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    Top Of The World

    As we look back on an exceptional year, it's only fitting to look ahead and dream about what lies before us. Here are my 2015 resolutions.  

    1. Summit 2 Cascade Mountains - I've always lived a few hours from Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Living within sight of a 14,000 ft. mountain is a challenge that I just couldn't resist. So I climbed it one spring, then a few months later I summited Mt. Whitney as well. After standing on the top of those peaks, I now feel compelled to do it again. 

    Footbridge

    2. Hike 100 miles -

    I've been hiking less in the last year, and I miss it for sure. There's something amazing about carrying your home for the night with you, about unplugging and just getting away. Sometimes escaping to the wild helps to put priorities back in perspective so you can see what's truly important (hint: it's rarely your 9-5).

    Blue

    3. Introduce Something Incredible To Each Of My Girls -

    I've been blessed with small adventurers that love to see new things. Their interest in the world is amazing, and the fact that there is so much out there they haven't seen is inspiring to me. I will make it a priority to see wonder in their eyes this year,  it's not only my goal to make that happen, it's my responsibility.

    Tantalus Mountains

    4. Visit 25 New Places -By nature I'm an adventurer, I always have been. I climb, run, and explore everything I can. One reason is that this world is massive, intricate, and full of new places to see. There are at least 25 places I haven't been that I will go see this year, and while some may take a journey to get to, others are perfectly close to home. Don't assume that you need a plane (or even a car) to get you somewhere new and exciting. Take a close look around and you'll find at least a dozen amazing things you've never seen.

    Router Table

    5. Upgrade Something Big In My Shop -

    I spend a lot of time in my shop, it's a place of creation for me and I've made it my own with plenty of tools and open spaces for large projects. Last year, I added a dust collection system, and upgraded my router table and bits to handle raised panels. This year I'll be cleaning up the shelves with some nice cabinets, and if I can scrape together the dough I'll be replacing my 10 year old cheap table saw with a sturdier model.

    Bandsaw Cutting Metal6. Learn To Wrangle Metal -

    I've always been more of a woodworking guy. Maybe it's the smell of fresh sawdust, or just the depth that I get from wood projects that have kept me occupied up to now. But this year I'm going to jump in and start a few metalworking projects to round out my skills and bring some metal into my wood projects. I'll likely start out with a small forge, an arc welder, and an anvil at some point soon. I won't consider this goal completed until the fire department is called out at least once. (Kidding of course. Logic and Safety is always priority in my shop!)

    New Zealand7. Leave The Country -

    Last year, I renewed my passport for a last minute trip to Canada's Squamish Mountains. I received my updated passport within a few days of leaving for the adventure. Now I have a brand new, almost empty passport book that needs a few interesting stamps. Challenge accepted. I'd love to find my way to New Zealand or South America for some outdoor adventure.

    Now it's time to chime in with your 2015 resolutions. What will be the highlights of your new year? It's time to be adventurous and make the life you live something exceptional.

     


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    Wax Dipped Bottles

    If you want to make that drinkable gift very personal, go ahead and add a wax seal to those bottles for a personal touch.   I've been homebrewing enough beer to get me to the point that I can (almost) start giving it away. While custom beer labels may be a bit hard to design and stick on, this wax seal tutorial will seriously class up the bottles for a presentation that's unforgettable. There are only a few items you'll need, and they're likely in your cabinet already. So grab some glue sticks, crayons, and a soda then head over to take a look.

    A Can, Crayons, and Glue Sticks


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    If you're ready for a new kind of DIY challenge, consider building your own copper still, which will allow you to distill your own spirits for DIY whiskey, vodka, gin, or brandy. (Or tequila, I guess...if you can get your hands on a giant agave piña.)This isn't a build-from-scratch project, but rather a kit Colorado-based Clawhammer Supply. If your comfortable with pipe soldering (which you are, even if you've never tried it - it's totally doable), you can build the still, attach some basic plumbing parts from the home center [hello, garden hose] and you're on your way to making your own moonshine.

