Internode Blog

Tips to avoid a DIY fright

Monday, October 29th, 2018 by

We here at the office love a bit of DIY, especially when it comes to our precious gadgets and tech. However, doing it yourself does come with a risk of things going wrong – sometimes in ways you may not anticipate! Don’t let that discourage you from giving it a go, though – with a little bit of consideration, preparation and care, you can still tackle that DIY job and come out on top (and save yourself the cash from hiring a pro to do it, too!).

Read on to find out about five different ways that your DIY project can turn into a D-I-WHY?! situation, and how to plan ahead so things go smoothly.

Always use the right tools

Here’s the thing about our little gadgets – many of them aren’t designed to be taken apart, and even those that can be partially disassembled usually use itty-bitty screws that you probably won’t find in your local hardware store. Anyone familiar with hardware probably knows that special-sized screws require special-sized screwdrivers – or else. To share a mildly traumatic childhood experience of mine, what should have been a quick job of changing the case on my Nintendo Game Boy Advance turned into and hours-long lesson of frustration because my attempts to use one of the screwdrivers from my dad’s toolbox had stripped out the head of the screw.

If you’re going to be taking things apart and putting them together again, always do your research to find out which kind of tools you’ll need for the job. Believe me, using the wrong tools and doing things the hard way is a nightmare!

Make sure you can call a friend

Virtually everyone loves using computers but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re all “computer people” – you know, those who’ve racked up years of experience tinkering with PCs and their respective components, and think nothing of building a new computer from scratch. For the rest of us, putting together a new computer (or even just switching out one component, like a graphics card) can be a very daunting task! When you’re all by yourself, cross-referencing a bunch of unfamiliar instructions and trying to make sense of it all can make a task seem hopeless. If you ever hit that point, it’s important to take a step back and reach out to someone else for some help.

If you have a mate or relative who’s done a similar project in the past, that’s great! See if they can come over and take a look at it or give you some advice over the phone. Failing that, you could try looking up a video guide on YouTube that will show you how to do it with much better visual, which could help you understand what you need to do. You can also try reaching out for help online with hobby communities, such as those found on Reddit.

Don’t gamble on adhesives or flimsy mounting systems

For those of us who are a bit standoffish about drilling into a wall, no-drill shelving and hooks that rely on adhesives or suction-based “locking” systems may seem pretty alluring! However, the problem with many of these solutions is that they don’t stay stuck forever, especially not in the same way as a shelf that’s been properly mounted into a wall with screws – even if you’re well under the advertised weight rating. While it may be no big deal if something like a small rack in your shower comes crashing down every once in a while, it’s a completely different story when the stuff on your shelf costs thousands of dollars!

When it comes to your expensive tech devices or cherished memorabilia – don’t take the gamble. If you really can’t bring yourself to take up using power tools, look into a free-standing shelf unit or display case that will stay sturdy while looking sleek at the same time.

Always take time to double check that “life hack”

The announcement for the iPhone 7 was polarising over the number of ports it had; specifically, it wouldn’t have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and users would have to buy headphones that could plug into Apple’s proprietary Lightning port (or buy an adapter). This caused someone to spread a rumour that the iPhone 7 headphone jack was still there… you just had to drill for it. As “life hacks” and other DIY tech projects were growing in popularity, some people did actually give it a go – and of course, they broke their phones. You can see an example of the images that were shared on social media below but there’s also a pretty convincing video edited by TechRax, a spoof YouTube channel and self-proclaimed “destination of technology mayhem”.

If you come across a life hack that seems to go against common sense, always be sure to run a few Google searches to see if there’s any stories about pranks or misinformation campaigns. If in doubt, you can always contact the device manufacturer and get the truth straight from the source before you do anything that might cause costly damage!

Make sure your DIY isn’t U-G-L-Y

Success and safety aside, there’s another unfortunate aspect of DIY that needs to be addressed – some of it is butt ugly! While you may not need your home to look like something out of an IKEA catalogue, there’s really only so many plastic cups, toilet paper rolls and masking tape you can have lying around before people start questioning your life choices. The everyday household objects used in life hacks and other thrifty DIY projects may be cheap but they can also be an eyesore!

To stop you from feeling like you’re living in a junkyard, take a little extra time to get your project looking nice. Here’s some tips that might be useful for the project you have in mind:

  • Even cardboard can turn out looking pretty slick with a coat of paint to make all your components the same colour or hide the fact that it’s been put together with duct tape. Unlike craft paints, spray paint can give you more even coverage and you can even opt for a matte or gloss finish.
  • If you’re not a professional calligrapher, skip hand-painting letters and get some letter stencils from your local arts and crafts store – nothing can throw off a DIY project like wonky writing!
  • Go easy on the glue – tools such as a hot glue gun can be quick and easy to use but too much can leave a lumpy-looking residue behind. Try a less bulky adhesive like PVA glue or a contact bond glue, depending on how strong you need the bond to be (just don’t use it to mount any shelves!).
  • If the problem is little more than messy cords, try one of these great ways to get cables tidy.
  • If you’ve done your best and someone is still giving you flak, just tell them you were going for a “rustic aesthetic” look.

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