GREAT INVENTIONS

Turning trash into treasure

By Ray Ford

3 ways cottagers turned garbage to gadgets

Trash treasure

Photo by Axel Hussel

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Snagged sail to car shade

Axel Hussel’s carport would probably rather be sailing. Once part of the fleet at a Toronto yacht club, the sail was snagged by Hussel when it was discharged from marine service. Now, lashed to the pines and cedars at his Kennisis Lake cottage, it shades the car, shields it from sap and, during a nasty storm last September, fended off a fallen tree limb. Storm damage notwithstanding, the Dacron cloth may only last three or four years in its new job. But “it looks cool,” Hussel says. “I like it a lot better than those blue nylon tarps you buy at Canadian Tire.”

Waterski to lighting

skilightWhen one of Nadine Bagley’s favourite waterskis broke, her husband, Paul, admits that “something in me just didn’t want to throw them out. She’s probably had them for fifteen or twenty years. It was the pair she used when she was growing up.”

But what do you do with a single waterski—and not the slalom one, either? The answer came when Paul decided it was time to replace “this one ugly light fixture” over the breakfast bar of their High Lake cottage, near Bracebridge. He picked up halogen puck lights and wiring, mounted three pucks on the ski, then used a drill and a Dremel tool with a router attachment to make holes for the wiring and rout a channel for the wires. The final touch was to conceal the transformer inside the boot, and mount an on/off toggle switch just ahead of the boot. Now the ski performs an overhead salute—as task lighting.

Wakeboard to table

wakeboard tableBill Young’s three sons had grown up wakeboarding on Lake Rosseau, but with their wakeboard’s fins breaking and cracks beginning to form around the hardware on the bindings, he knew the old board had jumped its last wave.

Not wanting to toss it, Young removed the hardware, filled the holes with epoxy and plastic screw covers, and lag-bolted it to a block cut from the trunk of a blown-down white birch. To avoid wear on the floor, Young stuck adhesive felt to the bottom of the 45-cm-diameter block. “It’s meant to be a fun piece of furniture for a first apartment,” Young says. “It’s been tested quite thoroughly. My middle son, Jeff, has moved three times. He’s taken it with him each time, and it’s still functional.”

The retrofit is not just about reducing trash, Young adds. “There are a lot of memories in that board. Like at any cottage, tons of people used it. So if I can find a way to keep it, that’s great.”


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Ray Ford