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Oct 31, 2017

How to Drill a Perfectly Straight and Square Hole without a Drill Press

Sure, every once in a while, you choose to intentionally drill a hole at a specific angle. Perhaps your compound joinery demands it, or you're going for a stylish, contemporary look on a project.

But most of the holes we drill — I'd hazard to say a good 99% of them — are intended to be drilled straight on, perfectly perpendicular to the surface. You can do this precisely with a drill press, but many makers don't have one, and they require specific set up and work that's small enough to be placed on the table. 

So that leaves the cordless drill. A tool that, when balanced on the tip of a drill bit, can be easily canted and slanted off square in every single direction, especially when you're putting force behind it. 

But! The task is not impossible. Yes, DIYers, you can drill a perfect 90° hole with a cordless drill. Here's how it's done.    

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Sep 28, 2017

How to: Make a Simple Wooden Smartphone Speaker

Happy Monday, ManMakers! Today, I'm super excited to share an exclusive project with you. It's an excerpt from the new book Build Stuff with Wood, which is all about making cool woodworking projects with the most basic of tools.

The book is written by Asa Christiana, the former editor of Fine Woodworking magazine, and, I'm proud to say, a close friend of mine and all-around good guy. It features a variety of everyday objects you can make armed only with a cordless drill, a circular saw, and a jigsaw, plus a small palm router on one or two. There's a section on setting up a workspace, building a basic tool kit, and how to get great furniture-quality results from construction-grade tools. (Plus, a nice section on shop safety featuring a few photos of yours truly.)  Plus, the intro is written by Nick Offerman, so...enough said!

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Sep 14, 2017

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid Whenever You Use a Random-Orbit Sander

The random-orbit sander is one of the first tools any maker or DIYer should own. In fact, I can't think of another powered tool that I use more, on nearly every project involving wood. The design is simple, and right there in the name - they move, in a random circular pattern, to sand wood.

A huge improvement over its predecessor, the pad or orbital sander, these guys use special shaped sandpaper disc to get your project smooth fast and with minimum swirl marks. Well, at least faster than sanding by hand, and with much less energy. But with great power comes great...opportunity to mess things up. These wondertools work, but there are

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Sep 08, 2017

How to Make a Rustic Phone Charging Stand from a Slab of Hardwood

DIY Wood slab phone charger dock

Sponsored by the DIYZ® app

I love the idea of combining modern technology with natural textures. I keep my tablet in a case made from an old linen-covered notebook, and my sleek and shiny DSLR in a worn brown leather bag. So, I wanted to make a simple place to house my smartphone, while warming it up a bit. I went with the most natural thing I could think of: a big slab of forest tree. 

I like this design for a DIY wooden smartphone charging station because it fits the charging cable nicely, but it isn't stuck in place, so you can remove and use it elsewhere without the stand.

Enough talk! Let's make one!       

DIYZ® is THE

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Aug 23, 2017

Shop Update: Rehabbing & Fixing Up My New 8" Delta Jointer

For the last couple of years, I've been mostly set on woodworking tools. I've been collecting my large, stationary machines for nearly ten years now, and although I do plan to upgrade a few of them, I've been able to accomplish most of what I've set out to do with a little creativity and patience.

The one standard machine that's been missing from my shop is: the jointer. I knew I didn't want to buy a tiny benchtop machine, or even a too-small 6" model. I told myself I'd wait until I was in my "forever" shop, then get the machine I wanted; one I could use for the rest of my life.

Once we bought our house last year, I started a Craigslist alert, and painfully watched every listing from ubiqituous Harbor Freight tools to overpriced secondhand things from people who have no idea that what things are actually worth.

Over the last eighteen months, only a few 8" models even came up for sale. The woodworking community in my town snatched them up as soon as they were listed, and so I waited. And waited.

And then - enter this Delta DJ20. Built in the 80s when machines were machines. Complete with parallelogram beds, dead flat and coplaner tables, and an awesome fence, this was being offered at less than the price than the new Grizzly it's based on, plus no shipping, no assembly or degreasing, and it came with a mobile base.

I made my offer, went to check it out, and - boom! - I'm now the owner of a vintage 8" Delta jointer.    

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Aug 15, 2017

Shop Skills: How to Care For Your Cast Iron Table Tops

If you're like me, the cast iron in your shop sits atop the most prized tools you have. Those tops are solid, durable, stay dead flat, and make working wood just a bit easier. But to keep them at their best takes a bit of routine work, fending off rust and staining doesn't take much but make sure you do it. Here's how.  

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Aug 01, 2017

How to Drill Better, Cleaner Pocket Holes

Pocket hole joinery has a lot going for it. An affordable jig makes the process fool-proof, it comes together in less than a few minutes, and the joint itself is super strong.

The Kreg jig itself does most of the work, but a little knowhow makes the pocket hole clean and precise. This is especially important if the pocket hole will be visible, plugged, or filled.

