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Dec 27, 2018

Let's Talk: What's the Best Gift You Received (or Gave) This Holiday?

Every holiday season, sites like ManMade spend all kinds of effort doing our best to help you find meaningful, quality gifts that you'll be proud to give someone. Or, at least, that you can add to your wishlist and let those in your life know you'd love to unwrap yourself.

But once the gift guides are published, we never seem to revisit those things until the following year. So, today, during this week after Christmas, I thought I'd ask — Did you get anything cool for Christmas? Or give something that particularly excites you that we should all know about?   

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Dec 21, 2018

If You Actually Want Your New Year's Resolutions to Stick — Do This, Not That

There is lots of scientific research on why setting goals on January 1 never really works out, and why, by March or April, we've all backslid into our old habits. Often, it's because goals aren't specific enough, or we haven't found the best way to track the work we've done. Or, perhaps we don't actually believe we can achieve that new version of ourselves for the long term.   

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Dec 20, 2018

This is The Only Cheap "Champagne" You Should Be Drinking This New Year's Eve

If you, like me, were born between 1975 and 1990, your first exposure to the idea that "champagne" has technical regulations and restrictions likely came from Rob Lowe's odious Benjamin character in the original Wayne's World. ("Actually, all champagne is French. It's named after the region.") And you, like me, probably play into/totally own his snooty accusation that Americans don't recognize the convention, and call all their sparkling whites "champagne," and don't care. Because only a true b-hole shames somebody while handing them a drink.    

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Dec 19, 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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Dec 18, 2018

How to Easily Calculate Board Feet

The first time you go to the lumberyard can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Even if you think you know what you’re doing, all the different species of lumber, the different dimensions of the lumber, different locations within the lumberyard, etc. can seem daunting for finding the perfect piece for your project.  With just a little bit of simple math, one area where you can be totally confident is calculating the cost of your chosen board.

Most home centers sell lumber by the linear foot, which means that the price of the board is determined by the length of the board. You pay a little extra for the convenience of a home center and you likely aren’t getting the best piece of lumber.  The lumberyard, on the other hand, sells their lumber by the board foot.  A board foot takes into consideration the thickness, width and length of a board.  There are several apps board foot calculator apps to help you figure out how many board feet are in your chosen piece, but all you need to remember is one simple formula and you can calculate board feet anywhere.

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Dec 17, 2018

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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Dec 12, 2018

Fact: Old Newspaper is the Greatest Gift Wrap of All Time

I think I was eight. Maybe seven. It was my birthday, and a family friend who'd taken a mentor role with me stopped by to give me a small gift. I don't remember what was in inside, but I can so perfectly and vividly recall that it was wrapped in the full, CMYK color of Sunday comics section, and it blew my freaking mind.   

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Dec 10, 2018

How to Make a Custom Copper Pipe Lamp

Copper pipe lamp DIY instructions

I love using the internet to find inspiration, design ideas, and cool materials for my next big project. But, I still think there's a lot of value in a simple, compact physical volume to invite both new makers and folks looking to step up their game into growing their craftsmanship.

So, I want to recommend to you a new book Handmade: A Hands-On Guide. It's a primer full of beginner and intermediate level projects from all across the makersphere, many of which are provided by some of your favorite bloggers, YouTubers, and online content creators. (Including, full disclosure, yours truly.) It's written by my friend and colleague Asa

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Dec 07, 2018

Holiday How-to: Make DIY Wooden Gift Tags from Scrap...in Under 15 Minutes

Giving gifts? It's the best, right? Not cheap plastic things, and certainly not gift cards. But thoughtful custom - and most of the time handmade gifts - that I know someone will enjoy for years to come. Take a look at our list of 50 gifts for men here, and gifts for women here.

Of course, the gift has to be wrapped in something special as well. So, why would I want to use lame paper gift tags from the discount store after all that work? Here is a simple project to make some name tags that are as thoughtful as the gift.   

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Dec 05, 2018

DIY Gift Idea: Make Your Own Wood-Infused Booze

As far as holiday gifts go, it's hard to beat something to sip. And this year, you can do a little better than swinging by the grocery store and grabbing a bottle of wine. 

This wood-infused project only take a tiny bit more work than buying something from the liquor store, but boosts all kinds of flavor benefits and handmade points, turning the spirits into a proper gift. 

Make some in bulk for everyone you know, and your holiday shopping is done.    

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Dec 03, 2018

How to Cut a Perfect Circle with a Jigsaw

A quality jigsaw is one of my favorite tools, and a seriously good DIY best buy. Armed with the right blade, you can cut all sorts of materials into nearly any two-dimensional shape you please. And most-importantly, do it safely. 

But it's flexibility as a creative tool is also its liability. Like a pencil, it can go in any direction, but in the hands of a human being, those directions will never be without the marks of our innate imperfection. Straight lines can be accomplished with a fence, but a perfect circle. You can't draw one by hand, so don't expect yourself to be able to jigsaw one either. 

At least, not without a little help.    

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Nov 30, 2018

Make This: DIY Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

I've been trying to up my host game lately, especially in the drinks department. Solid glassware, proper bar tools, and better presentation go a long way towards concocting a quality experience. That's why I was excited to come up with a great gift project for those that want to ditch the cheap plastic in their classy mixed drinks. These simple straws are hefty enough to really stand out as a stocking stuffer, or on their own as a solid holiday gift.   

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Nov 29, 2018

How to: The Simple, Easy Trick to Instantly Improve Your Hot Toddy

I have gone on record, in this publication and elsewhere, about why the hot toddy is the perfect cocktail to be sipping in December. It's warm. It's spiced. And at least according to folk wisdom, and able to heal a nasty wintertime sore throat, it's good for your health, and can help to heal a nasty wintertime sore throat. But, to be honest, until last Tuesday evening, I didn't actually like a hot toddy. 


They were fine, but not delicious, and not really an improvement over a simple glass of neat whiskey. 

In truth, hot toddys (toddies?) always disappointed: never quite hot enough to truly enjoy, and somewhat ... harsh. There was something I never liked about adding acidic lemon juice to a healthy glug of bourbon, then heating the whole thing up. It seemed to bring out all the rough, grain-y flavors, and hid the tasty warm and spicy barrel-aged notes that make whiskey, well, whiskey.  

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Nov 26, 2018

How to: Add Additional Lighting to Your Workshop

tools and suppliesHave you ever tried to do any woodworking, leather working, metal working or anything else in your shop if it’s dimly lit?­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­  It’s hard to see cut lines, find your tools and it can be really unsafe while you’re trying to make any cuts.  My garage, which doubles as my workshop, only had two lights in the center of the structure.  Those two lights probably would have been adequate if they were directly over my working area, but with them being in the center of the garage I wanted more light.  In order to get that extra light, I had two simple options: 1.) get brighter bulbs for the two

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Nov 19, 2018

How to Make an Heirloom Carving Board

diy cutting board for carving a turkey

It happens every year. I'll spend a couple days reading old November issues of my favorite cooking magazines and pouring over the food blogs to come up with our Thanksgiving menu. I'll make a plan, shop way ahead of time, and spread my prep work out over the three days prior. Come Thursday, there will be an established timeline, and it will be executed to a T. And when the sides are ready, the turkey will be out of the oven and well rested to keep the juices in. I'll go to carve it, and inevitably, I'll say to myself:

Crap. I forgot that I do not have a work surface on which to properly take this thing apart.

I have cutting boards. Nice, thick, end-grain hard maple butcher blocks that I made myself. But they were designed for chopping vegetables, which are relatively dry, and not carving a turkey, which (if you cook it right) is very, very moist. Those juices will flow, and saturate any number of kitchen towels, and make a huge mess, covering my hands in poultry drippings to the point that I can no longer safely grip the knife and everything goes slippery, sliding (but flavorful) chaos.

It happens every year. I say to myself, "I really ought to make a proper carving board." And this year, I decided it was finally time.

So, here's how to make a diy cutting board yourself. Once you have the materials, it's only 90 minutes of work, and will last for many, many holiday seasons to come. 

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Nov 18, 2018

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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Nov 16, 2018

This Year, You Should Be Making My Mom's German Thanksgiving Stuffing

This is the best turkey stuffing recipe ever. There. I said it.

Best turkey stuffing recipe ever - Mom's german bread stuffing

Premise #1: stuffing is the greatest thing on the Thanksgiving table.
Premise #2: My mom's German stuffing is a tradition, and amazing. 
Premise #3: It's also incredibly easy to make and super versatile.

Conclusion: You should make Mom's German stuffing recipe

It's the holiday season here on the show and today we make German Thanksgiving stuffing, a family holiday recipe with Mom. She makes it the best and she's gonna make sure we do it right. This is one of my favorite traditions, and is one of the simplest holiday recipes. You'll be blown away by how tasty it is. Mom and I are happy to share it with you.

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Nov 14, 2018

8 Legitimately Good Thanksgiving Movies to Watch While You Digest

Halloween has its horror and December its infinite loop of sparkle-strung classics. Good or bad, they're the established traditions of their seasons.

But, if you will, allow me to make the case as November as perhaps the prime month for festive film watching. We can't all relate to being chased by ax murderers nor having the carolers sing as we find our soulmate under the mistletoe just as the snow starts to fall outside. But everyone knows the experience of returning home to break bread and spill gravy with family, or, perhaps, what it's like to strike out on your own for the first holiday not spent at your grandparents. The Thanksgiving table (and four days of being stuck in the same place) is the perfect setting for drama, comedy, and everything in between. Plus, all those sweaters. Here are our faves that get it right. 

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Nov 09, 2018

7 DIY Tools and Products I Can't Recommend Highly Enough

I get this question a lot, and it's my privilege to answer and help folks out. Whether its someone looking for a gift for a creative friend or family member, or a somebody just beginning their DIY journey, people simply want to know "what should I get?"

And so, here are my picks from some of my most recent conversations. They're all over the spectrum, but all are solid, go-to options that I can't imagine working without. I think you'll enjoy them too. 

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Nov 08, 2018

Shop Skills: How to Clean Your Saw Blades

Dirty SawbladesMaintaining your shop tools starts with keeping those blades sharp and well lubricated. Here's a quick overview on how to tune up your cutting edges.  

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