After posting this question Help define the bill of materials for a blog contest, it was apparent that the challenge needed to be further defined.

So what should the challenge actually be? A free for all gizmo build, a MacGyver style hack-n-fix, or something completely different?

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    Should we scrap the "Bill of Materials" idea, and just go with "What it the best tool storage system/device you have made from reclaimed materials?" for the first challenge? Or should we do "What is the best tool storage system/device you can build with these materials?", and supply a list of items that can be used? – Tester101 Oct 24 '11 at 14:22

Hmm, maybe instead of "what can you create with a coffee can" we can go with creative alternative uses for various items. E.g. I see photos of binder clips and toilet paper rolls used for cable management in the office. I'm sure everyone has a random jar or something for miscellaneous screws. Maybe we should start a blog series on repurposed things for home improvement and/or tool organization.

A couple of my own tips:

  • Taking a washer behind a hinge to cause it to pivot and close the door better.
  • I also use plastic takeout containers for holding small parts in my tool closet.
  • For mounting my networking and telecomm gear I took a shelf and mounted it on it's side for a clean surface to screw everything into.
  • I had a trick for doubling up two hole saw blades on a common center bit+chuck for expanding an existing hole where there was nothing to bite into for the center bit.

Of course, this defeats the entire purpose of the contest by turning it into a blog series. So maybe others have thoughts for turning it back into a contest, and if so, what we should win?

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  • "I also use plastic takeout containers for holding small parts in my tool closet." - I think this has real potential - best parts storage solution for under $10 or the like. – Steve Jackson Oct 22 '11 at 3:40

Here's the problems we've hit on so far:

  • If it's a build free-for-all then it's difficult to create a list of materials. Anything goes, but somehow include things to build something useful, without knowing what it is? Then once the contest starts, unless you had a project in mind, it may be difficult to get an inspiration from a pile of materials.

  • If it's a fix this disaster (like a hole in the floor) with limited materials, then we may end up promoting a "hack" fix, which is in conflict with the spirit on the site.

So my thinking is:

  • We need to focus the contest into a problem that can be solved. This fits the general tone of the site - I have this problem, how do I fix it?

  • We need a problem that's too broad to be a normal question. We need a "list" question, with lots of potential answers.

  • Finally we need to focus the problem so it can be solved within the terms of the Bill of Materials contest idea.

So my suggestions:

  • Something a DIYer might need that could be built from suggested materials. I liked BMitch's small parts storage tip.

  • Some sort of planter/garden contraption. I don't do any gardening, but this seems to be a popular use for "trash".

  • A lamp/lighting effect. I remember building a lamp out of a bottle in middle school. Is there a cooler idea?

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