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    The solar calendar has finally acknowledged what we've all know for a few weeks: it's summer. And with that most blessed of seasons comes the opportunity to get out of town and see the world in all its sun-soaked splendor.

    The trick for making all this happen as easily and frequently as possible. Pack lightly, my brothers and sisters.     Or, at least - pack efficiently, so you can have everything you need, plus some backups, in the smallest, easiest-to-move container possible.

    Perhaps no one knows how to best fit a whole slog of gear and clothing into a tiny bag than service women and men whose job requires them to be ready at a moment's notice, and as streamlined as possible.

    Recently, Thrillist interviewed a group of military professionals for their take on packing as efficiently as possible. They say, 

    But you know who are taught to pack, and who treat it like a high art? Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors, that’s who. US military servicemembers can probably shoot better than you, stand at attention longer, and almost assuredly pack a tighter, smaller, better-balanced suitcase or backpack than anyone else in your boarding zone. So we’ve interviewed a bunch of them to compile their best packing tips and tricks -- none of which involve sitting on your bag until it barely zips. 

    We're totally in. Check out their tips, and use as frequently as you can all summer long. 

    Thrillist.com: How to Pack a Suitcase (Army Backpack Packing Tips)

     

     


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    I've had a small piece of scrap black walnut in the shop for a while. It was perfect to make a few simple bottle openers. Take a look.   I can't seem to ever find a bottle opener when I want one. Sure, i could buy a few more but why not make them? I took a little slice of walnut and made a set of four so I could scatter them around the backyard and always have one close.

    Here are the steps:

    Walnut

    1. Pick the wood - The right wood should be hard enough to take some abuse, shy away from pine or similar soft woods.Bandsaw Cuts

    2. Make the cuts - I cut the pieces wide enough to be able to shape later on the band saw, so rough cuts were about 1"x1.5" and about 5" long.Cut off pieces

    3. Sketch out the design - You could make the design more accurate, but I free-handed the cuts to make them organic then took them to the band saw. Tip: I use the cut-off from one side to sketch out the opposite side for symmetry.Bandsaw Pieces

    4. Cut the pieces - At the band saw, I cut the pieces to shape. With such small pieces, be careful to keep hands from in front of the blade. Use push sticks whenever possible.Sanding

    5.  Sand smooth - After the openers are done at the band saw, they are smoothed out with a sander. This can be done by hand, but it will take a bit longer. Once they are smooth, it's time to drill.Drilling Holes

    6. Drill the holes - Drill the opening for the bottle with a Forsner bit, about halfway to make an opening for the bottle cap top.

    Finishing Bottle Openers

    7. Finish and add washers - The wood finish on my pieces is a simple beeswax polish, which adds a bit of character to the wood grain. after a quick polish, I added washers to the underside to finish off the openers.

    Now all that's left is to open a cold one and enjoy having a few more openers within reach!

     


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    I'm a lucky guy. My family has allowed me to dedicate half our basement into a dedicated shop space, complete with a custom woodworking bench and a growing collection of tools. It's bright, clean (at least right now), and I'm slowly turning it into a functional workspace that will allow me to be as productive as possible. 

    But it took me a long time to get here. For nearly fifteen years, I worked out of dining rooms and back porches and portions of the garage, lugging my tools around in plastic totes and home center toolboxes, setting up shop on the washing machine, folding tables, and 1/2" plywood scraps screwed to 2x4s.

    And, in the early days, it was that lack of a proper workbench that prevented me from thinking I could could use hand tools. Without a vise and hold downs, how could I safely secure my work for handplaning, chiseling, or sawing?The answer: a batten, which will take you 5 minutes to make and turns any flat surface into a work bench. Let's make one!    

    Begin by selecting a piece of hardwood (or plywood), about 2-3" wide, and 18 or so inches long. Ideally it will be at least 3/4 of the depth of your worksurface. I'm using a scrap of western maple, 2 3/8" wide. 

    First, make sure the edge is cut at 90°, then draw a small tick mark 1/4" from each side. Use a combination square or speed square to draw a 45° line in from each tick mark. They'll meet in the center of the board.

     

    Cut out this bird's mouth shape using whatever you have: a back saw, jig saw, coping saw, band saw. 

    Then, gather the rest of your materials. You'll need a second long piece of wood (like a plywood scrap) and some clamps (or, if you can, some screws)

    Set up the long piece of wood as a stop against the end your worksurface. If you're right handed, that's the left side; if you're a leftie, then the right side. Clamp or screw it in place.

    Then, butt your workpiece up to the stop, then press the notch in the batten up to your wood.

     

    If you're handplaning, etc, it's best to set the batten against the opposite back corner, so it can absorb the force from pushing back as well as holding it side to side. 

    Wiggle everything around to make sure it's secure, then double check the clamps. And, voila — your wood is now secure.

    You may have to reposition this a few times depending on how you're working, but this a great way to turn a lightweight garage work table into a place for woodworking. Or, if you can get away with it - your kitchen island or dining room table. 

    Now, get some woodworking done!

     

     

     

     

     

     


    0 0

    The solar calendar has finally acknowledged what we've all know for a few weeks: it's summer. And with that most blessed of seasons comes the opportunity to get out of town and see the world in all its sun-soaked splendor.

    The trick for making all this happen as easily and frequently as possible. Pack lightly, my brothers and sisters.     Or, at least - pack efficiently, so you can have everything you need, plus some backups, in the smallest, easiest-to-move container possible.

    Perhaps no one knows how to best fit a whole slog of gear and clothing into a tiny bag than service women and men whose job requires them to be ready at a moment's notice, and as streamlined as possible.

