Repurposing can be a useful way to bring tools back to use

Somewhat along the same lines as repair is repurposing something. OK, it may have been something past its normal useful life so upcycling or something is modified to do a new task. Here we tend to think of practical, of use, but we are aware that some of our tools have a historical or collectors interest and try and preserve that. Generally, in our shop, collectability isn’t driving price which is more driven by quality and condition.

We see nothing wrong in repurposing, partly we don’t like to see waste, but jobs need to be done. If the pot of paint needs to be mixed and only a screwdriver is available, OK. Just nice if it isn’t a good boxwood handled one, better if its poor quality plastic handled, but …. Of course not just tools but all sorts of things become repurposed in both temporary and permanent fashions.

Drilling holes in wood with a powered drill often is done with flat bits. These cut by scraping, need to turn at reasonably high speed, work well but not always the best. Auger bits for a hand operated brace can be repurposed by modifying them and they work great in an electric drill. The square end is cut off (if the shaft of the bit is round – not all are) and the lead screw threads need to be filed at least partly off so it doesn’t pull into the wood to aggressively.

Auger bit, flat bit and short auger.
Auger bits modified to work in electric drill along with a flat bit.

An expansive bit allows just the right size hole to be drilled by adjusting a cutter. Here someone has replaced the lead screw by brassing on a fixed centring point.

Modified expansive bit
Expansive bit with lead screw replaces with fixed point

The short variety often work in tight spaces such as between floor joists for running wiring or plastic pipe. The auger bits of course work wonderfully in a brace, not so well if decimated by cutting off the square end. They are easy to sharpen, drill quickly.

Short auger bit with modified lead screw
Short pattern auger bit with lead screw partly filled down so used in a power drill it doesn’t pull in too aggressively

Small block planes are great to use but sometimes awkward to hold. Here is one that has been modified with a wooden handle as someone found it more convenient or comfortable.

Modified block plane
Block plane with wooden rear handle attached

In the workshop we have jars of mixed nuts and bolts, of wood screws. Dumping them out to sort what’s wanted we have plastic milk cartons with the side cut out. This gives a tidy space to sort and it then acts like a funnel to pour the contents back into the jar. Plastic containers get used in a number of situations as funnels.

Modified milk carton
Plastic 6 pint milk carton opened to uses as sorting tray and funnel for nuts and screws

Woodscrews often are lubricated with soft wax to allow them to go into wood easier. In the shop we had one of those pneumatic containers (capsule pipelines) which used to be used at shop tills for sending currency up to a back office. This was filled with soft wax and could be closed up by turning it for carrying in a toolbox to avoid mess.

Pneumatic container
Pneumatic container as used in a small pneumatic tube transport system filled with wax or fat for lubricating screws

Of course not just tools get repurposed. I have an over-shoulder camera bag, needed a larger pocket on it for paperwork so sewed the front and pockets from a discarded rucksack on providing multiple extra pockets.

Camera bag
Camera bag with added pockets from discarded haversack
Modified camera bag with rucksack
Part of discarded rucksack sewn onto camera bag

Back with the tools lots of things historically end up repurposed. Saws get cut into cabinet scrapers, into stone masons drags. Maybe too often screwdrivers end up stirring paint to be left covered in it. Yogurt pots, bean and tuna tins end as paint pots. Shirts, towels into rags or face masks.