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    created at: 09/22/2016

    Leather is strong, durable, and extremely workable. But stitching leather involves some specific two-handed, two needle techniques, some specialized gear, and some definite knowhow. So, what to do when you want to make a custom piece, but aren't ready to invest the time and materials to learn to hand sew it?

    You make no-sew project: just as strong, just as customizable.    

    Brooklyn-based paper engineer and artist Belsey wanted to come up with a tool holder for her drawing and crafting supplies, keeping them organized and protected. She came up with this cool folding design that packs up into a nice protective package.

    It uses chipboard (read: recycled cereal box) to give the sides rigidity, and the whole thing is held together without a single stitch. See the how-to here: No-Sew Leather Pencil Case (


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    created at: 09/23/2016

    Hey ... welcome back to What's Good. We're switching things up a little bit this month. I think you're going to like it (I know I did). In case you're new here, What's Good is our monthly series where we (the ManMade guys) get to talk about what we're currently into. This month, it's media, clothing, and wonderment. Yeah, you read that right. Wonderment is a thing too. Read on to get your monthly dose...

    What I’m Reading/Listening/Watching


    This week, I'm fascinated with the whole JT Leroy phenomenon, the world famous author who "didn't exist." There's a recent documentary that's starting to roll out, and so there's lots of discussion, now that we have more information. I remember when the novels came out, but I somehow missed all the revelations and discoveries of the mid 00s (I was in college).

    I got fascinated after listening to the Laura Albert and Jeff Feuerzeig episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, and I went back and read some of the New York Times articles, and just started reading the original novel, Sarah. Really interesting stuff. If you don't listen to WTF regularly, that's a good place to start. 



    I've been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. I was about 28 before I got my first "paycheck". So I love the process, the hustle, and  the way that it all fits together. For some reason I'm on a business/hustle kick right now so I picked up two incredible books at once to dive into.

    First, The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey. It was recommended by a friend and entrepreneur of mine, and so far I'm pretty hooked. It's all about how trust is the foundation of a relationship, and the faster you get to that the better it is for everything.

    Next, is an inspirational book called Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. This bold and brash author talks about developing a culture of generosity, and how success comes from giving (jabs) much more than you sell (right hook). I'm seeing some amazing things already happening while I take the concepts and make them happen.

    Last, I picked up the energy bus, a book dedicated to making the positive in life come to you through thinking and visualizing the positive side of things. My favorite part so far? "You are the driver of your own bus, you get to decide where it goes." If you don't like the way your life is heading, then take the time and make a turn.



    I’m reading The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. And I know there must be something wrong with me, because everyone in the universe loves this book and, so far, I’m not that engrossed. Also, an update on last month’s book, A Brief History of Seven Killings (if you recall, Chris and I were both reading it last month): I finished it, but never came around to really loving it. Seriously; I’m concerned I’ve somehow lost the ability to enjoy novels. 

    Watching: The Americans. I know I’m late this party, but wow … so great! The production values are a little weird, but the acting is really solid (Felicity!) and the story (a suburban mom-and-dad are really KGB spies) is just so intriguing. Or maybe it’s just that way to me because I literally remember wondering, when I was a kid, if my parents were secretly spies. Is that weird?

     created at: 09/23/2016

    What I’m Wearing:


    Fits socks!They're basically my favorite thing about fall. Sandal and boat shoe season is over, and I'm a-okay with that. My favorite are the medium hiker crews, but I have seven different styles and I love them all. Cost about $20 a pair, and completely worth it. They stand up to serious beatings, and last the test of time. Plus, they're wool, so they don't absorb odors. Excellent.  



    Ahh, I'm such a huge fan of fall! I've been pulling out my thin windbreakers right now, and pretty soon I'll be grabbing my waterproof jackets. My favorite one is a Patagonia shell, and a softshell from Arc'Teryx. Both jackets have been in my collection for years and they still fend off the weather 100%. If you don't own a decent waterproof jacket, you need to fix that right away, because winter is coming!



    I keep finding excuses to put on my brand-new Patagonia Torrentshell rain jacket, which I bought for a Boundary Waters trip in August. I don’t know why, but I’ve never really owned a solid, reliable, comfortable rain jacket before. And I love it. I can go outside, even if it’s pouring, and just walk around like a normal person! Because my jacket.

    created at: 09/23/2016

    What I’m Wondering About


    I just got back from vacation, and when I was wandering up and down the sides of mountains, I found myself thinking about early human communities, and the first time people experienced different things ... like ever. Like, who was the first scout that discovered this amazing glacial lake in the middle of the mountain range, or who was first to sit in this hot springs and realize the temperature was perfect? 

    And then that leads to, who was the first person to taste a wild blueberry and realize they weren't poisonous? Who was the first human who decided to open an oyster, and figured out how to get inside of it? Who realized lobsters look crazy and taste amazing? Who thought of eating perfectly spoiled and fermented and rotten foods, like cheese and fish and beer and wine, and discovered they were awesome?

    I bet their minds were seriously blown.



    I'm directly in the middle of raising some incredible kids. This has raised some interesting conversations and really had me re-evaluate my thoughts on who I am, and who I want my kids to be. Even that statement, what I want them to be, is strange. These three small people are already their own versions of me in such very different ways. I honestly feel so far out of my depth as I try to keep some whisper of order in my house but still encourage them to express themselves, discover things, and challenge the things that seem to limit them.

    I also have realized that the comments I make and the ideas I have are shaping their lives in ways that will echo throughout their heads forever. That kind of opportunity is humbling, challenging, and downright terrifying. Do I love being a dad? Every moment, well almost every moment. They're still capable of some amazing destruction. 



    I was wondering about suicide … no, no, I’m fine, don’t worry … but just, what are the origins of the social/cultural proscriptions against it? Do other animals commit suicide? What are the large scale cultural side-effects of elevated levels of suicide? 

    Another thing I was wondering about: is texting and driving really a bad thing? Maybe it just seems that way right now, but actually we’re just at the beginning of a big species-wide period of adaptation where our brains learn to be even better at doing multiple things at once, while not getting ourselves killed.