    Recently, Thrillist interviewed a group of military professionals for their take on packing as efficiently as possible. They say, 

    But you know who are taught to pack, and who treat it like a high art? Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors, that’s who. US military servicemembers can probably shoot better than you, stand at attention longer, and almost assuredly pack a tighter, smaller, better-balanced suitcase or backpack than anyone else in your boarding zone. So we’ve interviewed a bunch of them to compile their best packing tips and tricks -- none of which involve sitting on your bag until it barely zips. 

    We're totally in. Check out their tips, and use as frequently as you can all summer long. 

    Thrillist.com: How to Pack a Suitcase (Army Backpack Packing Tips)

     

     


    0 0

    A functioning clamp rack. Every shop's gotta have one. "But, wait!" You say. "Isn't the easiest way to hold clamps just some 2x4s bolted to the walls, and maybe some holes and plumbing pipe inserted to hang the clamps on?" Yeah, perhaps. But, while that works if you have a ton of space, it's not the most efficient way to store clamps in a small shop. And I think of that as more of a "clamp hanging spot" than a proper organization system. Plus, if you already know about that trick, you certainly don't need me to give you a how-to. 

    Instead, I present this design: infinitely adaptable to any scale, and able to hold almost any type of clamp. You can build the whole thing with some scrap plywood, a jigsaw, and drill, and make one - no matter the size - in well under an hour.     

    First, Determine Your Measurements 

    To begin, you need to figure out three things: slot size, slot spacing, and slot length.

    First, determine the thickness of the bar (or pipe) of your clamps. Add a bit of wiggle room and make it a nice easy number. Here, my Bessey clamp bars are 5/16" thick, so I'll choose 3/8" for my slot size. Let's call this Measurement A.

     

    Next, attach two clamps side by side to a piece of scrap. Place them as close as you'd like them to be in your rack, and measure the distance between the CENTERS of the two bars. If you're using multiple styles and sizes of clamps, make sure you choose two of your biggest. This is Measurement B.

    Here, we're right on 1 1/2".

     

    Lastly, measure the distance between the front of the clamp and the back of the bar (and clamp head). This is Measurement C.

     

     

    Lay out the slots

    Begin with an oversize piece of 3/4 plywood. Plywood is important here because the grain of the plys run in opposite directions, so it's strong across both its length and its width, and won't snap along a grain line with the thin tongues cut between the slots. (It's also means its dimensionally stable, and won't expand and contract as the weather changes. No stuck clamps!)

     

    Make sure you have a nice, square edge across the front and the left side. Make a mark 2" from the left side. Then repeat, spacing the marks according to Measurement B above. You'll want as many marks as clamps you hope to store.

    Then, set a combo square to Measurement C, the distance of the front the clamp to the back of its bar. This creates a single point where you'll drill your hole to start the slot. 

    Drill and Cut the Slots

    Select a drill bit that matches Measurement A above, the thickness of your clamp bars plus a 1/16" or so.  Drill out each crossmark above to create the back of your slots. You'll see now that you don't really care how much wood is in between the slots; the only thing you need to be concerned with the the distance between the centers of each slot, Measurement B. 

    Use a square to extend the sides of these holes to the front of the work. 

    NOTE: At this point, you can decide whether you want to store your clamps handles in front or handles in the back. If your handles go towards the wall, your slots will be much shorter, as only the distance behind the head gets slotted out, and the top jaw rests on solid wood. Gravity helps keep them in place.

    That approach wouldn't work for me, and here's why: I'm hanging my clamps next to my workbench, and I'll regularly be standing in front of them as I use my end vise. So, I want to use the clamps' built-in capabilities to secure them to the rack so they won't fall out or bounce around if I accidentally knock into them. Plus, I think all the handles lined up in a row look nice, and will encourage me to keep things neat and orderly. 

    If you go with the handles in front design, you can still place them bar side out any time you want. So, handles in front/longer slot is the most versatile option.

    Now, use a jigsaw, band saw, or hand saw to cut down these lines and remove the waste inside the slot. If you have any excess wood in the front or back, cut it off now to determine your overall length. 

     

    Cut the back and sides

    Next, cut the back of the rack. This will sit under the top slotted shelf you just created, and you'll screw through it to secure the wood to the wall. It should be exactly as long as the top, and as wide as you need to keep things rigid and sink at least two screws through. You could easily make it the same size as the top. Mine is 4 1/4" wide.

     

    Attach the top to the back using screws. I chose not to use glue or nails here in case I ever need to take the rack apart. Just make sure the top sits on top of the back so the top is supported along its length. I went with pocket holes through the back, but you could easily just screw in from the top. 

    With the back attached, create the sides. These attach to both the back and the top to make the whole thing rigid. Question of the day: does that make them corbels, brackets, or simply sides? (Not a quiz: I actually don't know what to call these. Someone please share in the comments below.) 

     

    Your sides could be squares, triangles, or French curves; whatever you want. I went with a 45° angle, starting 1 1/2" in from each side, to lighten the visual weight and provide better access. I just held up the piece to the sides of the clamp rack and traced my marks, then cut it out on the band saw. Then I flipped it, traced the shape, and cut the other side. 

     

    Attach the sides to the inside of the rack with more screws. 

    Hang it up!

    Find your wall studs, or use appropriate anchors, to hang the rack up, screwing through the back. Use at least four beefy screws, and more if you can. If you're hanging heavy pipe clamps, you may want to counterbore and use some lag bolts to get into the studs to support the extra weight. 

     

    Add your clamps, and you're done!

     

     

    Once its on the wall, you can see the number of ways you can place the clamps in the rack. You can clamp them in, placing the rack between both jaws, put them handle side first and just let them hang, or rest them on the bottom jaw, as above. This is great when you're using them frequently, but don't want them to clutter up your workbench.

