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Apr 21, 2017

The Process: Making A Pen On The Lathe

created at: 05/28/2013

I know it's a small thing, but your choice in writing implements can say a lot about you. Do you carry a simple plastic tube with cheap ink, or do you hold a solid, well-made piece that makes an impression? Or do you not carry anything at all? A pen holds stories and signatures, words and dreams, and you can make one that leaves an impression every time you put some words to that page.

That's why you should carry something impressive, and why you definitely should make your own.

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Apr 04, 2017

9 Awesome Podcasts for Makers, Crafters, Artists, and Designers

created at: 05/26/2016

Podcasts. You know 'em. You listen to 'em. You're moved by them. You laugh and are entertained by them. But are you inspired by them? Do they light a fire under your butt and make you want to get into your work space as fast as possible? Do they make you want to complete your workout faster so you can get home and make stuff? Do they make you thankful for your creative bent, and the creative work of others?   

Here's our thinking: podcasts, as a medium, are great accompaniment for a lot of things. There are certain podcasts you listen to on your commute, specific shows that work best for cleaning the house or cooking dinner, those to

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Mar 30, 2017

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 simple:

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Mar 21, 2017

How To: Make Super Simple Tree Branch Magnets

Last summer, in the midst of the August showers, a neighboring building lost a beautiful maple tree in a major thunderstorm. It was quickly disassembled by the electric company, presumably so it wouldn't fall onto the power lines. And there it sat. For weeks.

Then, a month or so later, I heard a loud grind out of my open windows (horray for open window weather!), and spied a big truck with a wood chipper in their yard.

"Surely," I thought, "they're just gonna grind up the small stuff and use the trunk for something." But, they just kept throwing in big, beautiful chunks of pure hardwood, turning it into mulch. I immediately rushed out and asked if I could have what hadn't been chopped.

The guy was very hesitant (apparently no one had ever proposed such a crazy thing), but allowed me to escape with an armful straight limbs and branches (sadly, no trunk segments) as long as I promised not to tell anyone. So, don't repeat that.

My branches have been seasoning and drying all fall and winter, and are now ready to be turned into all kinds of fun "bring the outdoors in" projects. First up, these playful tree branch magnets which cost a mere $1.00 and some glue to make, and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes.  

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Mar 15, 2017

Play the Long Game: Why You Should Commit Now to Commit Later

Let your big goals be long ones.

Don't think: "I want to write a book."

Instead think: "I am going to work on a book this year, and next year, and the year after that."

It's empowering to shift your timeframes this way, and I encourage you to try it. Here's why:

Long-term goals are commitments

Short term goals are small aspirations. They're about things you want, not about the person you want to become. When you let yourself to approach something over a period of years, or even decades, you make bigger choices and commitments about who you want to be.

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Mar 07, 2017

How to: Make Your Own Journals + Notebooks from Scrap Materials

Did you know you can make your own sketch and shop journals with just the materials you have on your shelf? Now you can scrap those yellow pads for something a lot more classy.   

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Mar 06, 2017

Inspiring Read: Boat Building with Merchant and Makers

Building a BoatI've wanted to build a boat ever since I sunk my small dingy on the Trinity Lake as a kid. Once I have the space, I will fashion a sea-worthy vessel and take it out to brave the ocean, or at least a sizeable pond.  

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Mar 01, 2017

How to Install and Mount a Vise without Drilling Holes in Your Workbench

My first "workbench" was a simple table-style surface. 2x4 legs, 1/2" plywood top, held together with black drywall screws. I built it in my first apartment when I was twenty-two, with my first (and only) power tools: a circular saw and a drill. 

In the back left corner, I mounted a shiny, new, bright blue Irwin swiveling bench vise. It was awesome to have it there when I needed it - holding metal stock and angle iron for cutting, helping me bend rod and pipe, even keeping dowels and small wood parts in place while working on them. Unfortunately, these activities constituted a very small amount of the projects I was doing, and mostly, the vise just got in the way during the other 97% percent of tasks.

So, for the past few years, that vise has just been in a storage crate, and I get it out and try to hold it in place when I need it. Which, in case you can't guess, does not work. Ever. So, I wanted to come up with a solution that would allow me to install a machinist's style swiveling benchtop vise, without having to permanently install it, or drill holes in my benchtop and have to thread and tighten nuts and bolts every time I use it.    

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Feb 15, 2017

Protect It: How and Why You Should Wax Your Workshop + Heavy Duty Fabric

I admit it: I'm pretty rough on my stuff, so when it matters, I like to make sure it lasts. Adding a layer of wax adds durability and helps to prevent water saturation, and shed stains and grease. Here are the simple steps to keep your fabric and canvas like new in the shop.   

