10 Tricks MacGyver Would Do in a Pinch

wwmd_solid_blue_no_under_text_tshirt-p235106317720479828trlf_400I’m a fan of using brain power to solve problems rather than

  • asking for help
  • saying–whining–we can’t do it
  • saying–whining–it’s not my job
  • ignoring it so it goes away

… so this post is perfect. It shows normal people solving difficult problems with readily-available tools.

Top 10 Tricks MacGyver Would Be Proud Of

When they draw up the Complete History of Lifehacking, Angus MacGyver will certainly merit a chapter. We pay tribute to the creative can-do secret agent this week with 10 tricks that make extraordinary use of truly common objects.

Note: The following snippets are works of MacGyver fan fiction (hopefully the non-cringe-inducing variety). Any resemblance to events transpiring in the seven-year run of MacGyver, or any subsequent television specials, are coincidental, if a little inevitable.

10. Diffuse a camera flash, no gear needed

MacGyver works hard, no doubt, and likes to enjoy the days and nights off as much as he can. So when professional or consumer-grade cameras threaten to wash out party photos, he’s prone to using a converted cigarette pack, reversing the lining foil to channel an SLR flash into a manageable beam. A coffee filter can also work, as can a ripped out piece of tissue or very fine piece of cloth. As a result, you’ll never see a red-eyed, washed-out MacGyver flashing a thumbs up in any Flickr stream. (Original post)

9. Pack a lunch in a CD spindle

Bagels, with their central fitting holes and wheel-like shape, are an improvisational thinker’s kind of sandwich bread. Rodrigo Piwonka’s Flickr stream shows off a CD spindle bagel holder MacGyver would totally dig, and it might just inspire you to reuse your own Memorex/FujiFilm/Kodak spindles for culinary transport purposes. Angus would probably also note that, turned upside-down, the round plastic cylinder that caps the spindle works great for holding your salad. (Original post)

8. Make an iPhone dock out of … anything

If MacGyver had access to an iPhone, you could totally see him leaning back at his desk between missions, syncing the tracks from Live Aid to his device while it rests on—just about anything, really. A dollar bill or business card, perhaps, or maybe a piece of cardboard. The iPhone case itself can work, as can a binder clip, or, if MacGyver had, say, 5 minutes, the plastic the iPhone was shipped in and a piece of wood molding. Really, though, we’d have to go with the paper clip stand as the true choice for the secret agent of Scottish ancestry—he always seemed to have one handy.

7. Relieve a bug bite with nail polish (or toothpaste)

Minutes after escaping certain death in the Pacific woodlands, MacGyver finds himself completely covered in itchy, concentration-breaking mosquito and chigger bites. This is bad, because it will take every ounce of effort and attention to rig together a makeshift rope bridge to get across the chasm four miles ahead. Digging deep into his seemingly infinite pockets, MacGyver has to decide—will the clear nail polish he uses to paint over rusted dents seal off the itches? Should he instead reach for the aspirin, vinegar, or toothpaste? All of them are slightly more non-obvious than reaching for the off-label use of Bengay for bug bites, but any of them need to be applied real quick, before Murdoc’s henchmen break through his makeshift lock jam and catch him scratching away. Photo by 416style.

6. Dry a doused cellphone

The Phoenix Foundation’s star agent successfully disarmed the bio-agents set to be released into the city’s water supply, then escaped from a third-story window using makeshift suction cups. His helicopter pick-up is only a phone call away. He reaches into his pocket and—drat! That brief dive into the reservoir killed his phone! Or so we all thought, until MacGyver noticed the Indian buffet restaurant just down the road. Using all his Richard-Dean-Anderson-like charm, he talks his way into the kitchen, borrows some rice and a bowl, and waits until the gadget-killing moisture has been sucked out. Why didn’t he just make the call from the restaurant phone, you ask? It’s a secret number! The encryption only works on a MacGyverBerry! If the All-Night Tiger hadn’t been open, Mac’s next best bet would have been to find a house with some kitty litter, or locate some rubbing alcohol, neither of which is all that difficult in the world MacGyver lives in. (Original post).

