Your kitchen stove is a recent development in human cultural evolution. For millenia, all cooking was live fire cooking. From traveling groups building a bed of coals in the wilderness, to stone and earth homes centered around the hearth, the use of wood as fuel for flame 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.
This post is sponsored by the DIYZ® app.
A good sturdy 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 time
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
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
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!
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I am in love with coffee. I'm not ashamed. I think, probably, coffee has been secretly dictating the course of human affairs for many centuries now. Think of any great woman or man, and I suspect coffee was right there, in the thick of it, driving them to get up in the morning, or work late in the evening.
Teddy Roosevelt got by on only about a gallon per day, and Voltaire downed 40-50 cups daily, which sounds great to me, if I didn't have to do anything else that day, or interact with people, or operate a moving vehicle.
Me, I enjoy just one good cup in the morning. And that's the important part: it has to be good. Like, really
It's a new year, and for the next twelve months, I'm committed to trying to make every object in my life something of true value. Call it a Kondo-inspired "sparking joy" if you like , but this year, I want to cut out the garbage and keep only what's quality. I want everything I touch and use in my life to be beautiful, lasting, and made with integrity. This starts with my morning routine, from the my coffee routine and the mug I drink it in, and goes all day through the book I read during the last few minutes before bed.
This post is sponsored by DIYZ
The story goes like this: I'll wake up early...usually on a Saturday, or perhaps the Monday of a three day weekend. I'll pull on my work jeans — not the trashed, paint-splattered ones; just the wornout pair with the ever growing hole in the right knee I need to patch. I'll tie my workboots, and grab a few quick measurements before I head out the door. I always remember to put the tape measure in my pocket to take it with me. Today is project day.
And I'll get to the home improvement store, and I'll wander the aisles, and I'll realize: I have no idea what I'm doing. I need more information, more measurements, more details. So, I'll desperately look up something on my phone, but the reception in the back of this huge concrete box isn't good enough. Plus, all those content farms have tricked the search engines so that the quality of information that comes up is poor, and so generic that I struggle to trust it.
Plus, maybe I have the basic materials figured out, but what tools do I need? Do I have the right screws, or are all mine too short or have the wrong head type? And - for goodness sakes - do I need another pack of #2 Phillips driver bits? (Thankfully, that one is easy. Yes. The answer is always yes. )
Last week I shared a project that I'm really excited about: my makeover of a dark, dingy basement space into a bright, professional workshop. A big part of making that project come together was using the right tools and materials for the job. So I'm equally exited to remind you that we have a great giveaway going on right now!
That's right, thanks to our project sponsor, KILZ, we're giving away five gallons of primer to a lucky ManMade reader. It's easy to enter, you just need to leave a comment on this post (no, not the one you're reading, the one I'm linking to in this link) telling us what you plan to do with your prize, or just saying "I want to win!".
This post was sponsored by KILZ, a brand that believes in makers and dream-shop builders everywhere. Thanks for supporting the brands that support ManMade.
A few years ago, if you'd asked me which tool I thought was the most important, I'd probably have punted, wavered a bit, and never decided on a single item. There are too many cool tools, and too many essential ones I use on every project. But if you'd asked me the same question last month, my answer would have been decidedly clear, and much more informed by a different kind of personal experience:
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:
I'll admit it: when I was 24, and thinking about hosting friends for Thanksgiving for the very first time, I probably wouldn't have used a guide like this. For one thing, I was stubborn and willful, and liked to think I could figure everything out on my own (wrong!). For another, that was 2006, and the internet was a much newer, smaller place then: this type of guide probably wasn't out there.
But you, my friends! You youngsters with your illogical catch phrases and shrug emojis and your ability to understand how to use Snapchat! You can be better! You can do what few young men before you have ever done! You can host an awesome Thanksgiving meal at your house, and it can look amazing, and you can even have fun doing it. C'mon, it's not going to be hard ...