This is a ~10 minute project inspired by friends at the Durham (NC) Bike Co-op (http://www.durhambikecoop.org/). We were talking about how it kind of sucks to be soaking parts in Simple Green (or your cleaner of choice) and then have to reach in to the black soup you've made to get the parts out, or worse, pour it into your hand and risk small parts like bearings falling out.
So, this is simple a two chamber soak tank with an inner basket for holding the parts.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
I used one 2lb (32oz.) container of Stonyfield yogurt and one 1.5lb (24oz.) of Harris Teeter cottage cheese. The sizes aren't that important, only that you can stack the two containers inside each other. You could even get away with using two similarly sized containers if you wanted. My cottage cheese container doesn't fit totally within the yogurt container, so I lose the ability to put the yogurt cover on and shake, so keep that in mind.
You'll need some sort of hole making capability, like a hand drill with some bits. I used 1/8" and 3/32" for this instructable, but it really depends on what you're going for.
To make a handle (totally optional but handy in the same spirit of "not getting black grease soup all over your hands") I used some 16ga. fencing wire. I have some snips and pliers to cut and shape the wire.
Step 2: Drill the Inner Basket
I used the 1/8" bit here to drill a somewhat symmetrical pattern on the bottom and sides of the inner container.
After using this for the first time, I would recommend putting more holes in the bottom and keep the side holes low. When you pick up the basket, you have to keep the side holes below the rim of the outer container. I originally chose to go for more side holes to try to keep small parts from getting lodged in the bottom, but if you go sufficiently small enough with your drill bit, you should be fine.
Step 3: Prepare Handle
Here you cut an appropriate length of wire to span half of the circumference of the inner container with a little left on the sides.
Work the wire roughly into the shape of the inner container. Mark the rim of the container twice at the midpoint where you will drill holes for the handle. Mark the wire slightly to the inside of the marks on the container to give the handle some room to sit inside the lid.
Take the wire and bend out at the marks.
Step 4: Install Handle
Drill holes just below the marks you made on the rim, then insert the handle. Right now the handle will just flop down and not be terribly useful. To correct this, hold the handle upright and bend the straight bits up and over the rim. When you do this, bend the wire to the same side of the handle on both sides so it will sit well in the container.
Move the handle back and forth a few times. In one direction it will stand almost straight up (you can adjust the height of the handle eyelets to determine where it stands) and the other side will sit mostly within the rim, depending on how far down you drilled your handle holes. Once you're satisfied with the positioning, bend the wire around the handle once or twice and trim. Consider putting something to cover the end of those wires, like a bike cable end or melted wax or something.
Step 5: Test It Out
Now you should be all set to use the thing, so give it a shot.
As I was writing this, I got the idea that you could maybe use scrap brake/derailleur cable to make the handle, and crimp it all together with a housing end.
I have been working on projects to reuse these types of containers since I don't seem to be able to recycle them in my area (the city of Raleigh, where I do most of my recycling, specifically says no wide mouthed containers like yogurt etc.) so maybe some of those other projects will make it here.
Hope this is helpful to someone.