    I had a friend in high school whose parents wouldn’t let him drive with the radio on, because they worried the multi-tasking of changing stations would endanger him (endanger us all!). So … that’s obviously crazy, right? Either way, every time I drive on the highway during rush hour I become more and more firmly convinced of one thing: whether or not texting and drive is bad, everybody is doing it, and I don’t think it’s going to stop.


    So, ManMade reader ... What's Good for you this month? What media (words/music/movies/tv) are you loving? What item of clothing makes you smile every time you put it on? What are you wondering about? Let us know in the comments.

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    created at: 10/19/2014

    Craft beer is growing out here on the West Coast like a wildfire in the wind. While visiting local breweries in the area, I've always been impressed by well made flight sets, so I decided to make my own. This project actually turned into a set for my brother-in-law to celebrate his recent police academy graduation. I had some lumber in my shop from a local sawmill which was perfect for this rugged project. Here's what I used:

    • 3-4 Pieces Rough-cut Lumber (I used my thickness planer to get final thickness, and a table saw for width/length).
    • 1 1/4" hole cut bit (This large forstner-style bit needs a drill press to use safely. Take your time and feed slowly).
    • Multiple Grit Sandpaper (80 - 220 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish).
    • Finish (I used Minwax stain and finish with a secondary rub-on wax finish).
    • 4 oz. Cups (I found mine on Amazon here).

    Let's make it!

    1. The first step is dimensioning the wood, using a table saw or miter saw. For the thickness, using a planer makes fast work of smoothing and dimensioning rough-cut lumber. If you don't have one at your disposal, break out the sander and get it smooth the hard way. Cut all of the pieces to roughly the same size, large enough to comfortably fit the flight glasses (standard sets have four, but follow your heart if you want your set to have more).

    Thickness dimensioning of wood

    2. After the wood is cut to size and smooth, lay out the glasses for drilling the holes. I set them out with a ruler used as a spacer behind the glasses to make sure each set had a consistent position so they matched up well. Keep them centered and evenly spaced for a clean look.

    Beer Flight Layout Tools

    3. After all the centerline of the glasses were marked out on the wood, I set up my drill press to drill the recesses. It's important to use a press on this due to the large holes, so that the wood can be held down securely to the table. Such a large bit takes a huge amount of cutting pressure and a handheld drill is incredibly dangerous to wrists, shins, and anyone else who happens to be in your shop. The bit was matched up to the bottom of the glasses, so it was 1 1/4" for my project. While there are plenty of hole cutting bits, the best type have a perimeter cutting edge, and a horizontal blade to clear out the center for a flat bottom (A forstner style bit, usually about $30-$60). Cut each of the holes about 1/4" -1/2" deep to securely hold the glasses.

    Drilling Flight Glass Holes

    4. After a considerable amount of hole cutting, head back to sanding the wood to prep for sanding. Sand with the grain to avoid marring the surface because that will stand out when finishing the wood. Sand up to 220 grit, and then wipe down to get all sawdust off of surfaces.

    created at: 10/19/2014

    5. Finish the wood with a stain layer and let dry for at least 12 hours. Add additional stain until the desired color has been achieved. Let the finish dry for another 12 hours then add a polyurethane or oil rubbed wax layer to protect that surface from years of craft brew abuse.

    Minwax Finish

    The final product was an exceptional gift that was exceptionally fun to make, and will be easy to duplicate for additional sets (like one for me) in the future. Here's a picture of the final product:

    Beer Flight Gift Set

    Now get out there and enjoy the shop, or a few craft brews for the weekend. Cheers!

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    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    If you're a fan of salt and vinegar potato chips then you're gonna love this recipe for pan fried sea salt and basalmic potatoes. 

    This recipe is cooked fireside on a Swedish fire log. If you want to make your own fire log, check out our previous post for a simple how-to.

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    What you'll need

    • Cast iron skillet
    • 1/2 Cup Rendered bacon fat or cooking oil
    • 2 Medium russet potatoes
    • 3-4 springs of fresh thyme
    • 1/4 cup of basalmic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon or small handful of Fleur de sel (French sea salt)
    • Long handled spoon or paddle

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    First toss in a large spoonful of bacon fat. You're camping, treat yourself! Let the skillet heat up. Toss a small drop of water in the oil to see if it's up to frying temp. If it spits and crackles it's ready.

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    Carefully drop the potatoes into the oil. This is a great recipe to do over a fire, it's gonna spit and spatter a lot! 

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    After a few minutes stir the potatoes and let them fry evenly. Check the density of the potatoes by smashing them with your spoon. If they break easily they're done cooking. 

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    Halfway through the cooking process, de-stem the thyme toss in half to the skillet. This will fry the herbs. Fried herbs are so amazing. Toss the herbs and potatoes and continue to cook.

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    When the potatoes are almost finished pour in the vinegar. Shield your eyes, the steam from the vinegar is gonna burn them! The skillet is gonna be quite hot, so you'll need to stir the potatoes and vinegar quickly so it doesn't burn. 

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    After you stir the balsamic remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the fleur de sel and the rest of the thyme. Don't be afraid of the color of the potatoes. The dark color is a combo of the caramelized balsamic and charred potato.

    fireside sea salt and vinegar potatoes

    That's it! They're ready to be served up with a side of roasted hot dogs and a pale ale!


    Or, mix up our signature cocktail inspired by this series, The Swedish Flame. 


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    These days, the word "tailgate" conjures up images of cooler and pavement, jerseys and face paint, grills and foldable chairs. But, despite its current association with parking lots and sporting events, it's actually got quite a rich history. Like, older than you think. Like... 1861?   So, it turns out, according to this piece by Huckberry, that the idea of bring food and drinks to watch a competition dates back to the Civil War, to the Battle of Bull Run. And the opposing sides? The Confederate and the Union Army. They ate snacks and watched war. Seriously. 

