Nine month project to build a toaster from scratch results in a

first_imgIn 1958 it was famously written that no one on Earth knew how to build a pencil. Each of the jobs — the mining of the graphite, the felling of the trees, the chemistry involved in the lacquer, the forming of the rubber eraser, and so on — were so specialized that no single person was capable of doing the whole job. It’s a revelation that is just as mind-blowing today as it was 53 years ago. Thomas Thwaites attempted to do something very similar to building that pencil, except his quest was to single-handedly build a toaster. Yes, rather than buy a £3.99 (about $6.20) toaster, Thwaites spent 250x as much money and traveled thousands of miles to build his own.A garden-variety toaster apparently has over 400 parts and all sorts of different materials, including iron, copper, mica, and nickel. Before even starting to build the toaster, Thwaites visited abandoned mines in the UK (where commercial mining for those materials no longer takes place) in order to find them. Below you can see Thwaites mining, molding plastic, and doing other inordinately difficult things, in order to get progressively closer to building his toaster.Thwaites did originally attempt to make his toaster using pre-industrial means, which made everything even harder, but eventually he relaxed that restriction in order to make the project just a bit more feasible. Of course building a device that chars bread wasn’t really the point. A project like this says a lot about our industrialized world and the scale of production needed to make a relatively simple device. As it turns out, making a million toasters might not be particularly difficult, but making just one is almost impossible.Learn more about The Toaster Project: Or A Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch. It will be released in November 2011 and is available for pre-order both in the UK, through Amazon, and in the US, through the Princeton Architectural Press.Watch Thwaites TED talk, or scroll to the bottom to look a the final result… via coudallast_img read more