    Speaking of which, you'll want to check the permit and legal situation about home distillation for your state before your start brewing. But once you're set and got this thing built, it's all DIY small batch spirits from there.

    Learn more at ScoutMob.com: DIY Build Your Own Copper Still 


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    Oree Keyboard and TouchpadIt's not everyday you see something ordinary revisited so well. The Oree Wooden Keyboard is a piece of excellence that immediately inspires the maker in me. This custom wood keyboard and touchpad are incredible.   I spend a lot of time at my desk. In fact, my keyboard and mouse are polished smooth from hours of typing. Although I've tried hard, sometimes my workspace lacks the inspiration that I would like. Even with nice lighting and a few unique pieces, the major eyesore in my space would be my tech. The black plastic are rubber is just so foreign in my wood dominated space. So when I saw the products over at Oree I was drawn to the approach they took with making a space more contiguous by enhancing the tech with a natural design.

    Oree TouchpadThe keyboard and large touchpad are connected via bluetooth, and would find a proud place as the focal point to a workspace rather than the unsightly blemish. The collection also includes a wireless charger, iPad pouch, and a few iPhone accessories. While the prices are a bit higher than the plastic I currently use, with the amount of time we spend at our desks, it may be worth it to get a space that truly inspires.Oree Keyboard


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  • 01/05/15--14:00: The Best Inventions of 2014
  • created at: 01/05/2015

    So it's a new year -- 2015 -- which as everyone knows means we're all dressing like this (... right guys? ...... guys?...). So, we're taking a look at some of the best inventions of 2014 with an eye toward the new year ahead.   

    So the one thing promised to us in 2015 by Robert Zemekis' Back To The Future II (besides the hip garb) was a hoverboard and we did get one. Kind of. The Hendo Hoverboard admittedly only works for about fifteen minutes at a time, only floats above copper or aluminum, and currently there are only 10 of them. But they do hover and move, and the technological breakthroughs behind the engineering is staggering. The hope of the company is to use this hover capability to help stabilize buildings against earthquakes in high risk areas.

    Next up we have Kano, which is essentially a DIY computer kit designed for kids. Originally crowd-funded via Kickstarter at the end of 2013 and featured on sites like BBC, Wired, and TechCrunch, Kano computers became a reality this past year and can still be ordered for $149. Kano shares the DIY ethos as it hopes to inspire and enable people to engage in the creative aspects of computer programming, especially those who would normally lack the interest or resources. With a Kano, you can build games such as Pong and Snake, HD video, music and sounds, a speaker, a wireless server, most Debian Linux packages, and practically anything else since it's entirely open sourced. I'm really excited to see where this goes and if/how it changes the face of computer literacy for younger generations. 

     I'm a big biker and I definitely know the limitations of biking in an unfamiliar area of a city and not being able to really use your smartphone while paying attention to the road. Thankfully, Hammerhead One takes the best information from crowd-sourced paths for bikers and integrates it into a safe and easy, LED illuminated navigation system that mounts right onto the handlebars of your bike. The unit syncs to your smartphone and includes a variety of path-finding settings so that you can choose to either search out or avoid hills, or choose a different route than you normally take. The mount itself has up to twenty hours of battery life and also features a headlight for your bike. They currently are selling for $85.

    I don't have kids but it a simple glance around will show you how many kids today are growing up glued to a screen of some sort. This worried a handful of young parents out of Stanford and Google who decided to try creating a new way for young kids to interact with their technology. The result was a new invention called Osmo. Osmo features a "reflective AI" mount that allows an iPad to read physical objects and translate that onto the virtual screen. The program comes with a base of three games, one of which displays pictures created by tiles that children then have to mimick, while others involve greater interaction such as drawing shapes in real time. The more I've seen of how Osmo works, the more fun it looks like it'd be to play with a child. The toy currently sells for $79 and can be found in Apple stores. 

    created at: 01/04/2015In the wake of recent celebrity phone hacks and the NSA scandals of this past year, the issue of personal privacy has never been more timely. For those who want to take their smartphone privacy seriously, Blackphone has created just the phone with some of the highest security on the commercial market. Designed by a team of "the best minds in cryptology, security, and mobile technology," the Blackphone is built upon an Android operating system with software that features unusually high levels of encryption for texts, phone calls, and browsing history. Time Magazine has listed it as one of the most important inventions of the last year, and also notes that they will likely become targets by law-enforcement officials due to their potential for misuse. 