     

    Here, you can easily see the profile of the sides, and how the screw joinery works to best support the weight. 

     

    Here's a second rack made with the same design to house my smaller clamps. I made the rack longer than I needed, and shifted the clamps to one side. This was necessary in order to hang it from two studs, but also used otherwise wasted space on the wall to make a shelf for storage more quick-grab items. 

     


    My clamp wall is almost complete. If you're interested, check out the tutorial for the parallel jaw clamp storage system I made. Next up: a way to store my wooden hand screws.  Stay tuned.  

     

     

     

     

     


    0 0

    A functioning clamp rack. Every shop's gotta have one. "But, wait!" You say. "Isn't the easiest way to hold clamps just some 2x4s bolted to the walls, and maybe some holes and plumbing pipe inserted to hang the clamps on?" Yeah, perhaps. But, while that works if you have a ton of space, it's not the most efficient way to store clamps in a small shop. And I think of that as more of a "clamp hanging spot" than a proper organization system. Plus, if you already know about that trick, you certainly don't need me to give you a how-to. 

    Instead, I present this design: infinitely adaptable to any scale, and able to hold almost any type of clamp. You can build the whole thing with some scrap plywood, a jigsaw, and drill, and make one - no matter the size - in well under an hour.     

    First, Determine Your Measurements 

    To begin, you need to figure out three things: slot size, slot spacing, and slot length.

    First, determine the thickness of the bar (or pipe) of your clamps. Add a bit of wiggle room and make it a nice easy number. Here, my Bessey clamp bars are 5/16" thick, so I'll choose 3/8" for my slot size. Let's call this Measurement A.

     

    Next, attach two clamps side by side to a piece of scrap. Place them as close as you'd like them to be in your rack, and measure the distance between the CENTERS of the two bars. If you're using multiple styles and sizes of clamps, make sure you choose two of your biggest. This is Measurement B.

    Here, we're right on 1 1/2".

     

    Lastly, measure the distance between the front of the clamp and the back of the bar (and clamp head). This is Measurement C.

     

     

    Lay out the slots

    Begin with an oversize piece of 3/4 plywood. Plywood is important here because the grain of the plys run in opposite directions, so it's strong across both its length and its width, and won't snap along a grain line with the thin tongues cut between the slots. (It's also means its dimensionally stable, and won't expand and contract as the weather changes. No stuck clamps!)

     

    Make sure you have a nice, square edge across the front and the left side. Make a mark 2" from the left side. Then repeat, spacing the marks according to Measurement B above. You'll want as many marks as clamps you hope to store.

    Then, set a combo square to Measurement C, the distance of the front the clamp to the back of its bar. This creates a single point where you'll drill your hole to start the slot. 

    Drill and Cut the Slots

    Select a drill bit that matches Measurement A above, the thickness of your clamp bars plus a 1/16" or so.  Drill out each crossmark above to create the back of your slots. You'll see now that you don't really care how much wood is in between the slots; the only thing you need to be concerned with the the distance between the centers of each slot, Measurement B. 

    Use a square to extend the sides of these holes to the front of the work. 

    NOTE: At this point, you can decide whether you want to store your clamps handles in front or handles in the back. If your handles go towards the wall, your slots will be much shorter, as only the distance behind the head gets slotted out, and the top jaw rests on solid wood. Gravity helps keep them in place.

    That approach wouldn't work for me, and here's why: I'm hanging my clamps next to my workbench, and I'll regularly be standing in front of them as I use my end vise. So, I want to use the clamps' built-in capabilities to secure them to the rack so they won't fall out or bounce around if I accidentally knock into them. Plus, I think all the handles lined up in a row look nice, and will encourage me to keep things neat and orderly. 

    If you go with the handles in front design, you can still place them bar side out any time you want. So, handles in front/longer slot is the most versatile option.

    Now, use a jigsaw, band saw, or hand saw to cut down these lines and remove the waste inside the slot. If you have any excess wood in the front or back, cut it off now to determine your overall length. 

     

    Cut the back and sides

    Next, cut the back of the rack. This will sit under the top slotted shelf you just created, and you'll screw through it to secure the wood to the wall. It should be exactly as long as the top, and as wide as you need to keep things rigid and sink at least two screws through. You could easily make it the same size as the top. Mine is 4 1/4" wide.

     

    Attach the top to the back using screws. I chose not to use glue or nails here in case I ever need to take the rack apart. Just make sure the top sits on top of the back so the top is supported along its length. I went with pocket holes through the back, but you could easily just screw in from the top. 

    With the back attached, create the sides. These attach to both the back and the top to make the whole thing rigid. Question of the day: does that make them corbels, brackets, or simply sides? (Not a quiz: I actually don't know what to call these. Someone please share in the comments below.) 

     

    Your sides could be squares, triangles, or French curves; whatever you want. I went with a 45° angle, starting 1 1/2" in from each side, to lighten the visual weight and provide better access. I just held up the piece to the sides of the clamp rack and traced my marks, then cut it out on the band saw. Then I flipped it, traced the shape, and cut the other side. 

     

    Attach the sides to the inside of the rack with more screws. 

    Hang it up!

    Find your wall studs, or use appropriate anchors, to hang the rack up, screwing through the back. Use at least four beefy screws, and more if you can. If you're hanging heavy pipe clamps, you may want to counterbore and use some lag bolts to get into the studs to support the extra weight. 

     

    Add your clamps, and you're done!

     

     

    Once its on the wall, you can see the number of ways you can place the clamps in the rack. You can clamp them in, placing the rack between both jaws, put them handle side first and just let them hang, or rest them on the bottom jaw, as above. This is great when you're using them frequently, but don't want them to clutter up your workbench.

     

    Here, you can easily see the profile of the sides, and how the screw joinery works to best support the weight. 

