If you, like me, were born between 1975 and 1990, your first exposure to the idea that "champagne" has technical regulations and restrictions likely came from Rob Lowe's odious Benjamin character in the original Wayne's World. ("Actually, all champagne is French. It's named after the region.") And you, like me, probably play into/totally own his snooty accusation that Americans don't recognize the convention, and call all their sparkling whites "champagne," and don't care. Because only a true b-hole shames somebody while handing them a drink.
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.
Congratulations, you found a craft that calls to you!
You dove down into the rabbit hole to see how deep it goes, and in your pursuit of excellence, you've gone pro—harnessing those hours spent doing something else to make a living, transferring them into your trade. The only problem: quitting your day job suddenly means the weight of your income rests squarely on your craft's shoulders, and it's rare to make a decent wage as a beginner.
The good news is that no time spent in your craft is wasted, so even while you're hustling and just barely making it, you can build some really valuable resources that will provide immense payoffs later.
Read on for a modest proposal of what to do when the wider world doesn't yet recognize the value of your work!
In the normal research/note-taking/formatting process of working on a upcoming gear roundup post this morning, I went to check the price and availability of one of my favorite tools: the cast iron skillet. I've always known cast iron is a pretty amazing value, performing nearly perfectly for generations if you follow a few simple rules. At $30, an American-made Lodge skillet is a great buy-it-for-life piece of cookware that works for nearly everything.
Two years ago, on February 9th I came home from a long day of work at about 7:30 and my wife gave me incredible news. She was pregnant! This was going to be our first child, so naturally I was overcome with so many different emotions. I paused for what felt like an eternity and when I finally gathered my wits, I very distinctly remember the first words out of mouth were, "It's okay, we're in a good spot financially for this right now." If you're a woman reading this, I know what you're thinking - "how romantic". Well, my wife didn't think it was a very good response either. In my defense, I'm a CPA and that's just how my brain works
I love all the "comes with" food from restaurant meals. You know what I’m talking about—the side dishes and classic pairings that are served with what you actually ordered: fries, steakhouse rolls, steamed rice...and, because I live in the South, biscuits. Oh, the biscuits. If you’re like me, though, half of that glorious freebie food gets launched at the end of the meal because you’re too full from the main entree.
We don't ask much from our safety glasses. Their primary purpose is right there in the name: they protect you when performing activities that create and project debris that could damage your eyes... woodworking, scrapping paint, anything dealing with rust or metal shavings, and the like. The most important thing is that they be handy and ready to go, so you don't hesitate to grab them when execute a potentially dangerous task. Here's the best way we've found to deal with it.
Earlier this week, I was asked to be interviewed about getting started in making things, and the conversation turned towards the best tools for the money. The guy asked me what I think the best thing to invest in, and we naturally discussed how, once you have all the tools you need, you tend to think the things that support your workflow are more important that the cool-looking trappings of the woodworker. Like, how my favorite power tool is actually my two horsepower dust collector on its own circuit, because that's the machine I use on every single process. Or how I'd rather have an inexpensive Japanese dozuki saw and a really nice mechanical pencil and Starrett combination square vs. low grade measuring and marking tools and a fancy dovetail saw. (Though, to be fair, I do have both.)
But, it got me thinking about the truly best value in woodworking, the craft process, etc. Like what's something that's entirely inexpensive yet you use on every single project?
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.
A few weeks ago, I was looking through my spray paint arsenal, and I took stock of my collection. It occurred to me how much I really use those little rattle-cans in the shop. I picked up a few this weekend, and gave a few things around the house a quick upgrade. Take a look.
We believe in investing in long-lasting, high-quality kitchen gear; things worth saving up for, that you know will stand up to daily use. Opting for a legit forged steel chef's knife, say... one that can be sharpened and honed over and over and will last you the rest of your life, and then some.
