Introduction: Simple Grain Scoop (from Recycled Material)
Hypothetically speaking, you have chicks, and you have chick feed, but no scoop. And hypothetically you were also out of work and consequently money. All this due to a hypothetical pandemic where everyone is on lockdown. This is the type of situation where you figure out how to make do with the materials on hand, a pleasant afternoon building, and not a single dime.
This feed scoop was intended to be a project I could do with my kids (5 yrs, 3 yrs) but they quickly flagged. Due to the cheapness of materials (free) and the speed of the build, I was not tremendously emotionally attached to the final outcome, at least until it was finished. I have been using the scoop for a few days now to feed our new chicks, and I love it. I get a little blip of joy every time I scoop out some feed for the birds.
1 x empty olive can (because we love olives)
1 x bolt (1-2 ish inches long)
1 x nut to match the above bolt
1 x dowel section (length of the preferred handle) or alternatively a piece of scrap wood
Optional (oil and vinegar)
Tools: (get a little creative as the need may arise but this is what I used)
Anvil (or suitable substitute)
Ball peen hammer
Drill and bits
Ratchet with extension
Crescent or box wrench
Ability to cut wood
Optional tool: Lathe
Step 1: Map Out the Property Lines and Cut Your Losses
You will need to first create a line on the side of your can to cut along. Being a cylinder this can be a little hard to get right depending on the shape you want, I just eyeballed it and drew it on with a permanent marker.
If you would like a little better guide, however, cover your can in flour. Then dip your can slowly into a basin of water at the appropriate angle to give you the line you want. Then after it dries, you can trace the line with marker.
NOTE: I have not tried this and it will likely cake your marker tip in flour. Nobody wants that. So try to wipe away flour from the surface in any spot you are about to write.
WARNING: You will be dealing with sharp edges. Proceed with caution. Wear leather gloves if you are smarter than I am.
After you have a good cut line to follow, take your tin snips and carefully cut away and discard the excess can.
Again, you will have sharp edges. I took the can and softened my sharp or jagged edges on my bench sander.
Step 2: Where’s My Anvil At?
This is a simple idea and a surprisingly simple step. But first, consider that I have an anvil. This is a tool specifically built for and well suited for forming metal. But who owns an anvil? I haven’t had mine for long and I only acquired it after the passing of a friend. Bless your heart, Troy.
The idea is to roll the edge outward and then fold it back on itself. Using light taps of the ball peen hammer first on a sharp edge of the anvil, or other suitable bang in’ surface we will slowly make our way around the circumference of the can. I was tapping it about 1/4” from the edge.
You will take several trips round the can. Soon enough, you will then be able to slide the can over the horn of the anvil (I had to look that up, you learn something new every day) to flatten the folded edge down. It takes a little finessing of it to get it right. But I’m not stressing about it not being perfect, due to its intended purpose.
Step 3: The Beauty of the Bolt
Simple enough, you will drill a snug hole in the bottom of the can. Send your bolt through, throw on the nut and tighten it as tight as you can get it.
This will serve as the mount for the handle.
Step 4: Making the Gripper Part
A length of 3/4” dowel would work just fine as a handle. Or if you feel like spending way too much time on a cheap tool, you can turn one yourself on a lathe. Who owns a lathe!
Lathe work is highly satisfying and should be done once in a blue moon. My three year old picked the handle design. And my five year old and I got to work, until he got bored.
The lathe with a chuck attachment made it tremendously easy to send a centered drill bit down the center of the handle. Choose a drill bit ever so slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the threads on the bolt. And I am talking just barely here. If you go too small you will have a devil of a time getting it screwed on, and you may risk splitting your handle. If you go too large then it won’t hold as you might like.
I also did a countersink hole large enough to accommodate the hiding of the nut. Though this step is optional.
I didn’t have any proper wood polish or oils on hand. I read online that a mixture of vinegar and olive oil will work. I also read that food oils can go rancid. I tried it anyway. It is a small thing to me if it causes an issue.
Take that bad boy of a handle and start cranking it down on that bolt. Mine just happened to be the perfect tightness. In other words it was very tight but still tightenable by hand (with a ratchet holding the bolt still inside the can).
Step 5: Take a Picture and Hang It on the Refrigerator
Be proud of yourself. You just spent hours building something that functions about as well as an unmodified, factory original, empty sour cream tub.
Take pictures. I want to see them. Share it far and wide because hey, it’s cool. And above all, take joy in your uncanny ability to never be held back by a lack of a scoop.
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