How Tos/Tutorials

Category Archives:How Tos/Tutorials

Creative Cardboard

Cardboard is one of those ever-present, but often overlooked materials inside our homes. Rather than break it down for recycling, repurpose it by trying out one of these activities with your kiddo!

Cardboard Nail Salon

Does your kid love painting fingernails? Draw a hand on a piece of cardboard and let them go to town! They can experiment with different colors and designs, while you get to keep your hands clean.


Cardboard Stencils

Use cardboard stencils to get some fine motor skill practice in. Cutout different shapes and patterns in pieces of cardboard and have your little one trace them onto another piece of paper. Encourage them to mix and layer the different stencils to create a unique masterpiece! 


Cardboard Weaving

Cut long, uniform strips out of a piece of cardboard. Cut long strips of colored paper for your kids to weave using their own pattern.

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Learning with Plastic Lids


Plastic Lids are a Great Learning Tool!

Whether you notice it or not, most of our households consume lots of things with plastic lids. Those lids add up! Hang on to them and consider using them for some of these fun, interactive lessons!


Alphabet and Letter Recognition

Write lowercase letters on each cap and have your little one line up the lids in alphabetical order. Try playing with color – vowels in one color, consonants in another.

Take this one step further by writing uppercase letters on the lid’s corresponding bottles or pouches. Have your little one match the upper and lowercase letters. 


Counting and Number Recognition

Create number cards with whatever you have laying around the house. Place number cards down and have your child stack (or pile) lids behind the card.


Pattern and Color Recognition

See the cards linked below for patterns your child can replicate using colored lids.

Lid Pattern Cards

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“Trash to Treasure” – Creating at Home

Color Matching

Collect small objects that you already have lying around the house, including those that may have ended up in the trash! Have your kids sort them by like color. Get creative with the sorting containers!

Cardboard Shapes

Cut cardboard into different shapes and punch holes into it. Use extra shoelaces, yarn, or string to weave through the holes, creating fun shapes and patterns. This can also be used as a tool to help learn how to tie your shoes!

Homemade Ring Toss

This homemade ring toss game is great for kids of all ages and it’s fun and safe for both indoor and outdoor play. Form pipe cleaners into rings, and use either an empty paper towel roll, or two toilet paper rolls taped together as the base. Use your imagination to figure out how to stand up your paper towel roll!

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Bruce vs. the “Bucket” Serger – A Reuse Story

We recently received this wonderful message from one of our most devoted fans.  Bruce is a regular shopper and super creative!


Dear Austin Creative Reuse,

I love this place!
Here is a success story I had with a serger I purchased there recently. I actually purchased two sergers there the same day.  The first was in the “BUCKET” area where you can get a bucketful of goodies for $5 for the whole bucket or $0.25 per item.  It was a Hobbylock 787 with the following note presumably, from the person who donated it:
Multiple repairmen could not get this to work properly. Was heavily used and some parts are worn.  Sell as a parts machine.
Working Motor, Good Needlebar, Spare new Needlebar, Good Tension/Width Knobs, Extra plates, All Feet
I already had a Hobbylock 797 so I felt that this “bucket” purchase was worth it just for parts and accessories. When I picked up the Hobbylock, Hali said that there was also another non-operational serger they were about to put out.  I was interested so Hali brought out the Bernette 334D featured in the pictures below.  The ACR sheet attached to this one said that “the motor is shot” unhappy emoticon. Having done considerable work on small electrical appliances since I was a teenager, I realized that “motor is shot” often means that some cord, connector, fuse, or the like is open and the motor does not turn because it is getting no power and that with some work the 334D might be just fine so I bought that one as well.Bernette 334D Serger


When I got home, I looked up the Bernette 334D and found that although it is a venerable machine (read this as very old), people still love it and swear by its quality and reliability. I read all of the blogs on the 334D and in one I found a comment that said if your motor does not run, check the D2MSL microswitch in the foot pedal.   The foot pedal is not a screwed together type but a bivalve (two plastic shells) type and, as I was to find out, is not as easy as shucking an oyster to get open.  Having taken apart lots of laptops and monitors, however, I was undaunted.  I got out my un-serrated butter knife and a flat screwdriver, and after some contortions and multiple failed attempts, I opened that oyster and spied the “pearl.”  There it was, the infamous D2MSL microswitch.  I unscrewed the printed circuit board and in seconds with my continuity tester (actually a Fluke 12 multimeter set to beep to indicate continuity) I had determined that the “normally closed” contacts on the microswitch were “permanently open” just as the blog had hinted.


