Previously, I offered the thesis that if you're only going to learn to tie one knot, it should be the bowline: it's simple, can be easily untied, and is incredibly versatile for all sorts of situations.
And all that is true. But, it's not the "knot" I employ most often. Because the reality is, most of us don't handle rope on a daily basis. We do, however, in the age of smartphones and podcasts and the entire history of recorded music available at your fingertips, engage with another long, stringy thing that needs to be dealt with on the regular: your headphones.
Or ear buds. Or ear phones. Or whatever you call those wired transducers that deliver all that sweet, sweet audio to your brain. And because you take them with your everywhere, they regularly get knotted and tangled up in your pocket or bag.
This is completely unnecessary. Because there's a five-second "knot" that can completely eliminate this problem, and it doesn't take any longer than other storage methods. So, now, I present to you, the actual most useful knot in the world.
A few weeks ago, I declared ISOTunes the best headphones for woodworkers and DIYers. They include both audio drivers for sound and 27 dB of OHSA-compliant hearing protection from machine noises in the same package, and after spending all summer testing them out in real world situations, I can't think of a better investment to improve your shop time.
So, I'm pretty excited to share that I've collaborated with ISOTunes to give away three pairs of ISOTunes PRO headphones to ManMade readers.
First came the radio. Turn it on, tune in the dial, and hope you'd have something listenable during the quiet moments. Then came the shop stereo, usually an old bookshelf system we didn't mind getting covered in sawdust. But for the last ten years or so, it's been all about the personal audio player...and for most of us, that means our smartphone. Why blast the tunes throughout a space, keeping up with loud machines and bugging those around us when you can have literally anything you want playing through your own set of earbuds?
Whether you opt for music, podcasts, audiobooks, or digital radio, most DIYers and woodworkers have a set of earbuds plugged in during most parts of a project. The problem? If you use power tools, you still need to wear hearing protection to 1) take care of your ears and reduce loud exposure to noise and 2) hear your audio over the roar of the motors.
Long time ManMade readers may recall my love of these earbuds, which I have claimed (over and over again), are the best value in in-ear audio supply out there. I had three or four sets going at any given time, and use them everywhere from the workshop and exercising to travel and housecleaning marathons. They work great, sound good enough, and are both durable and affordable that you don't mind taking a few risks with them. (Nearly every pair I have are also covered in paint and wood glue.)
I'm kinda hard on ear buds. I wear them a lot - when doing household tasks like cleaning and cooking dinner, when crafting in the workshop, on long bike trail rides... I even use them when not connected to anything, à la ear plugs, to drown out ambient noise when working from the coffee shop. As an introvert, I wear them in the airport and the grocery store and the book shop not so I can avoid others, but because I like being out and moving about in the real world listening to things that inspire me.
And, I'm kinda hard on them. I used to buy pricier ones, but no matter how careful I'd be, they'd get caught on something or the contact points would fray, and they'd simply go kaput. I don't think of them as "disposable" but I am certainly a heavy user, and its hard to justify $50 or $100 on something you know is gonna need replaced at least once a year.
I experimented with a few styles, and then Bruno, ManMade's publisher, recommended a pair of these to me. And they're the best pair of ear buds I've ever owned. They sound great, they fit great, and they cost less than $15.00.