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    Brought to you by Bank of America: Better Money Habits

    Knowing what credit is and how it affects you might be the most important thing you can do for your financial wellbeing. More simply put, your credit score is like your financial reputation - it helps lenders determine how trustworthy of a borrower you are, whether it's for a home mortgage, a car lease or even something as small as a cell phone. The lower your credit score is, the higher your interest rates will be, and the more money you'll have to spend over time.  

    To get ahead of the curve, check out how your credit score is calculated below.

    How your credit score is calculated 

    Now that you know all the factors that comprise a credit score, watch this video below to understand more what a good credit score looks like.

    Head over to Better Money Habits by Bank of America, where you can learn more about ways to build credit, manage your credit report, co-sign loans and more!

     

    This post was sponsored by Bank of America.


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    Coffee WalletLast night I was in a conversation with some friends about wallets because we all remembered being in junior high, and the duct tape wallet was a pretty big fad... for eighth graders. None of us had the time, cash, or skills (most likely) to create awesome leather wallets like we might have liked, but I always was a fan of the DIY ethos, especially when it comes to such a personal item I tend to use everyday.   Coffee WalletI decided to look up if anyone was still making wallets out of cool, random things and (duh) there were some impressive ideas out there. Being the avid coffee drinker that I am, I was pretty taken by this design from katmckee on Instructables.com. Simple, cost efficient, and easy to make; it could make an easy and thoughtful gift. 

    Coffee Wallet


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    How many sound-alike ways can your local craft breweries incorporate "hop" or "rye" in their pun filled beer names? Apparently...not enough.    And the "great minds think alike" phenomenon of similarly named beers from distinct breweries has begun to generate some legal drama. Are we at the point where nearly every beer name is taken?

    NPR reports, "Virtually every large city, notable landscape feature, creature and weather pattern of North America — as well as myriad other words, concepts and images — has been snapped up and trademarked as the name of either a brewery or a beer. For newcomers to the increasingly crowded industry of more than 3,000 breweries, finding names for beers, or even themselves, is increasingly hard to do without risking a legal fight."

    And in addition to brewery and beer names, label designs and even tap handles can also be trademarked. And even for non-litigious brewers who don't worry about trademarking their brews, another company can come along, take a beer name, and then apply for the trademark, rendering the original in violation. Truth.

    Check out the full piece at The Salt: Craft Brewers are Running Out of Names, and Into Legal Spats

     


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    I did not grow up in a "crock pot" family. We had one, an old avocado green job my parents got from their wedding registry. And, though I'm sure it got used, it wasn't something that characterized the food in our house. My wife's parents, on the other hand, were both doctors working day shifts, and according to her, nearly every thing her mom cooked came from the slow cooker. And, says my wife, protein + a mix of canned foods = dinners, all which tasted basically the same... like "crock pot food."

    So, our household is a relatively new convert to the slow cooker... but: these things are awesome. Not 'cause they allow you to mix together a bunch of processed foods and call it a day, but because they allow you to achieve a low and slow, braise-like technique that's so essential for winter-time foods. It's the season of soups and stews and slow cooked goodness, and, with a little proper technique, can safely create all-day cooked foods without having to watch the pot. So, these are not just grandma contraptions or the mainstay of busy moms, but a real piece of cooking equipment that every guy should keep around and learn to love.

    [Intro originally appeared in: 10 Things Every Man Should Own [Fall Edition]

    1. Crockpot Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash [pictured at top] - Um...I think the title kinda says it all on that enjoy. Go make some!

    Get the recipe and more awesome photos from Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest

    2. Crockpot Carne Asada Nachos - Flank steak braises in beer all day, then gets shredded to top the best plate of homemade nachos money can't buy.

