When I decommissioned my old vacuum cleaner a couple of years ago, I asked Jennifer if she could think of any other uses for its parts. She said, “Maybe the handle would work to turn off your water main control valve.”
That valve is located deep in the ground near my street. I liked the idea of using the long steel handle instead lying in the mud to reach the valve with my hand. So I kept the handle for that purpose. A few months later, I discovered another use for my new tool.
After the season’s first snowfall, I decided to put on my own studded tires instead of slipping and sliding to the local tire shop and waiting in the grubby lobby for professionals to do it. But my upper-body strength isn’t sufficient to allow me to loosen lug nuts with a lug wrench* alone.
Then I remembered the vacuum handle. It slid neatly over one of the horizontal sockets and gave me enough leverage to change all the tires.
Old vacuum cleaners aren’t the only sources of creative tools. Have you ever tried to clean a goopy hair clog out of a bathroom drain with a dental hook? I have. Works great. Another type of dental tool is my weapon of choice for any gluing project. It spreads the adhesive, gets into crevices, and allows me to clean up any little spills or blobs without sacrificing fingernails.
Jennifer also has a set of dental tools that she uses for a thousand and one projects around the house. We buy the tools at local fairs.
My friend Carolyn says her husband uses dental tools in his shop for “a myriad of guy-type projects.” She adds that surgical scissors are wonderful because they never get dull. She and her husband also use hemostats for holding small items. They purchase these creative tools at military surplus outlets or gun shows.
In the kitchen, Carolyn uses small paintbrushes, one or two inches in width, as pastry brushes. And she reminds us that old toothbrushes are handy for cleaning all kinds of crevices.
We know you aren’t likely to have old appliances to decommission for parts nor do most of you keep dental tools or hemostats in your utility drawers. Our point in sharing these ideas is so you can come up with your own clever tools from nontraditional sources. And if you do, be sure to write a comment and let us know.
You might even end up with something to turn off your own water main control valves.
* In the UK, this is called a wheel brace or wheel wrench.
Written by Fiercely Frugal Savage Sister Diana
© 2009, The Savage Sisters