A lab is full of specially designed and produced for the technical use and therefore expensive equipment. But there are cheap and simple things from everyday life, which help in your experiments.
1) Perforated metal ladle – to fish out samples from liquid nitrogen after a snap-freeze.
2) Transparencies for an overhead projector (remember them?). Instead of wrapping your Western membrane in clingfilm and trying to get rid of the wrinkles, cut a transparency in half, attach one half to the cassette, put the membrane, cover with the second half and fix it with a sticky tape.
3) Pizza cutter – to trim acrylamide gels.
4) Powdered dry milk, fat-free – simply add to a phosphate buffer, stir and here is your blocking solutions for Western blots. Using branded product like Marvel is still a half-measure, any cheap no-name dry milk is fine.
5) Nail varnish – to seal microscope slides, which prevents drying out.
6) Wooden toothpicks – to streak bacterial or yeast colonies on the agar, available in Chinese supermarkets. China becoming a more sophisticated goods producer is not always a good thing: cheaper flat on one end toothpicks are becoming extinct and being replaced by perfectly carved, but sharp on both ends toothpicks, which are much less convenient.
8) A watch able to counts seconds – timer replacement. Amazing, how many scientists don’t have watches, relying on clocks (rarely precise) and mobile phones (run out of charge).
9) Mop – my inner green person weeps when I see people moping lots of water from defrosting freezers with paper towels.
These are nine useful things – please suggest the tenth.