    Recipe and hilarious commentary from Jessica at How Sweet Eats

    3. Mrs. Garcia's Cuban Black Bean Soup - Technically, this recipe doesn't called to be made in a slow cooker. But, it's super good, and the instructions read, "The soup was extremely easy and quick to prepare — it took me 5 minutes to refill the bean pot and add the vegetables. It cooked, long and slow, and covered with a lid so I didn't even have to worry about the water boiling off." So, sounds like slow cooker territory to me. If you must have an intended recipe, this one from Cook's Illustrated is nice.

    Snag the recipe and review at The Kitchn: Mrs. Garcia's Black Bean Soup

    4. Slow-Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables - This one looks like a great starting point to try different flavor combos. If you read the comments, some readers suggest doubling the spices and other bold flavors to step it up a bit, but the idea of chicken thighs+coconut milk+crazy amounts of frozen veggies+spices is a good one. Add curry powder to tinge it a little more Indian, fish sauce and chiles to go Thai, etc. 

    Full recipe and technique at Simple Bites

    5. Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken - This one is inspired by classic Chinese take-out dishes like orange chicken, General Tso's, Mongolian beef, etc, except its 1) not deep fried and 2) uses honey (and jam!) for sweetness instead of loads of sugar and corn syrup. Plus, it looks like it would freeze much more successfully, so its worth cooking up a whole crock to keep on hand. 

    Find the recipe and details from Kelly at Just a Taste

    created at: 01/06/2015

    6. Slow Cooker Braised Short Ribs - This recipe from Bon Appetit shares the basic techniques for breaking down this tough but super flavorful cut of meat. Again, checking the comments reveals ways to boost the depth of flavor - browning the meat and aromatics, deglazing, etc.

    Check out the reviews, then make a whole heap of these guys and enjoy.  The recipe is at Epicurious.

    7. Jimmy Fallon's Crock Pot Chili - Apparently, Jimmy Fallon likes to make his chili in a crock pot with beer and habanero chile.

    Check out the video to watch his process at MarthaStewart.com

    8. Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork - Lastly, apparently, you can make passable "barbecue" in your slow cooker with this curious recipe from The Splendid Table. The Kitchn's review says, "Really, we can't say enough good things here. We couldn't believe how good this was given that the meat never went near an actual barbecue or smoker!"

    A true "dump and cook" method that creates low-and-slow like pulled pork flavors? Worth a shot.

    Check out the step-by-step technique and review at The Kitchn. 

     

     


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    Sewn wood veneer ottoman

    Designers Anastasiya Koshcheeva and Oya-Meryem Yanik have done the impossible by creating a simple, stunning piece of furniture with a sewing machine. Ok, sewing wood isn't impossible, but it certainly is an incredible idea with possibilities that these two designers have only begun to explore.

    The Chester ottoman was the results of these Berlin designers exploration into joinery without the use of glue. On first look you might think they literally ran a piece of wood through a sewing machine. However, the process was a little more complicated. The designers do not reveal how they created the surface but I would speculate that they sewed thin hardwood veneer onto a sheet of quilt batting. Then, the quilted sheet is mounted onto a laminated ottoman form. After writing this post I might have to steal like an artist and get my wife, an avid quilter, involved on an ottoman of our own. Maybe you'll be seeing a DIY post in the near future on how to make something similar!

    Sewn veneer ottoman

    sewn veneer wood

    Check out more pictures and read the artist statement over at Design Milk.


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  • 01/07/15--09:00: Behold: The Stuffmaker
  • Mac PremoMeet Mac Premo, an award-winning artist and self-proclaimed "stuffmaker." A visual artist with an obsession about our relationship with death, his somewhat off-kilter yet entirely sincere artwork is made out wood, resin, pipes, knicknacks, glue, paper, photographs, and anything he finds laying around.   This past year, Dutch filmmaker Bas Berhout created this Vimeo-Staff-Picked three minute short film about Prem's process and path as an artist and a man. The film is riveting and compact, and I've found myself thinking about what he says on more than one occasion. I'm also personally inspired by his work and the its oddity, despite often being made of very accessible things.

