Archive for the "repair this" category

How can I repair my bent garden fork?

I bent the prongs on my garden fork the other day. Not just a little bit, so the prong line was a little wobbly, but really quite substantially – one prong was about 60° back, the next one about 30°. Oh the fun of having a stone-filled garden.

We tried to realign it with an artful combination of banging it against a rock and jumping on it, and that straightened it up quite a bit – until I started using it again and the super bent prong instantly bent again — not quite as bad as the first time but still difficult to use as anything other than a pseudo-rotivator. I clearly don’t know my own strength, have a lousy forking technique – or just a lousy fork. I suspect the latter is a big part of the problem – someone bought it for me and while it’s not from Poundland, I doubt it’s the best quality fork available.

Is there any way to fix it so it won’t keep bending? Or now it’s been bent once, has it been weakened so it’ll keep doing it again?

If I have to buy a replacement, I want one that will last – any brand recommendations or things to look for? Or am I to blame – should forks only be used for light work and not digging up giant-squid-esque roots (as I was doing when the prongs went bendy)?

(Photo by MarkusHagenlocher c/o or Wikipedia)

How can I clean a smelly vintage dress?

We’ve had an email from Su:

Although is not strictly a recycle or indeed repair, I nonetheless need help!

I bought a lovely dress in a second hand shop which I just know I would get loads of wear from if only I could remove the smell! It seems to have been washed in a very highly perfumed washing powder or maybe fabric conditioner. Unfortunately, I am very susceptible to smells, so at the moment there is no way I can wear. I have washed it countless times, it’s been hung outside for weeks now and I have soaked it in vinegar, all to no avail, the smell does not even seem to be fading. It’s made of a man made material.

Any suggestions?

We often get clothes with a “charity shop smell” (which isn’t a bad smell, per se, just an overly-perfumed one) but one wash usually sorts them out, so I don’t know what to suggest on this lingering aroma. I suspect the answer may be to use bicarb of soda since that’s great at absorbing smells but I don’t know how that would be applied… Anyone know?

Any other ideas?

How can I repair cracked greenhouse glass?

We’ve had an email from Siobhan:

I’ve got a repair question for you. A pane of glass in my greenhouse cracked over winter and I want to make it safe. Is there anything I can do short of replacing it? Thanks!

You can fix it temporarily with tape – duct tape works apparently or you can get special transparent UV stablised repair tape – but from what I’ve read, they’re really supposed to be temporary measures until you replace it ASAP, lest a giant shard of the weakened glass break off and spear you through the eye. (That said, I’m pretty sure my dad had broken glass panes in his greenhouses for the bulk of my childhood without any problems. No eyes gouged out here.)

Random pieces of glass come up quite regularly on my local Freecycle/Freegle group and from local sellers on eBay so if your area is anything like mine, you should be able to pick up a replacement quite cheaply.

Any other suggestions?

How can I repair tears in sheets & bed linen?

When we moved into our new house last autumn, we got a new bed.

Despite our love of slumber, our last bed was awful – the cheapest double I could find when I needed a bed in a hurry back in 2002. It was small, uncomfortable and had been repaired so many times, I think by the end it was made out entirely of glue and hope, not badly laminated wood.

When we moved here, we decided to do things right – after looking at the options in all the big bed shops and online, we ended up commissioning a local furniture maker to make us a bed frame instead*. He made it out of reclaimed wood (yay recycling!) and to a chunky design of our choosing. When he came to assemble it, he gave us a little tool which we might have to use to tighten some bolts — in twenty years time. It’s the best, most solid bed I’ve ever met and we’re very happy with it.

Why am I telling this story in a post about sheets & bed linen? Well, because we decided that after getting the bed frame right, we were going to get the rest of our bed experience spot on too. Like with the bed itself, we decided to buy good quality items that would last us for years and years, instead of cheap things that would fall apart – a key part of “reducing”. I spent ages tracking down & more money than I would normally do on bed linen to get top quality 100% cotton duvet covers. And you know what? Both have ripped already.

We think one of them got ripped on our cat Carbon’s last day – sadly, I can imagine him using the duvet to claw his way onto the bed, or using his claws to drag himself around the space once he was up there. There is a straight tear in it about four inches long, and some smaller tears & L-shaped tears in other spots too. The other duvet cover? I’ve no idea how that got ripped. I just found an L-shaped tear in it – about four inches on either side – when I was washing it the other day. Whatever happened though, it needs fixing.

So what is the best way to repair these supposed-to-last-years duvet covers? Will something like iron-on mending tape work? Or would good old-fashioned sewing be better – and if so, any stitch/method recommendations? Or would patching them be a better route in the long run? Any advice on doing that neatly and smoothly?

Any other suggestions?

* In case anyone’s interested, it was Stump Furniture in Leeds. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it was the same price as the one we were looking at in a brand-name bed shop — and that brand-name bed was allegedly half the price it should have been. I doubt that shop one would have been so well made.

(Photo by uvo_design)

How can I reuse or recycle a garbage disposal?

We had a message from Michelle on the ‘Suggest an Item’ page. She wrote:

My garbage disposal has chewed its last meal. It’s rusty bottom leaks more water than the titanic, leaving the sink unusable. For the past few procrastinating months I ignored it with a removable catch bucket under the drips. I have been defeated, hubby says its time to say goodbye. What could I possibly do with the old disposal besides a chuck in the landfill?

Garbage disposals aren’t very common in the UK – in fact I’ve never seen one in the flesh – so I can’t really give any advice or suggestions — but I’m sure the wonderful Recycle This community will be able to come up with some suggestions … right?

Like Alice’s question about kettles on Wednesday, this one is also potentially ripe for repairing – any suggestions for how it could be fixed? Any links to how-tos?