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Oct 12, 2020

7 DIY Tools and Products I Can't Recommend Highly Enough

I get this question a lot, and it's my privilege to answer and help folks out. Whether its someone looking for a gift for a creative friend or family member, or a somebody just beginning their DIY journey, people simply want to know "what should I get?"

And so, here are my picks from some of my most recent conversations. They're all over the spectrum, but all are solid, go-to options that I can't imagine working without. I think you'll enjoy them too. 

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Oct 06, 2020

11 Tools to Take Your Woodworking Projects from Hammer & Nails to Fit & Finished

Most of us get into woodworking from a practical point of view: we need to work on something around the house, so we head to the home center and get tools to break down dimensional lumber and bang it back together. So you upgrade from a circular saw to a compound miter saw, and maybe even get yourself a pocket hole jig so you can hide your hardware from sight. 

And then, as it inevitably happens, something changes in your point of view. You're now longer just doing "home improvement" or "building things"... you're now: a woodworker.   

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Sep 23, 2020

How to Make Decent Coffee in the Wilderness

camping coffee makerEtymology often helps shape thought: when you're aware of a word's origins, you're in touch with the full context of the words that filter your inclinations. For example, did you know that wilderness comes from the Old English for "wild deer"?

Think about that for a moment: it's a place filled with animals unaccustomed to human contact, where humans have minimized their prints on the world. So when we go out to the wilderness, we're immersing ourselves in the beauty of nature, we're adventuring outside of civilization, and we're escaping from the creature comforts that can dull our sense of connection to the cosmos.

Well... maybe not 100% escape. Because while I love taking a break, I've never been interested in taking vacation from a good cup of coffee. If you're the same, read on for how we at ManMade make decent coffee in the wilderness, and our choices for a great camping coffee maker.

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Aug 18, 2020

How to Roll Your Shirt Sleeves Like You Know What You're Doing

how to roll up sleeves on any shirt

Rolling up your sleeves. It's a fitting metaphor for getting stuff done because of its roots in literally protecting your shirt during activity. It's a practice reserved for when you're shifting out of the formal occasion that requires a button-up shirt, but you're not yet going to change into casual clothes: dinner after work at a restaurant with family, lunch at the pub with co-workers, traveling on business, in the later hours of a wedding reception.

When you strip it down to its elements, there's really not much to the process of rolling your sleeves. But remember that clothing is nonverbal communication, and when you make intentional decisions about you wear, you project purpose. So if you're going to roll your sleeves, don't just shove 'em up your arm... do it with confidence!

Read on for your three main options for rolling up your sleeves.

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Aug 13, 2020

Seriously, This is the Best Travel Coffee Mug You Can Buy

Best travel coffee mug review

We wanted find the best travel coffee mug out there. Why? Because a travel mug is a simple device. So simple, that it's so notable when so many models get things wrong. And then you use the perfect one, and you realize all the care and design that goes into the things we use everyday, and it's amazing. 

There's a travel coffee or tea mug that keeps your drink warm for hours, you can throw in a bag and never worry about it spilling, and provides a safe and pleasant drinking surface from which to sip. And it costs $20. And that mug is the Contigo Autoseal Stainless Steel Travel Mug with Easy Clean Lid. It's the best travel coffee mug you

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Jul 20, 2020

ManMade Recommended: This is, Hands Down, the Best Dust Mask for Woodworking

best dust mask woodworking

Hopefully, you're already a committed safety glass wearer. Grabbing a pair for even the simplest drilling/driving task is good practice, and a part of your DIY routine. Even better, if you use power tools, you're also protecting your hearing from those roaring 85-90 dB motors.

Last in that great triumvirate, and perhaps the most often overlooked, is protection for your respiratory system. Too many of us don't wear a dust mask, respirator, or sealed face shield when working on projects for one simple reason: they are extremely uncomfortable, a total hassle, and more irritating than your second cousin's toddler at the Thanksgiving table

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Jul 08, 2020

Five Ways to Use a Speed Square

speed square uses

If you're doing any kind of DIY or construction work, there are a handful of absolutely essential tools you need in your belt: hammer, tape measure, level, to name just a few. Batting cleanup in this list is the humble speed square. Easy to use, inexpensive, light and portable, made of one piece of metal so it won't become untrue if dropped. And most importantly: multifunctional.

How many functions, you ask?  Read on for ManMade's five top ways to use a speed square!

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Jun 25, 2020

A Foolproof Cast Iron Skillet Maintenance Routine

Cast iron skillet maintenance

This October marks my wife's and my 10th wedding anniversary, which means I've managed to keep our cast iron skillets in good working condition for an entire decade (I'm a recovering flake, so our trio of pans definitely had some rough times due to the slow-drip brutality of negligence). Through much trial and error, I've developed a solid method of caring for cast iron that will keep these babies cooking for generations to come.

Read on!        

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May 28, 2020

Move Over, LaCroix: This is the Sparkling Water You Should Be Drinking All Summer

Topo Chico sparkling water bottle poured over iceSparkling water. It's a thing. Whether a weird normcore love of the dated 90s can design, or an earnest attempt to cut back on sugar and chemical-laden soft drinks, the cool kids have embraced LaCroix. And drink manufacturers, in an effort to capture the energy, are coming out with dozens of their own brightly-colored alternatives. I went to the grocery store yesterday, and spied no less than seven distinct brands of pink and orange-canned flavored waters, all of which basically look the same (and all which include a version of pamplemousse), attempting to capitalize on the trend.