    Mac PremoCheck out more of Mac Premo's work like the one above on his website.


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    Pocket HolesJoining wood can be as much art as it is skill, and beautiful joinery really defines a piece of furniture. But for the times when you just need to quickly join a few pieces of wood securely, try the pocket-hole.  

    A few years ago, I picked up a small single-hole Kreg Jig for drilling pocketholes. It was simple, easy to use, and produced a nice strong joint that made completing projects much faster. Since then, I've used that small jig for at least a dozen projects, from end tables to shop-made cabinet doors and it's dependably provided a fast joint that holds up well over time. Pocket Hole Jig and Step BitThe way a pocket hole works, is fairly basic. A stepped bit is positioned at an angle to provide a recess that a special self-tapping screw fits into. The angle allows for a strong mechanical joint between pieces that stays level and straight. The self-tapping screw minimizes splitting, and adding a bit of glue makes the joint impressively strong.Pocket Hole Screws

    Using this technique, joints can be made fast and strong so putting together than next weekend project won't actually take an entire weekend. A few tips when working with pocket holes:

    1. Start drilling slow, and make sure the jig is secured, otherwise the bit can "wander" on the wood.

    2. Use the right size screw for the job to avoid splitting the wood and to keep the top of the screw from sticking out from the surface. Also, the screws have a square head so make sure you have bits to match.

    3.  When screwing the joints together, it's best to use a clamp to keep the parts flush. Check out this pocket-hole specific clamp from Rockler.

    4. The Kreg System has single, double, and full clamp jigs to make drilling the holes fast and easy, I've been happy with my single jig, but take a look at the options and you might find one that works better for your projects.

    Kreg Pocket Hole JigThis post was not sponsored by Kreg, I just have had great results with their product and wanted to highlight one of the most useful jigs in my home shop. Do you have any favorite tools you think we all should have in our toolbox?

     


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    Pocket HolesJoining wood can be as much art as it is skill, and beautiful joinery really defines a piece of furniture. But for the times when you just need to quickly join a few pieces of wood securely, try the pocket-hole.  

    A few years ago, I picked up a small single-hole Kreg Jig for drilling pocketholes. It was simple, easy to use, and produced a nice strong joint that made completing projects much faster. Since then, I've used that small jig for at least a dozen projects, from end tables to shop-made cabinet doors and it's dependably provided a fast joint that holds up well over time. Pocket Hole Jig and Step BitThe way a pocket hole works, is fairly basic. A stepped bit is positioned at an angle to provide a recess that a special self-tapping screw fits into. The angle allows for a strong mechanical joint between pieces that stays level and straight. The self-tapping screw minimizes splitting, and adding a bit of glue makes the joint impressively strong.Pocket Hole Screws

    Using this technique, joints can be made fast and strong so putting together than next weekend project won't actually take an entire weekend. A few tips when working with pocket holes:

    1. Start drilling slow, and make sure the jig is secured, otherwise the bit can "wander" on the wood.

    2. Use the right size screw for the job to avoid splitting the wood and to keep the top of the screw from sticking out from the surface. Also, the screws have a square head so make sure you have bits to match.

    3.  When screwing the joints together, it's best to use a clamp to keep the parts flush. Check out this pocket-hole specific clamp from Rockler.

    4. The Kreg System has single, double, and full clamp jigs to make drilling the holes fast and easy, I've been happy with my single jig, but take a look at the options and you might find one that works better for your projects.

    Kreg Pocket Hole JigThis post was not sponsored by Kreg, I just have had great results with their product and wanted to highlight one of the most useful jigs in my home shop. Do you have any favorite tools you think we all should have in our toolbox?

     


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    Mad Scientist Light Box

    This self-described "Mad Scientist" lamp has got me all sorts of excited. With four tube amp bulbs attached to a pine box with a retro-looking dimmer, it seems like a good, masculine addition that'd complement quite a few different decor styles. And the whole thing costs under $20 in parts.   

