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Sep 01, 2018

How to Make a Concrete Desktop Planter (+ a $250 Gift Card Giveaway!)

Concrete. It's a universal building material so ubiquitous, we tend to take it completely for granted. Yet it has a fascinating history that stretches back before the time of Roman Empire. No need to fire up the Delorean today, though; we're sticking to the current trend of using industrial materials in domestic interiors with our concrete desktop planter.

We're also giving away a $250 Lowe's gift card that you can use to buy your supplies to make your own concrete desktop planter (and then some). Read on to find out how to enter (giveaway details at the end of the post) ...

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May 21, 2018

Large Yard or Small, Here's a Lawnmower that Can Do The Job

Thanks to Cub Cadet for sponsoring this post. 

 

Gordy the Goat was going for the ride of his life. It was 1:00 a.m., and Gordy was in the back of a white Yukon Denali blowing through a stop sign at Earl Street and Mounds Boulevard in St. Paul, MN. Just minutes earlier, the brown-and-white splotched ruminant had been quietly at work in a nearby park, doing what he does best: grounds maintenance. 

See, Gordy, and a herd of thirty others, are charged with removing invasive species, unwanted grass and vegetation in the city parks... by eating it. But on this night, Gordy fell victim to goat theft, though whether he viewed it as

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May 14, 2018

How to: DIY Metal Inlay in Wood

How to inlay metal in wood
Sponsored by Bernzomatic: #FindYourFire

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. 

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May 08, 2018

Hey! Do You Want to Go to Alaska with ManMade? Here's Everything You Need to Know

This summer, ManMade is going to Alaska, and we want you to come with us. 

In an effort to continue to build community, I decided it might be fun to do something together. Like, in real life, with actual handshakes and conversations that don't involve QWERTY keyboards. And, if we're going to do something, we might as well connect somewhere amazing.

So, we chose Alaska for its mix of natural beauty and DIY attitude. We'll spend seven (or ten) days in Anchorage, Seward, and Denali going on hikes, craft beer tours, woodworking workshops, staying up late, and seeing some of the best terrain in North America.    

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Apr 16, 2018

Make This: Brazed Aluminum Shop Bookends

Sponsored by Bernzomatic: #FindYourFire

 

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

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Mar 22, 2018

How to Choose and Install Flooring for Your Laundry Room

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then I nominate the laundry room as the all-important hands and feet. This is the space that keeps things running and moving: a clean clothing command center that helps us process the moving parts that keeps us sane each week. 

When it came time to redo our laundry room, giving it the proper respect deserved by such an important space, we knew we wanted to do everything we could to de-beige-ify the space. And that certainly meant changing out the lovely, worn out faux-stone sheet floor you see here.   

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Mar 20, 2018

My Total DIY Laundry Room Makeover

This post is sponsored by Lowe's

Ideally, a laundry room would belong in one of the more private sections of your house – a space to do the behind-the-scenes work of running a home, fold unmentionables, and stash things that simply have no where else to go. 

In our house, it's in the dead center of activity. Because of plumbing and venting access, it's the first thing you see when you walk down the stairs into our basement, and in addition to our kitchen and dining room, our basement has become the heart of our home. There, both my wife and I have our own offices where we welcome business collaborators, take meetings, and do video

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Mar 13, 2018

How To: Build A Pegboard Blowtorch Holder

DIY pegboard organizer for Bernzomatic torch supplies
Sponsored by Bernzomatic: #FindYourFire

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.  

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Nov 19, 2017

27 Essential Tips to Totally Nail Thanksgiving This Year

This post brought to you in partnership with Ballast Point Brewing
 

Thanksgiving has two of my favorite English words in it, so it's not surprising it's among my favorite holidays of the year. It's infinitely adaptable, both in terms of what you eat, and what you do during the holiday. Plus, it's a long weekend off during a period of the year when most of us sorely need it (a break from the cold, grey skies of early winter). This is the holiday for people who wish they could hibernate. For people who want to sit in their house all day, surrounded by good friends, family, and food. Who are thankful for what they have, and want to share it with others who might not be so lucky. 

So I'm excited to share a heaping helping of my favorite tips for making the Thanksgiving holiday smooth and stress-free.    

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Oct 25, 2017

Hey, Do You Want to Work with ManMade? We're Hiring!

Hello to all our favorite people out there in ManMade land. We have a pretty exciting announcement to share:

ManMade is currently looking for new contributors. Kaboom.   

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Oct 20, 2017

How to Nail Open Fire Cooking Every Time

Your kitchen stove is a recent development in human cultural evolution. For millenia, all cooking was live fire cooking. From traveling groups building beds of coals in the wilderness, to stone and earth homes centered around the hearth, the use of wood as fuel for food represented what it meant to be human for tens of thousands of years.

These days, cooking over an open flame makes a meal an event. Live fire cooking is portable, sure, but more importantly, it adds flavor and ambience your electric oven can never achieve. Whether grilling over glowing hardwood or slow roasting in a cast iron pan, cooking with real fire makes the meal the point of the evening.   

