MORE and more people are tackling do-it-yourself jobs as a way of keeping busy during the lockdown.
Unfortunately, in some parts of the country it has led to a rise in eye injuries because many fail to wear protective gear. However, if sensible precautions are taken, DIY can be an enjoyable and constructive way to pass the time until the Covid-19 crisis is over.
Now a new online book, Penny-Pinching Pandemic Projects for DIY Dopes, has listed a variety of useful lockdown-related items that the inexperienced handyman or woman can make cheaply and easily while confined indoors. Here’s a small selection:
The stringalong applauder
Those 8pm Thursday sessions of doorstep applause and drum-beating for NHS workers can become tiresome, especially if you’re slumped in front of the TV watching a box set. But many of us fear being branded uncaring if we don’t join in. This ultra-simple device will ensure you can signal your virtue without leaving the comfort of your armchair.
Materials: Ball of thick string.
Method: Tie the string around the inside flap of your letter box and reel it out to where you are sitting.
Operation: At 8pm, start tugging on the string to pull the letter-box flap back and forth, making an applause-style knocking sound which will echo into the street. Neighbours will assume you are clapping from behind your front door to prevent any possible spread of infection, and you will gain extra local kudos.
The find-a-flouter box
This cheap and easily-built ‘hide’ is perfect for spying on neighbours and passers-by who you suspect are making unnecessary trips or exercising more than once a day.
Materials: A cardboard box about 3ft x 3ft wide and 6ft tall, such as the packaging from an upright fridge-freezer.
Method: Cut an entrance door in the back of the box and cut viewing slits in the sides. (Take care when using your knife – hospitals are rather busy right now and won’t welcome an idiot DIYer clutching a severed thumb).
Operation: Place the box at the front of your house, where it will look like a virus-wary delivery driver has dumped it and fled without waiting for a tip. No one will touch it for fear of infection. Alternatively, place it in any local spot where people will assume it has been fly-tipped. Conceal yourself inside and you’re ready to spy.
The social distance sandwich board
It can be a bind trying to get passers-by to keep their two-metre (6ft 6in) social distance. This quick and simple project will ensure you remain well apart.
Materials: Two sheets of hardboard approx 3ft x 2ft, luggage straps or an old pair of braces, white paint, one permanent marker pen.
Method: Paint both boards white. Link them at the narrower ends with the straps or braces to fit over your shoulders. Take the marker pen and write on both boards: ‘WARNING: I have just come out of Covid-19 self-isolation and I think I’m better now. But I still haven’t been tested.’
Operation: Wear the board outdoors and it will guarantee that others respect your social distancing zone.
The beat-the-ban bread basket
It’s a nightmare trying to buy ‘non-essential’ items with the corona cops threatening to check your supermarket trolley and nosy neighbours looking to see what you’re bringing home. This handy little gadget will ease your worries.
Materials: Sheets of thick cardboard, adhesive, one wrapper from any popular brand of bread.
Method: Make a box approximately 6in x 5in x 12in from the cardboard. Coat with glue and carefully insert the box into the bread wrapper. Allow to dry.
Operation: You now have a sturdy container in which you can easily conceal ‘non-essential’ purchases such as a pot of paint or a small garden gnome, yet it looks as if you’ve bought ‘essential’ bread. Carry it conspicuously when you know people are looking, especially if you’ve chosen a wrapper from a premium multi-seeded, artisan-crafted wholemeal loaf.
The coronadvent calendar
If you’ve lots of cardboard tubes left over from your stack of hoarded toilet rolls, you can create this educational, family-focused lockdown game for your children.
Materials: Toilet roll tubes, glue, Sellotape, cardboard sheet.
Method: Glue together a horizontal stack of about 30 tubes and put a ‘door’ on each of them using a small circle of cardboard and Sellotape for a hinge. Into each tube place little handwritten ‘lockdown letters’ – personal messages to your children containing thoughtful advice which will help them get through the pandemic.
Operation: Children will eagerly anticipate opening a door every day and taking out a letter. Suggested messages include:
‘Stop playing that stupid Fortnite game.’
‘Don’t ask again if we can go to Alton Towers.’
‘Have you done your home-schooled homework?’
‘I won’t tell you again that you have to wash, brush your teeth and change your underwear, even in a lockdown.’
‘Mars Bars, crisps and Coca-Cola don’t prevent Covid-19.’
‘What part of “Go to bed” don’t you understand?’
‘Will you stop ordering stuff on my Amazon account? Another pair of trainers arrived yesterday.’
‘No, you can’t build a respirator out of my Kenwood Chef.’
‘Please self-isolate in your bedroom today before I go mad.’