Ready to make nice, sharp pocket holes? Let's go!    

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Feb 21, 2017

A Simple Woodworking Storage Project You Can Build This Weekend

I have a million e-mails. It's not actually a million, but it makes my soul feel that way. I know this feeling. It happens when I've been staring too long at a screen, clicking reply until I lose track of time and space and what name I'm supposed to sign in the sendoff. (It's Chris. My name is Chris.) The only way to fix it? Get away from the computer, turn on some music, and build something.

So let's go out to the shop and build a box that will never, ever have e-mails in it. Here's a simple woodworking project that can get you back to working with your hands, but isn't too fussy or complicated. And the cool part — it uses just a few basic tools and single board. When it's done, you'll have a stylish, versatile, stacking storage solution that will come in handy in any room in your house. 

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Sep 15, 2016

Make This: 5 Shop Tools You Can Build From Scratch

created at: 09/12/2016There are some very impressive makers out there. not only can they craft amazing projects for the home and shop, but they even go a step further an make their own power tools. Take a look at five impressive projects from start to finish.   

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Feb 09, 2016

Woodworking Faux Pas: 6 Things You Should Never Do When Tackling a New Project

created at: 04/16/2013

When you're just getting started in the world of building things, you'll find it can be rather hard to develop the "best practices" to help guide you down the right path. You're busy trying to figure out what the difference between a bevel and a miter is, but what you really need is someone to say "do this, not that."

created at: 10/06/2014It wasn't until I took a few classes and befriended some woodworkers that i really started to learn how to not do dumb things. Here's a list of six things I wish I would have learned before I wasted money and time on early projects.   

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Dec 21, 2015

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Keep Your Tools in Good Working Order with these Necessary Lubrication Tools

Grease GunWith so many moving parts in the shop, it takes quite a bit to keep it all running smooth. We keep a few key lubricants on the shelf to make sure there is a always an oil or grease close at hand when we need to get rid of that squeak, loosen a rusted tool, or just get something back to like new performance.  

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Oct 16, 2015

ManMade Essential Toolbox: You Need A Router, But Where Should You Start?

Palm RouterAside from the table saw, one of the most useful tools in my shop is the router. This large, loud, powerful tool can be intimidating to work with, but once you know the basics I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a tool worth learning to use.   

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Sep 10, 2015

Yes, You Need a Dust Collector in Your Workshop. Here's How to Get Started.

created at: 09/10/2015

You spend so much time in your shop, isn't it about time to spend a little time on it? Here's a solid upgrade that will get you breathing easier while out there making cuts.  

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Mar 27, 2015

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Why You Definitely Need a Sturdy Pair of Sawhorses

created at: 03/27/2015

The sawhorse is a familiar sight in on construction sites, or in the bed of a contractor's pickup. There, the use for those banged up concrete and paint encrusted beams is obvious: they're portable workstands, designed to be moved around from task to task and job to job. But at home, they're often forgotten for dedicated surfaces such as benches or worktables. And for good reason: traditional sawhorses, those that were big and sturdy enough to take on real work, take a lot of room to store; valuable space that could be filled work much more exciting things like table saws and drill presses and raw materials to make awesome stuff.   

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Oct 14, 2014

How to: Repair a Damaged Electric or Power Cord

Credit: Ethan Hagan

Whether it’s by accident or misuse, chances are you’re going to need to repair a power cord on something you own. I can’t count how many times I’ve almost cut my circular saw cord while ripping a board or yanked a lamp line and ripped it clean off. The good news is you don't have to toss out your expensive tools to a severed cord. Instead you can repair it yourself!    

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Apr 12, 2012

50 Tools Everyone Should Own

created at: 04/12/2012

Whenever I'm at a cocktail party, get together, or other small talk-conducive occassion and I tell people what I do, the first question I always get asked is, "Okay...so how do you make money from that?" But the second question I always get asked is for a recommendation of what are my top ten essential tools that everyone should have/buy for their niece who's getting their first place/try to get their husband to use.

The answer, of course, is "well, depends on what you're trying to do with them." I usually come up with some combo of measuring devices, handsaws, clamps, and fasteners, but I always think..."maybe I should come up with a list of essentials for the average homeowner or artist/maker at some point."   

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Feb 06, 2012

That One Time When I Injured Myself with the Table Saw...

created at: 02/06/2012

So...if I had my preference, I would never admit this to anyone that hadn't seen me in bandages. I'd keep it as my own little secret, and try to come off as a professional, and never have to be vulnerable online. Cause that's what you do with embarrassing information, right? Curate it out of your internet identity, and only take photos of your house when its clean and full of interesting items and cups of tea?

Except...I don't really believe that. I believe in authenticity, and telling the whole story, and being willing to geek out over something amazing and admitting you're not too cool to get obsessed with new ideas, and all that stu

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