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    Laying Out the Cabinet PiecesIt's time to actually build something for the shop upgrade. First up, we take a look at how to build wall cabinets from scratch (sheet goods at least).

    The first phase of the shop upgrade meant clearing off the counter tops, removing all shelves, piping, and a thick layer of dust, and then painting the entire wall. Here's a look at what I ended up with when I cleared it all off (before I stripped all the shelves and other pieces).

    Wall Clearing

    I realized about halfway through the project that I have kept too many small items – pieces of wood, random screws or fittings, and cheap tools I never use. This was the perfect time to purge a huge amount of junk. 

    Scattered Junk The clean slate of a freshly painted wall was the perfect background to build my three wall cabinets.

    Fresh Painted WallI built my cabinets in three distinct pieces: The carcass, the face frame, and the doors.

    Cabinet Carcass

    The Carcass:

    The carcass of a cabinet is the rough box that is covered by the face frame.I made two identical boxes, with the third shorter but the same width. This meant that the tops and bottoms for all 3 cases were the same dimensions, and the sides and backs were identical for two out of the three which cut down on measurement time. To construct the boxes for the cabinets, I used ½” plywood for the top and bottom, ¾” MDF for the sides, and ¼” ply on the back.

    Sheet Goods

    1. Break Sheet Materials into Manageable Pieces – The first step working with sheet goods is to break the pieces down into pieces that can be handled in the shop. I elevated each sheet off my workbench with boards, and adjusted my saw depth to keep from digging into the work surface. Cut the pieces to rough dimension and finalize the pieces on the table saw so they are all squared up and evenly matched.Glued-Up Joints
    2. Cut the Grooves and Joints – The cabinet frame will be much stronger with notches in the joints instead of face gluing. I used a Dado blade to cut ½” rabbets in all 4 corners (top and bottom of each side) about ¼” deep to match the panels. Cutting Grooves With Dado BladeI also cut a 1/4” groove ¾” from the back edge on all pieces to account for the plywood back panel and to give room for the mounting boards to integrate on the top and bottom.Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
    3. Add the Shelf Pin Holes – I used my Kreg Cabinet Pin Jig to drill all the holes for the shelves. The best way to do this so they line up is the use an index board so you can position the jig at the same spot relative to the edge on each piece. Be sure to make the top and bottom of each side so the holes are level across the case.Glued-Up Cabinet Carcass
    4. Glue Up all Pieces – Gluing all pieces up takes a few hands, or at least plenty of preparation. I used two large pipe clamps on the bottom and two on the top to make sure the joint was strong.Pocket Holes
    5. Add the Mounting Boards – The mounting board gives the cabinet a strong frame to mount it on the wall. It’s important that the board is well secured to the cabinet frame, so I used pocket holes and glue to install it in place. The groove I cut in the back of the frames for the back panel were exactly ¾” from the back edge, creating a small relief where the ¾” mounting boards fit perfectly.Mounting BoardsYou can drill mounting screws directly through the back panel into the wall studs, but I prefer to use the French cleat method. This is a great technique for a few reasons: first, it’s much easier to line up the French cleat level and at the right height than it is to get the cabinet in place and drill through the panel into the stud. Second, there is some side-to-side play with a French cleat so you can snug up the cabinets to each other. Lastly, it’s a strong joint that holds well but can be easily removed in the future if things change.

     French Cleat

    To build the French Cleat: The French cleat is simply two boards with corresponding angles on one edge. I cut mine at 45 degrees each. One piece was cut to width to fit snugly in the cabinet behind the back panel along the top edge. This pieces has the angle facing the cabinet. The mating piece was cut about 25% smaller to give some room for adjustment. French Cleats Cut At AnglesThis piece was mounted with the angle facing the wall leveled with 4 long screws through the studs for support. Once it is installed, it’s a simple matter to put the cabinet on the wall and lower onto the cleat for a sturdy mount. I add two screws through the bottom mounting board along the bottom edge to keep it secured to the wall.

    I did this for all three cabinets, mounting them securely to each other and connecting together with a few small counter-sunk screws to hold it all securely on the wall and to each other. Next, I added the face frame.Face Frame

    The Face Frame –

    The face frame is a simple wood frame along the outside front of the carcass to hide the plywood edges and to give hinges something to securely mount to. It is generally thin wood held together with pocket holes or simply glued and nailed to the front of the cabinets. The side pieces are cut to height, and the horizontal pieces are cut to fit for a seamless look. Be sure to account for door overhand and hinge mounting when deciding how wide to make the frame. I used 2.5” pine boards for my frame.


    The Doors – I will be building the doors next week for the cabinets, here’s the plan:created at: 08/03/2015

    In the interest of cost, I’m building my shop doors out of ¼” plywood, with a decorative pine frame over them for strength and rigidity. These doors won’t win style points, but will keep out the dust and clean up the overall look of the shop.


