I love watching new things get made. But as equally invigorating?
Watching old things get repaired and restored.
There are plenty of reasons to fix old things: keeping them out of the landfill, learning how they're made, making a little extra jingle, appreciating the products around us that we take for granted, cultivating the mindset of taking better stewardship of our surroundings.
Thankfully for the world, there are a lot of people doing this for the love of the act, because they spend countless hours in their workshops and upload their process videos for free viewing on YouTube.
Read on for our top picks of tool (and other) restoration YouTube channels!
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.
I've always loved the feeling of contrasting materials, especially metal and hardwood. Metal is the yin to wood's yang: cold, crisp, and unforgiving, while wood offers smooth, supple, and organic patterns. When I really want to make a piece stand out, I'll put a bit of effort in mating these unlikely partners to play off each other for visual interest and a little bit of "how did they do that?" My youngest turns 5 this month, and I have been building a keepsake box that I hope she'll have for the rest of her life — an heirloom piece that I want to stand out as timeless, personal, and familiar. I decided a metal inlay of her initial would be a great way to make it her own.
We're in the world of paperless resources, so having a collection of actual books is a bit of a forgotten passion. But there's something special about a few key reference manuals, inspirational resources, and good ol' fashioned nostalgia that I just love. Keeping them close at hand but neatly organized can be a bit of a challenge in the home shop. That's where a set of simple bookends can come in handy.
I wanted to make a set of bookends that stood out but felt at home in the shop. That's why this simple, clean design is such a great fit. A set of squares set me back about $15
Pegboards have always had a place in my shop. They are simple to install, and easy to reconfigure as the needs evolve. I have a section by my stationary tools and few large boards for everything else. Mostly, I keep small tools like screwdrivers, scrapers and saws hanging. But there's so much more than hooks and pins. For example, here's a simple pegboard holder to organize my growing collection of blowtorch tools.
A few weeks ago I got a text from a buddy. He had just moved and was setting up the new house. He told me "I think this time around I want to make sure my sword has a place." By his sword, he meant his 1865 Union Artillery Saber that had been with him since the 1st grade. (Talk about high expectations when the parents give you a sword at age nine). But the issue was that he didn't have a good way to display it, and the cheaply made, $30 online holders just didn't seem fitting. That's why he called me up, and asked if I could help. I gladly accepted the challenge, and came up with this beast. Here's how I did it.
The coin ring is an internet DIY classic. I remember seeing an old video (on Makezine, perhaps?) on creating a nickle ring way back in the early days of the DIY and craft blogosphere. Like, 2006.
But, most tutorials simply harvest the coin as raw material, banging it and beating it until it looks like any piece of cool-colored metal. These pieces by Nicholas Heckaman, however, fully embrace the ring's origin, showing off that recognizable texture and type, giving the ring plenty of personality.
We've all come across the stubborn bolt. You know the one. That bolt that needs come off, like, now, but for no visible reason, the nut won't turn. Turns out, there's a simple trick: add a bit heat and get it turning quick. Here's how I make it happen.
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.
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.
Most homes theses days have a fair bit of copper piping in them, and knowing how to make simple repairs (or installs) is worthwhile. Plus, soldering (aka 'sweating') pipe is one of those skills that's actually really easy to learn, and pretty hard to mess up (badly).
Here's the thing, though: soldering pipe can be dangerous, because it involves using a blow torch at high temperatures to heat the copper. Plus, you'll almost always be doing it it indoors, which is not my favorite place to use an open flame. So do it safely:
Maker and designer Nick provides this awesomely detailed tutorial to create a custom, traditional straight razor from scratch. And by from scratch, we mean from. scratch. This build process includes everything from grinding shaping, and sharpening the blade, crafting the wood handle, and even creating custom hardware that allows the razor to pivot while staying balanced.
If you're a serious off-roader or just a generally well-prepared person, this might be the thing for you. It's a portable welding kit that runs off of car batteries and is perfect for getting whatever welding you need done regardless of where you are.