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Feb 06, 2017

5 Simple Beginning Leather Projects to Help Grow Your Craft

Leather Tool CaseA few weeks back we talked about some of the basic, essential tools for getting started in leatherworking. Once you're set up, its time to put them into practice. Here are a few projects to hone those skills, and end up with some great practical pieces you can use everyday   

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Jan 23, 2017

You Need to Watch: "Raw Craft" (Free on YouTube)

If you're the type of person who reads ManMade, you're no doubt familiar with the modern genre of the artsy, dreamy behind-the-scenes video that captures the processes of creative types who make cool stuff. They're fun to watch: a bit poetic, a bit inspiring...and hopefully, they include lots of droolworthy shots of cool benches and workshops and tool walls.

But, there are a lot of them, and all that shallow depth-of-field and voiceover is nice, and... sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between them. 

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Jan 09, 2017

10 DIY Ideas to Stay Occupied While You're Snowed In

10 man-made snow day projects

This week they're predicting record-breaking winter storms in my area which means, aside from braving my drive to and from work, I'll be stuck inside. So, instead of heading to the grocery store for bread and milk I'm headed to the hardware store to get some supplies to keep myself busy under the snowpack.

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Dec 28, 2016

Make This: Wooden Mountain Key Rack

Anyone who has grown up near in the mountains knows what it means to see the ridgeline. Being tucked in nearby some exciting geological features has a comfort and appeal, and, of course, great views. It's safe, secure, constant. The mountains invite adventure, and simplicity. To honor my own local Cascade range, I built this simple key rack that takes a bit of that wild adventure and brings it home.   

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Dec 02, 2016

How to: Make DIY Instagram Coasters with Your Own Photos

DIY Instagram coasters

This holiday season, I wanted to give my friends and family a customized gift with some personality. So, using nothing but our own photos and a few crafty tools, I came up with this coaster project which is super fun, super inexpensive, plenty easy, and you can dial it in perfectly for each person on your list - just raid their Instagram or social media accounts!

Let's get to it!

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Nov 16, 2016

It's Easier Than You Think: A Simple, Straightforward Guide to Getting Started in Leatherworking

created at: 04/16/2013

My journey in leatherworking started with disappointment. Disappointment in a pair of leather boots. I had purchased a pair of Steve Maddens from DSW for about $100. They didn’t last long... and I mean, they really didn’t last long. After a month of pretty irregular use, the grommets had fallen out, the surface of the leather had started to rip, and the dye was already starting to rub off. And as my shoe angst built, I thought, ‘I could make something better than this.’
Leather Working Overview
 

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Nov 11, 2016

4 DIY Wooden Beer Carriers You Should Make This Weekend

Beer Carrier
Credit: Vintage Zest

We spend a lot of time picking out our craft beers lately. Those fancy brews deserve better than a cheap cardboard carrier, so why not make something a bit more classy? Here are four great projects you can whip up easily.     

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Oct 27, 2016

How to: Make DIY Whiskey Flavored Toothpicks

created at: 02/04/2014

My grandfather was a toothpick guy. Like, he had a seven-or-eight-a-day habit. When he died and we helped my grandmother do a clean sweep of the house, my aunt found more than one hundred individual ones tucked away into couch cushions and drawers and pockets. Last year, when my grandmother passed away and we prepped the house for selling, we found at least a couple dozen more stashed away. 

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Oct 25, 2016

How to: Make DIY Industrial Mason Jar Pendant Lights

created at: 02/18/2013

I find lighting to be one of the more difficult parts of creating a masculine or industrial interior, especially when it comes to DIY projects. While you can

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Oct 24, 2016

How to Make: Crazy Tasty Spiced Pumpkin Butter in Your Slow Cooker

created at: 10/19/2015

You know those little pumpkins you practically trip over in the supermarket this time of year? It turns out: they're good for more than just Instagram props. With, like, no work, they make a really tasty pumpkin butter you’ll want to have in the fridge all year long. I’m talking about pumpkin butter with the magical spice flavor of pumpkin pie, but simple, less sweet and much more, well, pumpkin-y.

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Oct 03, 2016

How to: Make a Mid-Century Inspired Wooden Planter

 

Owning a piece of mid-century design brings a solid, artfully masculine vibe to any space...but many of the classics are out of your price range when just starting to pull your home together. So, instead of shelling out the bucks for a statement piece by a major designer, invest a little time, and thoughtfulness, and make your own!   

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