    1. Measure the Openings – The doors should overlay the openings on all sides by about ½” to ¾” if using overlay doors. Measure the opening and add the overlap on all sides to account for a final dimension for the doors (except where there will be double doors, then only add the overlap to the outside dimension).
    2. Cut the Panels – With the door dimensions calculated, cut the panels to final dimensions. I’ll add ¼” strips along the sides of the doors to clean up the look, so I deducted this measurement on each side from the panel dimensions.
    3. Cut the Rails and Stiles – While not traditionally a rail and stile, I’ll cut ½” pine boards to make a frame on top of the panels to add a bit of depth and make the doors a bit stiffer. I used an overlap joint to make them stronger.
    4. Glue, Pin, Mount – Glue and pin the doors and let dry overnight, then mount them with face frame hinges.

    Stay tuned for more updates every other week as the garage upgrades keep going. Next we'll talk about door installation, and Phase 2 - the rolling tool island.

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    This is the tale of a couple who met on Tinder and now travel across North America in a Sprinter van (aka Tinder to Sprinter) and the mouth-watering dinner they made when the boys at Huckberry promised to sponsor their meal if they made some recipes from a buddy's cookbook: A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen. Recipes included.
    Kicking the meal off is a course of Brown Derby Cocktails followed by some Grilled Corn with Tequila Lime Butter, a main course of Gulf Coast Cioppino, and a Grilled Georgia Peach Crumble for dessert. All of which can be cooked with a combination of a grill and cast-iron skillet. Click here for the full recipes.

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    created at: 08/14/2015 If you're anything like me, your first set of hex keys came with some generic tool kit someone gave you before heading off to the freshman dorm. They were wrapped in wire and wrangled around a key ring. They worked, kinda; they were constantly tangled and forever frustrating, but they sorta got the job done, and so they stayed.   Friends, it's time to upgrade. Clear out that drawer of leftover z-things from IKEA builds or the included pieces from tool assemblies, and get something that works. Because the deeper you get into DIY tasks and projects, the more common hex sockets become, and you're gonna adjust them.

    created at: 08/14/2015

    What's a Hex Key and When to Use It: 

    Hex keys, commonly called Allen Wrenches after William G. Allen, who patented the die forming process in 1910, are, simply, hexagonal bars intended to drive hexagonally socketed hardware. They're light and easy to use, and allow the hardware to be driven without touching the outside of the head and rounding it off, or even eliminating the use of a head altogether (as in a set screw). They are commonly L-shaped, and either end can be used, allowing you to apply torque via the angle, or increase reach by using the long side. 

    created at: 08/14/2015 This type of hardware is all over your life: it's common on furniture, automotive and motorcycle parts, toys, appliances, power tools, as well as hobby tools like electric guitars. They're the dominate form of hardware in the bicycle industry. Even if you don't ride bikes, they're essential to making sure your kid's bikes are safe.

    They're quite common in the workshop, as well: my table saw, router table, and band saw all use them for tune-up and maintenance of fences and moving parts.  

    created at: 08/14/2015

    What to Look for in a Hex Key Set: 

    The best Allen wrench sets are made of high quality steel and have long or extended arms to allow you to reach into small spaces for adjustments. They should have chamfered edges on the drive ends to allow them to be inserted easily and avoid stripping the fasteners. Some have ball ends on one side, allow you to drive at an angle off-axis to the hardware, which can be helpful for tight places. 


    created at: 08/14/2015


     Sizes come in both SAE and metric, and you'll want both. In this era of overseas manufacturing, your metric wrenches will likely see more use, and the millimeter sizing is actually much more straightforward to use. Once you become accustomed to what these look like, it's easy to identify a 4, 5, or 6mm hex head by sight, speeding up the process.


    Whichever set you buy, make sure it has an indexed storage caddy that allows you to keep you wrenches together, organized, and sized appropriately. If you a pegboard user, be sure there's a hook included to hang things easily. 


    Which Allen Wrenches Should You Buy? 

    created at: 08/14/2015

     The most common and versatile are the classic L-shaped wrenches, so start there. Get a long reach set for easier access, in both metric and SAE sizes. Kept free of rust via an oxide or stainless steel finish, these should last a lifetime...or at least until you lose one. 

    ManMade Recommended: Stanley 85-753 22 Piece Long Arm SAE & Metric Hex Key Set - $10.42


    created at: 05/29/2015

    Hex Insert Bits or Allen Drivers turn your cordless drill or driver into a powered Allen wrench or hex key. Look for sets in both standard and metric sizes, either as standard 1" insert bits (designed to use in an adapter) or longer quick change bits.

    • Standard: 5/64, 3/32, 7/64, 1/8, 9/64, 5/32, 1/4, 7/32, 3/16" 
    • Metric: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 mm

    You'll never assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without these again.

    ManMade Recommended: 


    created at: 08/14/2015

    My personal favorite and most commonly used hex wrenches are these 3-way sets from Park Tool, who make tools for bicycle mechanics. The y-shaped handle makes applying torque a breeze, and they're super easy to grab and use. Plus, the larger size makes them easier to track and harder to loose. You can use 1-2 tools on a project, instead of six. They're commonly called "the 4-5-6" or the "2 through 3" wrenches. 