    And then, only a couple of years later, tailgating became associated with sports as well. Huckberry reports,

    The first time tailgating and sporting events were merged was in 1869, at the inaugural football game between Princeton and Rutgers. This was back when football more closely resembled rugby, with 25 players per team, and absolutely zero discussion whatsoever about concussion safety (or helmets for that matter). Before the game began, Rutgers fans gathered to eat food together while wearing scarlet scarves they had tied into turbans and set about creating a ruckus.

    It's a richer history than I would have expected, and a fascinating read. Check it out in full:

    A Brief History of the Tailgate[]




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    We've said it before: yes, every man needs an apron. They're indispensable in the workshop, the kitchen, the garage, around the grill, even when shining your shoes.   

    And making one couldn't be easier. The awesome thing about the classic apron is: the shape is standard. No guesswork, no extra design to come up with just the right silhouette and scale. Customization comes in when it's time to add the pockets, the tool loops, and the other little bits that makes it functional.

    The Purl Bee has a dead simple tutorial that will help you get whatever look and utility you're going for. Molly's Sketchbook: Adjustable Unisex Apron


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    created at: 09/26/2016

    Curious about the camp moc? Pondering about pinstripes? Speculating on selvedge?

    Then it's time to check out this collection of classic men's style items from the past century.   

    created at: 09/26/2016

    Granted, calls this a glossary of "style terms," but really, it's less of a dictionary and more of an encyclopedia of key pieces and their history, accompanying by some swell pencil line drawings. 

    The slideshow covers everything from recognizable classics to more obscure pieces that aren't as easy to find (but should be), so get yourself educated!

    31 Style Terms Every Man Needs to Know []


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    A few years ago, I was attending a conference, and, as I recall, not really listening to the keynote speaker. It was one of those trying to eat-lunch-and-try-to-meet-new-people-and-I-can-barely-hear-from-the-back-of-the-room sort of things.

    But, in a moment of unexpected drop in the banquet room din, I caught something that sunk in. The speaker, musing on happiness, suggested that it's all those little tasks and the clutter that hang over our heads and keep joy from settling in. That knowing you have a million little tasks to do is more stressful than actually doing those tasks. And it's not the big work projects, the term papers, the spring deep cleaning that keep us down, but the little stuff that piles up and creates anxiety about when we'll get it all done. The solution, she suggests, is to not put those things off, but to just do them now. The mantra here is "If you can do it in one minute or less, do it now." You always have 60 seconds available, and the impact is huge.

    I've been trying to implement that in my life for the last three years, and though I get out of the habit sometimes, it's a commitment that consistently helps me feel more peace, more organized, and indeed, more happy.

    So, with that in mind, here's a list of things you can do in one minute or less that really will make your life better and your mind quieter. 

    1. Make your bed. It only takes 30 seconds.

    2. Go around your house and pick up all the dishes and drinking glasses on your nightstand and coffee table. More than one is too many. 

    3. Trim your toe nails. Seriously, it's less of a effort than you think. Don't be caught barefoot with those things. 

    4. Clean off your computer desktop. An organized space is a productive space. 

    5. Wipe off your bathroom mirror. You'll be amazed what a difference this makes, even in a less-than-spotless washroom. 

    6. Open all the mail and envelopes you know aren't important. Just throw them away now. 

    7. Pull in your trash, recycling, and compost bins from the curb. Might as well take out the trash while you're at it. 

    8. Plug in your phone and charge it. Make sure it's ready to go when you need it. 

    9. Take that pile of shoes by the front door (or under the coffee table) and put them where they belong. Which is probably not by the front door or under the coffee table.

    10. Wash that plate or cereal bowl instead of putting it in the sink. If you have time to move it, you have time to wash it. 

    11. Take all the receipts and papers and bags out of your car. You don't have to vacuum it clean, but there's no need for it to be cluttered.

    12. Back up your computer. Don't give Time Machine a chance to tease you with those little pop ups.

    13. Wipe off the front of your refrigerator or oven. Boom. Instant shine. 

    14. Send that one email reply you've been avoiding. But just that one. Don't get caught up in your inbox. 

    15. Clean the coffee pot or toss the filter and grounds now, not later. 10 seconds. No icky build up.

    16. Floss. Your. Teeth. They're the only ones you got. 

    17. Go through your text messages and make sure you've actually replied to the important ones, not just replied in your head. It's not the same thing. 

    18. Invite your spouse or partner for some intimate time later. That should take way more than a minute, but the planning is easy and gets everyone on the same page about expectations. 

    19. Microwave a bowl of half white vinegar and half water for one minute. This loosens the grime and makes it easy to wipe clean. 

    20. Clean out your browser tabs. You're really not missing out by not reading that article you've had open for the past eight days. 

    21. Replenish your toilet paper reserves. They'll be there when you need them.

    22.  Throw all your dirty clothes in the hamper or a laundry basket. It won't make them clean, but it will make them not on the floor. 

    23. Water your plants. And spend the remaining thirty seconds putting a reminder on your calendar to do it next time. 

    24. Stack up books, magazines, records, DVDs, library media, etc, that you're currently enjoying.  You don't have to put them away, you just need to put them together. 

    25. Switch out your bathroom towels. Time for a fresh option. 

    26. Take your vitamins. Really, you have 3.5 seconds. 

    27. Look away from the computer screen. Focus on something in the distance to give your eyes a break. 

    28. Refill your soap dispensers. Don't have this issue come up when you're covered with germs.

    29. Stand up, take a walk. Repeat every thirty minutes. 

    30. Put on sunscreen. Then go outside.

    31. Smile. Really, really big. If you don't have it in you, fake it til you make it. 

    32. Fluff and straighten the pillows on your sofa. Sounds fussy; makes your living room look like you just cleaned it even when you didn't. 

    33. Download current episodes of your favorite podcasts. Do it now while you're on wi-fi, so they're ready for when you aren't. 

