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Many moons ago, when I was in college and more aptly named GangstaFeelsPoor, I was presented with a frequently occurring dilemma. While working on a paper, I swiped the ashtray from our dorm room coffee table and placed it on my desk, trying to avoid getting ashes in the keyboard.

My roommate, however, was watching teevee and was left out of reach of the cinder receptacle. He vigorously complained, and I returned the ashtray to the table and resorted to using the piece of orange peel left on my desk.

Staring at the monitor, pondering what to write, I spied a soda can atop my screen, and figured this might make a better ashtray. Resting my cancer stick atop it, it sat for a while, but then decided to roll off.

In a bout of abject procrastination, it now became my goal to turn this emptied bit of beverage container into a viable container for used tobacco.

What ensued was an act of pseudo-brilliance, which has afforded me attention levels at parties only previously seen by circus freaks. Seems parties are always deficient in ashtrays, and I'm always ready to make some more. But now, I'm going to teach you to make the ultimate Beverage Can Ashtray, so you can wow your peers.

What you need:

  • 1 knife (big and sharp preferably)
  • 1 pair of scissors (full size is better, pocket knife scissors are more irritating to use, and safety scissors are useless)
  • 1 empty aluminum can (rinsed thoroughly, Foster's Oil Cans work best because they give a nice wide, deep ashtray. Tallboys can be fun too, and Red Bull cans make mini-ashtrays. Any aluminum can will work. )

Optional accessories:

Here's how you do it:
(Please note, the ASCII art below is primitive. For action shots I have prepared, take a look at http://www.geocities.com/jmkross77/can.html)

  1. Take the can and carefully remove the top just below where it widens out. Usually this is done with the knife, but use trial and error to find what works best for you. See the picture below:
       ___________
      /                          \
    |_____________|___ Cut here
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    |                               |
    \_____________/

  2. After rinsing any remaining beverage residue from the can, cut vertical strips about 1cm wide in the can all the way around as shown below. You should leave about 1-2cm between the bottom of your cut and the bottom. (All these measurements are variable, to suit your own taste, but remember, if you cut the strips too wide, or too short, it will make the finished product much harder to create)
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |     |     |     |     |     |
    |                             |
    \____________/
  3. Fold all the strips down so that they are perpendicular to the can. This should make a your can look somewhat like a sunflower from above (excuse my poor ASCII art, there will be MANY more strips that the picture below shows, but you get the idea)
                      _          |  |          _
                      \  \        |  |        /  /
                        \  \      |  |      /  /
                          \  \    |  |    /  /
                            \  \_|_|_/  /
                             /              \
     __________|                |__________
    |__________|                |__________|
                             |                |
                              \______/
                            /  /    |  |  \  \
                          /  /      |  |    \  \
                        /  /        |  |      \  \
                      /  /          |  |        \  \
                    /_/            |_|          \_\
  4. Now comes the tricky part (mostly because it is hard to explain without showing you). You will be weaving the strips together in a circular pattern in order to make a place to rest your smoke.
    Let's take a closer look at two strips:

      1        2
     _        _
    |    |    | a |
    |    |    |    |
    |    |    | b |
    |    |    |    |
    |    |    |    |
    |    |    |    |
    |    |    |    |
    |    |    |    |
    | c |    |    |

    You'll notice I've labeled three parts of the strips a,b,and c. To fold correctly:

    1. Fold Strip 2 over top of Strip 1 by taking it from point a and bending towards the center of the can.
    2. Match b with c and then pinch the bend in Strip 2 to create a flat surface.
    3. Now fold point a, the tip of strip 2, around and underneath Strip 1 at point c.

    Sounds confusing right? Just try it, and you'll see.

    Now just continue this process all the way around the can, until you have folded them all (The last one will require an extra tuck, but I'm sure you can handle it). You now have the basic ashtray

    Optional steps:

  5. Invert the ashtray. Take several of your useless coins and stack them in the dent on the bottom until they are flush with the absolute bottom. Remove these coins and wrap them in duct tape.
  6. Place the coins back into the base, and using two pieces of duct tape, firmly secure the coins inside the base. Your ashtray will now be weighted and much less likely to tip.

And thats it. You have a perfectly good ashtray and you've recycled to boot.


Note: This is just the basic design. After teaching Cahla, she proceeded to create a double stacked, twisted strip doozy of an ashtray. So be creative. If you come up with something exceptional, let me know. If you even try this, let me know how it works out.

Q:Anark says "Howdya keep from slicing your fingers open on one of those things? The edges have got to be sharp".
A:Frankly, they don't get that sharp. Just be careful with the knife and you should be quite safe. As long as you don't run your tongue down any edges.

Anark says "You were right about the ashtrays. No problem w/the instructions and I didn't even come close to drawing blood. The stuff's not as sharp as hardware store sheet metal. Probably cuz it's softer."

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