     

    Here's a second rack made with the same design to house my smaller clamps. I made the rack longer than I needed, and shifted the clamps to one side. This was necessary in order to hang it from two studs, but also used otherwise wasted space on the wall to make a shelf for storage more quick-grab items. 

     


    My clamp wall is almost complete. If you're interested, check out the tutorial for the parallel jaw clamp storage system I made. Next up: a way to store my wooden hand screws.  Stay tuned.  

     

     

     

     

     


    0 0

    A food dehydrator is on my list of kitchen appliances I should probably never buy myself. Like its brother, the deep fat fryer, I know I'd just get carried away, dehydratin' and frying stuff left and right.

    How to make the perfect homemade jerky

     

    But, that doesn't mean I don't wanna create my own tasty and natural dried foods every once in a while...particularly: jerky.  Of all kinds. So, I figured out a way to make some without any specialized tools.

    Making jerky at home can seem quite complicated, and it can be if you don't follow the right steps. But, here's the ManMade guide, complete with everything you need to know. Grab some meat and meet us in the kitchen.

    How To Make The Perfect Homemade Jerky

    1. Choose THE BEST ingredients: that might sound quite obvious, but seriously, using high quality ingredients will make a huge difference. You'll be concentrating all the flavors, so they have to be delicious to start with. If you're using some sort of meat, choose one that's nice and clean and free of hormones (some places label their meat with this info). If you're going for fish, get a wild, fresh catch. For this guide we'll be using wild sockeye salmon.

    2. Select your seasonings: figure out if you want it sweet or salty, spicy or mild and choose your seasonings accordingly. Remember that the flavours get enhanced as the jerky dries up, so keep that in mind and don't use something extremely strong or it'll be too overpowering. For this guide we are doing a spicy marinade.

    3. Clean your meat / fish well: you can ask the clerk at the store to clean it for you or you can do it at home. Make sure your protein is free of any bones, cartilage, and chunks of fat.

    4. Plan ahead: making jerky takes a bit of time as you need at least 12 hours to marinate the protein, plus cooking time.

    5. Make a big batch: make more than enough! Remember that the protein will shrink as it dehydrates and you don't want to invest all this time to end up with 4 pieces of jerky.

     

    created at: 06/02/2015

     

    RECIPE AND STEPS:

    Ingredients

    • A couple fillets of wild salmon (about 15oz each)
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    • Couple dashes of Tabasco Sauce
    • 1 tablespoon of Paprika
    • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
    • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoon of honey

    Steps

    1. Clean the fish and make sure there are no bones hidden in the skin. Also, remove the silvery flesh on top of the fillet as this will become tough when cooked, BUT leave the skin on, this one will get crunchy! Use a very sharp knife to slice the fillets as shown above (1/2 an inch max). Set aside.
    2. Mix rest of ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.
    3. Dunk the salmon in the marinade and coat all pieces. Leave marinating for at least 12 hours.
    4. After 12 hours or more have gone by, remove the salmon from the marinade, pat dry with a paper towel and lay flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon pad - as an extra precaution, rub some oil on the paper or pad 'cause it'll get sticky.
    5. Place in the oven at 200F and dehydrate for about 2-3 hours or until nice and crisp. Make sure to flip them half way through. 

    how to make the perfect homemade jerky

     

    how to make the perfect homemade jerky

    And that is all! Wasn't it easy? Dudes I'm serious, once you make your first batch you'll be addicted and you'll want to experiment with tons of seasonings. Jerky also happens to be the perfect drinking snack.

    Remember, whether you use salmon or beef, the steps are the same!

    Enjoy!

     

     

    This post was originally published on ManMade in August 2013


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    Cutting Zinc At EdgesMy grandparents used to have a mudroom at their farmhouse. It was where everything from the field was shed and washed, but it was also where the food was kept. Along one wall was a long zinc countertop dented and riddled with history, a piece of that old house that really made an impression on me.   This easy to follow tutorial from This Old House details how to turn a sheet of plywood into a piece of family history with a layer of zinc and a few simple steps.

    Soldering Zinc CountertopWhile the tutorial shows how to make a simple console table with Ikea legs, it's not too hard to visualize dressing up a yard sale beater with a new surface so look at the basics and let your mind run wild. Take a look at the full tutorial here.

    Folding the Zinc Corners

    Doing this project? Send us some pics of the finished product!

    How to Build a Zinc Tabletop [ThisOldHouse.com]


    0 0

    created at: 08/26/2015

    Let's be clear: none of us are here to discuss the basics of what a screwdriver is, or what it can do. Its purpose is clear. It's right there in the name.

    Nor is it important to name all the different varieties of tasks it can perform. Because it can't do much.  If you use them properly, they're not a paint can opener. They're not a punch, or a chisel, or a pry bar. They do two things: tighten hardware, and loosen hardware. 

    Instead, I will say this: a high-quality set of wood handled screwdrivers are a true joy to use. They are comfortable, practical, and extremely efficient. They inspire me to use them regularly (instead of reaching for a drill or impact driver), and provide the kind of control you need to drive precision hardware. Are they necessary for building a house or screwing on your new license plate? No. But if you, like me, take on a variety of creative and household projects that require a large variety of hardware, a really, really nice set of screwdrivers are worth having, and worth the price. $5.00 - $7.00 is not too much for a tool that will last lifetimes.

    created at: 08/26/2015

    What Makes for a Super Nice Screwdriver?

    Simple: unplated, precision ground tips, and shanks formed and hardened from high quality steel. That's it. The custom hollow-grinding of these tool tips creates minimally small tolerances that won't damage hardware. This isn't an enormous deal when driving a box of new drywall screws, but is of paramount importance when working with existing hardware, especially those related to original or antique pieces of value (think furniture, cabinet hinges, etc), or when dealing with soft brass screw heads. 

