Helpful Harry's Hardware Heaven

Here at the Helpful Hank's you'll find one polymer that outweighs all the others in the store in sheer tonnage. That polymer is cellulose. This polymer is so common it grows on trees. You see, cellulose is the major component of wood. And this place is just full of 2x4s, plywood, and other wood products.

As for that plywood, its sheets are glued together with adhesives made from polymers like polyvinylpyrrolidone. Plywood is what we call a composite material, that is a material made of more than one component. Flakeboard and particle board are also composites.

Another composite that's held in high honor among handyfolk everywhere is that marvel of modern technology, duct tape! If duct tape were the only product ever made from polymers, their existence would be completely justified. There is nothing that duct tape can't do. So what is it? It's a composite of a plastic such as poly(vinyl chloride) reinforced by a mesh of cotton. Cotton is mostly cellulose, the same stuff as makes up all that wood we just saw.

If your house has indoor plumbing, it probably has PVC pipe somewhere underneath the sinks. PVC is poly(vinyl chloride). Speaking of plumbing, if your toilet doesn't work you may need to replace the float, which can be made from plastics like polyethylene. But older toilets used floats made from different kinds of rubber such as polyisoprene.

A house needs plumbing, and it also needs electricity. This electrical cable would be mighty dangerous without its insulation, which is made from polyethylene.

A storm window is a right handy thing. In the winter it keeps your home's heat from escaping through the windows. Many storm windows are made from polymers like poly(methyl methacrylate) and polycarbonate. The frame is often made of poly(vinyl chloride), just like that pipe we talked about.

You Kurt Vonnegut fans will know that no one ever gets away with selling storm windows without selling a few tub and shower enclosures, too. Wouldn't you know these things are made out of the same stuff as the storm windows, good ol' poly(methyl methacrylate).

Both storm windows and bathtubs are made watertight with silicone caulking.

Lastly we have something no do-it-yourselfer can be without, a big rugged tool belt. This one Greg is wearing has big pockets made out of leather, which is made from animal skin, which is in turn made of a protein called collagen. The belt itself is made from nylon.

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