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Aug 01, 2017

How to Drill Better, Cleaner Pocket Holes

Pocket hole joinery has a lot going for it. An affordable jig makes the process fool-proof, it comes together in less than a few minutes, and the joint itself is super strong.

The Kreg jig itself does most of the work, but a little knowhow makes the pocket hole clean and precise. This is especially important if the pocket hole will be visible, plugged, or filled.

Ready to make nice, sharp pocket holes? Let's go!    

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Jul 28, 2017

How to Make the Ultimate Sanding Block

When it comes to sanding, the rules are simple. When you're dealing with curves and soft edges, you can use the contours of your hand to back up the sandpaper and naturally mimic the shape. But when it comes to flat surface: never sand without a sanding block. This keeps the paper flat, which means your final project will also stay flat. 

I was in the bad habit of cutting a new one every time I went to finish a project, which sometimes meant I went against my best judgment and ignored the sanding block rule when working on flat panels and tabletops. (I know, I know.) So, I decided to spend an hour and whip up a block I'd be excited to

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Jul 27, 2017

No Vise, No Workbench, No Problem: How to Hold Your Woodworking with a Simple Wooden Batten

I'm a lucky guy. My family has allowed me to dedicate half our basement into a dedicated shop space, complete with a custom woodworking bench and a growing collection of tools. It's bright, clean (at least right now), and I'm slowly turning it into a functional workspace that will allow me to be as productive as possible. 

But it took me a long time to get here. For nearly fifteen years, I worked out of dining rooms and back porches and portions of the garage, lugging my tools around in plastic totes and home center toolboxes, setting up shop on the washing machine, folding tables, and 1/2" plywood scraps screwed to 2x4s.

And, in the early days, it was that lack of a proper workbench that prevented me from thinking I could could use hand tools. Without a vise and hold downs, how could I safely secure my work for handplaning, chiseling, or sawing?The answer: a batten, which will take you 5 minutes to make and turns any flat surface into a work bench. Let's make one!   

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Jul 27, 2017

ManMade Recommended: You Need to Get Your Hands on these Sandflex Rust Erasers

Earlier this week, for the Fourth of July holiday, some friends and I decided to try our hands at roasting a whole pig. We were cooking for 60-80 people, and wanted to do something more special than hamburgers and hot dogs, and figured: well, if we're going to try it, now is as good of a time as any. 

We wanted to go with a Southern United States-style "pig picking," meaning lots of wood smoke, and cooking over low and slow temperatures. In order to get the whole animal ready to eat with such a gentle heat, we needed to start the night before. And that's where this story begins.   

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Jul 26, 2017

Stop Marring Your Wood: How to Make Leather Holdfast Pads for Woodworking

I'm a huge fan of having a few rows of dog holes in my workbench top. And, more than anything else, I use them to secure a holdfast - an ancient and genius piece of design that secures your work to the work surface with a simple tap from a hammer or mallet. When your ready to release it, just hit the back and it's free. Seriously - it's ten times fast than clamping, and you can fasten your work anywhere across the bench top. Brilliant.

To speed up the process even more, I wanted to come up with a permanent way to protect the wood from the force of the steel being banged into it. You can use a hardwood scrap between the holdfast and the workpiece, but I figured there's reason to spend twenty minutes once and protect my work forever. No digging around for scraps required. 

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Jul 26, 2017

Minimalist DIY: What's Happening Halfway into My 30-Day Workshop Purge

I've heard it said that minimalism isn't really about "getting rid of stuff", it's about refining it down to the "right stuff". I'm halfway through a 30-day shop purge and I have a few lessons learned, a few personal reflections, and a lot more space. 

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Jul 20, 2017

This Isn't the Only Way to Install a Screw Hook, but It Is the Best

Okay, friends. This is one of my all-time favorite DIY hacks. I learned it more than fifteen years ago from a book I got from the library, and committed it to memory. I only need it about once or twice a year, but it works every. single. time. I'm always super grateful to have it on hand, and so today, I'm sharing so you too can stop busting your hand and banging your knuckles every time you need to install a hook somewhere.   

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Jul 16, 2017

How to Make the World's Easiest Clamp Rack

A functioning clamp rack. Every shop's gotta have one. "But, wait!" You say. "Isn't the easiest way to hold clamps just some 2x4s bolted to the walls, and maybe some holes and plumbing pipe inserted to hang the clamps on?" Yeah, perhaps. But, while that works if you have a ton of space, it's not the most efficient way to store clamps in a small shop. And I think of that as more of a "clamp hanging spot" than a proper organization system. Plus, if you already know about that trick, you certainly don't need me to give you a how-to. 

Instead, I present this design: infinitely adaptable to any scale, and able to hold almost any type of clamp. You can build the whole thing with some scrap plywood, a jigsaw, and drill, and make one - no matter the size - in well under an hour.    

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Jul 13, 2017

Check This Out: Rotating Benchtop Tool Stand

Color us impressed. This fits almost as many small hand tools as a half sheet of pegboard, but in an organized, compact footprint.    

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Jul 11, 2017

ManMade Essential Toolbox: In Praise of the High-Quality Screwdriver Set

created at: 08/26/2015

Let's be clear: none of us are here to discuss the basics of what a screwdriver is, or what it can do. Its purpose is clear. It's right there in the name.

Nor is it important to name all the different varieties of tasks it can perform. Because it can't do much.  If you use them properly, they're not a paint can opener. They're not a punch, or a chisel, or a pry bar. They do two things: tighten hardware, and loosen hardware. 