    The best screwdrivers tend to come from woodworking shops, or those intended for gunsmithing, which requires precision hardware placement, mechanics, and mounting. I'm not a gun owner or user, but the quality of these tools is undeniable. The steel is hardened to high standards to prevent twisting, chipping, or rolling over, and, on the slotted drivers, have a square shanked blade that can be grasped with a wrench. 

    Wooden handles provide a comfortable user experience, and prevent slipping when your hands are covered in machine oil, or sweat from working on a hot day.

    created at: 08/26/2015

    Another big benefit to a high-quality screwdriver: the length of their shank increases as the driving tip gets larger. This keeps the torque and pressure appropriate for the hardware size, and makes hand driving much easier. 

     

    created at: 08/26/2015

    Which Screwdrivers Should You Get? 

    Lastly, this: There is no tool I use more than a screwdriver. For small household tasks like changing lightbulbs to hanging a picture or window blinds to fixing a rattling cabinet. For full-on built-from-scratch furniture projects. For repairing, fixing, and setting up my guitars. For fine-tuning my bicycle. For keeping my sewing machine and table saw and everything in between in good working order. For my wife to use for her jewelry making and other creative tasks.

    I don't know if I use them everyday, but I use one five days a week, for sure. They are, guaranteed, the tool I most commonly go out to my garage shop to get, and the space they leave behind on my pegboard is, by far, the most empty. To me, that means it's worth getting a set that I love, can trust for all the variety of tasks, and that are a pleasure and inspiring to use. Even looking at these photographs writing this up makes me want to go out in the garage and make stuff. Can you say that about a rubber-handled, plated driver made from cheap steel in China? 

    Maybe you don't rush out and replace every one you own right now. Maybe you wait until you've got a gift card, or you ask for a set for your birthday. Maybe you treat yourself when you're about to take on a big project. But once you've paid $40 for them, you can pass them along to your grandkids' grandkids. That's a worthwhile investment to me.

    created at: 08/26/2015

    ManMade Recommended: 

     

     

     


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  • 07/12/17--11:11: (Waiting...Waiting...)
  • We'll be taking today sloooooooooowly to show our support for the Net Neutrality awareness campaign. We'll be back at normal speed tomorrow. 

     


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    Color us impressed. This fits almost as many small hand tools as a half sheet of pegboard, but in an organized, compact footprint.     

    The design comes from Pittsburgh-based , and each layer is sized specifically to hold specific tools in the right places: SAE and metric box wrenches, screw drivers, hex wrenches, pliers, punches, etc. The whole things is laser cut and comes flat-packed for you to easily assemble with nothing but a screwdriver. 

     

    While this is certainly not the first take on the approach, it is a fantastic one. If I didn't already own way too many tool boxes and storage solutions, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to pay $75 for one of these, especially if I had a small workspace. In fact, I think I might get one anyway. 

    You should, too!

    Rotating Tool Stand by atelierjet - $75.00 on Etsy

     

     


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    I hit my head hard a few days ago. It hurt. A lot. It was one of those moments when the pain made everything else just fade away for a moment then come flooding back. Leaning over a pile of things I've moved too many times to count, I slipped a bit and made solid contact with the equally solid cast iron top of my table saw. In that moment I uttered a familiar phrase "I need to get rid of this stuff" in a much more, uh, guttural vocabulary. I needed a change. I needed space.

    And so, my 30 day minimalist shop challenge begins.    The minimalist-leaning lifestyle is something we espouse regularly on ManMade when we talk about quality purchases, repairing instead of replacing, and certainly living better by living with less. But let's be sure to clarify that right up front - living with less doesn't mean living with lack. We all collect more things than we have the need for, and I'd even go far enough to say that having more stuff has never made me a better person. I would argue that more stuff has stolen my time, my space, and my money and hindered the life I really want to live.

    You might be able to guess: I've been listening to the guys over at the Minimalists podcast for the past few months now.  The lifestyle has really intrigued me. I get it and respect it, but getting from here to there is a daunting task. I know from experience that a clear workspace makes me calmer and more productive, and a ordered house makes me feel like I can breathe again. That's why my shop needs this. Because I don't need the small trinkets and little pieces cluttering up a space that should make me feel alive.

    The 30-day purge is a simple concept that starts out easy and ramps up quick. There are three ways to remove items: Sell, Give, Trash. I just put two containers and a trash can out there and start tossing where they belong. So, the first day, 1 item leaves the shop, the second day, 2 items leave. This may seem like a small gesture but think about day fifteen when 15 items go, and the next day 16 head out the door. 

    Get the idea? A major purge in 30 days.

    While this is a substantial first step, it's not the last. We'll check in on tips for you to start the process, and anything I'd do differently next time.

     

     


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    You know how an olive in your martini tastes awesome? Or the necessity of a pepperoncini in a Bloody Mary? Those salty, vinegary flavors seriously enhance the flavor of a beverage, somehow becoming more of themselves in the presence of ethanol. So, ready for the next step and inevitable conclusion this summer? Put a pickle in your beer. 

    Yeah, seriously. Trust us on this one.     

    Why on earth would you do this? It's a two way street of flavor: both beer and pickles are fermented products, possess a degree of tanginess, and they give a little of themselves to the other. A lighter beer benefits from an extra boost of twang, and the preserved cucumber gets the lightness and crispness of the bubbles and the vigor of the barley and hops. And, obviously, beer and cucumber pickles are both signature exports of the same central European countries often associated with them: Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Austria.

