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Feb 16, 2018

14 Seriously Tasty Burgers You've Got to Try this Weekend

The burger is usually thought of as summer fare — the progeny of some spatula-wielding self-appointed grill master. But true burger fans know that the very best are not cooked over grill grates, but on screaming hot solid surfaces, where the rendering fat and juices stay near the patty, creating not only a crispy exterior, but the deep, caramelized, confit-like richness that defines the flavor of a great burger.

Which means, of course, that burgers are actually year-round food, and armed with a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle, a great way to spend an dark, cold evening stuck inside. If we're gonna have January, than let us always have burgers. 

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Feb 16, 2018

How to: Turn an Old Shirt into a Handkerchief or Pocket Square

Old shirt lying on a table

I have a few shirts I just can't seem to part with. They don't really fit me (they're much too big and baggy) and I never wear them. Ever. Some are at least five years old, and barely holding together. 

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Feb 15, 2018

What to Do During Down Times Instead of Staring at Your Phone

Downtime. Or, in same cases, dead times: waiting rooms, lines, traffic, the moments in between appointments. Those places where you get nowhere quickly, but live in effective purgatory, embracing neither productivity or relaxation. To the overly ambitious (or those suffering from some form of adult ADHD), these are the times that try your soul in that special kind of slow-drip water torture way.

Sure, you could kill your dead time by scrolling through Instagram. You may even decide to do something useful with your phone, like one-liner email replies or clearing out your old voicemail. But what if you want to occasionally limit your exposure to the little blue screen that wasn’t a crucial part of human existence before 2007?

In lieu of time-killers, here are four suggestions for time-fillers that you can perform with absolutely no equipment other than your mind and your body. These are especially helpful if you’re stuck in a situation where you really shouldn’t be using your phone, like stop-and-go traffic.

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Feb 14, 2018

This is a Seriously Good Deal on a High-Quality Cast Iron Skillet

In the normal research/note-taking/formatting process of working on a upcoming gear roundup post this morning, I went to check the price and availability of one of my favorite tools: the cast iron skillet. I've always known cast iron is a pretty amazing value, performing nearly perfectly for generations if you follow a few simple rules. At $30, an American-made Lodge skillet is a great buy-it-for-life piece of cookware that works for nearly everything.    

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Feb 12, 2018

How to: Start a Minimalist Bullet Journal and Get Better at Everything

Search “bullet journal” in Instagram or Pinterest and you’ll see a cornucopia of tricked-out notebooks. The Esteemed Society of Crafters on the Internet has truly created a thing of beauty. But if you’re one of the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” (ANGTFT) set, don’t be fooled by the washi tape, calligraphy, and rococo calendar ornaments: a minimalist bullet journal is, hands down, the most efficient and robust planning tool in your productivity kit.

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Feb 12, 2018

The Dramatically Awesome Way to Open your Champagne in Less Than a Second

I'm a life-long fan of Alton Brown. Recently, I've loved his post-cable TV Youtube videos in which he revisits topics and techniques that he was not allowed to demonstrate on network television. These have included things like "dirty steaks" where you cook a hanger steak directly on natural wood coals, the most efficient way to light a grill (spoiler: it's by using what is basically a flame thrower), and, my favorite,

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Feb 09, 2018

Don't Go to the Dumb Store! Here are 5 Meaningful Valentine's Day Cards You Can Print at Home

If you've ever walked down the greeting card isle during February, you know it can be a sensory overload of 100's of pink and red frou-frou Valentine cards. Somewhere between the cheesy one-liners and floral designs maybe a descent card awaits for $5, but by the time you settle for it, loved ones have already filed a missing persons report and you've contemplated arson because they're out of the correct envelope size. Avoid the hastle, skip the corporate-generated professions of love and print one of these simple Valentine's Day cards at home...

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Feb 09, 2018

How to: Make a Custom, Heavy Duty Tool Roll to Carry Your Tools Anywhere

95% of the time, a tool box is overkill. Whether taking some items to help a friend with a project, or just working on something in my own home two floors above my basement shop, the act of dragging out the toolbox, selecting the items from the pegboard and arranging them appropriately, and then lugging the whole thing around is simply unnecessary. 

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Feb 08, 2018

How to Get the Most Out of Your Kitchen Knives

A kitchen knife is an unusual tool, in that the point of contact between the tool and the medium upon which it works is actually extremely delicate. Imagine if a wrench were as delicate as an X-acto blade that had to be replaced regularly, or if bar clamps would routinely stop holding things in place because they became all wonky with use. Most non-cutting tools are blunt, hearty and reliable. But blades have to be cared for, stored carefully, and sharpened (somewhat) regularly. 

But if there is an abused and neglected blade in your home that is used frequently but cared for rarely (okay, maybe not YOUR home, Mr./Ms. Attention-to-Detail––but the average home), it is the knives in your kitchen. Unless you are a professional ice sculptor or sword swallower, it is likely that the knives in your kitchen are the ones that get the most daily use. And if you are anything like me, it is way too easy to just grab one, use it, and put it back without special care for these knives. Despite my best intentions, it is easy for me to leave a dirty one on a cutting board, haphazardly toss one into the sink, clean in the dishwasher and store them in less-than-ideal ways (i.e., cluttered together in a drawer. I know. I'm an animal.) 