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Jun 27, 2017

Yes, Every Man Needs an Apron

Apron No. 2 in Chambray

Men wearing aprons seem to be more of a novelty than a practical household item. In popular culture the apron on men seems to only show up on tacky backyard cooks (think Kiss the Cook) and wisecracking chefs and their hyperbolic reality shows, or the hapless dad in the movies putting on a pink ruffled thing when he's stuck with the kids. But it's time to ignore all of those stereotypes and get yourself an apron. Here are a few reasons you need to consider one for yourself.

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Jun 16, 2017

The 1-Second Trick to More Accurate Measuring and Marking for Your Woodworking Projects

If you want gap-free joinery and a perfect, long-lasting fit for both strength and aesthetics, precise measuring and marking of parts is essential. But, each step of the process — measuring, transferring marks, and cutting — can introduce tiny little errors of 1/64 or 1/32", which, over the course of a project, can add up significantly. So here's a simple little trick that takes no extra time, but creates much more accurate results.    

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Jun 14, 2017

Everything You Need to Cook Amazing, Flavorful Food with a Cast Iron Skillet

A few weeks ago, we had a couple of friends over for dinner, and the husband joined me in the kitchen as I was finishing up some carrots I'd blackened and blistered then finished in the oven.

"Oh, you like your cast iron skillet?" he asked.

"Like it?" I replied. "I have three of them, and I use 'em as much as possible."

He was a little surprised at my response, and me by his. He'd said he and his wife had registered for both a large skillet and a dutch oven for their wedding, and received both. But once they got them home and unboxed, they could really figure out how to season them, how to clean them, or how to care for them. This, of course, broke my heart a bit, and I vowed that if he brought them over sometime, I'd help him get them ready to go, and show him what they could do.

So, whether you're just getting started in the wonderful, flavorful world of cast iron, or you'd like to move beyond special occassion meals and use these as your daily cookware, there's just a few things you should know, and keep around, for smooth, non-stick, generation-lasting success.     

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May 24, 2017

42 Awesome Father's Day Gifts You'll Actually Want to Give (or Receive) This Year

This post is in partnership with Murphy-Goode Winery.

I don't think any gift you can purchase can ever really capture the way you feel about your dad. It's just too complex a relationship; the feelings run too deep. But you can buy something that shows you know him, know what his interests are, and took the time to get him a gift you thought would matter to him. That's what we're here to help with. This guide contains all the stuff we'd want to get (or give) for Father's Day, with items for every budget and price range. Whether you're buying for your own parent, your spouse or partner, or making a wish list for yourself, we think it'll make your job a little easier this year, and hope everyone ends up with something they treasure.    

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May 18, 2017

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Why Every Man Should Own a Speed Square

created at: 02/03/2015
I always like a tool whose name indicates its purpose. Oh, what's a screwdriver do? A citrus squeezer? How about a box cutter? The function is all right there in the name. 

In many ways, a speed square falls right into the category. It tells helps you determine "square" - that is, when one edge or line is exactly 90° to another, and it helps you do it quickly. Done. Right? Wrong. 

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Apr 20, 2017

5 Things You Should Take with You on Every Single Bike Ride

created at: 04/30/2016

Says Ernest Hemingway, "it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” 

We couldn't agree more. Nowhere looks more like itself than the way it looks on two wheels. And no matter your pursuit, there's a bike for it. Whether you're looking to spin for miles through country lanes on a road bike, run errands on a stout commuter bike built for comfort on city streets, or zip down tree-lined single track on a mountain bike, at the end of all the fun and adventure, you're going to have to get back to where you started. Safely, efficiently, and, hopefully, comfortably.

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Apr 18, 2017

Getting Started: Everything You Need to Create Your Own High-Quality Pens and Writing Instruments

I got a lathe last year, and soon, the addiction hit hard. There's something incredible about the hands-on approach to shaping wood that makes you lose track of time fast. Like all skills, you need practice. But turning is immensely satisfying work; you can go from a straight block of wood to a finished project in just an hour or two. And crafting heirloom writing instruments is a great way to get started.    

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Mar 14, 2017

4 Life-Changing Things You Didn't Know You Needed

4 Life-Changing Things You Didn't Know You Needed.

There's nothing more satisfying than hearing the phrase "Where'd you get that!?" Ok, maybe it's just me, but I consider that phrase to be the apex of achievement when you've truly found a cool item. Here's a round up of 4 unique, life-improving things that I use everyday and you should too!

 

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Mar 08, 2017

Why One of My Favorite DIY Workshop Tools Comes from the Makeup Aisle

Last weekend, I was hanging out with a friend in his garage, and he dropped the F-bomb. This is not typical for this friend, so while a little surprised, I was mostly intrigued. He'd made a mistake and installed something backwards, which, according to him, he does 60% of the time because it's impossible to tell which end is which. He says he's tried to identify it, but tape doesn't work, and a Sharpie marker wouldn't show up on the black surface. 

So I says to him,

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Feb 22, 2017

16 Under-$25 Cooking Essentials You Need in Your Kitchen Right Now

We believe in investing in long-lasting, high-quality kitchen gear; things worth saving up for, that you know will stand up to daily use. Opting for a legit forged steel chef's knife, say... one that can be sharpened and honed over and over and will last you the rest of your life, and then some.

But, investment pieces are just that: investments. Those things cost money, and they're well worth it. But thankfully, you can fill in the gaps with a selection of totally affordable and super useful kitchen tools, many of which cost less than a lunch at a local bistro. So with that in mind, here's our list of inexpensive, high-quality, and crazy versatile culinary tools with which you should be stocking your kitchen, all of which come in at less than twenty-five bucks.

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