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.
There are a few adages with which I can start this post. "You get what you pay for." "Some things are too good to be true." Yes, it would be awesome if there were a store in every town that sold solid, dependable tools at bargain prices. When you're just getting started, a place to fully outfit your shop on the cheap would be an amazing gift. I get it. I've been there.
But anyone who knows about Harbor Freight also knows about the reputation of the products it stocks: namely, that the quality is rather unreliable. Today, as I was discussing this post with my friend and colleague, M.E., her immediate response was, "There was one in the same plaza as my old job, so whenever we needed anything, we got it there. And ultimately whatever we bought, broke five days later. That place is the Dollar Store of the home improvement world."
And that's the trick: Harbor Freight stocks items that are designed to be sold, not to be used. I'm not saying their business model is dishonest or nefarious. Nor am I a tool snob with an unlimited budget. I'm only interested in spending as much money as necessary to get the job done. I know what its like to have your aspirations be bigger than your budget. But buying things that don't work, no matter how much they cost, is not saving money. The majority of products there simply will not stand up to repeated use, nor give the you the results you're after. When it comes to their sell-line of "Quality Tools, Lowest Prices"... well, one of them is true.
One of the books in my current stack is Let My People Go Surfing, written by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. The book is structured into two parts: the first half is a brief history of the company from its origins as a beachside blacksmith shop producing climbing equipment. The other is a company handbook on the founding principles and values on which the billion-dollar company makes its decisions.
Chances are that somewhere in your town––either far away from the big box stores or in some area that is under-visited or out of the way––there is an amazing Asian market nearby. They exist in towns and cities of all sizes, so don't assume there isn't one near you until you actually look into it. Asian grocery stores are an immigrant's lifeboat, and they are one of the few, authentic cross-cultural locations you can find in most of America that isn't a temple or cultural center. They tend to have an array of products that confuse nearly all shoppers due to the sheer diversity of products that fall under the category of "Asian."
While the meat offerings and seafood tends to be absolutely exceptional and exceptionally inexpensive, the thing that routinely blows me away at my local Asian market is the produce. My god, the produce! Where your standard grocery store will have a small range of Asian ingredients, an Asian market will stagger you just in its section of radishes. Its refreshingly overwhelming, especially when you see something familiar––a bunch of cilantro or garlic or something––and recognize their exceptional quality. This is a place you should certainly familiarize yourself with, and return often.
And while you're there, you should use some of the wonderful vegetables that are, unfortunately, out of our Western culinary vocabulary. In an effort to help you navigate, here are some of the tastiest ones to look out for. This list is anywhere near exhaustive (we love you, too, ong choy), but a great way to start to learn to use some of the classic produce you just can't find at you local megamart.
We know you love your mom, but life gets busy and we all fall behind. Luckily for you it's not too late show that incredible woman how much you love her with these unique gifts from Amazon Prime that if you buy today, will still arrive in time for you be the favorite son!
I was sitting with a few friends the other day and they started talking about how they needed to start drinking smoothies again. The conversation quickly turned to how expensive smoothie places can be, and how most blenders at home just don't make smoothies with the right texture. They turned to me, and I sheepishly owned up to it–I have a $500 blender. It's the Vitamix 7500––one of the immensely fancy ones that seem so ludicrously expensive.
To make matters worse, I think in my entire life I've only consumed 3-4 smoothies, hence my embarrassment. Spending $500 on an appliance only seems reasonable if it is part of a life plan––some
Let's start with this: I like to eat. Really, really like it. I have all the respect in the world for people who can live by the adage "consume for nutrition, not for taste," but I will never be able to count myself amongst 'em.
I'm a level-10 introvert who works from home, and often, the process of procuring food for myself is the only thing that gets me out of the house during the dark days of winter. I live in Portland, Oregon, one the greatest food cities in the country, and I have a list in my phone of to-be-visited food establishments a digital mile long. It's updated almost daily.
And, because I like to eat, I like to cook. I'm a full-time DIY blogger who gets to make cool stuff, photograph and write about it every single day, and, yet, a Tuesday night dinner compiled from whatever's in the fridge often feels like the most creative thing I do all week.
