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Back scratcher
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This fully customizable, 2-sided Technic back scratcher really works! Really!
About this creation
Please feel free to look over the images and skip the verbiage.

Back itches are perverse. They're hard to impossible to reach by yourself, they tend to appear at the most inopportune times, and another often pops up just as you're getting the current one under control.

One or 2 nights a week, I get a nagging back itch just as I'm settling into bed. It always starts near the tip of my right shoulder blade and then moves to some equally inaccessible spot nearby.



Why then, why there, I have no clue, but one thing's certain: It's not above keeping me awake if I don't do something about it.




What doesn't work

Over the years, I've thrown countless store-bought and improvised scratchers at this back itch and others with little real success. The photo below includes 3 of the better ones.



The long-handled bath brush (far left) is the best of its kind I've tried, but the bristles are too prickly.

The rubber tines on the wooden spaghetti server (left center) have a pleasing feel and are much more effective, but struggling to reach the main target area with that short, straight handle is hard on the shoulders.

The telescoping bear-claw (right center) turned out to be worthless as a back scratcher, as the tines are way too sharp, and the handle, way too flimsy once extended. (Bears apparently know better than to use claws for this purpose. They use trees instead.) All was not lost, however: The claw is just the thing for dragging dropped parts out from under low-slung traps like sofas and refrigerators.

The scratchy old dish towel gets to the right spot without straining my shoulders, but the contact patch is too broad and unpredictable.

The one failing common to all the scratchers I've tried is inadequate contact pressure over much of the back -- usually for lack of length, leverage, or both.

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Design goals

The ideal back scratcher would make it easy for a non-contortionist to apply the right scratching surface to any spot on the back with good accuracy and just the right amount of pressure.





It'd also be lightweight, durable, and easy to pack.



This LEGO® scratcher isn't quite ideal (e.g., the 1x1 round plates pop off from time to time), but it meets all the criteria reasonably well and beats the heck out of everything else I've tried.

If you have enough upper extremity mobility to dry your own back with a bath towel stretched between 2 hands, you can use this scratcher to good effect.



Unlike the towel, however, you can easily (i) adjust its length to suit your own anatomy, (ii) switch between 2 distinct scratching surfaces in a instant, and (iii) swap either of them out for another texture of your own design when you have the time.

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Bits

I think of the gear racks and 1x1 round plates on the scratcher featured here as "bits" and the 1x4 Technic bricks they're mounted on as "carriers". These particular bits have seen many nights of use on bare skin with no discomfort or bloodshed.

The gear rack bits are surprisingly gentle on bare skin (the teeth are rounded at their tips and corners) but yield a very effective scratch. (Try one on your forearm.) The other side is actually the more aggressive one, but not overly so. In both cases, the bits reliably hold the sharp corners of the carriers off the skin.



Above are just a few of the countless bits possible with a LEGO® scratcher. The main things limiting your choice of bits are your imagination and how vengeful you're willing to get with your own itches. I've comfort-tested the ones shown here on my forearm but have yet to fill a scratcher with any of them for a full evaluation.

When considering a new bit, it's helpful to judge the edges and corners likely to contact the skin against those of your own fingernails. All of the bits above pass that test.

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Specifications

Overall dimensions:880x24x40 mm (LxWxH, including handles)
Mass:0.113 kg
Scratching surfaces:2
Bits:Customizable (gear ranks and 1x1 round plates shown)
Bit carriers:1x4 Technic bricks, adjustable in number (15 shown)
Back coverage:100%
Modified LEGO® parts:None
Non-LEGO® parts:None
Credits:Original MOC
See also:Useful Gizmos Group, my Useful Gizmos folder

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Comments

 I made it 
  April 9, 2016
Quoting Oliver Becker Now I've noticed that too, my good friend! Give it more likes here... ;)
Thanks, Oliver, appreciate the support.
 I like it 
  April 9, 2016
Now I've noticed that too, my good friend! Give it more likes here... ;)
 I made it 
  August 31, 2015
Quoting VAkkron ™ Very clever solution. What can't you improve with Duct tape or Lego? I like your style.
Thanks, Vakkron. To that general list, I'd add velcro. In the food realm, most things are improved by salt and butter; the rest, by chocolate.
 I like it 
  August 28, 2015
Very clever solution. What can't you improve with Duct tape or Lego? I like your style.
 I made it 
  July 14, 2015
Quoting David Roberts Very practical, though I wouldn't want to use those Technic gear racks on bare skin!
Thanks, David. Glad you brought that up. The completed scratcher has seen many nights of use on bare skin exactly as shown with no blood drawn. The gear racks turn out to be surprisingly gentle on bare skin, as the tips of the teeth are rounded (try one on your forearm), but yield a very effective scratch. The other side is actually the more aggressive one, but not overly so. In both cases, the mounted scratching surfaces reliably hold the sharp corners of the underlying 1x4 Technic brick carriers off the skin. Some of the possible "bits" shown in the final photo might be a different story once mounted on the scratcher, but they also seemed workable on my forearm.
 I like it 
  July 14, 2015
Very practical, though I wouldn't want to use those Technic gear racks on bare skin!
 I made it 
  July 14, 2015
Quoting Walter Lee It's like those gadgets advertised on late night TV!
Oops, forgot about those pricey gear racks. Maybe $10 before shipping.
 I made it 
  July 14, 2015
Quoting Nils O. That's a cool idea. I've never thought about building one with Lego. I have a different idea and I think I'll give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration, well done! :-))
Thanks, Nils. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
 I made it 
  July 14, 2015
Quoting Walter Lee It's like those gadgets advertised on late night TV!
Yes, Walter, and it should be a lesson to us all: This is what happens to your building when your parents let you watch too much television growing up. But this thing really works, I swear, and it cost maybe $4 before shipping, not the customary $19.95.
 I like it 
  July 14, 2015
That's a cool idea. I've never thought about building one with Lego. I have a different idea and I think I'll give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration, well done! :-))
 I like it 
  July 14, 2015
It's like those gadgets advertised on late night TV!
 I made it 
  July 14, 2015
Quoting Nick Barrett I'll bet that feels a whole lot better... excellent!
Yes, much, much better, thank you. Hmmmmm.
 I like it 
  July 14, 2015
I'll bet that feels a whole lot better... excellent!
 
By Jeremy McCreary
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