    34. Tell somebody you love them. Easy and free. Text your mom. 

    35. Do 30 pushups. Or work on it until you can. Then go for 30 more. 

    36. Take all the coats and jackets off hooks and back of the door and hang them up in the closet.  There's a reason they call it the coat closet. 

    37. Shake out door mats and bathroom rugs. Go outside and smack them against something. 

    38. Sweep underneath the toe kick on your kitchen cabinets. Do this once a day, and avoid getting the crud down in the crevices. 

    39. Wrap and coil up your cables, headphones, and power cords. No more tangles. 

    40. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for 60 seconds. You'll feel better. Trust us. 




    This ManMade post was originally published in October 2015. We're sharing it again, because we think fall is the best time for getting reorganized, being more productive, and staying sane. 

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    created at: 10/02/2014

    Suits are a common sight on an airplane. Sure, there are the business travelers who made be going straight to a meeting as they arrive, but just as likely - guys wear suits on a plane because they're impossible to put in your luggage without becoming a wrinkly, creased mess. 

    Except, there is a way to do it, and its worth a shot if you've a long flight ahead and would much rather snuggle down in something more comfortable.   

    Wayfarer, the new travel blog from Lifehacker, highlights this tip from Travel+Leisure on packing a suit in an ordinary bag or suitcase. You tuck one sleeve of the jacket into another, aligning the lapels, and then insert your rolled pants in the bundle, compressing the whole thing down into a manageable -and packable - parcel. 

    How to Pack a Suit -

    Pictured at top: Abingdon Weekender and The Ludlow Suit in English Tweed from J.Crew



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    Have you ever wished for a fancy sports car or but didn't quite have the cash? Or have you fiddled around with rebuilding cars and are looking for the next step. Well here's an idea: your average DIY toolster with basic tools and a couple hundred free hours can buy the Factory Five kit car and can build their own hot rod, replica Shelby, or Type 65 Coupe.    created at: 09/25/2016The idea of building one's own dream car for cheap stems back quite a ways past the Man in Black's "one piece at a time" model to a time when DIY car kits were poorly-made with a low-likelihood that the parts would even fit together. It appears that the specificity of 3D printing has changed that, which is why Ezra Dyer traveled to the Factory Five headquarters in Massachusetts to investigate the safety and practicality of building one's own car in his new feature on  It's an intriguing premise and a good read although I'm curious to hear what some of our readers think. The company's founder claims that most people with only basic mechanic skills are just as invested in creating quality vehicles with equal or higher standards of safety than even the company itself. Check it out and give us your thoughts.

    How to Build Your Own Car in Just 400 Easy Steps

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    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindWe all watch a lot of movies these days, but only a few make an impression beyond the credits. Here are 5 of my favorites that left a mark.   There are so many types of movies out there, sad and funny, terrifying and predictable. But I can count on one hand those that really made my head spin. A few were surprising in their message, or I may have just been in the right place to let my mind run . . . Spoiler alert, I may talk a bit in depth on these so don't be mad if I ruin it for you.The Pills

    1. The Matrix - I know, it's a bit overplayed. But I came out of that theater with a strange feeling that I was being watched. It turned me on to the idea that we're just slipping through time on a treadmill that served just about no purpose in the end. That's when I turned a lot of my time around to focus more on making a difference and leaving a legacy through my kids and the things I do with my time and energy. I was the right age at the right time, and this one really, really moved me. And yes, I agree they completely ruined it with the sequels. 

    Twelve Monkeys

    2. 12 Monkeys - What a brutal trap this movie was. The circles it took and the inevitability of the destructive power of time, no matter what we try to do. That was hard to watch. I actually started looking at the things in my life I had control over, and those I didn't. It gave me a bit of freedom knowing that sometimes events are inevitable, and others have far reaching consequences, so put out the best of you and make those butterfly effects count.

    Fight Club3. Fight Club - I'm still not sure how I really feel about this movie. The in your face message was jarring, but pretty solid. It speaks to an instinctual, latent part of our brain that seems to be screaming during the day-to-day of your life. I watched this about the same time I read a book called Wild at Heart and they both spoke to the fact that it was essential to listen to that beat in your heart before you snapped and blew up your world.

    4. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind - Ah, love. When I first saw this movie, I hadn't actually been in love yet, but it drove a point home that I'll never lose. The mantra I keep in mind is along the lines of "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." There are so many things in a relationship that we build a life on. Every moment leaves an impression and in the end we are a sum of those. Even with a few rough ones mixed in, I believe that the entire experience is what makes us something special. This movie made me think of all of the people and experiences in my life that tweaked my mind in a thousand little ways and I came out the other side amazingly thankful for them. It also made me mindful of the little moments moving forwards with my wife and my kids, to really be present and soak up the small pieces that were making me into a deeper, more complete person.

    Saving Private Ryan

    5. Saving Private Ryan - This movie made me hate war, and really hate the fact that people had the authority to command scared young men to come up against other scared young men and kill each other. It always bothered me that the main reason they were there was to keep this kid from dying because of the political fallout that would follow. The real, brutal side of war was woven into that movie pretty impressively and it left a mark on the way I feel about how we're OK with old men sending our young men to die for a commonly vague and cloudy purpose.

    Have a few you think I should add to the list? I'd love to hear feedback!

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    created at: 03/15/2015The Cabinet of Invisible Counselors is a term coined by success-guru Napoleon Hill referring to the great thinkers and authors whose work he found influential, whom he would summon in his imagination to consider their opinions on the tasks before him. Similarly, you may have heard the statement that, "You are the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time." Combining these two ideas has been one of the great decisions of my life.      

    Whatever goal you're aspiring to achieve as a man, whether physical, spiritual, familial, etc., you want to surround yourself with those who have achieved that very thing or who inspire you to dutifully pursue that task. Often times those great men are around you at work or in your personal life, but often times they're not. Reading - especially reading from the minds of great men and women - allows you to keep the thoughts of those great minds near you, even though the writer may be many years gone. While I highly suggest checking out the works of some of the greats like Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, Ernest Hemingway, and Teddy Roosevelt himself, there's a quote by David Leach which says, "Don't follow your mentors; follow your mentors' mentors." In other words, eat closer to the metaphorical ground and put your mind through some of the same intellectual training that these fellows did. 

    Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson

    You might know Jefferson as the 3rd President of the United States or the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence. He was also known as an intense lover of education and books in general. In 1814 all the books in the original Library of Congress were burned by British Troops and a year later they were replenished by Jefferson's personal collection of 6,487 books. The man was such a lover of both reading and innovation in fact that he had a rotating bookstand that could hold five books open at once. At the spritely age of 76 he founded the University of Virginia as a secular institution in which the library - not the chapel - held primacy. A figurehead of literary ambition, Jefferson often received requests for book recommendations. So often in fact that he ended up dividing them into specific categories: Ancient History, Philosophy, Literature/Epic Poetry/Play, Politics/Religion/Modern History, and Science. Jefferson in particular was a big fan of Cicero and interrogated Plato's Republic as an early model for the American system of government. 

    Check out his full reading list here.

    Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass 

    Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Maryland and first taught to read the alphabet by his master's wife, despite the fact that they were breaking the law in doing so. His master vehemently disapproved and eventually his wife discontinued the lessons which only fostered Douglass' voracious desire for knowledge. He began reading everything he could in secret, believing (as he later often said) that, "knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom." Douglass credits The Columbian Orator as one of the great collections of literature which helped form his mind at a young age. After escaping slavery at age 20, Douglass went on to become one of the 19 century's greatest orators and abolitionists following the publication of his autobiography (now in the public domain and a personal favorite of mine) Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Douglass' personal library became a part of the National Park Service in 1962, holding thousands of books (view the list in full here). The Art of Manliness link features 85 of his personal favorites which ranged from Christian apologetics to popular novels to history and science textbooks, while also including random subjects such as dentistry and knitting. 

    Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt

    I have a hard time getting through a week without singing some of Roosevelt's praises. The man had his shortcomings to be sure, but his intellect and appetite for literature was unparalleled. Roosevelt notoriously read a book before each meal at certain points in his life (often in a variety of languages), but also was known to mentally disappear in his entirety into a book. As a contemporary biographer of his wrote, "his occupation for the moment was to the exclusion of everything else; if he were reading, the house might fall about his head, he could not be diverted." In particular, history has noted Roosevelt's love for Audubon's Birds of America and Alfred Mahan's Influence of Sea Power Upon History (also in the public domain). The full reading list he wrote out to a friend (in the original order he wrote it) can be seen here at although I highly recommend viewing the actual copy with his notesfor wonderful asides such as, "Some of Michael Drayton's Poems– there are only three of your I care for." I also highly recommend taking a look at Edmund Morris' three part series on the life of Theodore Roosevelt himself. 

     Ernest Hemingway

    Ernest Hemingway

    And finally, what reading list is complete without hearing from the outspoken, manly man himself. I recently learned that what I lack in bullfighting skills, I share with Hemingway in the reading multiple books at a time department - sometimes as many as ten. Hemingway read an average of a book and a half a day, including three daily newspapers at least. Apparently, he would even bring a duffel bag full of books with him on traveling trips, and he spent the majority of his afternoons and evenings reading, if only to keep his mind of critiquing what he'd just written. In true Hemingway fashion, the man read mostly great literature so, "he knows what he has to beat." 

    Check out his full reading list here, plus here'sa great interview he did with the Paris Review about his reading and writing process.

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    I grew up in the shadow of some major recycling nuts so it actually took awhile for me to get my rebellious nature out of my system and come back to the recycling fold. I now recycle as meticulously as I can and composting organic waste is just one more great way to do that. Stored correctly, it can be a blessing -- stored poorly, not so much. user jddelta was inspired to build this DIY compost barrel by his sixteen year old daughter and its one of the more detailed guides around. With mesh to keep the bugs out, an aeration unit, and a drainage system, it's a sure-fire way to reduce your carbon footprint and fertilize your garden at the same time. Take it from jddelta; the photo below is of some of the world's hottest peppers according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and they fed on that sweet sweet compost of his. 

    Click here to view the full, in-depth guide from 

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    Make your own Vinegar

    Right now, you can find more tutorials on how to use vinegar to clean your toilet than you can find to use vinegar with a delicious dinner. This is a travesty for such an amazing and delicious liquid! Unlike most condiments, vinegar is one that you can make yourself and will taste better than anything you can buy in a store. I guarantee it! Here is a simple tutorial on turning leftover wine into homemade vinegar.   

    Vinegar is a versatile condiment. When reduced it can become a sweet sticky sauce for chicken and pork. It adds a depth of flavor and bite to soups and marinades. Think of wine vinegars like a concentrated version of your favorite vintage. If you recipe calls for wine, sub it with vinegar and see how amazing the flavor can be! 

    Making your own vinegar is a great way to give some use to wine leftover from your latest dinner party. You will find that any kind of wine, whether cheap or very expensive, will make a vinegar better than anything you buy in a store.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 1 bottle of red wine - I used 1.5 L of Cabernet Sauvignon 
    • 1 Growler or large crock -You want something with a lot of surface area at the top
    • 1 piece of cheese cloth or paper towel with a rubber band
    • 1 bottle of unpasturized vinegar - I used Braggs apple cider vinegar. It still has the mother starter in it.
    • funnel
    • measuring cup

    Vinegar is made by allowing an active culture, called "the mother," to feed on the natural alcohol in the wine which, in turn, adds a significant amount of acid to the vinegar. Adding Braggs apple cider vinegar–which has a mother in it already–to your wine shorten the time it takes to make your condiment.

    Start by thoroughly cleaning your growler, funnel, measuring cups and other things that may touch your wine. This will help prevent any unwanted bacteria from forming in your vinegar. Once you've done that, fill your growler 2/3 full of wine. For my growler, that was about 4 cups. Make your own Vinegar

    Next, fill the rest of your growler with the apple cider vinegar. About 2 cups for my batch. Be careful to stop filling up your growler before it reaches the neck of the bottle. You want a lot of surface area for the oxygen to penetrate the vinegar and keep the cultures working.