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Oct 02, 2017

How to Build a Sturdy Workbench in a Single Day

This post is sponsored by the DIYZ® app.

A good sturdy garage workbench is one of the simplest, most useful projects any woodworker can embark upon. In fact, it's probably the first project every woodworker should embark up. And yet it tends to go by the wayside. You see people building remarkably complicated pieces on rickety, unimpressive workbenches. 

There's a saying about the cobbler's shoes that goes here but I can't figure out if it works or not. Anyway, the point is, having a rock-solid work surface on which to build other things is really important. And you can make a great workbench without spending too much money or much

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Sep 21, 2017

How to Make a Stylish Standing Desk Riser

This post is sponsored by the DIYZ® app.

When my friend Bruno hurt his back a few years ago, he started preaching about the value of standing while you're at work. Having made a bicycle-mounted laptop stand way back in 2010!, I'm not new to this game, but the more I tried it, the more I liked it. Not only is standing good for your posture (and thus your back), but for certain kinds of tasks, I find it really increases my productivity. 

Here's how to make a simple desk riser so you can stand and work on your laptop at just about any desk. It's built out of copper pipe and plywood, two of the easiest materials around to work with

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Sep 14, 2017

Make a Modern Cedar Slat Composting Bin for Your Backyard

This post is sponsored by the DIYZ® app.

Composting. Maybe you've heard of it? It's kind of a thing. It's no longer the sole purview of hippies, weirdos, and 7th-grade science teachers Composting has gone mainstream, and that's a good thing. Don't worry, we're sure your 7th grade science teacher will find another weird hobby to call their own.

Anyway, if you've been looking to get into composting, but don't love the look of boring, plastic composting bins, then this is the post for you. We're going to make an elegant, functional, totally-not-weird-looking compost bin. And we're going to have fun doing it! Pay attention, because at

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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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Jun 12, 2017

Six Unexpected Things You Should Be Doing With a Blowtorch

 

This post is in partnership with Bernzomatic.

If you haven't depressed the trigger on a blowtorch and heard the momentary hiss of the gas releasing, followed by the low whoosh of the flame catching, well, my friend, I recommend you try it. There must be some caveman-brain connection with fire that takes place, or maybe it's the six-year-old in me. But either way, the first time I grabbed a blow torch and clicked it on, I was hooked. 

Fortunately, it's also a ridiculous useful tool to have around the shop! It's one of those tools that you don't know you need until the occasion presents itself, but trust me, once you own one, you'll have plenty of occasions to use it. Here are just a few of the ways a blowtorch can make itself useful:

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May 24, 2017

42 Awesome Father's Day Gifts You'll Actually Want to Give (or Receive) This Year

This post is in partnership with Murphy-Goode Winery.

I don't think any gift you can purchase can ever really capture the way you feel about your dad. It's just too complex a relationship; the feelings run too deep. But you can buy something that shows you know him, know what his interests are, and took the time to get him a gift you thought would matter to him. That's what we're here to help with. This guide contains all the stuff we'd want to get (or give) for Father's Day, with items for every budget and price range. Whether you're buying for your own parent, your spouse or partner, or making a wish list for yourself, we think it'll make your job a little easier this year, and hope everyone ends up with something they treasure.    

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May 20, 2017

David's DIY Kitchen Upgrade: How He Did It (Step by Step)

David's kitchen remodel process
They say the kitchen is the heart and the soul of any house, and mine didn't really have much of either. Made from builder-grade materials and outfitted with the most basic appliances, it was time to upgrade my kitchen and add a lot more personality to it. Follow along as I walk you through the transformation.

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May 05, 2017

Five Tequila Cocktails You've Probably Never Tried Before (But You Totally SHOULD!)

Unlike some other spirits, tequila is inextricably linked to one particular cocktail: the margarita. And, to be fair, with good reason. The margarita is a great drink, especially when it's made right, with quality ingredients. But sometimes you want to enjoy your amazing agave flavor in a variety of contexts. So we teamed up Olmeca Altos to share five delicious tequila cocktails you can make for Cinco de Mayo (or any celebration!) that aren't margaritas. I think you're going to love these. Just don't drink all five at once.    

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May 04, 2017

This is How You Should Tune Up Your Lawnmower for Spring

simple lawn mower maintenance for handy guys

Everyone knows the dreaded crankless yank of a neglected lawn-mower cord. You reach down for the handle, brace your legs, and pull the cord with all your might, only to be rewarded with a coughing, sputtering engine, or worse, one that won't crank at all. Add in a thrown-out lower back, and you could be forgiven for never wanting to go near a lawn mower again. 

But it doesn't have to be that way! You could join ranks of men and women whose mowers start on the first pull! People whose backs remain un-thrown-out, and whose lawns are oft-trimmed, instead of weeks-overdue. Here are some simple steps you should take every spring to maintain

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