So... cookbooks. They're fantastic, and they provide both inspiration and a depth that you can't find on food blogs or Pinterest. (And I love food blogs.) You don't have to buy all of these, but you should definitely check them out from the library or peruse next time you're at the bookstore. Because they read as well from cover-to-cover as a novel, and they'll actually teach you how to eat better.
There are occassions to spend a little more on an investment bottle. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with looking for something to enjoy that cost less than an Andrew Jackson. None of these second-to-the-bottom shelf bottles are going to blow your mind and or cause you to use the word "revelation," but you know that already.
Though, seriously, if you're having fun and the evening is more about the conversation than what's in the glass, twelve servings of anything palatable for less than twenty bucks is money well spent.
We love a full-on major woodworking project. It's ambitious, challenging, and, once you've figured everything out, you're left with a piece of furniture that will get used everyday.
But, building furniture is also time consuming, takes up lots of space, and if you're using all hardwood construction, can be expensive to source the right materials. So, while it's lovely to learn joinery and finishing techniques, sometimes, you need a woodworking project that can be completed in a single day. Better yet, in a single sitting.
ManMade is, essentially, a blog about making stuff (it's in our name ... DIY ... even though we often leave that part off). We try to offer our readers a perspective on masculinity that about doing it yourself. But we also care a lot about well-crafted, long lasting tools, clothing, and accessories. So you'll find us doing a lot of research and having lots of conversations about the things we think are worth buying (see our Essential Toolbox series, for example).
That's why we decided to launch the ManMade Store. It's our way of putting all those product recommendations in one easily-accessible place. Now, if you want to know which tools
Donald Glover has a great stand up bit about Home Depot being where your childhood goes to die, and while that may be true, there are few places that get me as amped up as a supply run to a hardware store. The more you go, the more you know, but I was surprised to find out that many of these tips were new to me. Who knew Lowe's could haggle?
I think I have a fairly well cultivated sense of style, but I love seeing a well put together outfit with all the steps and accessories broken down nicely so that I can steal from it. If nothing else, I think it improves my style sense to see the trends in what makes great outfits. I found that nobody does this for my price range better than Primer Magazine, which recently put together five unique style guides for men this fall.
For some guys, even wearing a suit can be tricky. For others, it's knowing how to best plop down that initial $300-500 just to get started. But for every man? You have to know what you're looking at before you even begin to make the right choice.
There's not much help out there for poor souls seeking advice for Father's Day gifts. Stores and advertisers haven't really gotten over the golf and/or grilling card, the necktie, the crummy multi-tool set, or the everpresent aftershave.
Your dad does not want these for Father's Day. I promise.
The t-shirt. It's soft, it's comfortable, conveys your personality, and if you play your cards right, can be worn at least twice before it needs to go through the washing machine.
I'd even go as far as to say that in a hundred years, in 2112 (beware the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx!), folks everywhere will still be wearing the basic cotton, screenprinted t-shirt. I welcome your guesses as to the imagery in the comments below.
This afternoon, I've been totally taken by The Burning House, a public collection of user-submitted photos that answers the question, "If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It's a conflict between what's practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question."
They're mostly creative folk, so the photos are quite nice, though there's the drawback
If I haven't gone on record before, allow me to do so now. I love Primer. Andrew and company are dedicated to exploring what it's like to be a guy in the twenty-first century, avoiding both the nastiness of men's magazines and old-timey stereotypes of lots of men's motivational content. They take the same approach that I attempt with ManMade, focusing on style and fashion, health, generally, being a good guy.
So, you know how people always joke about how hard it is to buy gifts for your dad, husband, or brother? Everybody falling back on tickets to a game or some "manly" personal accessorie.
But, I wanna talk about what you give your male peers and friends. Like, there's no way I'ma give my buddy a wallet for his wedding, or my brother-in-law a tie. What are supposed to give to guys in your own age bracket, with whom you're perfectly comfortable talking about relationships and feelings, but who's preference in aftershave is never your concern?