    Cover your growler with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. This will keep out the fruit flies and other pesky insects from getting into your vinegar.

    Make your own Vinegar

    Next, grab a sticker label and write what kind of wine you have in the growler and the date you created it. This will help keep you organized when you have 20 bottles of vinegar brewing in your basement. 

    Make your own Vinegar

    Once you've labeled your bottle, place your vinegar in a dark place to sit for several months. Mine is sitting in the closet next to my water heater. The ambient heat will actually help the fermenting process. I've found that when I've followed this recipe, the wine will turn into a decent, useable vinegar in about a month. You can let it sit for as long as you like, the longer it sits, the more it intensifies in flavor.

    Whenever you have a leftover bottle of red wine, you can add it to your vinegar growler. It will feed the mother and add complexities over time. 

    Make your own Vinegar

    Whenever you're ready to use some of your vinegar, pour it through a coffee filter to remove any sediment. I like to bottle my vinegar in leftover liquor bottles with cork stoppers. Just like wine, the cork stopper will allow the vinegar to continue to age and breathe in my pantry. 

    Go Beyond Wine Vinegar
    You can also apply this to any beverage containing alcohol or sugar. Fruit juices, beers, ciders and liquors can be turned into vinegar. Imagine a craft beer malt vinegar or a bourbon vinegar. The possibilities are endless! 

    I'm still new to vinegar making, I'd love to hear your experiences. Have you made any wild and unique ones?


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    With time and dedication, anyone can build something incredible. Greenfield Guitars have been honing their craft for years, and the process is amazing to watch.   There's always something inspiring about watching a master at work on something that has been honed over a lifetime. The customized tools, small touches, and massive collection of clamps and jigs give me a healty dose of envy along with my amazement, so take a look. This entire video is an hour long, which is important to keep in mind because I clicked on it and watch the entire thing in a sitting. Enjoy!

    Still here? Here's a much shorter but still impressive video on making glass dip pens:

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    Building a strong, sturdy fire is one of those basic skills everyone should have. When I'm out camping, I like to challenge myself to carefully prepare a perfect stack of kindling, tinder, and fuel, and see if I can get my bonfire started with just one match. But at home, in the backyard, when I'm grilling, what I really want is a perfect bed of coals that I can confidently cook on, and fast. For years, my preferred method of starting a perfect grilling fire has been to use a blowtorch. Sounds easy, right? It is. Here's how I do it:


    First things first: when starting a charcoal fire, there's only one rule. And that rule is:

    Never use lighter fluid. Period.

    Lighter fluid makes your food taste like ... lighter fluid. No fooling. It ads a harsh, chemical flavor to your grilled items, masking the subtle, coal-roasted goodness and ruining quality produce and cuts of meat. This includes self-lighting charcoal. Repeat after me: grill over wood, not chemicals. 

    The  Bernzomatic TS8000


    This year ManMade is part of Bernzomatic's Torch Bearer's program. We'll be following up over the next several months with some creative projects and clever ways to use a blowtorch around the house. In fact, this isn't the first time we've waxed poetic about the hottest tool in everyone's workshop; last year as part of our Essential Toolbox series, we made the case for the blowtorch as a must-have tool.


    How to Light a Charcoal Grill with a Chimney Starter

    When it comes to hardwood charcoal, especially all-natural lump charcoal, a chimney starter is well worth the investment. Sure, it only does one thing, but it does it perfectly, again and again, saving you money on fuel. At $15, it's a serious best buy.


    1. Begin by filling your chimney starter to the brim with charcoal, and place it on the lower grate of your grill. 

    2. Crumble up a piece of newspaper or two into a loose ball. Some folks recommend adding oil here to help it burn longer, but that's unnecessary with this method. Place it under the chimney starter, but don't overstuff. Make sure to leave plenty of room for air flow. 

    3. Fire up your blowtorch and light the newspaper from all sides. You could use a match or lighter here, but here's why I prefer a blowtorch:

    • It keeps your hands and fingers safely away from the flame
    • The flame burns hotter, making things combust more quickly, and getting you that much closer to dinner time
    • The pressurized fuel makes for a larger, hotter flame, guaranteeing a strong ignition right from the get-go
    • You always know where your blowtorch is. I'm constantly misplacing small lighters and match books, and never seem to be able to locate them when it's time to light the grill. (Are they in the junk drawer? The kitchen utensil caddy? With the grill and charcoal? The camping supplies? Did I leave it in the bathroom? Also, where's my spatula?)
    Did you know?
    BernzOmatic history
    Inventor and craftsman Otto Bernz started out in 1876 (!) selling plumbers’ tools, furnaces and gasoline torches. The first propane torch and fuel cylinder wasn't invented until the 1950s.


    The charcoal is ready when the center of the chimney glows deep orange, flames lick out from the empty spaces, and the top coals just start to ash over. Safely dump it into the grill, add the cooking grate and the lid, and allow it to heat. 

    How to Light a Charcoal Grill without a Chimney Starter

    For such an affordable price, there's no reason not to keep a chimney starter on hand for backyard grilling. But what about those times when you don't have one around? Say, when you're camping, tailgating, grilling at a beach or lakeside cookout, or using a public grill at a park? Those times where lugging an extra piece of equipment is just one thing too many?

    No problem. Your friend the blowtorch helps you here, too. 

    1. Before you leave, fill the grill with charcoal. Then, once you arrive, distribute the lumps or briquettes evenly so that they touch, but allow for airflow. Make sure the bottom vent is fully open.

    2. Light your blowtorch, and touch the blue part of the flame to an area where several coals meet. Make small circular motions to evenly heat the surfaces for about one minute.

    3. Then, move to another part of the grill and repeat for another minute. Then, one more time along a third, evenly spaced point. The point here is: a blowtorch is much, much hotter than a match or stick lighter, and will give you much better success at lighting the surface without additional tools or kindling. 

