Most of the DIY projects we feature around here are simple and uncontroversial. However, in honor of the Anarchist Cookbook's 40-year anniversary, we've decided to share our top 10 DIY projects that you may not want to try at home.
Photo by Daniel Lobo.
The Anarchist Cookbook was the ultimate dangerous DIY instruction manual, laying out how to build explosives in your home, sabotage communication systems, and otherwise cause a lot of damage. In fact, it did cause a lot of damage when real-live terrorists began to use the book as influence for their on nefarious schemes. It's irrelevant today, what with the internet and the ability to Google any type of homemade bomb you want, but its affect on society is incontestable.
We're not making any bombs here, but we've sure shared some projects that could be problematic without a careful eye or DIY know-how (and have gotten some readers upset with us!). In that vein, here are some of our favorite hacks from over the years that you might want to think twice about.
10. Playing with Lasers
Lasers are bad, guys. We've all seen Moonraker. Sure, you could take out the laser from a DVD drive and turn it into a handheld laser burner, but you're probably just going to hurt someone. Similarly, you could jack up the juice on a cheap laser pointer, but just be careful you don't put someone's eye out—this DIY laser pointer test will help keep you in the safe range.
9. Make Your Own Heated Clothing
Threading your underwear with teflon wire to turn them into heated pants may sound like a good idea in the frigid winter, but unless you've got some experience with electronics, soldering, and not setting things on fire, you'll want to be careful with this one. Sure, if you're careful, you probably won't catch fire, but crank up the heat too much and you could still burn yourself. Maybe you're better off just putting on some wool socks to keep yourself warm.
8. Convert Your Charcoal Grill to Gas
It isn't the most dangerous DIY hack of all—it can be done—but if you don't know what you're doing, it's probably a good idea to stay away from messing with propane. In fact, any kind of DIY cookers that involves dangerous liquids is probably something you want to think twice about—like frying a turkey (though Alton Brown has some nice safety tips on that if you're really interested). (Original Post)
7. Drive a Car with Your iPhone
We're all for upgrading your car, but there's a limit—and we're pretty sure the limit is driving your car with your phone. Texting while driving is bad enough, but the iPhone's accelerometer probably wasn't meant for operating heavy machinery. Related note: we don't recommend surfing on top of a moving vehicle either.
6. Pack a Gun to Protect Valuables from Airline Theft or Loss
This is actually a very clever workaround to a common problem, but it does seem a little extreme. Even buying and packing a simple starter pistol sounds like it's going to bring you more trouble than convenience from the airlines, especially in this age of the over-friendly TSA. (Original Post)
5. Be Evil
We've had some fun teaching you evil hacks over the years, but don't take it as an invitation to be evil. Whether we're teaching you how to steal the air from car tires, spoof magnetic stripes, or crack the passwords of PCs, Macs, and wireless networks, we do so to teach you how to protect yourself (or get yourself out of a sticky situation). Being evil will probably just get you in trouble with the law, or at least beat up a little bit. Don't be evil, kids.
4. Cook Food in Your Dishwasher
We're big fans of food hacks here at Lifehacker, but as cool as cooking food in your dishwasher may be, we scratch our heads as to why one would actually do it. If you have a dishwasher, you probably have an oven, stove, microwave, and host of other appliances designed to cook food. Plus, they're less likely to get leftover soap in your food or leave you with an undercooked chicken. It's a very interesting learning exercise, but we don't recommend making this your go-to cooking appliance.
3. Fool Muggers with a Disposable Wallet
If you live in a more dangerous area, it could be a good idea to carry around a second, disposable wallet to give to muggers. That way, you only give up a few bucks or an old ID, but nothing that you'd actually miss (or would get your identity stolen). Of course, this carries the downside of you getting beat up when the mugger realizes you're handing him a fake wallet—so make it convincing, and use at your own risk.
2. Create a Shocking Cheese Plate with a Jacob's Ladder
Electricity is cool, but when you start playing with high voltage, you venture into dangerous territory. There are a lot of ways to cook cheese in this world, guys—you probably don't need exposed wires with a few thousand volts running through them. We don't imagine that would taste particularly awesome, anyways. A double boiler or dutch oven will get you tasty fondue in no time.
1. Make Your Own DIY Weapons
There are many forms of weaponry in this world, and we've shown you how to DIY many of them using household objects. Whether you're going medieval with an Altoids catapult and office supply crossbow or more modern with the Sharpie rocket and potato air cannon, you're going to put somebody's eye out. These are probably projects left in your imagination. Exception: Marshmallow guns are probably okay.
Update: Not two hours after this roundup was posted, we've also added a DIY Nerf gun to the mix. Really, you should just know that when Jason Fitzpatrick posts a DIY project, you'll want to be wary of poking your eye out. It's just a good general rule.
While there's nothing wrong with a little dangerous DIY once in a while, we recommend it purely for educational purposes, and with lots of safety measures taken. Got your own favorite dangerous DIY hack that we didn't feature? Share it with us in the comments.
Send an email to Whitson Gordon, the author of this post, at email@example.com.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011
Top 10 DIY Hacks That Could Poke Your Eye Out [Video]