    Mad Scientist LightThe look is clean and adds a warm glow to any room with a simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic feel. It reminds of the sort of future people in the early 50's imagined we'd already be living in by now. Plus the wiring is pretty simple. 

    Check out the full instructions by tim-1138 on Instructables.com.


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    created at: 01/08/2015

    As you might have guessed, the folks who steal your bicycle don't really intend to ride it around.    Instead, the bicycle, whose ease of adjustability for the rider that usually only requires a hex wrench, also makes its incredibly easy to break down and take away. And unlike the frame, which can be identified by a serial number, components such as the saddle, handlebars, pedals, drive train, and accessories like lights and racks, are as generic as can be, and therefore, easy to resell to unscrupulous buyers.

    SeattleMet reports on the phenomenon, which, most of the time, doesn't actually result in a cash transaction. They quote Bryan Hance of bikeindex.org, who notes,

    "It’s all drugs...Bikes become a sort of currency. You can rip off a bike and trade it for a $50 bag of drugs pretty easily, and then that guy turns around and trades it to another guy, and so on.” One UW police report describes the arrest of a man busted for selling stolen bicycles via Craigslist. A search of his sedan revealed clothes, toiletries, cellphones, and tools for stealing bikes. An utterly spartan existence—save the meth pipe in the glove box. 

    For anyone that owns a bicycle, check out the full piece at SeattleMet. Turns out, your garage isn't all that safe either. 

     

     


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    Homemade Rosemary vanilla honey simple syrup

    Rosemary is one my favorite cold-weather herbs. It really adds extra warmth to whatever you use it with. I love it in breads, soups, libations and even coffee! Here's a simple recipe with warming ingredients that is sure to brush off that winter chill in the air.    

    Homemade Rosemary vanilla honey simple syrup

    Round up the following

    • 1 Cup of sugar - I use natural/organic sugar
    • 1/2 Cup of distilled water - Distilled water will improve the shelf life
    • A bunch of fresh rosemary - washed and dried
    • 2 Tablespoons of Honey
    • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
    • A container to hold your syrup

    Homemade Rosemary vanilla honey simple syrup

    In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and honey. Turn the heat to medium and stir the mixture until the sugar and water dissolve.

    Homemade Rosemary vanilla honey simple syrup

    Take the syrup mixture off the burner and toss in the rosemary. Let it steep for 5-7 minutes. You should smell the rosemary aroma. Dip a spoon into the syrup and make sure you can taste the rosemary. If you can't taste the rosemary allow it to steep a few minutes longer.

    Homemade Rosemary vanilla honey simple syrup

    Remove the rosemary and add 1 Teaspoon of vanilla. The heat from the syrup will cause the oils and alcohol in the vanilla to evaporate so it's better to add vanilla at the very end.

    Homemade Rosemary vanilla honey simple syrup

    Pour your syrup into a container and it's ready to go! It can keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Mainly, I use it in coffee with a dash of milk, but it's also fantastic with bourbon, ice cream, and earl gray tea. 

    I'd love to know where else you end up using this tasty concoction. Let me know in the comments section!


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    Wood ButterWhen it comes to cooking in the kitchen, I still like my wooden tools. Using spoons and cutting boards made from wood feel great, and even though they may not improve my cooking skills they make me look better doing it.   I recently installed a hard maple countertop on my kitchen island, and immediately had to research how to keep it looking good. Even though we use cutting boards for prep work, I just couldn't justify conditioning the wood with any type of chemical polishes as it's the primary place we gather to eat in our house. This easy to make Wood Butter from Gemma Gardner is a great natural wood conditioner that keeps your kitchen wood looking good and safe to use with food. Beeswax pictureThe recipe only requires beeswax and coconut oil for an easy to apply polish that rubs on smooth and keeps the wood looking it's best. Take a look at her tutorial for all the details and some more great pictures of the process.


