Opinion: A 5-gallon bucket list

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I have great respect for DIYers (Do it Yourselfers). Personally, I prefer the HSE approach (Hire Someone Else), but I must admit that when I see all these books and magazines at the hardware stores offering tips on various handyman projects, I wish I were more adept in my workshop (but I don’t have one).

I peruse the rack, knowing full well that the images I see on the cover are not something attainable by an average guy like me, something I also I realized about Playboy magazine by the time I was 11.

One title did catch my eye: “5-Gallon Bucket Book.”

I took the first one off the shelf. On the cover was a bright red 5-gallon bucket with a sexy yellow lid. To a real DIYer, this is the equivalent of Miss November.

The intro to the publication begins this way: “The buckets are remarkably strong … adaptable and not easily bent out of shape. They are also easy to work with and hold up under pressure.”  Wow, I wish we could find someone like that to run for president! I’m not ready for a bucket to be commander in chief, but these containers do have some impressive qualifications.

The entire book is filled with things you can do with a 5-gallon bucket after you un-fill it. That’s right. Once you have smeared on 5 gallons of putty, eaten 20 pounds of sauerkraut or done 600 loads of wash, you have access to your project starter. The author says the 5-gallon bucket “is the greatest thing since the wheel or sliced bread.” Not sure about that wheel thing, but we all know the neat handyman projects you can do with bread.

His list of ideas includes a shoe rack, an egg incubator, a cat litter box, a mousetrap, a trash compactor, a wine rack and an air conditioner, which is just a 5-gallon bucket of ice with a fan on the top. You can’t make this stuff up. Wait, that is exactly what he did.

Each project begins with the materials you will need. The first item listed is always a 5-gallon container, a reminder for people who forgot the title of the book. Then, underneath, it usually says, “Lid not needed.” If you made everything in the book, you’d have about 62 lids left over. Not to worry. The writer is working on a new book of stuff you can make with just the tops. “Keep a Lid Off It” is destined to be another big seller. Maybe a movie.

I tried unsuccessfully to reach the author to interview him for this column. I assume he is getting on in years. He must be very busy creating dozens of new do-it-yourself projects he’d like to complete before he … what’s that expression again … meets his maker? Bites the dust? Buys the farm? Give me a sec, I’ll think of it.


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