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Real Life MacGyver

Updated on February 22, 2011

This hub is dedicated to all those moments in life where you have a problem that needs fixing, and you use unconventional means to accomplish it. Below I will list several instances in my own life where I’ve “MacGyver”ed something and I encourage everyone to post their own MacGyver moments in the comments section. Incidentally, this article is not affiliated with the television show MacGyver in any way. I use the name only as a way to describe crazy fix-it stories. If you are unfamiliar with the show, I will post amazon links to the dvds, but the general concept is; this guy could use everything from paper clips to saw dust to solve a problem.

Disclaimer: This is not a how-to or a guide. While you might be able to use the methods I describe below to fix some of your own problems, I assume no responsibility for broken supplies or failed attempts. Always consult a professional before trying to fix anything.

The pictures I made for this article were kind of MacGyvered in a way. I made them at work so I didn't have photoshop to work with. These were all done in MS Paint.
The pictures I made for this article were kind of MacGyvered in a way. I made them at work so I didn't have photoshop to work with. These were all done in MS Paint.

Lotion Stapler

At the place where I work, my department has a big problem with stolen staplers. It seemed like every time we got a new stapler, it was gone within a few days. Because of this we were always left with our crappy old stapler that would jam up every time you tried to staple something together. One day I got fed up with having to pry it apart, so I pulled it open and examined the insides. I pushed it in and watched where the stapler was getting caught. It was a tiny piece of metal that had rusted, therefore preventing the other piece of metal against it from moving. I figured I could get it to work if somehow that rusted area was lubricated. I didn’t have any oil so instead I grabbed a paper clip and a bottle of hand lotion out of the desk. I dipped the paper clip in the hand lotion and fed it into the small opening, effectively spreading the lotion over the piece of metal that was getting caught. After a few test runs the stapler was back in action, no sticking at all. Incidentally, that stapler also got lost, but I’ll always remember my moment of triumph over office supplies.

The clog was actually bigger than that.
The clog was actually bigger than that.

Hooked Clog

My wife and I have two sinks in our bathroom and, after constant use over the course of two years, they were both clogged up pretty bad. It took a combination of my father-in-law’s wisdom and YouTube before I figured out how to remove the stopper to actually get at the clog. When I finally got in there, it was clear that I would need something to fish the clog out with. My father-in-law suggested a coat hanger, but all of the coat hangers my wife and I have are plastic. Based on the size of the drain, I figured I would need something long and narrow, like a wooden dowel. I knew we had a wooden dowel in the house, left over from an ill-fated bird house, but I also knew that a dowel had nothing to hook the clog with. I searched through our toolbox and found a number of metal hooks, originally meant for hanging pictures. I wondered if maybe it would be possible to create my own clog hook. I quickly located the dowel and used a hammer and small nail to start a hole in the end of it. I then carefully screwed in the hook, hoping silently that it wouldn’t split the wood. When it was securely in place, I pulled up two of the biggest clogs I have ever seen. But my franken-tool held strong and I was proud. I can’t say much for its longevity because I haven’t used it again, but the creation process was a lot of fun.

In the end I'm not sure if I did more or less work than an origami rose.
In the end I'm not sure if I did more or less work than an origami rose.

Paper Rose

My wife and I don’t have a lot of money, so it was decided this past valentine’s day that we would not be purchasing gifts for each other. However as the day approached, I felt I needed to do something to show her that I care, so I came up with the idea of making an origami rose. It seemed simple enough; all I would need was red paper and some patience. Well, as it turns out, an origami rose is not very easy to create. I had a limited window of time to make this rose so I had to get creative. The stem was the easy part, I just printed green on a sheet of paper and wrapped it around an old pen that had run out of ink (a great alternative to just throwing them away). I then secured the paper in place with clear plastic tape. Next I made the leaves. I didn’t have red or green construction paper, so when I printed green on the next sheet, I folded and taped it together so that when I cut out the leaves, they would be green on both sides. Once I had four leaves, I taped them together in the center (using a cross pattern) and secured it to the stem. I had avoided the rose part for a long time because the whole origami thing fell apart. So instead I just started wrapping paper tightly around itself over and over again. I used the same folded paper method as the leaves, so red was on both sides, and kept wrapping and wrapping. Eventually I had something resembling a rose, but there was one final problem; how would I secure the rose to the leaves? It wasn’t exactly an easy shape to work with. Trying to tape it down was either too flimsy or too easily visible. I came up with the idea that maybe I could pin the rose to the stem, but the only type of pin I had was a T-pin which didn’t pierce the rose deep enough and was still too visible in the final product. So I kept thinking. A paper clip was easier to bend and much longer than the T-pin, but it couldn’t puncture the paper. So I decided to create holes in both the rose and the stem with the T-pin, then feed the paper clip through. Once I got it through both the stem and the rose, I bent the paper clip over one of the rose folds and tucked it neatly inside. The result was a creative valentine’s day gift that my wife never saw coming.

I’m leaving this hub open-ended so that I can add future MacGyver moments. Also, the intent of this hub isn’t to toot-my-own-horn. While I’m proud of my fix-it moments, most of them are only temporary solutions and there was a lot of trial and error. I am not trying to claim I’m some sort of genius; if I was, I would probably fix these problems the conventional way. And, as I said in the intro, I encourage everyone to post their own stories in the comments section below.


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    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 6 years ago from United States

      Rusty - Thank you for the compliments. Those pictures were a lot of fun to make and were surprisingly accurate to what the final products looked like. And my wife did love the rose. :)

      evvy_09 - I didn't draw it in the picture, but for the clog tool, I used a nail and a hammer to get the hole started for the screw hook. So you're right about a hammer having nearly endless uses. Thanks for the comment!

    • evvy_09 profile image

      evvy_09 6 years ago from Athens, AL

      I love the paper rose! It is so creative and sweet. I can't recall any MacGyver moments right now, though I'm sure I've had them as brilliant as I am (don't laugh too hard) but I have fixed alot of stuff with just a hammer.

    • Rusty C. Adore profile image

      C Levrow 6 years ago from Michigan

      This is probably one of my favorite hubs of yours! Not only does it show how creative you are, but it shows your desire to problem solve and share solutions with others. Your writing style made this easy to understand, so maybe I can handle a nasty sink clog in the future (your picture is pretty hilarious and awesome, by the way.)

      Also, the rose you created for for wife is beyond romantic. While real roses are nice, yours is better because she can keep it forever and it will never wilt! She's a lucky lady!

      Great hub. Voted up!