    Park Tool also makes a great set of p-handled wrenches that are very long, and provide the ultimate way to apply torque to hard-to-reach bolt heads. 

    ManMade Recommended:

    created at: 08/14/2015

    Lastly, these folding Swiss-Army style sets are great for quick, obvious adjustments. They're not as versatile (single drive side), but the pivoting handle  provides ample torque for quick jobs. This is what I keep in my to-go toolbox and they suffice for most on-site jobs. 

    ManMade Recommended: 



    Here's all those links again, for ease. I'd buy them in this order: 



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    created at: 08/17/2015

    Jonathan Ives is perhaps best known as the British man with the soothing voice who's been featured in the Apple ads of the last couple years. He's currently the Chief Design Officer at Apple and one of the most influential designers alive. Steve Jobs called him his "spiritual partner at Apple" andthis profile from the February 2015 issue of the New Yorker is one of the best articles I've ever read on the process of design.

    The article follows the career of Jonny Ives, the rise of Apple's rebirth, the design of the Apple Watch, while also raising greater questions about the world creators inhabit. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's long, but absolutely worth it. 

    created at: 08/16/2015

    Check it out for yourself here, or if you already feel the need to build your own working Apple II watch, you can do that too. 

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    X-Table PB InspiredA few years ago my wife handed me a catalog and told me she "must have" the table inside. After I took a look at the design (and the price tag), I was inspired to build it myself.   While I love the style of Pottery Barn's furniture, it's never been in my budget to fill my house with their excellent products. But when my wife showed me the wide, welcoming table that would help us better entertain at our house, she was ready to make the purchase. Having just claimed the garage as my own, I was eager to make this myself. So despite my wife's doubt, I set out to make it.

    At the time, I designed and built it inspired by the product page here. After plenty of work, here is what I now have in my dining room:My Dining Table

    While it was a lot of fun to design the table, I've found a great link to a set of plans so you can build your own without the (multiple) mistakes I made. The guys over at Design Confidential have a full set of plans and plenty of steps to make the process as seamless as possible.

    Take a look and let me know if you decide to build one yourself!

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    created at: 08/17/2015

    When Sean came across this model 94646-E “Northwind” oscillating electric fan by Emerson Electric, dated to about 1955, he knew it'd be a stylish, character-filled replacement to his recently busted cheap plastic box fan. So, he got it home, plugged it in, and it whirred "like a cheetah." 

    And within ten minutes, he totally cut himself on the sharp, spinning metal blades. Yikes.    After bandaging himself up, not wanting to render his recent purchase useless, he sought a b better, and safer, solution. He says: 

    "I had seen recently-manufactured fans with blades made of semi-rigid foam, silicone, or other soft polymer intended for safe use around a child, but I just couldn’t stomach slapping plastic blades on such a beautiful slab of post-war American industrial design. I’d sooner sell it to somebody else and go back to a modern appliance. But was there a more authentic, tasteful material that would also be softer and safer?"

    Of course there is: leather. Does it work? Yep. Does it look amazing? Well, check it out: 

    Nice, right? Read about the whole process, including some careful balancing, at Retrofitting a Classic Desk Fan with Leather Blades



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    Clearwood PaddleboardAs summer gives us just a few more weeks of dependable warmth, I’ve been hitting the water as much as life will allow. But soon enough it will be much too cold for getting wet and so here’s a project to get on now so when spring comes back around, we’ll be ready to once again enjoy a day on the water.  

    Here is a great project for the long winter ahead – Build a Stand-Up Paddleboard.

    There are a few ways to get started, plans, frame kits, or full kits. Let’s start with the most adventurous option first – the plan.Putting on the back

    THE PLAN (about $100) – This is by far the most adventurous way to build the project. While the plans are generally very detailed, you still have to cut every single piece and getting it all done accurately is a beast. But if you have the time and love a challenge, get the most out of the build with a plan and a lot of sawdust.

    While the plan option is a solid one, a CNC machine goes a long way to boost the accuracy and cut the time on your project. If that sounds good, then consider finding yourself a Frame Kit.Progess

    THE FRAME KIT(about $250-$350) – The inner section of the board is made from a lightweight frame that keeps the weight down. This inner section needs to be precise for maximum strength, so getting a CNC kit makes it much easier to snap all the pieces together and get to the fun part – making the outside look awesome. So this option makes the precise part of the project a bit easier but still allows for the craftsman in you to shine. Building the shell still comes from the plan that is included with the kit, but you can pick the woods, patterns, and little embellishments that make it your own.Sanded Paddleboard

    THE FULL KIT (from $650 to $900) – The last option is the full kit, which includes the plans, frame, and all the other pieces to build a fully functional stand-up paddleboard. The kits come with epoxy and fabric, or not, depending on if you have ready access to epoxy and fiberglass and associated hardware. This option is the most expensive up front, but it’s not necessarily the most expensive overall once materials are factored into the other kits. While it’s a bit easier than making everything from scratch, there is still plenty of skill and time involved to make this into something special.Putting on the fiberglass

    So start clearing off a space in the shop and start looking into what option you plan on putting together while the weather turns cold.