I'm no hater. Live and let sip. If it keeps you hydrated and drinking less sugary soda, or even beer, then enjoy yourself. But, if you truly love the bubbles, then allow me to nominate my lifelong favorite sparkling beverage that never doesn't taste unbelievably delicious and refreshing, and, dare I say, defines effervescence?    

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May 14, 2020

A Primer on Pu-ehr: Your New Favorite Morning Beverage

The power of fermentation: instead of fighting off microbes, you invite the right kind to your party. It doesn't take a lot of culinary know-how to acknowledge that certain fermented foods get better the longer they ferment, like wines and cheeses. The more sourdough starter ages, the more complex its flavors become. Then you've got your fermentation standards like pickles, dairy products like kefir, soy-based miso and natto, and even Russia's beet-based kvass.

But did you know that occasionally tea gets invited to the bacillus party? Welcome to the world of pu-ehr!

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Mar 04, 2020

This is Probably the Best $50 I've Ever Spent in My Life

In college, my roommate Adam returned from the holiday break with a new alarm clock he'd received as a Christmas gift. (My dorm days were a bit before the smartphone era and we all still used actual bedside clocks to wake up for our 8:00am classes). This particular alarm clock was special; it featured a

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Oct 28, 2019

7 Essential Hot Sauces to Keep in Your Pantry at All Times

Here's the thing people who don't like spicy food don't really understand: adding heat to your food, whether in the form of fresh chile peppers, their dried counterparts, or any number or cooked, mixed, and fermented chile-based condiments, is not just about upping the Scoville units. What the true piquancy people know is that chiles aren't just spicy, they're full of amazing, floral fruit flavors that you can't get anywhere else. 

Often, the best way to add that can't-stop-eating-it peppery bite is in the form of prepared hot sauces. There are tens of thousands out there, too many of which are characterized only by heat levels and how much devil imagery they can fit on their labels. But hot sauce shouldn't be a dare. It's an invitation to a new world of flavor that can accentuate whatever its added to.

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Aug 22, 2019

The 25 Essential Jazz Records Every Man Should Know

Best Jazz Albums every man should know

You've built the bookshelf, covered it with great books, but it needs a little something more. Some classic records perhaps? Why not treat yourself to this essential guide to the best jazz albums in the history of recorded time – bar none?

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Jun 19, 2019

Once and For All, Let's Figure Out How to Wear Socks with Shorts

As I wrote in my post about bow ties, I used clothes as self-expression when I was younger. I was a kid who was self-consciously weird, interested in art, with eclectic tastes; my wardrobe reflected that. I was never sure what to do with socks when wearing shorts, so I did what any self-consciously weird/arty/eclectic kid would do, and chose socks that drew attention to themselves: argyles, stripes, colorful prints of anchors and hamburgers.

I still do wear colorful socks—under jeans to the store, with dress pants and a jacket, and everything in between—but after a recent refresh of my shorts rotation, I started wondering how to truly master sophistication with my summer getup. Read on for the full report!

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Apr 26, 2019

Ten Great Uses for a Handkerchief...Other Than Blowing Your Nose

A few years ago I was driving to a lunch meeting with a publisher for a book project and the conversation turned to old stuff making a comeback. I took her by surprise when I mentioned handkerchiefs, and even more so when I produced one from my back pocket. I had never really thought much of it, because carrying handkerchiefs is my way of classing up a serious problem with allergies, where my sinuses go DEFCON 1 and launch sneezing attacks at a moment's notice. (Like my man Sneezy says... "When you gotta, you gotta.") 

But I'm not the only one looking to supplement tissues with fabric. The resurgence of handkerchiefs is part of the larger picture of kids born in the 80's reaching back into Grandpa's closet and workshop for a feeling of concreteness and authenticity. Regardless of your position on reaching for retro, I'd argue that the handkerchief, far from being a relic relegated to nostalgic millennials, is a useful tool... and not just for catching sneezes.

Here's a list of some of the things you can use handkerchiefs for in your everyday life.

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Jan 15, 2019

How to Get the Most Out of Your Kitchen Knives

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.) 

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Jan 07, 2019

Staying Sharp: 9 Knives Every Man Should Own

created at: 09/25/2013

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. 

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Dec 27, 2018

Let's Talk: What's the Best Gift You Received (or Gave) This Holiday?

Every holiday season, sites like ManMade spend all kinds of effort doing our best to help you find meaningful, quality gifts that you'll be proud to give someone. Or, at least, that you can add to your wishlist and let those in your life know you'd love to unwrap yourself.

But once the gift guides are published, we never seem to revisit those things until the following year. So, today, during this week after Christmas, I thought I'd ask — Did you get anything cool for Christmas? Or give something that particularly excites you that we should all know about?   

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Nov 26, 2018

How to: Add Additional Lighting to Your Workshop

tools and suppliesHave you ever tried to do any woodworking, leather working, metal working or anything else in your shop if it’s dimly lit?­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­  It’s hard to see cut lines, find your tools and it can be really unsafe while you’re trying to make any cuts.  My garage, which doubles as my workshop, only had two lights in the center of the structure.  Those two lights probably would have been adequate if they were directly over my working area, but with them being in the center of the garage I wanted more light.  In order to get that extra light, I had two simple options: 1.) get brighter bulbs for the two

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Nov 08, 2018

Shop Skills: How to Clean Your Saw Blades

Dirty SawbladesMaintaining your shop tools starts with keeping those blades sharp and well lubricated. Here's a quick overview on how to tune up your cutting edges.  

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