Submitted by Don Doman.
As I child I enjoyed playing with lead soldiers, but often the stands for them would break off. I used pop bottle caps as a form and poured melting lead into the caps, where I then stood up my sometimes foot missing soldiers into their new base. When the new footers cooled my soldiers would join their former ranks . . . sometimes a bit shorter than their brothers, but whole again, once more.
In the early 1950s we lived at 2520 South Ferry in Tacoma, my father had a workshop in the garage. He had numerous pieces of woodworking equipment that his father once used as a carpenter. My dad built wooden toys, a rock barbecue for the backyard, and concrete forms for sidewalks, which he poured in our back yard. I learned by watching I guess. Although, I can’t imagine letting my children or grandchildren playing with hot lead, it just seemed natural and something I did. I learned to make and repair various things . . . which I still do.
I used to have a .22 single shot rifle, given to me by my uncle (mom’s younger brother). Several years ago the firing pin fell out of the bolt and got lost. I looked the bolt over and searched through several drawers of hardware in our storage room until I found an old strike plate for a door. It fit the firing pin slot perfectly . . . well, almost. I had to grind a little bit away, but otherwise it was a close match. The rifle worked nicely until it was stolen. It would have been difficult to purchase a new bolt for a fifty year old rifle and expensive to have it repaired in a gun shop. The strike plate became a firing pin and restored my favorite rifle in just minutes at no cost.
My old prescription reading glasses finally had two broken earpieces. With one broken earpiece I could still wear them at my computer. With no earpiece I had to take drastic measures. Tape wasn’t strong enough. Twine wasn’t secure nor sufficiently strong. I liked the twine idea, though. I thought it over and my solution was super glue. I applied super glue to the tightly wound twine, which bonded the twine to the metal earpiece. When dry, the glasses were perfect . . . well, almost perfect. I couldn’t fold them, but I simply dedicated them as my computer glasses. My useless glasses were restored with twine and superglue and have lasted for several years. They’re near ideal. Also, they are harder to lose since they don’t fold down flat.
My latest problem to solve was slide to data image conversion. The slides from a friend of a friend were much larger than normal 35mm slides. None of my mechanical or digital devices would work with them. I thought about a light box. Most photography stores used to carry light boxes, for slide sorting. Even if I had one, the huge slides from the client wouldn’t fit. So, I needed to make my own, or create something similar. I have a floor lamp at my desk with a daylight (bright) temperature bulb in it. The arm is adjustable and the light swivels. I had an idea . . . all I needed was white glass or white plastic.
I visited ArtCo on Sixth Avenue. The framing guy in the rear of the store suggested I visit Lowe’s or McLendon’s. The next stop was McLendon’s. A female clerk there helped me search in the light fixture area, but we came up with nothing. She then called someone in the back of the store. He suggested we look at cutting boards in the kitchenware row. I knew right away he was correct. I chose a seven dollar package containing two pliable, white plastic cutting boards. Back at my desk I clipped a cutting board in half and then taped a ruler to the bottom of the cutting board as a shelf to hold the slides on. When I taped the cutting board to the light I was just a few adjustments away from success. With my sturdy tripod and my Pentax digital still camera I was able to zoom in and record the images.
I’ve told several friends about my little slide tool and they just look at me . . . and say, “How could you come up with that?” Making do, is just something I’ve been doing almost all my life . . . problem solving is fun, innovative, and just something that needs to be done.