    Here are a few links to places you can find what you're looking for:


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    Sometimes, a plant and gardening project can be big and complicated, designed as a major focal point or landscaping effort that's intended to last for years and many harvests. See this guy.

    But most of my favorite plant projects are the simple ones. The quick and easy efforts that allow you to spread a little life all around your space.   Like this simple indoor window garden project from Jill.  In search for a way to add a little greenery to her current abode, she says "I decided the best and cheapest method for our little garden would have to be a hack of IKEA products, realigned from their original purposes to fit my own. Rummaging through IKEA for two hours on a Sunday (note to self: NEVER go to IKEA on a Sunday again) I collected"

    Those supplies? A couple s-hooks, some cutlery caddies, and a shower curtain rod. And...boom. Indoor garden. 

    Get the full how-to at Window Herb Garden – IKEA Hack!


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    make a hearty breakfast in no time

    Making a delicious and hearty breakfast can be a chore when you're still trying to decide which pants to wear with your cap-toe shoes. Until recently, this was my daily struggle. Most days, I walked out the door with just brewed coffee and a piece of toast. No fun.

    Don't you ever just dream of a scramble of potatoes, eggs and bacon for a weekday breakfast? Alas, the time it takes to cook diced potatoes can surely suck the time away from you before you know it. I am here to say that your weekday dreams can come true! All you need is a giant bag of potato tots and a few minutes to cook every morning.

    Here's my weekly routine. If I can do it, you can too!

    6:00 a.m.

    Making a delicious and hearty breakfast can be a chore when you're still trying to decide which pants to wear with your cap-toe shoes. Not anymore! Check out what ingredient makes this recipe super simple!

    Wake up, head to the kitchen turn the oven to 450 and fill a pan with enough tots for my wife and myself. At this temperature, the tots will cook in about 15 minutes. Plenty of time to take a shower and get dressed.

    6:25 a.m

    Making a delicious and hearty breakfast can be a chore when you're still trying to decide which pants to wear with your cap-toe shoes. Not anymore! Check out what ingredient makes this recipe super simple!

    When I'm all dressed, I fire up my small iron skillet and add 2 breakfast sausage patties. I found a box of all-natural, frozen, pre-cut patties for a great price. If you can't find something like this, you can pre-freeze some slices on Sunday night.

    Important note: Using an iron skillet will help you keep from burning your food throughout this process.

    While the sausage cooks I usually grind coffee and boil the water. I usually have enough time to fix my hair and brush my teeth at this point too.

    6:35 a.m.

    Make a hearty breakfast in no time!

    Now it's time for the finale. Using your spatula, chop up the sausages and add any other toppings you'd like to have in your scramble. I had some left over diced peppers from tacos the night before.

    6:40 a.m.

    Make a hearty breakfast in no time!

    Kill the heat on your skillet and crack a couple of eggs into your mixture. Once they've sat for a minute you can finish them however you like your eggs, scrambled or yolks intact. Don't forget salt and pepper!

    Just before I transfer to a plate, I slice up a few wedges of an avocado and drizzle with a dash of pepper sauce. 


    Make a hearty breakfast in no time!

    Ta-dah! Now, I know this isn't the most beautiful breakfast you've ever seen but you can't beat how delicious it is. It also has all the tasty nutrients you need to keep you filled with energy until lunch!

    Think you can do it? I'd love to know! What else would you add to your quick breakfast scramble?

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    taper Cutting jigI spend quite a bit of time setting up for projects on the tools. It’s amazing how much time it takes to make a few simple yet complex cuts. For the type of cuts that happen often, it makes sense to make a few go-to jigs to help with those annoying set-ups.   One of my favorite places to find jigs and other ideas is This massive encyclopedia is a great place to browse for ideas or search for specific items that you may find a need for. Here are three jigs for the table saw that will likely get used the second they’re done:

    1. First, if you don't have an awesome crosscut sled, you'll want to start there. This one is a great beginner cutting jig
    2. Circle Cutting Jig– The circle cutting jig is something that you don’t know you need until it’s done. From clocks to tables to wheels for toys, the wooden circle is very useful just about everywhere in the shop. The table saw is the most accurate way to cut a large wooden circle, and while it takes a bit of time and can get very dusty, it is a great jig to have hanging at the ready.

    Taper Cutting Jig
    3. Taper Cutting Jig– While tapers aren’t used that often, this jig will likely make it a much more common embellishment on pieces coming out of the shop. A simple taper lends just a bit of class to a piece, and this simple jig makes cutting one as easy as setting an angle and getting right into the cut.Box Joint jig
    4. Kerfmaker Style Box Joint Jig– The box joint adds strength and style to boxes and drawers, and requires no special bits or tools. The key to solid joints is set-up and without an accurate and repeatable cutting jig it just doesn’t fit tight enough to be effective or beautiful. If you’re staring down a number of drawers on your project list, this jig is exactly what you should be building before tackling them.

