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    We don't like to admit it, but it's beginning to be that time of year when the things we bring into the house start to get bigger and bulkier. In the warm months, it's a bag or briefcase, your phone, and a few essentials for work, but in the cooler months, enter the coats, boots, hats, gloves, snow shovels, in addition to the magazines, mail, your keys and all the other things that come inside with you. Over the last year or so, we've become committed to leaving these items in the entryway (or in our case, the little threshold areas around our back and front doors), and I admit that it's completely helped tame the everyday clutter of stuff you never really put away. 

    Maxwell from Apartment Therapy has this to say about the home landing strip. "The front door is your filter. It's where the outside world gets sorted out, settled down, organized, and separated from the inside of your home." In the video below, he offers a series of five essential things you use to make one, even if your home, like mine, doesn't have a dedicated entryway or mud room.

    My favorite tip: put the recycling bin right by the door. All the junk mail and catalogs just slide right in, before they even enter your house. It even helps finding the actual mail you need to deal with much easier. 

    Click play to watch the video below: 

    Seemingly easy tips, but really - they work. You just gotta stay committed. 

     

    Top image from the designers at Port and Quarter


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    FinishedBringing a bit of green into your office looks good and can really spruce up the space. Here's how to make your own.   

    I've always been a fan of watching growth. Just one problem, I'm just horrible at keeping green things alive. That's what I like about terrariums, they are much more resilient than typical pots thanks to the glass containers and layered construction. So, if you want to get something green in your office this is something you want to check out.Parts

    Another great aspect of the glass container is watching the roots explore the layers, and see the moisture filter through. The daily growth is a great reminder during a busy day to keep things in perspective and take a breath every now and then.

    Here are the details on making your own terrarium for an quick upgrade to whatever space needs a bit more green in your life.


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    created at: 05/26/2011

    As you might imagine, I'm sorta of lease-limit pusher. I mean, I do read them. I do take their advice to heart, and sometimes, when I'm breaking it, I do recall, "Oh, yeah. I think I'm specifically not supposed to do this."

    But those moments are rare. See, I try to find ways to customize my space that aren't direct violations of my lease. Whereas it does say, "Don't paint," it does NOT say "Don't Mod Podge hundreds of little paint samples to the wall." So, I did. (See above)

    See, what my landlord's don't seem to understand (they're an elderly retired couple, not a corporation) is that this is my home. It's an investment to you, but I live here. I work here. I entertain here, have holidays here. And while it might be funny to you that I had to pull everything two feet from the wall so you could "treat for pests," [read: have a 6.5 ft tall 80-year-old man spray some Raid around] and then tell me you'd do it again two weeks later, only to change your mind and not come for 13 more days, my entire life was shrunk by 65% for nearly a month...

    What was I saying? Oh, right. There are lots of things you can do to customize your rented space without violating your lease. Except, ingnore the holes in the wall thing. All can be fixed. Email me if you don't know how.  

    Lifehacker has assembled a good list of tips and ideas, including creative uses of photos, vinyl decals, and wallpaper, that'll have you feeling at home, beige be damned.

     

     

    This ManMade post was originally shared in September 2011. We're sharing again because it's been a hit with our readers!


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    Half Lap JointsThere are plenty of shelves in my shop that need doors to keep out the dust, and to keep the look of the shop more streamlined. These cheap doors are made from 2.5" pine boards and affordable 1/4" plywood. They still look great and function well, and they have enough heft to feel strong in your hand.  

    Keep in mind, cheap wood can be hard to work with thanks to chipping, splitting, and warping, so choose nice straight boards that have been dried long enough to stay stable.

    Here are the steps I took to make my affordable shop doors:

    Cabinet Doors1. Measure them out - the doors should overhang the openings by about 1/2" on the outside edges and the top and bottom. This means you should measure the door openings, and add 1" for the top measurement and 1/2" for the hinge side of the doors.Backing Boards

    2. Cut the backing board - These doors have a thin 1/4" backing board, with a frame over the top, and a thin strip on all sides to clean up the final appearance. To start, cut the backing board to size.Half Lap Joints

    3. Cut the frame - The frame over the top is made from rails and stiles with half lap joints cut on the dado. This joint is strong and adds substantial gluing surface to make sure it stays strong and square.Gluing Pieces

    4. Glue and clamp the frames - The frame pieces should match up nicely and should stay squared while clamping. Add glue and clamp overnight.Clamped Cabinet Doors

    5. Glue the frames to the backing board - Apply a layer of glue around the edge of the frame on the inside and outside of the surface to be glued. Clamp evenly to make sure it is evenly applied. This took 3 clamps per side to make sure it was well glued.