    So, should you be tossing full-sour koshers in your craft double IIPA with 120 IBUs? Probably not. But those beers are designed to stand on their own. Instead, try tossing a simple Claussen or locally fermented dill in a Czech-style pale lager, the default style of many major North American macro beers. (Yes, we're talking about your Millers, Coors, Molsons, and Coronas.) It gives a satisfying savory note to something with a pleasant texture, but perhaps a more forgettable flavor. 

     

    If you're not convinced, think of it this way: your favorite kimchi or sauerkraut have a bright fizzy texture. The yeasts that make fermentation possible, eat the sugar and create ethanol, lactic acid, and their by-product: carbon dioxide. Meaning... fermented foods are basically already carbonated. Tossing a pickle in your beer simply plays up this dynamic by adding more effervescences to the cukes, and a pleasant saltiness to your beer. It's why nachos and french fries and peanuts have become classic bar food. 

     

    How to: Add a Pickle to Beer

     

    Step One. Pour a beer in a glass.

    Step Two. Put a pickle in it. 

     

    Happy summer, everybody. Enjoy your snack. 

     

     

     


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    I guess the real problem with this project is that it actually worked.

    I mean — I succeeded in what I set out to do. I created two DIY variations on an easy-lighting, long-burning fire and grill starter using coconut oil. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature. Coconut oil, which is about the same price as beeswax and much easier to find. Coconut oil, which can easily be melted in the microwave, so you avoid having to use a double boiler and scraping wax out of your mixing bowl. Coconut oil, which smells awesome and burns forever.     

    The idea was this: I wanted to put a twist on the classic Vaseline soaked cotton balls with something a little easier to make and store. I wanted a variation that didn't involve burning petroleum products, so I could use them in the Big Green Egg to help slowly light the charcoal. Then, extend the same idea to the classic wood chips in muffin tins/egg cartons, using coconut oil instead of wax to keep everything together. Take some pics, light some fires, and share with the ManMade audience. 

    And all of those things actually worked. I opted for cotton pads rather than balls, since they'd stack easily, store flat, and are more densely woven, so they'd soak up more fuel. I microwaved a bit of coconut oil to liquify it, allowed the cotton pads to soak it up, and then let it dry.

     

    Then, I did applied the idea again. I took some maple shavings from my thickness planer, placed them in an egg carton, then poured the melted oil over the top to bind everything together. 

     

    And, my intuition was right. Not only did they burn, but they burn crazy long. Coconut oil is incredibly efficient, and one single soaked pad stayed alight for nearly a half an hour. If you were in a true emergency situation, these would make killer tinder, and you could absolutely get a fire going with a single match or spark. 

     

     

    Then, placed in the grill, they gradually lit the surrounding charcoal, allowing the temp to come up gently to a perfect 225° for a low-and-slow smoke:

    So, if they do exactly what I hoped they would, why is this project such a DIY fail?

    These things are a huge freaking mess.

    While coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it is not hard. And while they might be awesome in February, stored in my garage in July, they're extremely greasy, liquifying the second you touch one with your hands. 

     

    Doing this photoshoot was fun, sure, except there are now huge oily stains all over my driveway and garage floor, I ruined one of my favorite aged wood backdrops, and I still can't get all the oil smears and smudges off of my camera and lens. I got oil splotches on my shirt, my jeans, and my boots.

     

    I shot this last Thursday, and then went to get one last night (Sunday) to start the fire pit. The egg carton continued to wick up the coconut oil, completely saturating the cardboard, and the wood shavings ended up completely loose again and they blew away in the wind. I also got a grease stain on a second t-shirt. 

    And that's when I knew, I couldn't, in good faith, share this tutorial as planned, because I do NOT recommend you do this, too. I mean, maybe if you're a true prepper and want a guaranteed way to start a fire, or you keep just a few in a plastic bag to take backpacking in the wet winters, but there has to be something that works just as well without the mess. And sure, you wouldn't have to take photos of the process and could do it on a dedicated surface that was easier to clean. But, man, what a hassle. 

    So, yeah, it works, but I can't really recommend you try it. And that's a good reminder. Making things is awesome, and even when you fail, you learn something. I don't always get everything right and capture it in Pinterest-perfect step-by-steps. But it doesn't mean it's still not worth sharing anyway. 

    Did you have a recent DIY fail? Please share your story in the comments below. 

     


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    Leather Covered NotebookI don't remember when it happened, but one day I decided to write. I took a simple journal and filled it up with my thoughts, dreams and goals. A basic notepad was nice, but after a while something like that became so personal it was only natural to upgrade such a personal item.   This simple sketchbook is easy to make, has a durable cover to protect the pages, and can be refilled easily once it's filled up.

    Leather sketchbook

    Take a look at the easy tutorial and then get right down to creating a custom notebook that will soon feel like a leather bound friend at your side.

    While you're there, take a look at their DIY Leather Pencil Case, and the Handmade Pencils for a custom set of classy writing accessories.


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    Yep, that's a lot of adjectives, and every single one of them gets me jazzed to make one: DIY  (check), upcycled (check), one hour (double check), and only ten dollars? Done!   Joe and Sarah came up with this great technique for a safe, contained outdoor fire pit, without spending bunches. This is the perfect project for urban dwellers who like to get outside to relax and entertain (though be sure to know your local open flame laws.)

     

    The project is built from - you got it - an upcycled washing machine drum, which the couple cleaned up with a grinder and painted with high-temp black spray paint. (Hooray for making sparks!)

    They added some custom legs since they're experienced with welding, which you could ask a local fabricator to make for you, or just skip it all together. 

    I've never seen a washing machine drum out and about, but then again, I've never looked either, so I'll be keep my eyes open. Are there any other cool projects you can think to make with one of these guys?