However, into every life some rain must fall.  I looked up the D2MSL swtich on Omron’s (the manufacturer) website only to discover that it was obsolete and no longer available.  I tried looking for a cross reference to see what the recommended replacement would be but was not successful in that quest.  Again, undaunted, I read the specifications for the D2MSL switch.  Three amps and 125 to 250 volts seemed vanilla enough.  On the Omron site I found a 5A 125 volt/3A 250 volt switch with a nice high rated on/off lifetime of 200,000 cycles.  I went to Amazon and ordered four of them for about six dollars, Omron brand exact model SS-5GL with the specs I had found online.


In a couple of days, I had my microswitches.  I unsoldered the dead switch from the printed circuit board out of the foot pedal and again had to face some unpleasant music.  The solder lugs on the original microswitch ran lengthwise the switch body and the solder lugs on the switches I bought ran crosswise the switch body.  The printed circuit board had the lengthwise slots for the lugs and the microswitches I bought had crosswise lugs.  I could not mount the switch the same way he original had been mounted without some adjustment.   I bent the end two lugs on one of the new switches flat to the switch body and soldered a piece of wire to each normally closed lug as close as I could. Note: soldering is a technical skill and there are lots of YouTube videos and lots of online Instructables and such you can go study if you do not know how to solder.  A project like this is not where you should make your first attempts for reasons of safety as well as for reasons of not wanting to get frustrated.  Even if you know how to solder, I would recommend lots of liquid rosin flux and solder appropriate for electronic use. Microswitch specifications include soldering temperature and time limits in order to avoid damaging the switch.  If you exceed them you may fail at your repair.


Soldering the switch to the printed circuit board with its wrong-way lugs was a challenge for me even though I have decades of soldering experience.  Mounted to the board, the switch was about a half a millimeter higher than it should have been.  That means that the switch turned on later in the travel of the foot pedal than it should have and the serger would power on at about half speed instead of at low speed.  I used some needle nosed pliers to bend the potentiometer arm that actuated the switch just enough so power would energize the motor at the far low end of the potentiometer instead of in the middle of the travel.  Now the potentiometer is at the low end of motor speed when the microswitch applies the power to the motor.  That is, if I operate the foot pedal really slowly, the motor does not quite have enough juice to begin turning when the switch applies the power to the motor.  Note that this is a stressful state for a motor and any serger operator should not dally at this point prior to moving on to where the motor actually turns.  If I were adjusting this foot pedal for a random operator I would make sure that the point the switch engages the motor would be at some nonzero speed of the motor.  Since I intend to be the operator, I will just be sure not to sit at on-but-not-moving.


So, for basically coffee money and some effort, I now have a coveted workhorse differential serger. ACR, I love the place.  Oh yeah, I said that at the very start.  I am still right.  Go check out the amazing things YOU can find in “Bucket!”  Say hi to Carol, the guru machine tester and to Hali, a machine tester guru in training.  They are super nice and quite helpful.  They love it when their customers find some really useful tool at an unbelievably good price and come back happy.
How do I know ?  A am one.  Serge, serge, serge…

April Craft Night – Fun with a Glue Gun











This month we revved up a bunch of glue guns and  rummaged through the bucket section for fun things to glue together.  Everyone went a different direction and each creation was truly unique and absolutely reflected each crafter’s personality.  Next time you find yourself in a creative rut, come explore our bucket section and have some fun with a gun.

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March Craft Night – Origami with a Twist

Our monthly craft night always focus on materials that are easily found in our wonderful “bucket” section.  Bucket is a treasure chest full of amazing materials and absolutely the best deal in our Reuse Center which is just cram packed with nothin’ but deals.