    5. A thin rip jig is an awesome way to create thin strips of stock for small parts, wood laminations, or square doweling. The finished piece is the offcut (the part that falls to the outside of the blade, not the fence side), which keeps the strips the same width, no matter where the fence is set. 

    Do you have any favorite jigs that you use on the table saw, or other tools in the shop that you consider an essential to woodworking? We’d love to hear it!

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    created at: 08/19/2015

    That skillet isn't just for dinnertime...

    In honor of breakfast week on ManMade, I decided to share one of my favorite early morning treats, a tasty recipe for cinnamon rolls cooked in the cast iron pan.   I'll admit it: I'm not generally much of a breakfast guy. I think most of that is because I just don't find much fun in that first meal; not cause the food isn't great...but let's face it: I'm just not a morning person. I know you non-morning people will agree it's just the fog of morning I just can't get past, no matter how tasty the food. 

    Tasty Cinnamon Rolls

    But this recipe is one worth waking up for. It takes that cast iron pan I use so often for dinners and makes it into a morning-fog busting meal that fills the house with the smell of a good day. Make it the night before and have it ready to toss in the oven while your stumble through your morning rituals.

    Take a look at the full recipe here: A Peaceful Dwelling

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    created at: 08/19/2015

    There are times to try new things. Times to taste different flavors, experiment with products, seek out something you've never encountered before...And sometimes, you just want to know what the best option is. The easy choice. The go-to. The everyday variety you know will work when you need it, and rely on every time.      Throughout the next few months, ManMade is seeking out the best affordable bottles of a variety of spirits that work well in your home bar, but know you can grab at the store the next time you head to a friend's house or a party. We've got our go-to gin, so let's turn our sights to that other great warm weather spirit: tequila. 

    created at: 08/19/2015

    There are a lot of tequilas to love in the $25-30 region: Olmeca Altos, 3 Amigos, and Hornitos are some of my faves. But for a true bargain, the ManMade vote goes to Familia Camarena. It's around $17-18 most places, and it packs a lot of flavor that works well when sipped neat or combined with simple mixers for a summer highball.

    Camerena is a highlands tequila, meaning that its agave comes from the higher altitudes of Los Altos in tequila country, rather than the valley of the Tequila volcano. There are cooler nights there, and more rain, which gives Camarena different flavor profile - there's less of that dusty flavor of valley tequilas, and it's much more delicate. Camarena is almost floral, with vanilla and fall spice notes, and nice minerality that makes it crisp and able to stand up to strong flavors like lime or the hot chiles of Mexican food. 

    created at: 08/19/2015

    It's good stuff, and for $18.79 - the price at my local store - a great option for pitcher cocktails or some summer sipping. I find it works particularly well in a Paloma (grapefruit soda, lime, and salt), or as a spike to a fizzy limonada (lime juice, sugar, and club soda). 

    Try it, and let us know what you think!

    For more in our Best Value in Booze series, check out these great bottles!



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    In a little old neighborhood in Paris, nestled between two apartment buildings, lies this perspective-bending basketball court, straight out of a geometric abstract artist's fever dream. The court is named after the Rue Duperre on which it stands and was created as a dual project between French fashion company Pigalle and Nike in 2009.    The court itself was revamped this past summer though another joint collaboration, this time with Ill-Studio for the Pigalle Basketball Spring Summer 2015 presentation. The design teams drew inspiration from Russian artist, Kazimir Malevich's "Sportsman" painting, with great results as you can see below. 

    You can check out more photos at

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    We love biking, and I'm guessing a lot of you do as well. Over 800,000 Americans currently commute to work via bicycle and that number just keeps climbing as people are realizing the physical, emotional, and environmental benefits.   If you're thinking about ditching the gas guzzler and trying for your own biking commute, this article from Popular Mechanics is your starting point. From picking out the right bike for you, to gearing up, to the rules of the road, Popular Mechanics gives you the rundown on what you should know before you get started. 

    Check out the article here and get on out there!

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    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food

    Lately, I've been on a quest to find better breakfast foods. Without getting into much personal, and overbearing, health details, most breakfast foods just aren't all that great for you. Whether it's a pile of dried wheat or a sugary toaster pastry, grabbing something good on the go can be so dang hard! Well, no more! Kolache to the rescue!

    I might be obsessed with these little guys. There's a great cafe here in Nashville that makes these, and it's not uncommon for me to grab one every Sunday. The kolach originates from the Czech Republic in the form of a sweet, fruit-filled pastry that can be found on most breakfast tables. In America, you can find their new origins in Texas as a spicy, smoked sausage and cheese filled dough. These are the ones we're going to focus on for your next breakfast! In honor of Breakfast Week here on ManMade, let's make some!


