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Show Me Your Epic Fail Projects! Answered

Any good maker will tell you to accept and embrace the process of iteration. And a natural product of that iterative process is failure. You learn a lot by trying something, being less-than-successful, and then attempting it again. It's the act of picking yourself up and trying again that helps dissolve the fear associated with failure.

I'm interested to see your most epic failures! Share photos, videos, and stories of your fails from project builds: Slumping, cracking, burned, melted, misshapen… it's all part of the learning process. Can't wait to see how you messed up. :)



3 years ago

Tried to make urea by boiling pee... Burnt it an nearly suffocated to death instead....


Are you an alchemist?

that might be an outdoor or fume hood project.

If I try this again, I think I'd just use a shallow pan and put it outside in the hot summer sun to evaporate very gently -- but since I live in an apartment building I think my neighbors might be upset to find that dish in our community garden....

go to the park with a campstove to boil it. If anyone asks, you are making the traditional chinese summer eggs. Boiled in pee . The concentrated electrolytes are supposed to prevent heat stroke. Mmmmm yeah.

I'd never heard of Chinese summer eggs... might just have to try it (outside though!). Basically hard boiled with pee rather than water? Other interesting uses for urine: the Romans used old pee to brush their teeth (apparently Portuguese pee was considered the best) -- which makes sense in a way, because it's sterile, and if you let pee sit you'll get some ammonia in there. Also used to treat wool before dying it.

I'm still getting over Bear Grylls drinking his own pee in survival circumstance. Good knowledge for emergencies, I guess. My recollection: pee is sterile for a brief time, but not a day or 2 after peeing. Perhaps once it is fully aged, it's like alcohol, or yoghurt. Dunno what bugs would live in ammonia.

I don't recall where I read about the eggs, but yeah. Hard boiled in the pee of "Virgin boys" IIRC.

Now, THAT is hilarious! Did you jump back in the saddle and try it again?

No... I was afraid if I tried again I'd ruin a pot AND my marriage... I talked about it in my author's interview if you want to hear the whole sad story....

Haha, that is a great epic failure story!

Reminds me of a story from my last job, when some interns were using the laser cutter to cut… PVC! The toxic smell of death wafted over to me, and I walked into the lab and asked what what going on. I couldn't believe that no one else had noticed the terrible smell of chlorine gas until it made its way two rooms over…

My idea is on hold until I find a cheap way of drilling narrow holes in pebble beach stones have tried some ways but so far nothing cheap or sustainable, going to try water jet drill but want to make one myself any ideas please let me know ?

What have you tried?

Dremel in a drill press and vise with a carbide/diamond end-mill/bit/burr/holesaw?

What type of stone? How thick?

I have tried using diamond tipped drill bits but only got two or three cuttings using this method.Thinking high pressure water jet system might be the answer if I can make up one cheaply ?

Because the bits got dull? Broke? Incorrect RPMs? Are you keeping them cooled?

I don't know. Never done any of this :)

not exactly epic, but a test of copper electroplating I did recently, I did not clean the steel first. It appeared to work fine. Cu was plating well. But it rusted almost immediately thereafter. All Cu and rust scrubbed right off.

Cu is copper.

Oh... Nevermind...

Obviously by the smell...

*Stupid me*

im looking for vid footage for in incident in which a 10 inch dia pvc aircannon blew apart. fortunately, no one was injured.

I want to see that footage! Glad no one was hurt.

That reminds me of "America's Funniest Home Videos." More often than not, someone was getting seriously hurt in those clips!

maybe i oughta get it onto the current contest.

I was working on a prototype. I had just finished some nice details and thought I would use my favorite finish, hard wearing and glassy good, CA/ super glue.. Odiously I wasn't thinking when I left the lid an the base touching each other.. I ended up having to do the whole thing over..

On the plus side it allowed me to put an iteration I was contemplating into action sooner and the product is fairly good now.


In the interest of survival, and retaining all body parts, experimenting small is key. Go big later. I learned early about power tool injuries on an antiquated and low powered moto tool. A circular saw will kick back the same way whether it is 1 inch diameter, or 12. The results of the former might be bandaid or stitches. The latter could mean losing fingers, or even limbs.

I managed to cut and drill into myself with that mototool on occasion. So far, knock on wood, I've avoided injury on the big tools. I attribute safety on the big ones, in part, to lessons learned from accidents on the tiny tool.


2 years ago

All of my failures (and several ongoing projects) are on an SD card that's gone missing..... I know it's around here somewhere. :( Maybe that's my epic failure.


3 years ago

I've actually thought there should be a way to post an Instructable that didn't quite work. Maybe a flag that indicates it was a failure? I have a few that I just can't bring myself to delete, but they won't be completed.

I teach HS science, and tell my students" notes are imporant even when experment fails we can learn from it,I have the scars to prove it"

I like that idea. Instructables that you aren't necessarily meant to follow step-by-step, but still good, inspirational ideas.

