Man Made DIY


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Oct 26, 2011

How to: Make a DIY George Nelson-Inspired Outdoor Slat Bench

created at: 10/26/2011

When my neighbor, Gina, moved in next door, a standalone porch swing appeared on our shared patio. The thing was at least thirty years old, and had been outside for just as long, and showed the wear of snowy winters, blazing hot summers, and all the rainy days in between. Not that it was likely much to look at when it was new.

It was, in every way, an eyesore. 

But, my goodness, if that thing wasn't useful. I'm sure I sat on it a good fifty times more often than she did. I took to enjoying my breakfast on it, and built a little morning routine around sitting outside, reading the week's New Yorker before I started my day. I used it to prepare for my bike rides: changing shoes, making adjustments, etc. And my friends and I would eat dinner out there, and watch thunderstorms. Boy, it was ugly, but it made me appreciate my patio, and got me out there frequently.

Then, Gina did the unthinkable: she got married, had a baby, and moved away. And, with her, away went the porch swing. And though I love my current neighbor (Hi Jillian!), she brought no shared furniture to the arrangement.

So, I figured it was time to make some outdoor seating of my own. For inspiration, I turned to the most iconic of mid-century bench designs, the Platform Bench by George Nelson (1946). It was created from easy-to-find 1x6" cedar decking, making it quite inexpensive to build, and safe for outdoor use. 

Wanna make one,… read more

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Oct 24, 2011

How To: Make a Gigantic Solvent Transfer

created at: 10/24/2011

I've been on a "big art" kick lately. And when I say "big", I mean gigantic (check out The World's Largest Wood Type for further clarification). There's something about a traditional art or craft done at a mind-blowingly large scale that just tickles my magic beans. So I'm going to file this 15' x 10' solvent transfer sign + tutorial in my enormous folder for all things awesome.

The creative folks at The Mandate Press applied this Beatrice Warde quote to a big ol' sheet of canvas that is, hands down, the largest solvent transfer I have ever seen. If you're not familiar with solvent transfers, the process is actually quite… read more

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Oct 20, 2011

Guy Makes a Skateboard Deck Out of Popsicle Sticks (and You Can Too!)

created at: 10/20/2011

Here's your DIY interesting fact for the day: popsicle sticks are made from baltic birch. Which is an exceptionally good material for plywood - it's very strong, holds hardware well, and is the go-to material for around the shop jigs, fixtures, and furniture, as well as hobby projects like model aircraft.

So, what's an enterprising maker to do? Create a section of laminated, steam-bendable DIY plywood from the craft store staple, perfect for making a longboard skateboard from… read more

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Oct 20, 2011

How to: Make a Bloody Brain Cap

created at: 10/19/2011

Mmm…brains. Halloween is quickly approaching, and that can mean only one thing: the zombies are coming. Heck, even the CDC wrote an article about how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse!

Technically speaking, this gory brain cap is probably the worst thing you could wear when the zombies arrive, but it would definitely be a great costume for Halloween if the brain-eaters aren't… read more

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Oct 19, 2011

How to: Make Homemade Sriracha Hot Sauce

At the risk of saying something that'll probably make you roll your eyes and scream, "No kidding" with considerable volume, sriracha is amazing and addictive stuff. This decidedly American sauce has its roots in Thai and Vietnamese condiments, and is know for its iconic rooster. A perfect balace between spicy, tangy, and garlicky, it's surprisingly versatile, working equally well in Mediterranean and Latin dishes as those from Southeast… read more

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Oct 19, 2011

How to: Make Fanged Pumpkins!

Even if I carved a jack-o-lantern this year, I dunno where I'd put it in my house. It'd have to sit on the floor somewhere, out of sight, making it not worth the effort. (Which, as you might guess...is why they don't get carved at my house.)

But, a family of tiny little gourds with oversized fangs and eerie red eyes. Those I can… read more

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Oct 18, 2011

How to: The Ultimate Homemade Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

created at: 10/18/2011

Over the weekend, my friend Laura, a M.D.-to-be in her intern year, came for a visit, and we did what we always do: we baked.

Normally, I cook a lot, but I do savory food: go to the market, see what's in the fridge, saute/roast/grill, season, go. It's more intuitive, tasting as you go, adding/subtracting, etc, etc. But not baking. That's science, friends. It's chemistry, not really open to interpretation unless you really know what you're doing. Neither of us do it regularly without the other.

But, when we're together, it's time. Music + crossword puzzles + coffee + good times.

And this weekend, we nailed it with this fresh… read more

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Oct 17, 2011

How to: Make a Turnable Rubik's Cube Dresser

We've seen vintage toy-inspired furniture before, such as the giant LEGO storage boxes, or this colorful Tetris bookshelf, but this Rubik's Cube shaped chest of drawers is truly brilliant. The quality of the work is amazing, and it actually rotates and turns (at least on the X-axis). But most importantly, its creator and designer shares step-by-step instructions to show you how it was put together, and so you can make on… read more

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Oct 12, 2011

How to: Make a DIY Industrial Record Cabinet

In the era of digital entertainment and the cloud, it can be tough to store physical media. While you can snag giant hard drives with a footprint smaller than a single book, it can be tough to find a spot for those things you can touch. Particularly vinyl records, lps, albums, or whatever you like to call 'em. Milk crates have shrunk, and with the exception of IKEA's Expedit series, or expensive custom DJ furniture, it's hard to find cabinets or shelves deep and tall enough to handle those twelve inchers.