    4. Allow the lit coals to ignite the remaining ones, and get cooking. 


    How to Light a Barbecue Smoker with a Blowtorch

    The chimney starter and coal lighting method are great for high heat grilling, where you allow the coals to get as hot as possible quickly, then let them to cool to the proper cooking temperature. 

    But there are applications where you don't want the coals to reach high temperatures, such as smoking and slow roasting. Here, the goal is to let the fire burn for long periods of time at lower temperatures, rather than searing the food with a blast of heat. 

    Want to guess my favorite tool for creating a low and slow fire? You got it – the blowtorch.

    1. Fill your grill or smoker with charcoal. If you like, make a few divots and add two or three charcoal starters.

    2. Ignite your blowtorch, and hold the flame to the open divots for about a minute. Repeat, repeat. 

    3. After about five to ten minutes with full access to oxygen, begin to close your lids and vents to slowly bring the temperature up to where you want it. The method will vary depending on your style of smoker, but just remember - for the most efficient cook, you want to let the temperature climb up to the target temp, and stabilize there, not get hotter then cool down. Finally, add your smoking wood, allow the heavy grey smoke to burn off and that lovely thin blue smoke to emerge, and get started smoking. 


    There you go. Three common grilling scenarios, all using the same hardwood lump charcoal, all easier and more controllable with the help of a blowtorch.

    Now go out, and grill stuff.


    For more DIY project ideas, make sure to check out Bernzomatic's Torch Bearers page, or follow them on  Facebook,  Twitter, or Instagram.

    This is a sponsored post. I am a Bernzomatic Torch Bearer, though all opinions expressed are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support ManMade.

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    HustleI'm taking a bit of a journey to figure out a few things. First, who am I, and second what does that mean to the world? Ever wonder that? Here are 5 things I'm going to do this month to find the best of me.
    A few months ago, I took a trip. It was a lot of fun, and a real break from life. This adventure woke up a few things I'd tuned out for a while, it really had me thinking again after a few nights sipping Bourbon on the patio. The main thing stems from the incredible amount of "good" things I spend my time on. For years, I've committed to saying yes to the opportunities around me, which has opened up doors and taken me places I never expected. I highly recommend the shift that comes from opening up your mind to new adventures, I talk more about that here. But now, I think it's time to hone my yes. Like I said, my plate is full of "good" things, but I'm wondering what greatness is there, just past my reach because of it. 

    Here's the important part, this world needs more people who are fully alive, who have found and are chasing after it. Here are the steps I'm taking for the next month to clear my plate of the good in search of the great.Strength Finder

    1. Take the Gallup Strength Finders Test - This test takes about 45 minutes and provides an in-depth summary of your top 5 strengths. What I like about this test is how the strengths are broken down into understandable pieces, and also how it provides ways to compensate for them by teaming with others. This is an exceptional way to hone what you're good at and where it works in life. 

    2. Clear That Plate - Here's the hard part. My plate is full of good things. Amazing opportunities to do things that are good, but some just don't speak to my heart like they should. I've put them all on hold and they're all on the table for a closer look. If I circle back and they don't fit the rest of my goals it's time to close a few chapters.Darts

    3. Really Dive Into Your Goals - I've been so busy the past year that my goal setting has taken a step back. I used to have clear, dedicated goals that really got things done. I'm going to take the time to put together goals that align with a vision that's bigger than me. Tip: if it doesn't scare you a bit, or if you're worried it's too much of a stretch, you're probably aiming too low. 

    4. Take The Time To Process - Sure, setting goals is one thing, but really making them sink in is another. Really section out the time to get squared away on what the goals are, and what it means to get there. What that means, is being able to look at good opportunities and being fine with leaving them on the table in favor of the great ones.Escape Hike

    5. Take Time To Make It Stick - The last few weeks of my 30 days I'm really going to dive into a few things I've put on the back burner. Specifically I'll be disappearing into the woods for a few tailgate camping sessions to gain some perspective again. There are also a few places in the house that have been needing a bit of organization TLC and I feel much more at peace when I'm living in a clean space. Do you have any areas in your life that need some organization? Clear spaces help with clear minds.

    Now Get Up And Hustle - Those goals aren't going to come without a fight. I plan on hitting the ground with a clear mind and solid plan to make something great happen. Because the world deserves the best of me, and I plan to give it everything I've got.


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    Owning a piece of mid-century design brings a solid, artfully masculine vibe to any space...but many of the classics are out of your price range when just starting to pull your home together. So, instead of shelling out the bucks for a statement piece by a major designer, invest a little time, and thoughtfulness, and make your own!   


    This project comes from Cameron Oden at eHow, and we love how simple the joinery is. We've shared a similar project before, but the dead-simple dowels make this one much easier to pull together. Just make sure your dowels are made of hardwood, and you get a secure glue joint. Doubling up on the dowels wouldn't hurt, either (two per stretcher), depending on the size and volume of your pot.

    Pretty cool, right? If you can, spend just a bit more and make this from maple or walnut for a seriously classy look. Get the full how-to from Cameron Oden: How to Build a Mid-Century Inspired Plant Stand that Looks Like it Belongs in a Dwell Magazine


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    Dark and Stormy Ginger Beer

    One of my favorite cocktail mixers is the spicy ginger beer, used for the summer favorite "Moscow Mule", or evening sipper, the "Dark and Stormy." But I've had enough of the spendy, over-sweetened bottles from the supermarket, so I figured: it's time to make our own. Here are three ways to make an extremely tasty version happen at home. With an affinity for making things, it should be no surprise that I love mixed drinks. There are hundreds of combinations that fit just about any palate, from spicy to sweet, and sparkling light to syrupy dark. With just a handful of spirits and a few mixers, everyone in the room can find something they love.Ginger Beer Concentrate

    1. Ginger Beer Concentrate - This is by far the easiest way to make your own Ginger Beer at home. This version is reduced to a syrup that is mixed with carbonated water for that zip of ginger without the wait. If you're in need of a batch of ginger beer in a hurry, this can be completed and pouring in about an hour.