One time, I melted a paper clip with a laptop battery trying to test a CD drive. Then another time I burned my fingerprint on a 5v regulator I accidentally wired in backwards. And then there were numerous times where I'd supply 12V to something rated at 5V. The last one is like a curse to me.

My last project did not ended up very well, I tried to build a 555 Timer based solid state musical Tesla coil and by the time I got it to work, I burned two High power Mosfets, Five 555 timers and a small transistor. (About 15CAD of parts)

All that was caused by the HV feedback from the primary coil that I then fixed using a neon bulb.

I then used two other mosfet I had with a higher Collector Emitter resistance (Very bad for the efficiency) And ended up with a musical arc of only 4mm at maximum with a ground connection to the top to act as a spark gap because the power was too low to make the arc fly into the air...

Now I have no use for this as a flyback or any other high frequency transformer would do a way better job.

Live and learn.

This one isnt as exiting as others but i built a big hunting shack in my garage only to find out it is 2 inches 2 tall

ALWAYS make sure you measure the right thing in CAD

Oh noooooooooo! What ended up happening? Did you give it a haircut on the top?

While doing live theater, there was a show coming up with a christmas tree and flashing lights. The director wanted the lights dim, and we in tech knew that the flashing bulbs were turned offonoffonoffon by heat of a bulb, somewhat like a breaker. We didn't have access to a string of lights. (we musta been getting ready for the show significanly before xmas season??) So the tech dept was discussing HOOOOW are we gonna make those lights flash when they are dimmed, and not hot enough to actuate the built in flasher???

I went home and cobbled together a slow gearbox, a turntable, and a cam switch to blink the xmas lites.

Turns out that once we purchased a string of lites, they still blink, even when dimmed. Ah, well. T'was fun to build a cam activated switch, even if t'wasn't needed at that time.

A true engineer — solving problems before they happen. :)

That pendant may not have turned out how you wanted, but it is very well made!

I like that each step explains what you did and what you think you should have done instead. I really appreciate this kind of documentation. There is always room for improvement on any build, and it's important to share as much of your own insight as you can, to help the next person who attempts making it.

This is a failed silicon mold making attempt... messed up everything...


Not being afraid of making a mess is important. I think I am a bit afraid of making a mess. My parents are both fastidious about keeping things clean, and I think it has influenced me such that I tend to avoid potentially messy projects. Which is unfortunate!

tried to make an altoids tin into a butterfily ended up with some veeeeeery minty breath paint on my hands for 2 weeks and smething that looked like a mini mothra af sloppy death (: p


I built a solar oven using a bicycle tire, and a reflector using an umbrella and candy wrappers. No matter what I did the solar oven did not go above 250F. The reflector was less reflective than I had hoped. I think the solar oven might'e worked if I had more carefully sealed the holes between the tire and the base board (bicycle tires inevitably have more of gaps, particularly mountain bike tires, due to their knobs)... and also, if it hasn't been so cloudy/rainy when I was making this. Not having a car and living in a forested area, I could never test it out. I ended up not making an instructable after documenting the process because the results weren't good enough :/ Also, the glass I used (from a scrap pile) was not perfectly flat and was pretty brittle. It broke...

The reflector was absolutely a failed idea. I still brought it to a maker-faire though as an inspirational idea. More reflective pieces glued onto an umbrella could work.


Interesting design!

I wish more people would bring failed projects and in-progress projects to Maker Faires. You never know what will spark someone's imagination, and if nothing else, they are great points of conversation. :)

tried to make an altoids tin into a butterfily ended up with some veeeeeery minty breath paint on my hands for 2 weeks and smething that looked like a mini mothra af sloppy death (: p


I have a couple scars from projects that needed stitches. Fun times calling the husband to come collect me and take me to the ER while trying to remain calm enough to bandage myself in the meantime... alone and fearful of deep disgusting wounds... a fear so intense that pain doesn't register...

Then there are things that just didn't pan out the way I wanted them to (sans stitches) such as my photo for a chocolate covered cherry cordial that looks more like an opening scene for Dexter...


Haha! Wow. I faint easily, so I usually pass out in situations like that. : /

You nailed it with the cherry cordial photo — it *does* look like part of the Dexter opening credits! But it also looks delicious.

I had been meaning to start watching Dexter on Netflix. Thanks to your comment, I binge watched the first two seasons!

The only way I managed to survive was I kept telling myself, "Ok, you're not allowed to freak out right now. You have to get bandaged and wait for the husband to arrive. THEN you're allowed to freak." :P

So a few years back I thought hmmmmmm why not make a helm...... Turns out, not that easy! However..... version 2.0 has gone ALOT better; v1 was lumpy, unplanished and not sanded all the way. v2 clearly has a better shape, smoother finish although there are alot of possible improvements possible for v3!


Those look amazing! Do you have them hanging in your house somewhere? They should be on display. Maybe at the end of a hallway, on top of a suit of armor…