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REPURPOSE | Trash into Treasures

Zap your old microwave into a postbox that delivers

By Wendy Becktold

Lori Eanes

Whether you see it as a technological miracle freeing you from culinary drudgery or a nutrient-killing foe of the family meal, the microwave oven is here to stay—more than 90 percent of American homes have one. Like most modern appliances, though, it's pretty useless once it breaks. But even when lifeless, it can serve as a sturdy, weatherproof box perfectly sized for letters and small packages.

Turning your microwave into a mailbox is less far-fetched than it sounds. True, you have to make sure it meets U.S. Postal Service specs (e.g., it must be 41 to 45 inches high) and outwit the machine's tamper-proof features to extract the guts. You also have to be ultra-cautious with the capacitor, which can electrocute you even when the oven is unplugged.

Fortunately, help abounds. I got some from a local community workshop, where I also borrowed a chop saw to fashion a wooden post. Once I received the proper instruction, it was no big deal—and I found inordinate satisfaction in turning an artifact of the electronic age into a receptacle for snail mail.

You need to know how to handle the capacitor, or know someone who does.

Wendy Becktold
What You'll Need:

  • Microwave
  • Set of screwdrivers (different sizes)
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Alligator clips
  • 2 L brackets
  • Wood post (approximately 5¾ feet in length: 41 to 45 inches aboveground; 24 inches belowground ground)*
  • Wood platform (approximately one-inch thick; sized to the width and length of your microwave)*
  • Electric drill
  • Two bolts (big enough to penetrate the wood platform and the bottom of the microwave)
  • 12 wood screws
  • Yardstick

* Visit the U.S. Postal Service website for exact mailbox specifications.

Based on a project by Liz Martin on Decals are Blik's Eames Crosspatch Combo.

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