Introduction: Making a Junkbot

About: I love to repair, repurpose things.

This Instructable is to show that, with a little creativity and imagination, you can take some items that aren't so interesting and combine them to truly turn trash to treasure.

Step 1: Collecting the Parts

I collect my parts from thrift stores, garage sales, swap meets, and items that would normally be thrown away. The only problem is I end up with bins & bins of pieces most people would consider trash. When I look at these pieces I see treasure. I see heads, eyes, legs, feet, and anything else these pieces might resemble. One rule I have is rather than to buy the parts, I try whenever possible, to use whatever I have on hand. Something left over from another project. The goal is to create something interesting by spending the least amount of money as possible. It's not that I am cheap but I love to reuse and repurpose items that still have some life in them. I think that as a society we throw away far to many useable items and I would like to do my part to keep it out of our landfills and ocean. (Ok, Maybe I am cheap too.) This means that if I use paint, it will be paint left-over from another project. I might have to drill a hole a little larger to accommodate a screw that I salvaged from a blender or vacuum that went bad. Bottle caps from a beer bottle or the lid from my wife's kombucha bottle become gold for my junkbots. Corks from wine bottles make excellent legs/arms for a junkbot. Kitchen utensils make great features too.

Step 2: Special Parts

It's fun to add parts that might have some historical or sentimental value to your or your family. Or to the period of time from which it came. Maybe your grandpa's harmonica or a penny from the year you were born. It might include a picture of you, your wife or kids, parents or grandparents. It might have a part from your first car or the pick you got with your first guitar. You get the idea. Something meaningful to you or to a person you might gift it to. Use your imagination and make something that people will say "Hey, that's really cool".

Step 3: Tools

I happen to like tools and I believe a person can never have enough. I may have multiple tools that can accomplish the same task. That being said, really all you need are some basic tools to make a junkbot. They might include, but are not limited to, screwdrivers, drill motor & bits, pliers, wrenches and clamps. It's nice to have a few types of saws. (A couple of my favorite are pictured above.) A dremel tool comes in handy for shaping and cutting. A glue gun for attaching pieces that you can't hold together with a nut and a screw.

One drill bit I really like is the stepping bit pictured above. It allows you to drill small to large holes without having to change your bit out every time. It works well for drilling through sheet metal, plastic, and wood. It's a good idea to clamp your piece down to something before using this bit.

Step 4: Fasteners

Connecting the pieces together can be a challenge. Because it is more permanent, I like to use screws with washers and nuts whenever possible. Much to my wife's dismay, I am always picking up nuts, bolts and screws from the ground and putting them in my pocket knowing that it may be the perfect fastener for one of my bots. Not only that but it's FREE. My wife can tell you how much noise they make when they go through the washer/dryer when I forget to take them out of my pocket. I also can not throw away a broken mechanical item without salvaging the fasteners first. I try to keep them organized as best I can in organizers but an old peanut can works well too. It works great if you can at least keep them organized by size.

I also like to use magnets that I salvage from old computer hard drives. They are very strong and do a great job of holding ferrous metal together. This also allows you to reshape a bot if you want.

A hot glue gun also works for holding lighter weight pieces together.

Step 5: Let's Create Our Bot

I have chosen my parts and pictured in my mind how they could fit together. Old pencil sharper for the head. Bobbins from Grandma's sewing machine for eyes. For the body I have chosen an old analog meter found at a garage sale. Arms and legs are door and window handles from the inside of a 1940's car. The mouth is a vintage 7up soda bottle cap. And for the nose I will use (what else) a pencil.

Step 6: Body, Arms, and Legs

After figuring out where I think the arms & legs should go, I drilled 3/8" holes in the metal meter where they will be attached. I used the stepping drill bit I talked about earlier. I need to impress the importance of clamping the item down while using this bit. If you don't it will want to spin and possibly cause an injury. We don't want that. These holes will accommodate the 3/8" x 1" bolts that I will attach the door handles to. I will use Tee Nuts to hold the bolts in as the door handles fit nicely on them with very little gap between the handles and the meter. It killed me to have to purchase the tee nuts. At $2.36 they were the most expensive pieces on the bot.

Step 7: Making the Head

I like making the the head the best. It's where your junkbot gets it's personality. I'm using a vintage pencil sharpener. The eyes (bobbins) are attached using the salvaged magnet from a hard drive. The mouth (7up bottle cap) is attached using a small round magnet. I like using the magnets because it allows me to change the facial expression by moving them around the face. Now it's time to insert the pencil nose.

Step 8: Attach the Head to the Body

All we have to do now is attach the head to the body. I'd like to be able to turn the head on the body once it is attached so I will only use one screw to attach it. After deciding where it should go I drilled a single hole in the top of the body and attached it with a screw and a nut. Now reassemble the meter and I'm done!

Step 9: Finished Junkbot

Here's what he looks like competed. I think he's a very handsome bot.

Step 10: Use Your Imagination

This Instructable is just an example of what you can do. It's up to you to be creative and use your imagination to create your own junkbot. I hope you have enjoyed this Instructable and will try to create your own bot. They make a wonderful, thoughtful, and personal gift as well.

To inspire you, here are some pictures of some other junkbots I have created.

Trash to Treasure

Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure