculp, it's great stuff, or Aves Apoxy Sculpt is pretty similar...if you like rubbery clays, for doing "organic" stuff, you could try Greenstuff (get the tubes, not the strips, NOT from Games Workshop) but it's usually not an ideal starting point. You can mix in about %20 to %25 polymer clay into all these to really slow down the curing time as well.
drapeta Thrasym4 years ago
Do you think that this stuff would be carvable, and drillable etc if you were adding it to an armature. (I tend to make doll type things) I have used two part epoxy before, but mostly in home fix it projects.
Thrasym drapeta4 years ago
They've all got different characteristics. Kneadatite's Greenstuff is rubbery, not so good for sanding, drilling, carving, though cutting can be done with a sharp edge...Brownstuff is a little better at that stuff, but not "good". Anything that says it stays flexible, has a "rubber" component or quality, is probably not a good candidate for such tasks.

ProCreate, MagicSculp, ApoxieSculpt, Milliput, Bondo, JB Weld, um, that's all I can think of off the top of my head at the moment, they're all more clay like. Easily sanded, carved, drilled and tapped. I like MS but others might be easier to find. MS and AS are the cheaper options too. JB Weld and Bondo are more of a glue or crack filler, not a "sculpting putty" really.

Most of the packages will specify how they handle painting, sanding, drilling, etc, before and/or after curing if you just want to hit up the home center for assembling armatures (rather than something to do the finishing stages of the doll).
Kiteman5 years ago
(Another reason why we should be able to sort by the cost & difficulty sliders.)
Ooh, that would be nice!
That'd be super useful. The whole search and organization system could use an overhaul.

My 'ibles are super cheap (heh, I use the plural but only one has real instructions, the other two are mostly just for show with other examples). Not very mechanical but could be integrated with mechanics or electronics easily enough.
StayingClassy (author)  Thrasym5 years ago
Pretty awesome sculptures!! Sounds like a fun idea, i might give it a try myself. Thanks!
Thanks. I'd love to see what you come up with, if you give it a go. Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions.