This is my backyard. All of it. A roughly 4 x 4 1/2 ' patch of gravel and clay.
I think even the most blackest of thumbs can recognize that nothing's gonna grow in that soil. But, that's not okay with me. I want a garden. I want to be able to just walk out of my door, and grab fresh herbs, greens, and produce when I'm preparing meals. I want to participate in my food. I wanna weed, water, and scare away all those dang chipmunks that nibble at my plants.
So, as my first project for the True Value Blog Squad, I built a garden that allows my plants to thrive regardless of the soil condition, or the fact that the space is smaller than me.
And you can too! Here's how:
Anyone who's ever used a blazingly sharp-toothed saw or chisel can attest: that's the last place you want tiny little fingers...
Or is it?
"Just as legions of Americans in cities and suburbs have discovered the joys of working with their hands — building their own chicken coops or brewing artisanal vinegars — many are now encouraging their children to do the same, by giving them the opportunity to learn how to handle a hammer as well as they use an iPhone."
As a teenager, I was the yard care master. As the only son and grandson in my family, I managed lawns, shrubs, and trees for most of my family and half the block. It wasn't summer unless my entire life was stained with grass, and I learned to love music when listening to my bright red My First Sony cassette Walkman and the tapes I'd make from albums from the library.
Then, I got real summer jobs in college. And now, I'm an urban dweller, and don't even own a lawnmower, let alone a hedge trimmer, edger, weed whacker, and the like. But someday, I'll have a garage, and a yard to care for, and a whole pegboard full of powered lawn care tools.
Do you know the difference between a chinoise and spider? Do you know when to use a mezzaluna or a melon baller? Can you name at least 50% of the tools in your own kitchen drawers at this very minute? Do you want to use the word "splendiferous" as often as possible?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Peter Buchanan-Smith and Best Made Co., and I haven't been able to shake the imagery of their color-adorned urban axes since. I can't help but check out the ax and shovel handles at the hardware store and garden center. And while I have immense respect for Best Made Co. and their amazing work, I'm just not at the point in my life where I can swing investing in a high-end functional art piece.
But that doesn't mean I couldn't take a cue from their bold color meets wood-grain handles and deep silver blades - so I decided to create my own colorful high-end tool, using a claw hammer. And you can too.
Web design firm Meltmedia have created a hilarious and engaging video that asks, "What if the digital tools we use everyday exist in physical and analog space?" The Art of Analog Computing reminds us how digitally interfaced our entire lives and workspaces really are.
"The premise of this short film is to represent the digital tools and interfaces we use daily in an analog way. In the analog office, your computer desktop becomes your actual desk, your inbox gets flooded with Spam cans, the server runs past you multiple times a day (and perhaps crashes every now and then), and Twitter users follow each other around the space."
ManMade wants you to throw your own cocktail parties, and we'd like to help.
So, during the two weeks of May 17 - 30th, we're giving away a Home Bar Essentials gift kit that includes over $100 of great tools to make it happen. All you'll have to do is grab some glassware and bring the spirits.
The goodies include EVERYTHING on ManMade's Top Ten Essential Bar Tools, plus plenty of extra stuff thrown in for fun. If you win, you'll recieve:
- Professional-grade Boston shaker set
- 28 oz metal beaker
- 16 oz mixing glass
- Hawthorne strainer
- Long bar spoon
- Bartender's bottle opener
- Two refillable squirt bottles
The most efficient way to get your creative work done quickly is to keep your tools and gear within an arms reach. And if YOU move around, then so do your arms, so the best soiutions keep your goodies ON your person...like a tool belt.
And if your project is framing a house, then a traditional Bob Vila-style tool belt will do just fine. But if your arsenal involves items other than a hammer and drill, its often tough to find the perfect place to put your tools.
So, make that perfect place. A tool belt is only as useful as its ability to store the things YOU use on your projects. ManMade went to hang out with fabric master Amy D. to see if we could create a durable, customized tool belt on the cheap.
Every craft and medium requires the right tool for the job. And while most men won't need a Shape-A-Dart for altering patterns to match the proper cup-size, we do love us some gear, and sewing notions are no exception. Here are ten tools - beyond the obvious needle/thread and sewing machine/bobbin combos - you'll never regret buying.
1. Seam ripper. I hate to admit it, but this is the sewing tool I use the most. One doesn't nail every stitch every time, and there's simply no better way to get it out and start fresh. These are also great for ripping apart clothing for fabric hacking and reuse.
2. Tailor's chalk/Marking Pen As a pencil is to woodworking, tailor's chalk is essential to proper seamster-ing. You gotta be able to mark what your doing - where to sew, where to cut, where to pin, and tailor's chalk, in both white (for dark fabrics) and blue (for lighter ones) is my favorite medium, as it rubs right out. They also make markers and pencils for special projects and fabrics - a water soluble pen is handy for special projects (like embroidery) when you need drawing control.
I do indeed love the sights, sounds, and smells of a razor-sharp sawblade ripping through a two-inch block of hard maple, or a router-bit whizzing at 23,000 rpm creating a perfect 1/4" roundover.
But, for as much as I embrace the strength and speed of power tools, I find myself spending even more time with those tools that DON'T require ear plugs. Of course, you need hammers and screwdrivers and wrenches, but here's a list of ten items you can find in your hardware store that'll help you turn out great work, without the need for batteries or electricity.
1. All Sorts of Clamps. There's an old saying in the woodworking community..."You
I mean it. At least once a week, I find myself out and about and in the need of a screwdriver. I keep a multitool in my on-the-go bag, but I simply never seem to have it when the need strikes.
I have a key that will fit in most flat-slots, but a good old #2 Phillips head has come to be a must. I looked around, and found these for $10.00, but they're out of stock everywhere, and cost $6.95 to ship, I thought I could come up with a cool DIY solution for much less.
I started with the plan to simply attach a driver bit to my keys, but that failed for two reasons: one, there's not much torque available through spinning between my fingers; and two, these things are made of titanium, and after four broken drill bits, I realized there's no way I was going to get through one.
But, eventually, I came up with a solution that works quite well, and isn't much a burden to have in my pockets.