Make It With Muscle




Introduction: Make It With Muscle

This is my first instructable...but since there are fewer instructions than there are suggestions...perhaps this is more of a Suggestible. In the spirit of Earth Day, my suggestion is to 'Make it with Muscle'. Use muscle energy instead of power tools when working on some of your projects. Power tools are nice, but you don't always need them. You can do wonderous things with your own two hands (and some hand tools).

My girlfriend and I found a small shelf/cabinet on the curb and decided to give it a new home. After a few days of standing in a corner blocking our shower door from opening all the way, we figured it would make better sense to shorten it a bit. This instructable documents the cabinet's conversion from 'wide' to 'less wide', using only hand tools and a little elbow grease.

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Step 1: Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle

Here, we're going to give someone else's trash a new lease on life. I suppose this can also be considered 'Reuse'.

The cabinet was made from particle board (chip board) and screws. I removed (by hand) and later reused all the screws... and even had some left over for other projects.
Disclaimer: No new hardware or materials were harmed during the modding of this cabinet.

I don't think this is what they mean by Reduce...but I want to shrink the cabinet from 3ft wide to 2ft wide.

Two R's out of three isn't bad right?

Step 2: Tools

Tape measure
Saftey glasses

Step 3: Disassembly

The cabinet was held together by a little glue and a few wood screws. For your projects, instead of using a power drill/driver, try using a regular screwdriver. You'll probably be amazed at how little you use those arm muscles pampering yourself with electric screwdrivers. After removing about a dozen or so might just have to switch hands.

I had to use a hammer to loosen each piece, due to there being glue and paint in the joints.

Step 4: Measure Twice, Cut Once

The top, middle and bottom shelves needed to be shortened from three to two feet. Once you know what and where to cut...double check. Once you're sure...then cut.

Instead of using a circular saw, table saw, or jigsaw...try using a good-ole fashioned hand saw.

The handle on many hand saws give an excellent way to mark 90 and 45 degree angles.

Step 5: Reassembly

Not much left to do, other than reassemble the pieces.

Since the wood in this cabinet is particle board (chip board), putting screws in by hand was real easy. If it were harder wood, then pilot holes might have been needed. If I did need to drill any holes...this can still be done without power tools. You might be surprised to find out that not all drills are electric. You can find hand drills at many hardware stores.

Putting this thing back together was a breeze. In about 30-45 minutes, the cabinet was disassembled, cut, and reassembled. All it needs now is a fresh coat of paint.

Step 6: Outro

So like I said in the Intro...there aren't many instructions to this Instructable.

My suggestion was to not use power tools from time to time. If it can be done by hand...then why wouldn't you.

You can save electricity...keep more CO2 out of the air...and take pride in something you made (or modded) by hand.

Step 7: Other Suggestibles

Some other 'Green' suggestions:

Many people already know this...but you can put a brick in your toilet's tank to displace a bit of water (a real brick...not your #2). Each time you flush, it'll use less water...equal in volume to the brick. You could also use soda bottles, bags of rocks, or other things. Bricks are nice because they are heavy and won't move or get under any moving parts.

You can also re-route your toilet's tank's plumbing to save even more water. Each flush, the tank's water gets passed to the bowl and once empty, the tank begins to refill. There's a bit of tubing that lets some of the refill water pass into the bowl through the overflow tube, washing the sides and filling the bowl to its usual level. If you remove this tubing from the overflow tube and direct its water into the tank, then the tank will refill faster and it'll use less water. The one side-effect of this is that the bowl will not be as full as before (this is where you save water). This probably won't have any effect however on the 'quality' of your flushings since the liquid wastes that you put into the bowl when using it add up.

Given that you might have a different toilet, water pressure, bathroom habits, etc., you might have to fiddle a bit with the above suggestions to make sure your toilet still flushes completely the first time. Having to flush a water saving toilet twice is often worse than flushing a regular toilet once.

Non-toilet suggestions:
When asked whether you'd prefer paper or plastic...say "Neither". That's because you've got your own reuseable grocery bags. You can get reuseable bags anywhere from $0 to more than $100. I suggest you go for the cheaper ones. In LA and probably a lot of other places, some grocery stores will give you a $0.05 refund for each reuseable bag you use. The bags pay for themselves after a few visits.

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    9 Discussions

    The Metal One

    Did you know that the amount of carbon put in the atmosphere from using hand tools (accounting not only for respiration but also the carbon from producing the food you ate to make the energy to operate the thing) is actually greater than the amount from generating electricity? also many people misunderstand power generation. the electricity is generated at a continuous rate, putting power into the grid. the same amount of carbon is put into the atmosphere whether or not you use it, so you might as well not let that energy be wasted.

    Mike McGill
    Mike McGill

    10 years ago on Step 4

    Well done for using hand tools.  I use them all the time.  One comment;  the picture shows you cutting the shelf with the underside uppermost.  When you cut chipboard with a handsaw there is a tendancy for the clean edge to be lost on the underside of the cut.  Therefore it might have been better to cut froj the top side, leaving the ragged edge underneath where it can't be seen.  All the best, Mike (UK)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Recently saw a PBS special "alone in the wilderness" about a guy who went up to Alaska. He built a log cabin and everything he needed, even cutting fire wood, with hand ( as in not powered ) tools. If a sixty year old man can do that, why are we so fascinated with powered tools.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    "put a brick in your toilet's tank" or just bend the plunger down, lol but low-flow toilets are bad for your plumbing, without all the extra water to push the poo through, it just sits, 1/2 way through your pipes, and hardens. when you take a #2, always hold the handle down to release all the water. "remove this tubing from the overflow tube and direct its water into the tank" if your plumbing is vented properly, then this wont be a problem, if not (or if you just get unlucky) , the hydrostatic pressure will pull all the water down the drain, emptying the P-trap and thus venting sewer gas into your bathroom (bad) and put TP in the bowl before you take a #2 to prevent splashback! much for the earth... like the hand tool idea though ooooh snap, i just realized why saws are shaped like that :P


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    we have badly designed lo-flo toilets with two buttons,the smaller is for your number 1 and the other is for number 2,but somehow it just dumps the same both ways


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Not a bad overall suggestible. I just never really liked power tools...except the cordless drill now and then. I might do that toilet trick...with a 24 oz bottle. I don't think saving a gallon of water is worth wading through my own poo. Just not my idea of a...weekend project.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I always use a 1liter soda bottle filled with water which fits right inside with no worry about scratching the porcelain or one of those dreaded OOPS if you drop a brick. 2liter works also but not much left for flushing!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    and if its filled with water...SPARE WATER FOR FLUSHING THE TOILET!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    great tip with the saw handle, I didn't notice it before. Nice instructable, too.