My orange Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Percolator is my version of the red stapler. (I have a real red stapler, too.)

Over the years, I've tried to keep my Moka in pristine condition, but my family members don't care about it as much as I do. They would leave it on the burner after the water boiled up from the lower chamber to the upper chamber, which caused the bottom part to overheat and turn black.

The final straw dropped on Saturday when one of my family members forgot to put water in it *and* forgot about it on the burner. I was in another room and when I smelled burning plastic, I knew what had happened. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the handle with a dish rag. It stretched like taffy. Even the plastic knob on the lid was melted. Disgusted, I threw the coffee maker in the trash.

An hour later I pulled it out of the trash. I decided I could make a new handle. That was a good idea, but I idiotically thought I could get away with making a handle on a 3D printer. I designed the handle on Tinkercad (a fantastic web-based 3D modeling application):

I also designed a knob for the lid. It took about an hour to print out both pieces. While it was printing, I used a Dremel tool to remove the carbonized black stuff from alternating facets of the octagonal boiler chamber. I was pleased with my new orange/green/black/silver Moka and posted a photo of it to my Instagram feed:

The espresso maker that wouldn't die.

A photo posted by Mark Frauenfelder (@frauenfelder) on

A few minutes later, I tried making coffee with it and the handle melted immediately. What was I thinking? I guess I'd hoped the water in the boiler would absorb the heat so the handle wouldn't get hot enough to melt. Live and learn.

As a believer in the sunk cost fallacy, I didn't want to give up on making this thing work. I found a little bamboo cutting board that we don't use much (part of a 3-piece set I bought last year). I eyeballed a pencil outline for the handle on the board and cut it on a bandsaw. I made a knob from a scrap of 0.75-inch square lumber. The whole process took less than 20 minutes. I like the finished result so much that now I'm happy my family member melted the handle and knob. I like my Moka now more than ever, and it seems to be working just fine (bamboo doesn't melt, and I hope it never gets so hot that it undergoes sublimation). Hurray for mistakes and happy accidents!