Monday, 24 August 2015

Deconstruct - Reconstruct

  This is an oleaginous, hands on post for all you bloggers that like to get their hands dirty.

I was leaving uni a few months ago on a Friday afternoon, Macquarie campus is always teeming with construction projects and tradesmen. It was about 5pm and most of the workers scattered throughout the uni had knocked off for the day. Being an engineering student it is within my nature to be curious about what's "going on". Temporary fencing was abundant and lined the perimeter of many buildings.

Most people tend to walk straight past these barriers, oblivious and unaroused by the seductive sound of power tools or blokey tradesmen lingo. I on the other hand cannot resist the urge to inquisitively take a gander at the brimming masculinity of a construction site. What's there not to love?! Loud noises, heavy machinery, high-vis clothing. It's the epitome of ruggedness. The fact that construction sites are fenced off makes the idea of checking them out much more appealing. As Jerry Seinfeld observed: Men want what they can't see, if women only wore a patch that covered their belly button, THAT is what men would want. (or something like that...)

So I approached the nearest mesh fence as inconspicuously as possible, pressed up against it (without looking like a public urinator). With my hands up to my face like imaginary binoculars I was able to make out something through the translucent mesh. Could it be?! If my eyes weren't not telling the truth (that wordplay...) then I think that I had identified the gold mine of construction sites ... A SKIP BIN!

My heart skipped a beat, now I was excited. You're probably sitting there thinking: what the hell does this deranged engineering student want with dumpster diving?! Well firstly, I am deranged. Secondly, there's something appealing about dumpsters. You know that whatever is inside them is unloved, forgotten and not going to be missed. It's the classic example of one man's trash, another man's dinner. I was hungry for a bargain.

I nimbly jumped over the fence like a fat kid after cake. I was within range of the skip bin, this covert operation was approaching the point of no return. Waltzing over like I owned the place, my ambiance was quickly extinguished. "OI!" someone yelled 40 meters away. Their fluorescent jacket beaming like a spotlight in a prison yard. Hustle time! I poked my head over the rim of the skip and my eyes locked. An old Black and Decker angle grinder was grinning back at me. Sure, it's no Makita, but beggers can't be choosers!

I snatched up the tool, overwhelmed by how heavy the damned thing was...definitely not a Makita! The worker was rapidly approaching now, stumbling over the scattered obstacles of rubble and deceased corpses (ok, there weren't any bodies. But don't let the truth get in the way of a good story!). I lugged the lump of metal back over the fence and power walked away as if I had just heisted Fort Knox.

A victimless crime! What the hell do I want with an old broken power tool you might be wondering? Well that's what mum asked anyway, and my response remains the same: *shrugs shoulders*. She then asked an aggressive "why would you bring this piece of crap home?!". You see what I have to live with?!

After the "piece of crap" occupied space on my desk for several weeks I had finally brewed an idea. One concept that I find alluring is the notion of making modifications to things. This includes recycling parts or components from one item and creating another. In this instance I intended to deconstruct the angle grinder and put it back together as a new item with a different function (kinda like playing with greasy lego).

So here we go!

It took a reasonable amount of work just to pull the tool apart and clean the components that were caked in grease. I learned that you can't clean something without making something else dirty.

 From my understanding, this was a fan bladed heat sink used on the motor, I wanted to salvage it to mount to a potentiometer as a dial. Isn't it cool looking?

I only had to purchase a few components from Bunnings Warehouse (local hardware store):
Extension cord - $3.50
Knead it - hard setting ceramic putty $12.00
Araldite epoxy $8.00
Edison style lamp $8.50
Lamp shade $40.00 (yeah, bloody expensive I know. But you can't put a price on style ;) )
 Total cost: $72.00

Here's where i'm at with the "Industrial Style Edison Lamp". Unfortunately the project is still incomplete, I have to wire the interior and find a globe mounting socket. So that might be another $10 or so. Lamps similar to this can be found on Pinterest, just search: "Steampunk lamps". If you were to purchase one, they retail at over $200 usually.

So the takeaway message for this project is such: 
Get out there! Break into a construction site, and bring a "piece of crap" home for your mother.


  1. Love it! You have a bright future with your new lamp.

    1. lol! Maybe when it has a bulb! Kinda dim 'current'ly ;)

  2. Josh you told me you found it beside the road, not borrowed it from a skip bin. X Mum

    1. Yes, and you told me that we could have pizza last night for dinner. Touch'e mum, touch'e. X

  3. Okay, when i finish tuning the piano, i will finish wiring your lamp.