    $10 DIY One Hour Upcycled Firepit [House & Fig]

     

     


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    created at: 06/16/2013

    Indoor plants in your home are a no-brainer: they bring the outside in, improve air quality, provide lots of natural color and texture, and encourage you to take an investment in the spaces you spend your time. They literally (and figuratively) add life to your home. Learn how to rock the green look with these six guy-friendly decor ideas. No floral wallpaper need apply.1: Mix and match. (pictured above) Go freestyle! Hit your nearest nursery and select a few different varieties. A few ideas include: palms, ferns, Massangeana, and rubber tree. Make sure to ask them about any special care requirements for each one of them (prior to visiting a nursery take notes about how much light the room gets). Add character by using mason jars, cans, and other reusable containers.

    2: Wild. If you have an empty space and you don't want to fuss too much about it, get a plant that will grow wild and free like a Monstera deliciosa (shown above). These type of plants require very little care and they'll do their own thing. Perfect to cover those awkward spaces where you cannot fit any furniture. 

     

    6 ways to add indoor plants

    3: Hang it. This container from Ikea can be easily installed on a wall or window frame. Use it in your kitchen and grow your own fresh herbs!

      

    6 ways to incorporate indoor plants

    4: Minimal. If you only need a pop of green in the room, use a single kind of plant. Cactus are the best for this type of design - they're pretty sturdy and will survive in most conditions, plus they add a bit of a rustic feel to the room.

     

    created at: 06/16/2013

    5: Contain it. Another great option for small spaces - terrariums are easy to maintain and you can even make them yourself with a glass container, rocks, moss, and any low-maintenance plants like succulents or air plants.

     

    created at: 06/16/2013

    6: Go epic. If you have tons of space, you can venture into making a living wall. They are quite pricey and they do require lots of work, but if you manage to nail them, they look AH-mazing. You could cheat the system by getting fake plants, but that kinda defeats the point of adding more life to your home (if you do, we'll keep your secret).


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    When I came across this awesome vintage-inspired trestle desk this week, it struck all my favorite things: warm wood tones, a modern industrial vibe, and nothing extraneous, just a nice big surface and some shelves. It was "inspired by an antique French architect's table," and it's just all kinds of industrial cool. 

    Except there's one problem...   It's only available for kids!


    Which is okay if you have a kid and can drop $650 on a desk for them. But I don't, and I can't, so I say: make your own.

    The design is simple: two basic A-frame saw horse trestles and a solid wood glued up top. It's the scale and the two-toned wood finishes that make this guy special.

    The sawhorses themselves would be relatively easy to build for any one with a saw and a drill. There are bunches of free how-tos on the internet, but I suggest starting with this one from The Family Handyman, which includes a cool shelf design:

    Just scale it to working desk height (usually 29 1/2") and avoid adding the folding mechanism for stability. Then, stain to a nice rich brown.

    The top is just a glued up block of reclaimed elm made from antique doors...which I don't have lying around, and suspect you might not either. You can definitely look for an old solid-core door to use as a desktop, but gluing up lumber is easy and lots of fun. 

    created at: 03/08/2013

    You just need some straight dimensional lumber, wood glue, and a few strong clamps to secure the joints. Here's a great free PDF from Woodsmith magazine that shows you how to make three styles of table top, including one with breadboard ends as seen in the inspiration desk, without the need for any complex joinery or special tools. 

    Now, to just find a vintage drafting stool...

    Kid's Sawhorse Trestle Desk - $649 at Restoration Hardware 

     

     


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    These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.      

     

    The Band: The Jesus and Mary Chain 

    I am so completely infatuated and energized by this music right now. I've owned some of their albums for years, but it never really clicked for me until the past couple of months. 

    Why? The music is so bound up in its time period. It's both pre-dated, and totally in the noisey future. To me, this sounds as fresh as when it came out. Like the Reid brothers, I grew up listening almost exclusively to 50s and 60s R&B and pop music, and then discovered punk rock when I was 12. This band has always represented that exact transition point - big, echo-y rockabilly guitars and 80s New Wave percussion with Phil Spector melodies on top. I think those just happen to be all my sweet spots. 

    When the Raveonettes came out in the early 00s, I found it totally exciting. "Oh look," I thought. "They're doing Buddy Holly songs with 60s girl group vocals and big reverb-y drum machines. What a neat idea." Now, I realize - they were basically just doing the Jesus and Mary Chain. 

    Recommended: Psychocandy (1985), Darklands (1987), Reverence (Single, 1992), Munki (1998)

     

     

    The Instagram Account: WoodLucker Studios

    Artist partners Ann Wood and Dean Lucker create these stunning paper versions of natural flora and fauna.

    Yep, you read that right. That's paper.

    Just soak all that in, and follow their IG ASAP. 

    The Video: "Arnold"

    Speaking of paper crafting, I can't stop looping this video of Arnold. 

    I won't say too much here (just watch it), except that Arnold works out Powell's Books, which is only 2.7 miles away from my house, and I'm going to go see if I can meet him and watch him work. 

     

     

    The TV Show: The Leftovers

    I don't know why everyone isn't talking about this on the same level as the go-down-in-history shows of the moment, but I think this show is as interesting as anything on TV right now. Worth your while. 

     

    Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez

    The Short Essay: Before the Internet by Emma Rathbone

    This feels particularly apt at summertime. I know there's no way to reëxperience the impossibly long July days of childhood, but, if we were to try, unplugging seems like the right place to begin. 

     

    The Song: "Smoke Signals" by Phoebe Bridgers

    The first time I heard this song, I was in shivers and tears within the first minute. What an astonishing piece of craft. If you can, listen on headphones, and just listen. Don't actually watch the video; it gives the song too much context.

