What To Do With Your Old Fax Machine


by Chris Haycox - Date: 2010-08-24 - Word Count: 787 Share This!

There are several articles online that take a tongue-in-cheek approach to answering the question of what one should do with an old fax machine. The fact is, though, that there are some serious (as well as fun) things that you honestly can do with that old peripheral. If you have made the move to online faxing, and can send and receive faxes digitally without the need of the machine, consider a few creative uses for it.

Ideas for the old fax machine

Parts is parts: Take the fax machine apart. There are many recyclable, reusable parts in them, from low-tech gears, pulleys and metal fittings to high-tech components like switches, circuit boards and LED lights. There are plenty of things a techno-tinkerer could use.

Serious (or silly) sculpture: The cases themselves, as well as some of the more inventive control panels with their rocket-ship light arrays, would make quite interesting sculptures. Mount the machine, the case, or perhaps just the drum and a few inner pieces onto a suitable foundation and display proudly (or comically).

Reuse the case: Speaking of that case, many fax machine cases are actually about the size of a breadbox, and there is no reason an appropriate model could not be drafted into kitchen service. If that does not work, you could use the bottom half of the case for a catch-all junk box in the garage.

Get the kids involved: If you have children that like Army men or building models, pieces from a fax machine can be easily repurposed into battlefield barriers, buildings or vehicles. There are plenty of different shapes and sizes of components in fax machines, and a little spray paint and glue could be the catalysts for a lot of interesting construction.

Security apparatus #1: In the movies, various good and bad guys have used things like answering machines and telephone handsets as in-plain-sight hiding places. Leave your unused fax machine right where it is on your desk or credenza, plugged in and dusted off with paper installed so it looks like its being used. Stash valuables inside. You may have plenty of room with some models, while others you may need to customize a bit by giving the heave-ho to some internal parts (see final option, below).

Security apparatus #2: Instead of (or in addition to) the hiding place, you can use your fax machine as the location for your office spy cam. If you have camera securityset up anyway, and/or want to add one to your office, fax machines are perfect for the job. They have various slots, openings, ports and holes for mounting the new generation of teeny-tiny cameras, even wireless ones.

Keep using part of it: If you have an old fax machine with a full phone handset and dialing pad, consider using the phone (if you have a land line). It is all retro and everything, and as long as it works for you, why not?

Document the process

If you do decide to make a project out of it, take pictures and/or videos of your work to document the process. Computer and other high-tech mods are very popular online, and you can post your story and images at any number of video, hobby and tech sites. In addition, if you do create an interesting piece of sculpture, you should post photos at the many arts and crafts Web sites. Just about anything you decide to do with your old fax machine will interest someone. If not, spur the interest yourself by writing a Wikipedia entry and sending out some press releases. Couldn't hurt!

Fax machines have a solid place in the culture because of their long term use and continuing utility (despite newer communications technologies). Even the term itself is used for all kinds of other purposes. For example, there is a British orchestral cabaret-pop band (their own description) known as the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra. They do not play fax machines or use them in their act, but the name is great, right?

Recycling for real

If you do not come up with any other uses for your old fax machine, then do the right thing and dispose of it properly. Some states, like California, have regulations concerning how you must dispose of electronic items like computers, fax machines and other gadgets. It often means taking them to licensed, designated electronics junkyards, often known as e-waste facilities. You have many options before having to do that, of course, some of which may even net you a few dollars. At least give some thought to harnessing some of the old parts for something good and useful, as that is the mindset that will help us grow out of being a disposable society!

Related Tags: fax service, recycling, fax machine

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