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Feb 08, 2018

10 DIY Valentine's Gifts You Should Make for Your Special Someone This Year

Candles

Two years ago, on February 9th I came home from a long day of work at about 7:30 and my wife gave me incredible news.  She was pregnant! This was going to be our first child, so naturally I was overcome with so many different emotions. I paused for what felt like an eternity and when I finally gathered my wits, I very distinctly remember the first words out of mouth were, "It's okay, we're in a good spot financially for this right now."  If you're a woman reading this, I know what you're thinking - "how romantic".  Well, my wife didn't think it was a very good response either. In my defense, I'm a CPA and that's just how my brain works

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Feb 07, 2018

Don't Toss Those Fries! How to Hack Your Restaurant Leftovers

I love all the "comes with" food from restaurant meals. You know what I’m talking about—the side dishes and classic pairings that are served with what you actually ordered: fries, steakhouse rolls, steamed rice...and, because I live in the South, biscuits. Oh, the biscuits. If you’re like me, though, half of that glorious freebie food gets launched at the end of the meal because you’re too full from the main entree.

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Feb 07, 2018

This Is Definitely the Coolest DIY "Lathe" You'll See This Week

In his continued bid to take over much of the world's media channels, Anthony Bourdain has partnered with the producers of Balvenie Scotch Whisky on an online program that is truly exceptional. In the process of producing the first batch of episodes, he met with some of the most extraordinary craftspeople in the United States (and ended up walking away with some Bob Kramer knives that certainly left our mouths agape.)

If you want to watch between 7 and 16 minutes of well-produced, craft-heavy, and inspirational material, this series is for you. And lucky us, a new batch of videos just dropped in the last month or so. So if you've already caught up with the initial episodes, there's more to watch. 

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Feb 06, 2018

How to: Carve a Simple Wooden Spoon from Any Hardwood


Look, I love making furniture. I love sourcing the materials, planning out parts, and executing the joinery. But lately, I find myself increasingly drawn to the "other" things you can do with wood. What are the smaller, craft level projects that show off the beauty of working with natural materials, but can be completed in a weekend, or even a single sitting?   

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Feb 05, 2018

How to Create a Meaningful Valentine's Day You'll Actually Want to Celebrate (No Cheesiness Allowed)

"See I'm all crooked feet, Saint Valentine" – Gregory Alan Isakov 

Valentine's Day sometimes feels like a conspiracy. It's a holidays front loaded with expectations that are onerous, distracting and just waiting to be disappointed. And all the while — with you and your partner/spouse/significant other/whomever are running around trying to meet these expectations by spending money and time and creative thinking — it is supposed to be a chance to pause and really appreciate the most important person in your life. If that isn't a setup for a cruel joke, I don't know what is. 

In a world of clichés, Valentine's Day is supposed to involve

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Feb 02, 2018

ManMade Recommended: (Probably) The Best Affordable Safety Glasses Money Can Buy

We don't ask much from our safety glasses. Their primary purpose is right there in the name: they protect you when performing activities that create and project debris that could damage your eyes... woodworking, scrapping paint, anything dealing with rust or metal shavings, and the like. The most important thing is that they be handy and ready to go, so you don't hesitate to grab them when execute a potentially dangerous task. Here's the best way we've found to deal with it.    

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Feb 02, 2018

Abide Like the Dude and Make Your Own White Russian

The White Russian cocktail. This drink has been around almost as long as Jeff Bridges has, but you, and I, and everyone born after 1965 identify it with cult classic comedy, The Big Lebowski. It's the go-to drink for Bridges' character, The Dude, and for good reason: three ingredients, easy to make, cheap, and tastes totally awesome, man. So, whether you're chilling out in your bathrobe or having an after-dinner drink with friends, let's relax and make our own White Russian...

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Feb 01, 2018

Stone Cold Flavor: Why a Mortar and Pestle Gets the Most Out of Your Food

I'd wager that when most people first pick up a mortar and pestle, their first thought is something like, "you can't be serious!" Very rarely is there a tool that you can buy at, say,  Williams-Sonoma––perched alongside the electric pepper mills and the seasonally-themed waffles irons––that has not really changed since the invention of the wheel. A gigantic, blunt mineral rod and a heavy rock bowl is, quite literally, stone age technology. And for anyone who has not yet seen the magic and serious power that this tool puts into your hands, there is an instinct to look for electrically-powered appliances that can replace it: A food

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Feb 01, 2018

The Irish Whisky Renaissance is Real.

Years ago, I'd meet mine a friend at a bar in New York's Upper East Side that was between our two apartments––just close enough for each of us that we could walk home safely while being substantially into our cups. When we would stay late, the bartender would get friendlier and friendlier with free drinks and generous pours. It was jovial and warm and a fine place to spend some time with good company. When we were ready to pay our tab, the bartender––who was well past friendly at that point––poured us a trio of shots to send us on our way. Inevitably, as with bars throughout the U.S. (unless you are from the very South and West), he was pouring from a bottle of Jameson's. By and large, that is how whisky works in America. If you mean to order Scotch or Bourbon or Rye, you name those specifically. But if you just order "whisky" there's a good chance it'll be Irish.     

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Jan 31, 2018

How to: Make a DIY Reclaimed Wood Storage Box from a Wooden Block

Making a bandsaw box is a great starter project for learning how to expand your talents in the shop. Just a few steps transforms a block into a great desktop or nightstand box. I had a used block sitting around from another project, and this just seemed like a natural way to make it into something useful.  

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