    • 1/2 ounce of Instant Yeast
    • 1/2 c of warm water
    • 1/2 c of butter
    • 1/4 c of sugar
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 2/3 Cup of whole milk (make sure it's whole)
    • 1.5 teaspoons of salt
    • 4 cups of flour (can sub half with whole wheat)
    • 1 package of diced fully-cooked smoked sausages
    • 8 ounces of shredded cheese
    • 1 sliced jalapeño 

    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food


    1. Make The Dough

    Bloom the yeast by mixing it with the warm water. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.

    Next, using a whisk or mixer cream together the butter and sugar.

    Add salt, egg yolks, water/yeast mixture and milk. 

    Once everything is incorporated, add flour until it's a sticky dough ball. 

    Once it's formed into a ball, cover and let double in size for 1-2 hours. I like to let my dough mature in the fridge for a couple of days. This develops the flavor you might find in sourdough or a good pizza dough.

    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food

    2. Make the Balls

    When you're ready to make the kolache, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. After the dough has risen, pinch off and roll golfball sized balls. Set them on a greased tray to let rise again for another 30-45 minutes.

    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food

    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food

    3. Fill them!

    Roll out each ball into a small disk. Set it in the palm of your hand and fill it with a small helping of diced sausages, a teaspoon of cheese and a slice of jalapeño (if you like it spicy!). At this point, you can practically fill them with anything you want! I've used scrambled eggs and bacon, pepperoni and parmesan and breakfast sausage and cheese. The possibilities are up to you! 

    Once you've put your fillings in your palm, pinch up all the ends to make it look like a small pouch. Set the ball on your baking sheet seam side down.

    Be sure to signify which ones have jalapeños in them. You don't want that to be a surprise one morning! I placed a small slice on the top.

    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food

    4. Bake!

    Brush each kolach with melted butter and stick in a 425 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

    Kolaches: the ultimate breakfast food

    5. Eat!

    If you can keep yourself from eating every one of these you can place the rest in a storage container and put them in the fridge for breakfast the next day. Now you're set up for an entire week of breakfasts! 


    It's Breakfast Week on ManMade! See more posts here. 


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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: 08/20/2015
    There comes that time in every project. The point where you know what needs to happen, but aren't quite sure how to get there. When you've got the time and the energy to make it work, but that bolt or screw is just a little too long and the hardware store is closed. When you're ready to shape it, cut it, sand it, but you just don't know how to do it safely.    More often than not, the answer is: grab the rotary tool. 

    created at: 08/20/2015

    What's It Do? 

    The strength of the rotary tool, of course, is its versatility. Where other tools in the shop are set to perform one or two key tasks safely and efficiently, the rotary tools picks up the slack. They work particularly well with small parts, or when you've got all the woodworking tools in the world, but need to deal with metal (or vise versa). 

    The tool is, essentially, a small, high RPM motor housed in a comfortable handle that spins a collet, into which you can place all kinds of bits. And its the bits that really make this thing shine. At any home center, you can find bits for cutting, grinding, polishing, sanding, honing, shaping, machining, milling, laping, routing, drilling, carving, engraving, sharpening...and I suspect at least a dozen more. 

    created at: 08/20/2015

    The sheer variety of bits and applications also allow you to work on all kinds of materials, from metals like aluminum, brass, copper, bronze, and soft steel to plastics, hard and softwoods, and household materials like drywall and fiberglass. Its small collet and light weight makes it the right tool for many small jobs, such as drilling with fine bits, cutting hardware that's already been installed, and the like. 

    created at: 08/20/2015

    What to Look for in a Rotary Tool and Accessories?

    There a few things to keep in mind when comparing options: 

    • Corded options will have stronger, more consistent power for a variety of tasks. This  will often make the work and cut time shorter.
    • Cordless options are, of course, easy to transport. They're convenient and always ready to go (if you leave them on the charger).
    • It's definitely worth spending a little more to get a model with a variable speed for versatility. This is especially true of corded models, which, when cared for, will last a long time. It's nice to have the options when you need them.
    • The bits tend to be universal, but you might want to go with a more well-known manufacturer, such as Dremel or Rotozip, as they'll continue to stay in the rotary tool game for a long time. Their accessories and bits are widely available.
    • Even the highest end tools cost around $100 or less. Don't skimp on a cheaper, less powerful model unless you know it works well. Get the tool you want and think will last. 
    • Accessories are always cheaper in large kits. Don't fritter away your money on $5-10 single packs. You can often get at least two of the thing you're looking for, plus a bunch of other things that'll be handy to have around, in an accessory kit. 

    created at: 08/20/2015

    Which Tool Should You Get? 

    The two biggest names for this type of tool are Dremel and Rotozip. Rotozips are technically rotary saws, and are big, beefy tools designed for cutting work in drywall, floors, wood molding, etc. There common among contractors and finish carpenters. Dremels are true rotary tools, and can perform whatever the bit is intended for. They have the most variety of bits, and they continue to invent. I really like the newer EZ Lock technology for abrasive wheels and the like. There is, of course, a bit of a drawback, to the versatility... the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none," applies here at times. 

