I've stated it before: I'm a total workshop rat. There's something about spaces where skilled work gets done that invigorates my spirit. At various points throughout my life, I've wandered into blacksmith shops—on my great uncle's farm in southern Ohio, at a permanent exhibit on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, at the dead end of a street on the outskirts of my college town in West Virginia—and each time I've quieted with reverence, among the tongs and hammers and slack tubs, as if walking in the glow of stained glass windows.
Short of actually hanging around the shop, smelling the hot metal and hearing the clank of a hammer on an anvil, I get my forge fix by following metalsmiths on Instagram. Here are thirty of ManMade's favorite accounts that we totally recommend.
In the sheer scope and magnitude of Youtube, I going to assume that we will one day see every conceivable thing that exists in the world. Because, we all know, that if it is weird enough for someone to try, there is someone around with a camera ready to film it. So, we can file this under, "what the hell is going on here?" But there's this guy with a Youtube channel whose entire purposes seems to be to constantly and painstakingly recreate a knife out of very different, very bizarre materials.
Let's say you've read up on the merits of woodcase pencils and you've decided to become an inveterate pencil carrier. You've sorted your B's from your HB's, you've picked your favorite finishes and ferrules. You've bought your dozen (or two) and are scribbling smoothly... until one day you find yourself with a dull point and no sharpener.
But if you've got your pocketknife, you're just a few minutes from a fresh point! Let's take a look at how to sharpen a pencil by hand.
I've been looking at making a small forge for a while now. The main goal is to dip my toe into metal working just a little bit, so something that can heat up about 6" stock is all I want. This weekend, I gathered up some basic materials and made myself a small forge.
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,
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.)
If you think of the elements of cooking that feel the most like a chore, cutting vegetables can rank pretty high on the list (just under scraping off blackened cheese from a sheet pan.) But when you’re holding your knife correctly, it can be one of the most satisfying parts of the cooking process...second only to eating.
Practically speaking, you’ll significantly reduce your kitchen prep time while making sure that all of your digits stay intact. So, more efficient and safe.
Who doesn’t want to save minutes and fingertips?
A few months ago, in the midst of a day full of projects, I had a bit of an a-ha moment. I was in my workshop, using the table saw to slice up some Baltic birch plywood, when a timer on my phone went off, reminding me to take a break and go chop a bunch of vegetables to add to the slow cooked stock I was simmering in the kitchen.
Yesterday afternoon, I was putting a load of laundry together, and I took out all of the various bits and items from all my pockets before placing my clothing in the basket. By the time I'd doubled checked everything for errant tubes of lip balm and bonus dollar bills, I had a pile sitting on my dresser that, when I looked down, simply ignited this thought in me:
Yep, there's all my stuff.
Sharpening a blade at home - whether a pocket knife, a chisel, a kitchen knife, a hand plane blade, a pair of scissors - is a relatively simple process. In theory. In practice, it can be a bit difficult, since the essence of sharpening a blade is less about the ability to remove material and create/straighten a new edge. Rather - the trick is removing that material at the right angle to create the bevel that makes up a blade's sharp edge.
There are those basic, essential tools that everyone needs to cook awesome food at home. ManMade thinks there are a solid fifteen, and we've shared them here - The Essential Kitchen: The 15 Tools Every Man Needs to Cook Like a Pro
But then, there are those less obvious tools... The ones that make cooking a real pleasure, and allow you to turn out restaurant-quality food with the charm of homemade.
Kitchen knives, pocket knives, craft knives....a creative guy who likes to make stuff simply has to cut things up on the regular. Here's the ManMade list of the nine knives every man should own, but if you're interested in crafting your own from raw materials, it's actual relatively straightforward and requires fewer tools than you might think.
There are some incredible and craftsmen out there willing to share their hard-won experience. Metalworking is a varied field, with everything from blacksmithing to more modern welding techniques. The maker in me really likes the idea of a forge and pounding metal into something amazing so these channels are intended to highlight some serious iron-working. So with that, here are five of the best metalworkers on YouTube you should be watching if you want to learn something new.
As the adage about trash and treasure goes, this dude literally found this rust-covered meat cleaver in the trash and decided to restore it to what I'm sure is more than its former glory. If you look in these up-close "before" photos you'll see that the rust is so thick it looks almost like soft moss. Not so by the end...
Instructables.com user IDEAforWOOD really earns his title with this unique stainless steel plum wood knife. Plum heartwood is known for its cornucopia of beautiful internal colors and IDEAforWOOD found a way to highlight them all just right by extending the wood grain to cover the majority of the blade in a truly elegant way. Take a look.
I'm a huge Legends of the Fall fan, to the point that I was actually embarrassed when I saw it for the first time in my early twenties because I realized I'd spent much of my life emulating a character I hadn't known existed. While I did take the time to study a Native American language, I have yet to make forge my own antler-hilted blade like Brad Pitt's iconic weapon of choice...
It turns out, we may have been slicing up that steak wrong all these years. Here's a case for switching it up and getting a better experience out of your meal.
A dull knife makes everything a bit harder, and when it comes to mastering that meal a sharp edge really makes all the difference. Here's how to pick a knife that will up your culinary chops immediately.
The Kiridashi knife, known for its simplicity in design and general utility can be a work of art all on its own. And frankly so can the video documenting the process. Watch the silent and curious process video from Miller Knives and learn how to make your own Kiridashi utility knife from a single piece of 1085 high carbon steel...
When it comes to serious woodworking, a marking knife beats a pencil for most layout tasks. And here's why: 1) The knife's edge is finer and flat on one side, allowing you to truly scribe a line along a straight edge, not just next to it. 2) The knife cuts the wood grain on the surface, so that when you go back to make a through cut with a chisel, saw, router bit, etc, the fibers will stay clean and crisp along the surface. 3) The knife's indentation gives you a place to register your tools, ensuring accurate and gap-free cuts.
Don't own one yet? Don't like yours and want to improve it? Want to multiply your arsenal so you can keep one in every corner of your shop? Well then... it's time to roll your own.