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.
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.
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.
I'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.
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.
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.
A 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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
We've said it before: yes, every man needs an apron. They're indispensable in the workshop, the kitchen, the garage, around the grill, even when shining your shoes.
Leather is strong, durable, and extremely workable. But stitching leather involves some specific two-handed, two needle techniques, some specialized gear, and some definite knowhow. So, what to do when you want to make a custom piece, but aren't ready to invest the time and materials to learn to hand sew it?
You make no-sew project: just as strong, just as customizable.
Here's a project that deserves to be checked out both for its utility on your own projects, but also for its simple, inspired creativity. This is why the DIY, craft, and maker movement continue to grow; there are super smart, thoughtful folks figuring out how to help other keep making stuff.