We love a full-on major woodworking project. It's ambitious, challenging, and, once you've figured everything out, you're left with a piece of furniture that will get used everyday.
But, building furniture is also time consuming, takes up lots of space, and if you're using all hardwood construction, can be expensive to source the right materials. So, while it's lovely to learn joinery and finishing techniques, sometimes, you need a woodworking project that can be completed in a single day. Better yet, in a single sitting.
You know those tasks. The ones that you know won't actually consume that much time, but you imagine will take *just* long enough that you just can't motivate yourself to just step up and get it done.
Shining your shoes doesn't have to be one of them. True story. Provided you've got the right gear and a little technique, you can bring your leather shoes and boots back into shape in less than sixty seconds.
Often, when I try to explain the idea behind ManMade or what I do for a living, someone who doesn't quite get it will inevitably say to me, "You mean like MacGyver?" Um...I guess?
For the record, I don't think making stuff out of ordinary materials – what we do on ManMade – is anything like MacGyver. But I do like the approach of understanding how things work, and then applying standard techniques to whatever materials sit in front of you. Especially when those materials are bottles of spirits, and the techniques result in something like delicious cocktails.
'Cause here's the thing: when you become known amongst your peers as a guy who knows something about tasty cocktails, you become the guy who everyone turns to to make a tasty cocktail, whatever the occasion. And that's a good thing. It's a solid skill to have, and it's even more impressive if you don't have to look a recipe up on your phone before you start shaking and stirring.
So, with that in mind, here are seven standard recipes, ratios, and approaches to cocktail making that you can tuck in the back of your mind to whip up a tasty option, whatever you find in front of you. (Oh, and if you need bottle recommendations, here are our picks for stocking your home bar without spending a ton of money.)
How do you feel about the term, "man cave?" I have mixed feelings on it myself. One the one hand - like "girlfriend" or "foodie" - it's easy to use it colloquially since everybody has a general sense of what you mean when you say it. On the other, I haven't really worked out for myself all the connotations that come with its use, since it sometimes seems to me like it implies that one can't be a man outside of his man cave (or at least that its a necessary domicile of rejuvenation), Or that the rest of the home is then outside of his purview. Or, all spaces for men must be themselves a cave, involving sports memorabilia and beer signs. In that way, I mostly see the term "man cave" as potentially condescending. Now obviously that's a drastic oversimplification, but I've been thinking about the word recently a fair amount.
I LOVE my cast-iron skillet. I was in skillet envy for quite awhile watching other guys flaunt theirs at home and on camping trips before I finally pulled the trigger and got my own. I'm fairly certain I've got the hang of skillet maintenance, but having just come back from a wonderful camping trip in Big Sur, I realized there are some key tips everyone ought to keep in mind with this essential cooking tool...
If you ask me, the world of Vietnamese soups and broths is a world well worth spending time in. And none is better known, or more essential, to Vietnamese culture than pho, a seductive blend of aromatic broth, bright herbs, and bold chile slices to make things interesting. And though the broth is served hot, it's flavor profile makes it the kind of thing you can still enjoy in warm months, making it the ultimate year-round lunch.
Yesterday I had the wonderful experience of driving a manual Fiat up and down a single-lane highway through the mountains of California with a special lady I was trying to impress. Luckily I only stalled the car at two points, but I think stalled it about 8 times at both of those points and that is not an exaggeration. It was fairly emasculating for me, but she seemed to enjoy my shame...
It's an interesting contrast. Vodka is among the most simple and pure of spirits, distilled many times to show off the basic essence of its grain (or potatoes) and water source. But perhaps there's no other bottle that carries with it such a variety of contexts in which its imbibed. Because of its straight-forward, back-to-basics presentation, you can drink vodka like, say, a college student who wants to mask the taste. Or a James Bond-inspired martini drinker who hasn't learned about gin yet. Or for its, um, less-hangover-y nature and overall lower impact to your systems the next morning. And countless other ways.
Or, you could drink vodka like those people who invented it - those from Northeastern Europe, where long, cold winters mean grapes won't really grow, and the best source of sugar to ferment and distill are hardy cereal grains.
I've recently become fascinated by the artistry that goes into objects that I interact with on a daily basis but normally consider too quotidian to think about. And manhole covers definitely fall into that category. They're an essential part of any city's infrastructure and their design and manufacture isn't something that should be overlooked. And now, thanks to this National Geographic short, you can pull back the curtain and see how the majority of manhole covers in the US are made... in India.
Enjoying a glass of something strong is a good way to end the night every now and then. But do you know how to actually get the best out of the experience? Here's a quick and dirty take on how to get the most fun, flavor, and enjoyment.
Why anyone would pay for a bottle of vinegar and oil-based salad dressing is beyond me. Homemade vinaigrettes should be a staple in every kitchen, and they're super easy to make. It's simply a matter of memorizing one easy recipe, then adding and adjusting seasoning to fit any meal.
So, the anatomy of a vinaigrette... and some other nerdy facts that will leave you feeling like a true gourmand.
Last Wednesday I committed the absentminded sin of locking myself out of my apartment with the only spare key also locked inside. It was late at night and the realization of the struggle that was about to be rest of my evening was bordering on overwhelming. Luckily I’d left the bathroom window slightly ajar and after some clever thinking and a little jimmying, my buddy and I were able to take off the screen and slip through.
I've always been fascinated with curved wood furniture. It doesn't feel right to take straight stock and curve it like that, but at the same time the results are fantastic. It's definitely an art and now I've found a great video that makes it something I'm a little less afraid to do.
I once ran into a dude at the leathercraft supply shop, who was talking to his friend about all his big ideas, and telling his buddy what to get. He threw a wood handled stitching awl into the basket, and stated, "Oh, yeah, man. You definitely need this. It's like a handheld sewing machine." Not quite, overzealous and under-qualified craftsplainer.
I'm always looking to improve my skill sets, but I'll be the first to admit that welding has always seemed like a daunting task to start. The pieces of info that I'd picked up over the years is mostly that it's expensive, dangerous, and has a steep learning curve. From what I understand, some of that is still true, but for a ManMade reader and someone who has a level of proficiency picking up new skills, it isn't as hard as it may seem.
Perhaps you want to make your sweetheart a little something special. Perhaps you've got an idea that you want to share with the world in paper form. Perhaps you simply haven't found the right notebook size and style.
Then you, my friend, should learn how to bind your own book!
The butterfly spline is a prominent way to shore up a damaged piece of wood in a way that shows off the joint instead of hiding it. Take a look.
Leather possesses so much creative potential, particularly for everyday use and carry items that work well with a long-lasting and rugged masculine aesthetic.
And? It's not hard to get started, but does require a few specialty tools; those that sorta bridge the gap between garage toolbox and traditional sewing kit.
UPDATE: ManMade has released an original series on the basics of leather crafting. Check out all the posts right here.