Allen Norwood

5-gallon bucket list is filled with clever ideas

Cord organizer
Cord organizer Chris Marshall

How much do we love 5-gallon buckets? Well, I once wrote that the guy who dies with the most 5-gallon buckets wins – and no guy called to argue otherwise.

Now comes a new book that will help strengthen that brotherly bond between guys and buckets. It’s called “5-Gallon Bucket Book,” and it’s by Chris Peterson, who helped write some of Black & Decker’s terrific how-to guides.

There’s plenty here for women, too.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer or crafter, there’s a project in it for you. Own a cat or raise chickens? You’ll appreciate projects, too. There’s lots for you if you’re a gardener.

A couple of the featured projects are the sort that make you slap your head and wonder aloud, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

For me, that project was the cable and cord organizer. I hate drop cords with a passion. The organizer created from a 5-gallon bucket and short length of PVC pipe is so simple, and looks like it would work so well, that I’m definitely going to put one together.

Anybody who has ever owned a 5-gallon-bucket and a saw has used the bucket as a makeshift sawhorse. Peterson shows how to put together a bucket sawhorse that’s much more stable and useful.

One of the things that makes projects using 5-gallon buckets so much fun is that every project inspires you to tweak that idea, and develop one of your own.

Poke around on the Internet and you’ll discover thousands of ways you can reinvent the ubiquitous 5-gallon bucket. There are online sites – and other books – that explore the variety. Every idea spawns another.

There’s a toy storage project on page 63. Every mom who sees it is sure to come up with variations and improvements, depending on the ages of her kids – and how deep the Legos are piled in the great room.

I’m amazed Peterson would whittle the list in his book down to 60-plus projects. (Of course, if you flip through, you’ll come up with 120 ideas. And then 240....)

The paperback book is published by Voyageur Press. The cover price is $19.99, but you can find it on Amazon for $14.78.

It offers more than step-by-step instructions, with color pictures. There’s also a list of sources for bucket accessories, such as seats, aprons and roller dollies. And helpful advice about choosing the right bucket for your particular project. Some projects require food-grade buckets, for instance.

And now for my most embarrassing 5-gallon bucket story.

I had one bucket for woodworking tools, one for mechanics tools, one each for wallpaper, tile setting and drywall tools. There was one for the car washing stuff and another for spreading seed and fertilizer.

Fishing gear was in buckets, of course (one each for fresh and salt water).

We moved, and stored most of our belongings in a rented garage while we waited for the new place to be completed. I went to the garage for a hand tool – and discovered that all my buckets had disappeared.

Oh, no! Somebody stole 50 years’ worth of treasures! Panic!

Well, no.... My wife patiently reminded me that, for the move, I had put all my tools and other gear into square plastic bins with tight lids, so they’d be easier to handle and store. I had planned to replace the buckets. They’re free and easy to come by, if you ask nicely.

The buckets were gone, but everything else was safe in those bins.

I’m back up to five buckets now – but the cord organizer in Peterson’s book will make six.