But, investment pieces are just that: investments. Those things cost money, and they're well worth it. But thankfully, you can fill in the gaps with a selection of totally affordable and super useful kitchen tools, many of which cost less than a lunch at a local bistro. So with that in mind, here's our list of inexpensive, high-quality, and crazy versatile culinary tools with which you should be stocking your kitchen, all of which come in at less than twenty-five bucks.
Look, we love a solid cocktail bar. It's an awesome experience to meet up with some co-workers for happy hour, or connect with a friend or date over something shaken or stirred and served in a quality glass. But there's something to be said for sipping at home. Most importantly, it's much less expensive. Bar and restaurants try to keep their food and liquor costs to 20-25%, which means that $12 martini is actually made up of only $3.00 of ingredients. But we also can't argue with the value of staying home, whipping something up for your partner or friends on the fly in the warm, quite confines of your own living room. (Pajama pants optional).
And while we have no problem dropping some serious change on a truly elegant whiskey or craft spirit, the truth is: most mixed drinks don't actually require the highest end of spirits. So, if you're looking to experiment with crafting your own drinks, but don't want to invest mega bucks in a full fleet of top-shelf spirits, it's time to learn how to stock your home bar or bar cart on a budget.
Your New Favorite Sunglasses: An Under $10 Pair that Fits Every Man, Every Time (and How to Make Them Better)
There's definitely a case to be made for the investment pair of sunglasses. That classic, quality pair that works with everything from a tuxedo to swim trunks and sandals. That pair that you're a little hesitant to spend the money on at first because you're used to losing your gas station glasses all the time, but find, once you own them, that you actually seem to keep track and take care of them at all times
We love that pair of sunglasses. But we also know that summer brings a lot of real adventures. Like, if you're doing these long days and warm temps right, there are actually dozens of times where a high-end pair doesn't make sense. Like any time you're in the woods, a mountain, the desert, on a bicycle or other human-powered transportation, or any time you're moving about near, on, or in a large body of water.
If we were all millionaires, we'd all look stylish everyday. Not necessarily fancy, but we'd be able to afford whatever we needed to fit our particular body types and look our best, whatever that may be.
But, we're not. Well, I'm not. (If you are, feel free to email me at Chris @ manmadediy.com. I have lots of interesting ideas for you.) But in the days of the internet and online shopping, we've now access to all sorts of deals that we'd never be able to take advantage of years ago.
Most articles on the value of clamps will begin with the old adage, "You can never have too many clamps." This one, apparently, does too. (See what I did there?) Because the truth is: you really can't.
Here at ManMade, "value" is all about getting a product which has a quality you're comfortable with at a price that you're comfortable paying. For us, that means we're rarely recommending
The Black Friday arms race isn't good for humanity, but it can help the price-conscious consumer. Amazon is gearing up for an 8 day Black Friday sale and here are all of the deals you may want to check out from electronics to home renovation equipment to outdoor gear.
There are times to try new things. Times to taste different flavors, experiment with products, seek out something you've never encountered before...And sometimes, you just want to know what the best option is. The easy choice. The go-to. The everyday variety you know will work when you need it, and rely on every time.
There are times to try new things. Times to taste different flavors, experiment with products, seek out something you've never encountered before...
And sometimes, you just want to know what the best option is. The easy choice. The go-to. The everyday variety you know will work when you need it, and rely on every time.
Now that it's officially summer, let's apply that search to a great bottle of gin. Gin is a particularly diverse spirit. Besides Scotch whisky, I can't think of one that has a broader spectrum of flavors. And different bottles will showcase the distiller's creativity and play better with certain ingredients. But there is one bottle that I recommend for almost any cocktail that calls for London Dry Gin; the thing I would take to a party or use in a punch or batch drink for a big group.
When it comes to getting the most from an everyone-has-a limited clothing budget, the two most helpful questions to think about are "what's the best men's style value in terms of long-lasting quality vs. price" and "on what should I save, and on what should I invest?"