5. Boost a Wi-Fi antenna with a drinking straw (see website for video)

There’s a hacker with a laptop who can hack the violent dictatorship’s mainframe, but he’s been locked in a secret room that MacGyver and a fairly attractive spy can’t get to. The hacker can’t make a solid wireless connection for more than a few seconds. Luckily, MacGyver has located a small bit of copper wire, a drinking straw, a single wood screw, and a Crème brûlée torch to stand in as a soldering iron. General Tigerfang, your days are numbered. If you find yourself stuck in a similar, perhaps less dangerous scenario without access to, say, drinking straws and copper wire, try one of our top 10 Wi-Fi boost, tweaks, and apps to give Sergei, or your spouse, the network juice they need. (Original post)

4. Start a fire without matches (see website for video)

Out in the countryside, MacGyver and the son of an esteemed diplomat are tired, exhausted, and hungry after dismantling a tank and escaping a military prison with corrugated cardboard, vanilla extract, and a magnet-tipped screwdriver. They have no matches or fuel to start a fire, but they did ransack a few items from the galley kitchen on the way out. With a 9-volt battery or cellphone sparked against some steel wool, or a pop-top can and chocolate, they’re well on their way to getting a little flame built. (Original posts: chocolate and Coke, cellphone battery, steel wool and 9-volt).

3. Smooth a scratched CD or DVD

Wherever MacGyver goes, he’s amazed by the limitations of product marketers’ minds. When you have a product that works perfectly well at filling gaps and polishing—like toothpaste, Pledge, or Brasso—why not market them to the owners of terribly scratched CDs and DVDs? But whenever he needs to get the codes to halt a missle launch from a damaged disc while in the jungle, supermarket, or monkey cage, MacGyver simply grabs a banana and some glass cleaner and gets to work. Assuming, of course, there’s a downed plane with glass cleaner in the jungle, and that they’d happen to be cleaning the windows in the monkey cage. (Original banana post).

2. Bind paper without clips or staples

Not every single day at the Phoenix Foundation was spent at this or that reactor or helping unfortunate kidnapped souls. Somebody’s got to expense report all those hardware store purchases, after all, but MacGyver occasionally ran out of staples and paper clips. Rather than run for the supply closet, he’d creatively fold and cut the edges, keeping up to 15 sheets of paper together with their own resistance. As a result, Amos in accounts payable always knew when a certain secret agent was expensing his latest shipments of wood glue, pipe cleaners, orange juice, tinfoil, Mountain Dew, and paper towel tubes. (Original post)

1. Fix a dent with canned air and a hair dryer

Now that MacGyver’s settled into married life, he’s decided to sell the Jeep Wrangler that saw him through so many trips to and from the Department of External Services and the Phoenix Foundation. Two hours away from an interested Craigslist buyer inspection, his wife points out a dent picked up during that quick exit from a nuclear reactor. He doesn’t panic or call off the showing—he grabs a can of compressed air and a hair dryer, and uses the extreme cool of the canned air and the heat from the dryer to force the dent to return to its original shape. His wife points out that the buyer might still ask about all the duct tape hidden in various break-away pieces and hidden pockets. MacGyver smiles, slowly retracts the hair dryer cord, and remembers the day he once powered a trolley with an electric whisk, rubber bands, and a battery pack to fool an automatic weapons system. Now that was a challenge. (Original post).

We’d love it if you shared your own totally possible, no-seriously-it-works fixes, tips, and stories in the comments. All you need is a computer and a commenter account, and neither require any impossible odds or access to an office supply store.

The reader comments on this post are great too, so catch them here.


1 Response to “10 Tricks MacGyver Would Do in a Pinch”

  1. September 11, 2009 at 1:02 am

    thanks for sharing…

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