    It's not a replacement for a router. Or a hacksaw. But, as long as you're not trying to rip through 3/4" plywood and keep the task to smaller projects that require small removal of material, like final sanding, smoothing, shaping, grinding, and light cuttings and engraving, you'll use it again and again. A great tool to keep around for a variety of projects. 


    Oh. And please, please, please: always wear safety glasses when using one. Always. 


    created at: 08/20/2015

    ManMade Recommended: 


    created at: 08/20/2015




    Note: Dremel and its parent company Robert Bosch Tool Corporation have been a previous sponsor on ManMade. That relationship had no impact on this post, nor did they provide tools for review. 

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    Inspired by Bryson and David's post this week on their favorite breakfasts that make morning bearable, I thought I'd share the simple, nutritious plate that I eat most mornings. I can put it together in just around ten minutes, and it keeps me full, satisfied, and energetic well into (my typically late) lunch time.

    created at: 08/20/2015


    The argument goes like this: most of us eat the same thing every day for breakfast, whether it's cold cereal, a muffin or bagel, bacon and eggs, etc. So, make that same meal something that's good to begin your day. Not a sugar-filled toaster bomb, but something with some protein, fiber, important nutrients, and a little fat to make you feel full. 

    I've been eating this about four times a week for the last two and a half years. I started after hearing Tim Ferriss as a guest on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. I don't know much about Ferris, and have not read any of his books, so I don't really support or critique his positions. I know he can be a controversial figure, but he said something simple that struck me: Make the breakfast you eat everyday something that starts your system off right. Some eggs, some beans, some spinach, something something. Nothing controversial about that. 

    It made sense to me, so I tried it. And though I do miss my beloved Frosted Mini Wheats, I actually look forward to eating this everyday. Still.

    The meal is this: 1 1/2 eggs (one whole egg, and one white), a pile of cooked lentils, and a serving of garlic spinach. And everything gets covered in Mexican hot sauce. If I have leftover veggies from the night before, I'll sub them in. We often have a huge bag of fresh spinach in the house (we get it at Costco), but I'll often use frozen, or substitute frozen peas cooked with the lentils. On special days, I'll add a strip or two of bacon or fresh herbs if we've got 'em. Every once and a while, I'll have a piece of toast on the side.

    It takes me about 10 minutes to make the plate, and a press pot of coffee or tea. Here's how to do it. 

    Fact: Lentils are an amazing breakfast food. 

    I cook up a bit pot of lentils about every three-four weeks, and store them in smaller containers in the freezer. They take about ten minutes to prep and store, and about 30 minutes total cook time. This is how I do it: 

    Basic recipe: 1 carrot - 2 cloves garlic - 1 cup red lentils - 2 cups liquid.  I'll usually triple or quadruple the recipe when I cook them. They keep great in the freezer. 

    created at: 08/20/2015

    Cut up the carrots into medium chunks. Don't peel them, but do scrub them clean. Saute in a large pot with olive oil until they start to brown. Add one-two cloves of garlic, peeled and smash, but not chopped, and a bay leaf or two if you want to get fancy. Add the lentils to the pot, and water or broth in a 1:2 lentil-to-liquid ratio. Cook until they burst and are quite soft. Done. 

    Two things to note about the lentils: I cook them until they're totally soft and mashed. The texture is similar to refried beans. That's just how I like them; they lose their form texture in the freezer anyway, so I just let them soften completely at the cooking stage. I'll add a splash of water when I reheat them each morning.

    created at: 08/20/2015

    For a cooking liquid, I boil water in a kettle and season it with this stuff. I'm all about real broth for soups and sauces, but that's overkill for such a simple breakfast. I use the organic low-sodium stuff, and basically, I treat it as the salt for the dish, but with the added benefit of all these other savory flavors. This makes them taste really rich and satisfying for such a simple combo of ingredients. I buy, like, one jar a year. This and the totally softening of the red lentils is what makes me love this breakfast so much. Oh, and mixing everything up with the egg yolk. 

    I store these in 3-4 day portions in the freezer, and pull them out as needed. 

    created at: 08/20/2015

    Assembling the breakfast

    0:00 - Preheat skillet over medium. Boil water in kettle. Chop 1-2 cloves garlic for spinach.

    1:00 - Add garlic and a little oil to skillet and let soften for 1o seconds. Add spinach and saute. Pinch of salt.

    2:00 - Break eggs into small bowl. Remove one yolk. Stir spinach.

    3:00 - Place spinach on plate and wipe out skillet. Add a little olive oil to skillet and fry eggs. 

    4:00 - Grind coffee. 

    5:00 - Add coffee and water to press pot. Set timer for 4:00. 

    5:30 - Flip eggs. Put egg carton and spinach back in fridge. Clean off garlic knife. 

    6:00 - Place cooked eggs on plate. I usually undercook them just a bit, since they'll continue to cook with carry over heat. Cooked in the pan, overcooked on the plate... and all that. 