    Why? Cause nothing has transported me to its intended place so specifically in years (and wherever that place actually is isn't where the video takes place). This is a road trip song, and as good of a spiritual successor of "America" by Simon & Garfunkel as anything, except I think this couple actually ends up together (or, perhaps, as least meets each other.) The open optimism, the apt cultural references, and those Twin Peaks-theme guitar stabs. 

    Perfect. 

     

     

    The Web Comic:  How to Be Perfectly Unhappy 

    I don't read the Oatmeal regularly, so perhaps they're all this great, but what a totally original way of approaching this issue. It's based on an essay by Augusten Borroughs, which I plan to soak up as soon as I get all my work done for the day. But just read it. The planet imagery and the SlargNakking might seem like a hurdle, but they'll make sense once you get to the end. 

    And that end. It's beautiful. Go be not happy, ManMakers. 

     


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    In order to be your best, you need to make the most out of your mornings. More than anything else, how you begin your day sets the template for how the rest of it will go. Here are nine things you can, and should, do every single day to be your most productive self. 

    1. Make Your Bed (2:oo)

    When this becomes first thing you do after you wake up, you accomplish so much more than flat blankets and straighten pillows. First, you immediately achieve a goal; the very first thing that happens during your whole day is a success. Secondly, though it might sound dramatic, you've ordered chaos. What was a mess is now straight and clear. Looking at an an unmade bed all morning is a distraction; it makes you feel like you have more on your plate than you actually do. Just eliminate the craziness first thing.

    For the record, we're not talking hospital corners here. Just smooth out the sheets, square your blankets or comforter, and place the pillows neatly at the head of the bed. Grab any water glasses or other messiness from your bedside table, and process it. 

    2. Avoid Your Phone (0:00)

    Sure, you can use it as an alarm clock (if you must), and perhaps an appropriate morning app, like a guided meditation (see below). But do not, for any reason, check your email, text messages, voicemail, Twitter or Facebook within the first hour of your day. 

    The idea is the same as making your bed. Our smartphones have become a constant deliverer of new things you have to do. Messages to respond to. Work emergencies. Lifestyle sharing. Current events and news stories you now need to process. There is absolutely no reason to add all of that input to your load the second you wake up. All that information will still be there when you're alert and ready to deal with it. 

    3. Get Dressed Immediately (3:00 - 5:00)

    If you shower in the morning, do it as soon as you can. Then, or if you're a night time bather, get dressed now. The longer you spend in your pajamas (or, let's be honest, boxers and yesterday's t-shirt), the slower your day will begin. Lounging around in your bathrobe is for weekends only. Getting dressed ASAP will motivate you to begin your day, making it feel as long as possible. 

    4. Meditate (10:00)

    You do not have to be good at meditating to do it. You don't even really need to know what to do. You simply need to sit.

    And, until you've developed a practice, it need not take any more than ten to fifteen minutes. Just find a quiet space, and work on mindfulness. Clear your head. Notice things in your body. Don't think, just be there.

    If you're a generally distracted person (and I certainly am), try a guided meditation. There are plenty of free ones of YouTube (audio-only, please), or you can try an app likeHeadspace or Insight Timer (I use the latter every day.)

    5. Do 10-15 Quick Reps of Something (1:00)

    Now that you've centered your mind, move onto your body. This is not a workout. It's an opportunity to make your physical self more present and improve your mood. Jumping jacks are just fine, as are pushups, or some quick crunches or pull-ups. 

    6. Make Your Own Coffee or Tea (2:00 - 5:00)

    Everybody you look up to has their own personal, consistent morning beverage routine. Whether it's a detailed pourover coffee scenario, a flavorful tea combo like the Earl Grey Foglifter, or a simple mug of hot water with lemon, this is a treat you give yourself as you face the day. Coffee shops are awesome, but they're for mid-morning breaks, not a daily routine. You'll save money, sure, but more importantly, you'll save time.

    7. Use a pen (5:00)

    Writing without a specific end in mind accomplishes three things: it gets your creative juices flowing, it gets you into a clean, problem-solving state of mind, and it can help you get excited for the day. Do not do this on your phone, your tablet, or your laptop. Just. Start. Writing. On paper.  

    In effect, this will help you get over the negative beliefs and fears that inhibit the creative process. If you start writing with the idea that the outcome doesn't really matter, you'll be better prepared for when it actually does. Start with your hopes for the day. Start with things you feel grateful for. Start with things you like about yourself or your life.

    If you absolutely can't get into this one, you can draw or doodle. Work on some hand-lettering skills,  make a mind-map, or express some feelings. Just get that ink flowing. 

    8. Fuel Your Body (10:00)

    Breakfast skippers are fools. You don't have to eat the second you wake up, but you do have to eat a morning meal. 

    If you can, skip the carbs and begin your day with some protein, fat, and good-for-you vitamins. (There's a reason eggs have been the go-to breakfast dish for hundreds of years). This is still my go-to breakfast, but anything that keeps your blood-sugar levels low and makes you feel full works.

    9. Pick Three Achievable Goals for the Day (1:00)

    This last one can happen any time. On your way out the door, on your commute, or after you've had your morning status meeting. But the goal is to employ this adage:

    "If you start and finish three significant things in a reasonable amount of time, that's a pretty good day."

    This is probably the single greatest thing I've given myself. Don't be fooled; It doesn't mean these are the only things you'll do today. You still have to clear your inbox and communicate with your co-workers and and exercise and text your mom back while you fold the laundry. You still need to show up for your schedule events. But these are about how you use your unstructured time. If you actually set out and complete three substantial items in a day, you've been pretty productive. 


    The best news: all of these can take place in well under an hour, shower included. And if you successfully complete nine things before you even head out the door, imagine how productive the rest of your day will be. 

     

    How do you use your mornings to motivate yourself to get things done? Share your commitments in the comments below. 

     


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