Crave-worthy DIY projects galore (photos)

ReadyMade, a great DIY resource, has compiled a new downloadable book detailing 100 DIY projects to make our lives better. Here, some of our faves.

Matt Hickey

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1 of 11 ReadyMade

Vintage fan light

ReadyMade magazine, a great DIY resource, has compiled a new downloadable book detailing 100 DIY projects. Here are just some of our favorites.

This dangerous-looking but awesome lamp was made with a discarded GE fan, a power cable from an old-school vacuum cleaner, a much slower motor than the one built in (for obvious reasons), and some fancy lightbulbs.

The final project would look awesome on MacGyver's desk, in Dr. Evil's workshop, or on my own bedside table; I could see the slow rotating effect of the bulbs easily mesmerizing me into a deep sleep. It beats my SpongeBob lamp shade, for sure.

2 of 11 Kelly Malone

Vintage lightbulb chandelier

There are those who collect lightbulbs, and to keep on the vintage lighting theme, this is a low-fi but interesting DIY fixture. Kelly Malone took several dead bulbs and hung them from strings around a high-powered functional light in the middle. The result is a chandelier that diffuses the light in a pleasing manner, and it costs less than $100 to make.

It makes the list not just because it's clever and good looking but also because it's green. If not reused, or upcycled as the kids are saying these days, the bulbs would be wasted in a landfill.

3 of 11 Julie Brzezinski

Vintage-TV shelves

Now that we're all upgrading to flat-panel HDTVs, there are literally tons of CRT-powered sets from the '70s, '80s, and '90s taking up space in garages--or worse, landfills.

Find a few of these and then follow the directions in the book and in no time you've got a neat storage solution for cramped apartments that makes a statement. But be careful, most older TV guts can be dangerous; they can hold a charge for a long time and many of the substances contained are toxic. Wear a mask and be smart.

4 of 11 Greg Scheidemann

Fabric pup tent

If you have kids, then this one should be dog-eared now. A few spare pieces of wood, a screwdriver, and excess fabric, and presto--your kids are roughing it in the great outdoors without the need for a pricey tent. At least until they get scared or cold and come in for more hot chocolate.

Sure, you could get the real deal, but how many of us have tents we use once and then relegate to the backs of closets? That's not very smart, but this tent is a fine substitute that is.

5 of 11 Jason Madara

Biodiesel fuel pump

Keeping with the green theme, this home-built gas pump for biodiesel fuel is awesome. It's not the easiest project in the manual, nor will it likely be the most popular, as biodiesel still isn't as common as some would like, but it's definitely something to brag about at the next Green Party meeting.

What's great about the pump is that besides filling a tank, it cleans the oil used by biodiesels, filtering out chunks of, well, stuff. With a slight conversion to the engine, any diesel car can use a filter and pump like this to run on used food oil--which many people can get for free.

6 of 11 ReadyMade

D'Emploi surplus pack

Find an old duffel bag at your local Army-Navy surplus store, follow the instructions in the book, and in a couple fast hours you've got a rustic backpack for laundry, groceries, or for picking up parts for other projects.

It even features a padded compartment for a laptop or other more fragile items. At first blush it might not look like much, but then you note that it looks quite spacious and comfortable. And cheap, which is one reason we love DIY, right?

7 of 11 ReadyMade

Snug Mug Spoon Wall

More for an office or workshop environment than a home, the Spoon Wall is a coffee mug holder and organizer made from a few pieces of scrap wood and scavenged spoons. The spoons act as pegs that the mugs are placed over. In a shared work environment, we all have our favorite mug (I'm drinking out of mine now) and searching through a high cabinet for it can ruin your day.

I'm going to talk to the guys here about building one of these, perhaps in more festive colors. I'll just make sure we wash all the spoons first, you know?

8 of 11 Tiffany Zachry

Custom shim wall feature

You know what a shim is, right? It's a small, flat, very basic tool. I use them often to take things like laptops and iPods apart, but as this next project shows us, they can also be used as art.

The idea is to take a bunch of wooden shims, stain them with a variety of complimentary shades, mix 'em up, and put them on the wall behind a home entertainment center to take the focus away from that fancy new HDTV, which might be a good thing.

It should take more than a weekend, but it looks great, so it's likely worth it.

9 of 11 Liz and Nate Gordon

Geeky bar top

If I walk into a bar--which I do often--and see this, I'm stopping for more than one drink. In fact, I might spend the rest of the night there, because any bar that would go to the trouble to repurpose old keyboards into an awesome conversation piece like this bar top means that it's my kind of place.

It's not just random keys, either--though most are--as the makers hid several geeky words in amid the jumble, making an awesome word search. Like the shim wall, this takes more than a weekend, but the results appear to be worth it.

10 of 11 ReadyMade

Murphy bar

Speaking of DIY bars, I'll be making this one for my next apartment (my current one has one built in, thank you). It's a mounted wooden box that's just big enough for your liquor, glasses, shakers, and other bar tools to live in. Fold down the front, which can be disguised as anything, and voila, a bar top.

It folds down like a traditional Murphy bed, thus the name, and it fulfills the same task: it's there when you need it, gone when you don't. It's not about hiding your alcoholism, it's about saving space. Honestly.

11 of 11 ReadyMade

Art Case Elecronic Piano No. 1

Like a full-size bar, some people don't have room for a full-size piano, though they'd like one. Enter the Art Case Electronic Piano, a combo stand/amp case/speaker setup that turns a plasticky, sterile synth into an awesome-looking upright piano analog.

The speakers are up high, about where you'd hear a regular piano's music from, and gives you something for your friends to sing around. I mean, caroling around a Casio doesn't have the same feeling, does it?

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