    Ingredients - (makes about 32oz of concentrate)


    • 1 1/2  cup ginger root
    • 1/2 cup sugar, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water (simple syrup)
    • 1 cup fresh lime juice
    • 3 cups filtered water
    • 2 tsp aromatic cocktail bitters (floral or spicy)
    • club soda for xixing
    • Flip top glass bottles for storage


    Start out by roughly peeling the ginger skin off the fresh roots, then cutting it up into rough chunks. Add the ginger and 1 cup of the water into a food processor or blender and blend for about 2 minutes until fully chopped.Peeled Ginger

    Transfer the ginger into a mesh bag or fine sieve and squeeze the pulp over a bowl until most of the water has been squeezed into the bowl. Transfer the ginger pulp back into the processor or blender add 1 cup of water and blend again for about 1 minute. Transfer the ginger again to the mesh and repeat once more until all three cups of the water have been pressed through the ginger pulp, discard the ginger.

    Add the simple syrup, lime and bitters and mix well. Transfer the mixture to sealed containers (16oz flip tops) and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

    To use, mix 3 oz Ginger Beer Concentrate with 6-7 oz club soda for a great tasting Ginger Beer.Ginger Chunks

    2. Cold-Pressed Ginger Beer -Like the above recipe, this one involves pressing water through the ginger pulp for a smooth, sweet taste without much of the over-the-top spice. Using yeast to ferment give the fizz without the aid of club soda/sparkling water, but it takes a bit more time and preparation. Expect this brew to be ready in about 3-4 days.

    Ingredients - (makes about 64oz)


    • 1 1/2  cup ginger root
    • 3/4 cup sugar, dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water (simple syrup)
    • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 6 cups filtered water
    • 4 tsp aromatic cocktail bitters (floral or spicy)
    • 2 tsp Cuvee Champagne yeast (available at a brewing supply store)
    • 1x 64oz Mason jar with lid (optional bubbler)
    • 4x 16oz bottles with flip top


    Start out by roughly peeling the ginger skin off the fresh roots, then cutting it up into rough chunks. Add the ginger and 1 cup of the water into a food processor or blender and blend for about 2 minutes until fully chopped.Ginger Pulp

    Transfer the ginger into a mesh bag or fine sieve and squeeze the pulp over a bowl until most of the water has been squeezed into the bowl. Transfer the ginger pulp back into the processor or blender add 1 cup of water and blend again for about 1 minute. Transfer the ginger again to the mesh and repeat once more until three cups of the water have been pressed through the ginger pulp, discard the ginger.

    Meanwhile, warm 1 cup of water to about 75 degrees, and gently sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside and let hydrate for about 5 minutes.

    Incorporate the yeast mix, simple syrup, lemon juice, and bitters, then mix well. Add two final cups of water and mix gently before transferring to a large 64oz container. Either have a lid with bubbler attached to relieve the pressure, or "burp" the bottles at least daily to avoid explosion from pressure.Boiling Ginger

    After 2 days, transfer the ginger beer to 16oz bottles and store in refrigerator after 6-8 hours at room temperature. This will stop the yeast activity and keep from building up too much pressure. Use within about a month, and use caution when opening.Ginger Pulp

    3. Boiling Water Extraction Ginger Beer -Unlike the first two recipes, this method boils the ginger to really extract out the spicy flavors.  Using yeast to ferment give the fizz without the aid of club soda/sparkling water, but it takes a bit more time and preparation. Expect this brew to be ready in about 3-4 days.

    Ingredients - (makes about 64oz)


    • 2 cups ginger root
    • 3/4 cup sugar, dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water (simple syrup)
    • 1 cup lemon juice, fresh
    • 6 cups filtered water
    • 4 tsp aromatic cocktail bitters (floral or spicy)
    • 2 tsp Cuvee Champagne yeast (available at a brewing store)
    • 1x 64oz Mason jar with lid (optional bubbler)
    • 4x 16oz bottles with flip top


    Start out by roughly peeling the ginger skin off the fresh roots, then cutting it up into rough chunks. Add the ginger and 1 cup of the water into a food processor or blender and blend for about 2 minutes until fully chopped.Ginger Jars

    Add the ginger and 4 cups of water to a large saucepan and bring to boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add lemon juice and simple syrup. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

    Meanwhile, warm 1 cup of water to about 75 degrees, and gently sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside and let hydrate for about 5 minutes.

    Once the ginger mixture has cooled below 75 degrees, add the yeast mix, and bitters, then mix well. Add the one final cup of water and mix gently before transferring to a large 64oz container. Either have a lid with bubbler attached to relieve the pressure, or "burp" the bottles at least daily to avoid explosion from pressure.Filling Jars Ginger Beer

    After 2 days, transfer the ginger beer to 16oz bottles and store in refrigerator after 6-8 hours at room temperature. This will stop the yeast activity and keep from building up too much pressure. Use within about a month, and use caution when opening.Ginger Beer

    With those options on how to make your own ginger beer, there is really no reason you can't do it yourself. So take an afternoon and a bit of ginger and get your home bartending skills bumped up a notch with handcrafted mixers.


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    Peter Martin found himself with a dilemma. He had a great, new, adult apartment in Brooklyn but his backyard was little more than a 20’ x 18’ concrete slab with a drain in the center. And that wasn’t going to fly. After weighing concrete’s reliability against brick’s throwback aesthetic, he and his wife decided on the subtle beauty of bluestone to make their dream patio come to life.   

    Now a patio like this is going to be gorgeous in the backyard as the designated space for cooking and dining, but it’s a particularly good solution for people with closer urban conditions who may not have a grassy yard. Carrying and setting bluestone is no joke; it’s a respectable solution not only for its hue but also for its solidity and heft. That said, with a bit of grit and determination, Peter and his buddy were able to put together the entire patio in the course of a single afternoon. And if you follow their guide on, you can too.


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