This month, we focussed on the cool paper and tiny trinkets that are always available in bucket.  Our Crafter in Chief, Shiree Schade, come up with  beautiful folded stars, but then kicked it to the next level by adding just a bit more glitz.  What a wonderful gift topper, ornament, or just something pretty to hang in a window.    Sign up for  our Volunteer Newsletter email to find out about the next Craft Night.  Our Monthly Craft Material is always a surprise  so you never know what will be on tap for the night!


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February Craft Night – Slide Carousels and More!

If you have been back in our bucket section lately, you will know we have tons of slide carousels.  We’ve been searching for something fun to do with them and our Crafter in Chief, Shiree Schade came up with a doozy. 

Start with a slide carousel (or anything sturdy and round) as a base, and add just about anything else that stringy or shiny to create your very own objet d’art suitable for hanging inside or out.  

Only using materials from our bucket section, all the makers in attendance created their own one of a kind hanging fixture.  It’s amazing with just a bit time, imagination and a working glue gun, what you can make. 

So next time you find yourself at Austin Creative Reuse, take a serious stroll though our bucket section and find some inspiration of your own!

Our Monthly craft nights are open to all volunteers but seating is limited.  Best way to find out about our next craft night is to sign up for our volunteer newsletter.  The newsletter will also let you know about all the other fabulous volunteer opportunities at Austin Creative Reuse.

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Craft Night – Message in a Bottle

Normal is the Average of Deviance

Here’s a great idea for a craft night among friends, fashioning urban Message in a Bottles using strips of text and materials from the Austin Creative Reuse Center. Crafters can pack their choices in little vials, jars and boxes and applied decorations to the outside. These beautiful little keepsakes can be kept by the creator, given to  someone special or, and this is the most intriguing of the ideas, toss that bottle in the urban ocean, leaving it to be randomly discovered and scooped up by lucky and observant passerby.

It’s super easy,

  • just take a small bottle, jar, box or container (preferably clear)
  • insert tinsel, sequins, small toys, objects or anything that inspires you
  • include a message which can be hand written, printed or even cut from a magazine or book
  • seal up the bottle and decorate the top or bottom for extra points
  • decide how to deploy your special message

What kind of messages can you leave?  These can be funny, sweet, snarky, pithy or wise.  Here’s some examples:

  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be
  • Turn your wounds into wisdom
  • Out of difficulties grow miracles
  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ― Albert Einstein
  • All who wander are not lost – JR Tolkien
  • “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ― Mae West
  • A good friend will help you move; A true friend will help you move a dead body
  • Too many irons, not enough fire

And best of all, Austin Creative Reuse has everything you could possibly need for this craft night all in our “by the bucket” area.  We have lots of small containers, toys, decorations, magazines, scrapbooking materials and so much more.  Now decide how to launch your message into the world.   

You Scream

I Scream

I know you are but what am I

An Apple a Day

A bird in the hand . . .

Message in a Bottle



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Material of the Week: Keys

Keys are beautiful in both texture and shape.  They carry stories with them, and they can be used for their utility and beauty in all kinds of craft projects.  Check out some of these cool reuse projects using keys.

Keys are a great addition when making jewelry.  Even the most common of keys becomes an interesting addition when used in this medium. 

We love yard art!  And bonus if it also makes noise!  This project looks easy enough to let the kiddos help out.

Check out this key holder made of keys and a beautiful piece of reclaimed wood as its base.  This is a great project for the beginning DIYer, no power tools necessary.

Have fun, get crafty and share with us on Facebook and Instagram what you’ve made with this weeks material of the week.

Looking for more inspiration for projects with keys? Find other great ideas on our Pinterest page.

Material of the Week: Slides

You can find slides at Austin Creative Reuse for just 5 cents each.  Let’s find some fun ways to use them!

This website, Dishfunctional Designs, has some really great ideas to reuse old photo slides.  There wasn’t a lot of instruction, but many of them seemed easy to figure out.  This small light looks really neat!

These would be the perfect christmas lights for the film buff in your family, or great in any media room. 

We love little notebooks!!  And we love all the amazing materials you can use to make them!  Check out this little notebook using slides as the cover. 

Check out our pinterest board for slides for even more crafty ideas. 

Have fun folks!  Remember to share your creations on facebook and instagram!

2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
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Tel: (512) 375-3041