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    If you're more of a minimalist with your daily carry items, and prefer to keep everything in one front or jacket pocket, check out this leather smartphone flip wallet project from Attila from High on Glue. 

    The project is built around a simple design with layered pockets, but throws in some serious style points by adding contrast stitching and dyed edges. The tutorial has lots of helpful step-by-step photos, so even if you're not an accomplished leather working, with the right tools, you could easily take this one on. 

    Get the full how-to from High on Glue - Leatherwork Tutorial: How to make a leather iPhone Flip Wallet


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    Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We've selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day. 

    created at: 01/09/2015

    For the first entry into the ManMade Essential Toolbox, a set of calipers might seem like an unusual choice. They don't really cut anything, attach anything, fix anything, make holes, repair holes, or help with design or layout.    But! Of course there's a but, and the but is this: there is not a single tool that we use on a bigger variety of projects, tasks, fix-it projects, or creative work than this pair of fractional dial calipers. We mean, like, more than a hammer. Measure twice, cut once, and then keep measuring and measuring. 

    created at: 01/09/2015

    Need to measure that random bolt you bought for another project? Use your calipers. Need to check the thickness of wood, a piece of leather, or even that steak you're about to season and throw on the grill? Use your calipers. Need to measure the inside diameter of some open space that you need to fill, fix, or buy the right replacement part? You get where this is going. 

    While there are many styles and purposes, calipers are, at their most basic, a means to measure two opposite sides of an object, whether around its perimeter, or inside its hollow interior. They're used in engineering, metalworking, science, medicine, woodworking, sculpture, ecological and forestry work, and even to determine body fat percentage.

    created at: 01/09/2015

    For the DIYer and thing maker (at least in the US), we recommend starting with a pair of "fractional dial calipers." Fractional meaning they measure in 16r graduations (1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64) and dial meaning doing so with a needle and round dial, rather than a linear scale. 

    Other styles to consider are digital calipers, whose readout can be toggled between standard and metric, such as this recommended set from Neiko. But, this often only read in decimals of inches, rather than fractions; that's helpful in the laboratory, but in the workshop, where lumber and hardware and drill bits, etc, are mostly measured in fractional inches, its much easier to note 7/16" and move on the project, rather than calculating .4375. Plus, the battery cost can add up over the years. 

    Vernier calipers, which employ the Vernier scale for more precise measurements in between graduations, work nicely, but are honestly overkill for most DIY or creative projects. If 1/64" isn't accurate enough, then its a project probably best left to precision milling, not the garage. 

    created at: 01/09/2015

    When selecting calipers, go with the "buy once, buy it for life" approach. Look for all-stainless steel sets, with easy-to-read gradations and both inner and outer jaws, and a sliding depth probe. Get a model that comes in its own molded case for protection and storage, and one with an adjustable bezel so you can set the scale back to absolute zero with use. A knurled thumb roll helps with easy one-hand operation.

    These are the set shown in the photos above, but if we buying a new pair of dial calipers, we'd go with this set from ShopFox: they're reasonably priced for the quality, and feature both a fractional scale for woodworking and a decimal scale for metal work. They're not as precise as a high end model, but if you're getting your first pair, they might be the best $35 you can spend.

    Those looking for the next level should check out the Starrett 1200 series. They're more than double the price, but a true pleasure to use. 

    ManMade recommended:
           Shop Fox D3208 Fractional Dial Caliper - $31.67

           Starrett 1202F-6 Dial Caliper - $97.50

     


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    Brought to you by Brother International Corporation

    Labeling to stay organized

    Every project has to start somewhere. Whether you’re starting a new job, preparing to expand your family, renovating your home or planning your next travel adventure, the Brother P­-Touch Electronic Labeling System can help keep you organized. The Brother P­Touch creates sharp, adhesive-­backed, laminated labels for everything from food containers and airplane parts to fuse boxes and medical records. Even more, P­-Touch offers a variety of colors and styles to choose from so you can put your own touch on every project.

    For more information on how to make your life more identifiable and easier to organize, visit: www.brother.com

     

    This post was sponsored by Brother International Corporation. 


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