Unless, of course, you make it yourself. And while you're at it, make sure it can double as seating for your next music-filled… read more

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Oct 10, 2011

Tissue Paper Skull

created at: 10/09/2011

Skull art is pretty popular in the blogosphere these days, but never before have I seen one so delicate. This skull, created by Polly Verity, is made out of tissue paper.

I can barely imagine how difficult it would be to make a three-dimensional object out of such a tenuous… read more

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Sep 27, 2011

How To: Make Homemade (and Healthful) American Cheese

Most of us wouldn't admit it freely, but American cheese is awesome. No, it's not the ultimate expression of what milk and time can do, but you can't deny it's uniqueness and nostalgia. It's likely the first cheese that many of us in the U.S. ever tasted, and you can't deny its melt-ability on a burger or grilled cheese.

But, it's not quite cheese...that is, innoculated and pressed milk. "Instead, it’s either a blend of cheese and additives, or it’s a highly processed mixture of ingredients such as water, milk, milkfat, milk protein, whey, food coloring, flavorings, and… read more

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Sep 26, 2011

How to: Pac-Man Halloween Garland

created at: 09/26/2011

Unless you're ready to go full out, it's kinda hard to decorate for Halloween. Anytime I've tried, my house has looked like 1) a crappy, half-finished haunted house, 2) like the clearance aisle at the discount store on November 2nd, or 3) like a kindergarten classroom.

But, wait. Hold up. What about something that's Halloween-y, but doesn't resort to overplayed imagery, and even includes a bit o' nostalgia and pop culture imagery to… read more

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Sep 20, 2011

How to: Make a Woven Wooden Lamp

I love materials. All of them. After all, crafting is about taking some raw material and either cutting it, spreading it, shaping it, or attaching it to something else, right? I especially love when materials take an unlikely shape, like when felt becomes rigid, or wood maleable. Like this woven wooden lamp, which is constructed from actual wood, all balled up and soft. I may never be able to bend plywood at home, but this? This I can do. 

read more
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Sep 19, 2011

How to: Make a Clock from Junk Mail

I once heard that it takes 300 points of contact to be swayed by a piece of print advertising (that you're not already seeking out). That means a political candidate has to call, be seen on a TV ad, or send you junk mail 300 times in order for that technique to be effective.

And other than coupons or sale annoucements, I can't imagine, in this day and age, where postage is expensive, and we're touched by thousands of ads before we even check the mail, that sending stuff to a mailbox is helpful.

And yet, still it comes. So, turn that waste upside down, and make… read more

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Sep 19, 2011

Handmade Wooden iPod

created at: 09/19/2011

No, no. That's not a protective case. And it certainly isn't CNC-milled or cut with a laser. It's a handmade wooden iPod Nano.

When Josh got a new iPod for Christmas, he couldn't just throw the old one away. So, he did what anyone would do - made it a wooden enclosure, complete with contrasting click… read more

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Sep 16, 2011

DIY Idea: Make a Tree Branch Coat Rack

created at: 09/16/2011

It's been crazy windy in my neighborhood this week. So much so that I've had to turn around early from two bike rides, and head outside at sunrise to pick up my recycling from all over the street in my pajamas.

But there's one good thing about windy weather: all the sticks, branches, and limbs that show up on the sidewalk, ready to be taken home and made into… read more

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Sep 15, 2011

How to: Make a Modern Industrial Coffee Table

Though its the element that we use the most, and usually the largest, the tabletop isn't really the tough part when it comes to building DIY furniture. It is, most of the time, something solid and flat, that likely comes from a solid, flat sheetgood product that is then simply cut to size. The challenge is always in the other stuff: the legs, the base, etc. It's pretty easy to cut and glue wood or acrylic materials. But shaping, bending, and welding metal is a whole 'nother skill set that's way bigger than just picking up a circular… read more

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Sep 14, 2011

How to: Make Typographic String Art

created at: 09/16/2011

In the late 60s and 70s, string art became a popular paint-by-numbers-y way for the masses to get crafty. Head to your local thrift store, and you'll likely find a few, in all their harvest gold glory. Usually sold in kits, these guys involved strategically placed nails or pins that were connected by string or yarn to create geometrical shapes or mathematical patterns. 

But, I'm not really into geometrical shapes or mathematical patterns. I'm into letters, so I decided to create some original string art with a typographic twist. It's super fun, easy-to-make, and infinitely customizable. Plus, it's my favorite kind of project, where the supplies come from both the craft shop and my local True Value hardware store (we're a part of the 2011 True Value Blog Squad!).

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Sep 14, 2011

DIY with a Purpose: Making the World's Least Expensive "Light Bulb" from an Upcycled Plastic Bottle

created at: 09/14/2011

Every once and while, some brilliant soul comes up with such an clever solution to a problem, it's simplicity and perfection is awe inspiring. Things are commonly accessible, but not common sense. Coupled with the fact that this one improves the lives of third world persons and saves energy they don't have to spare, I think this might be my favorite DIY project of the… read more

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Sep 13, 2011

DIY Idea: Make a Bicycle Valve Key Organizer

I know this sounds like a cheesy setup for a blog post, and it's way too coincidental, but I assure you, it's true: last night, I popped a tube on my bike, cutting my intended 65 mile ride into a short 7.5. I have a spare tube, tire wrenches, and pump with me at all times, which I thought I knew how to use. Turns out, I do not. It was a long walk to the bike shop. (Thankfully, I learned they have classes on how to fix a flat every Thursday at 7p. Guess where I'll be this… read more

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