Summer is almost over SIGH. If you’re eager to squeeze in some last-minute leisure, check out these retro do-it-yourself projects, culled from the Popular Science archives. They include a backyard trampoline, a playhouse built from window blinds, a flying saucer that doubles as a water ski, and more. Here’s to a rockin’ (if brief!) old-school summer.
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Water Ski On A Flying Saucer
Making the flying saucer is easy, staying on is the hard part. Cut a disk of marine plywood about 40 inches in diameter. Finish it off with paint for the nonskid, waterproof surface, and you’re ready to get out on the water. For full instructions read the article here.
Whittled Wooden Shoes
Apparently comfort was of no consequence to Popular Science in 1936. In lieu of beach sandals, we suggested whittling your own wooden shoes. Our advice: use ¾-inch wood for the sole, follow the basic outline of your foot, and add leather straps. If you want to try your hand at the splinter-inducing footwear, read the full instructions here.
You can never have too many beach floats. And this one, we boasted in 1954, is three times as safe with triple the floating power. To make it, you attach three inflated tubes to five slats of wood about 4 inches wide and 5 feet long. For full instructions read the article here.
Playhouse Built From Window Blinds
Don’t throw out those old window blinds just yet, they could make the perfect playhouse for your kids, we wrote in 1939. Nail blinds together to create a frame and top it off with a chimney roof. For full instructions read the article here.
Topsy-Turvy Turtle Sun Dial
Keeping time got a lot cuter when we presented the Topsy-Turvy Turtle Sun Dial in 1946. Belly up, the 3-inch radius turtle uses the shadow of its tail to track the time. Hopefully it doesn’t slow down… For full instructions read the article here.
In 1960, we took readers through the steps of installing a back-yard trampoline (and the 10 rules for safe bouncing). Dig a sizable pit of a minimum depth of 39 inches. Frame the edges by anchoring a one inch pipe to planks of wood. Attach springs to the pipe, loop them through the net and you’ll be bouncing in no time. For full instructions read the article here.
Comfortable Camp Beds
In 1936, we gave readers tips on creating makeshift beds for summer camping trips. Learn how to improvise a sleeping cot with nothing but a blanket wrapped around two poles. For full instructions read the article here.
Vacuum Cleaner For Swimming Pools
Sick of scum sullying your pool? Screw a vacuum nozzle on the end of a garden hose and place it in the water. Turn on the water until the bubbling stops and then shut it off to create a suction force strong enough to pick up the polluting particles. For full instructions read the article here.
No more mopping up trails of water inside your home. In 1976, Popular Science showed readers how to construct their own poolside cabana with two compartments for showering and changing. For full instructions read the article here.
In this game, which is scored similarly to traditional golf, players use a bat to hit a wooden tee. Upon impact little wood sticks, “kangaroos,” are sent flying through the air into a wooden enclosure acting as the hole. Weird! Wonder why it never caught on. For full instructions read the article here.