    7:00 - Add lentils and a splash of water to skillet. Select hot sauce of choice for the day. It's usually Tamazula, Huichol, or Cholula. Sometimes I'll do sriracha to shake things up.

    8:00 - Stir lentils to homogenize texture. Remove any bay leafs.

    9:00 - Press coffee, add to travel mug. 

    9:45 - Add lentils to plate, cover everything in hot sauce. Assess my success in coffee making. 

    10:00 - Enjoy. 


    That's how I do it, and I can't recommend it enough. Give it a shot, and let me know what you think. If you have a breakfast routine, I'd love to hear about it. 

     It's Breakfast Week on ManMade! See more posts here. 

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    created at: 08/24/2015

    I mean, who doesn't love a hanging planter project? It brings some life into your home, gives your walls a fresh look, and provides and excuse to use some power tools!   

    If you want to learn how to make your own hanging planter project from wood, you can sign for this free DIY Workshop at your local Home Depot on Saturday, September 12, just in time for fall planting. It's available at Home Depot locations all across the U.S., and it doesn't cost a cent to learn.

    The DIY Workshop will cover the basics of building this easy project, provide measured instructions, and offer basic tips on creating from standard lumber and home center materials. It's also a great opportunity to learn about basic and safe power tool use. The project is constructed with standard dimensional lumber (2x4s, etc), so you can easily find everything you need and get making. 

    created at: 08/24/2015

    The DIY Hanging Planter Workshop takes place on Saturday, September 12, 2015 from 10:00 - 11:30AM. You can find more details and register at the Home Depot Workshops page. Next week, I'll be building a customized version of this project for my own home, and sharing the process with you. Stay tuned.

    Oh, and get this: If you live near Tucson, Arizona, I, Chris Gardner from ManMade, will be teaching the workshop there. If you're in the area, this is an awesome opportunity for me to meet and collaborate with ManMade readers, and I've love to hang out with you and use some power tools for a day.

    So, head to the Home Depot DIY Workshops page to sign up, and we'll see you next Saturday. 



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    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    My dog absolutely loves to tear apart toys. It's almost a fun challenge to see what toy he can't tear apart. That list is pretty short. So, I thought I'd take a stab at making a really durable toy that he might actually have a hard time chewing through. 

    The base of this very simple toy is multiple layers of cotton duck canvas fused together and sewn without any stuffing. That stuff is a mess to clean up! 

    Here's what you'll need:

    •  A swatch of natural cotton duck canvas - about 12x12
    • Iron-on fuse paper
    • a 5 -inch circle template–I used an old coffee can bottom.
    • scissors
    • thread
    • marking pen
    • squeak toy insert. I bought a pack of 20 on Amazon.

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Start by cutting 2 strips of duck canvas, oversized at about 6"x15." At the same time, cut one sheet 6"x15" of your fuse paper.

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Follow the directions on the fusing package and iron the sheet to one of your pieces of canvas. Peel off the backing and layer the other sheet of canvas on top. Iron the two pieces together into a very stiff duck canvas rectangle.

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Next, trace two circles on your swatch of canvas and cut them out.

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Now layer the two circles on top of one another and place your squeaker in the center. I want this toy to look like a baseball, so I used my marking pen to trace the stitching lines just outside the squeaker's shape.

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Using a zig-zag stitch setting on your sewing machine, follow your markings making sure to back up and reenforce your beginning and ending stitches.

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Now, we'll stuff in the squeaker!

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Now we can sew the perimeter of the baseball with a straight stitch. Once the straight stitch is finished, I decided to double it up and go back over with a zig-zag stitch too. He's definitely not going to tear through this one!

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

    Looks pretty good if I can say so myself. If you can't tell, I'm pretty bad at sewing. My wife likes to make fun of me. It's likely going to be in worse shape after my dog gets his teeth on it, so it doesn't matter anyways! 

    Wash off the blue markings and trim off your extra strings and frayed bits and you're good to go! My dog totally loves it, and I hope your dog does too! 

    How to Make a Really Durable Dog Toy

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  • 08/25/15--07:00: The Art of the Dovetail
  • Beautiful JointI recently picked up a new dovetail jig to make some drawers. After getting the basics under control I took a look around at some of the more artful joints out there. I definitely have a ways to go.Double Dovetail1. The Hand Cut Double Dovetail - This joint is very involved, but with the right contrasting woods it really stands out. This tutorial walks through the complex steps of cutting and re-cutting the joint for a stunning reveal.

    Rabbeted Dovetail

    2. The Rabbeted Dovetail - This complex looking joint has a simple but classy look with dowels to pin it together. Look for the tutorial on this joint about halfway down past the sliding dovetail tutorial.

    Funky Looking Joints

    3. Sculptural Dovetail - These hand-cut joints have an incredible look that just shouldn't be hidden. This is just an example of how far down the road of art this joint can go. There's no tutorial on how this was made, but click on the link for a few more interesting angles.


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