    Thin Strips

    6. Clean it up - Take just a small portion of each side off with the table saw to make sure it is square and smooth for the final thin strips, then apply the thin cover strips - The last step is to apply the thin strips along the outer edge for a clean finished look. this step is not necessary if you are fine with the exposed joinery, but they do add a nice element to the finished doors.Installing Hinges

    7. Install hinges and hang - Once the doors are complete, finish as you like and install hinges. I like these hinges from Amazon, but there are plenty of choices.Finished Doors

    Since I will be making more of these for the bottom cabinets, I will keep them natural finish for now, but some finish should be applied to keep them from absorbing too much moisture during seasonal changes which will keep the movement of the doors to a minimum.

    Now that the doors are getting installed, the next step will be to move onto the rolling tool island that will hold my planer, bandsaw, jigsaw, grinder, and maybe something else. It's a big build that will take a bit of time to get right, and I may have a vacation week stuck in there somewhere, but stay tuned for that update within the next 3 weeks or so!

     


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    created at: 08/31/2015

    A simple but functional DIY table for eight, made from reclaimed materials loaded with character? What's not to love?    

    This project comes from Manda at The Merrythought, and it's impressive how much design can come from such simple materials. This is certainly not the first time someone on the internet has screwed some boards together and placed them on some premade hairpin legs, but its execution is excellent. It's a really nice example of how proper selection of materials and attention to detail and scale can turn a good idea into a great project. 

    Read about the whole process at The Merrythought: DIY Reclaimed Wood Table


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    A rustic storage box is frankly good for just about anything. Storing tools, carrying picnic supplies, or even piling up in a corner for decoration, you can do just about anything with them. And if you build them with enough quality and intention you can always sell them if they're in your way (honestly, I once saw legitimately janky old crates being sold in Brooklyn for $45 apiece).   created at: 08/28/2016 This specific rustic crate design comes from Dave's Woodworks which he then augmented with a little kaezan foam which he had left over from another project. If you've never actually taken a pallet apart here's a good how-to guide from Popular Mechanics. I'd also consider planing the wood and staining it for a bit of a nicer finish.created at: 08/28/2016

    Check out the video below for more info:

     


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    Sure, you can make a cutting board from those scraps in your shop, but how about making something a bit more memorable? Unique Cutting BoardTake a look.   

    This process works great for cutting boards, but it's also great for boxes, or other areas where the design can really stand out. 

    Want to make your own? Here's a great tutorial on the process.

    Have you tried this method to mix woods and patterns on one of your projects before? How was the process?


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    Portable Bluetooth SpeakerWith so many things able to connect via Bluetooth, isn't it time to make a few things to receive the signal? Here are 5 projects to make today.   For these projects, a bit of electrical background is definitely needed to make them work. But, if you've got the skills (or the time to learn) here are a few great projects to make Bluetooth work a bit harder in your life.Bluetooth Speaker1. Smooth Birch Bluetooth Speaker

    Bottle Lighting2. Bluetooth Accent Lighting

    bluetooth controller3. Bluetooth Garage Door Opener

    Portable Bluetooth Speaker4. Portable Bluetooth Speaker

    Bluetooth Door Lock5. Easy Bluetooth Door Lock

    Have you automated anything in your life with Bluetooth? We'd love to hear about it!


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    I'm a huge Legends of the Fall fan, to the point that I was actually embarrassed when I saw it for the first time in my early twenties because I realized I'd spent much of my life emulating a character I hadn't known existed. While I did take the time to study a Native American language, I have yet to make forge my own antler-hilted blade like Brad Pitt's iconic weapon of choice... 
    However I did just come across this informative tutorial from Instructables user Minnear Knives with an incredibly detailed guide to forging your first bladed weapon with an antler hilt. The guide also focuses on the often overlooked step of an integral bolster which will forge the transition area between the blade and the handle into place. His design ultimately creates a smaller blade than Pitt's buck knife, but hey everyone starts somewhere.


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    created at: 09/02/2016In a post-apocalyptic future, a wrench is actually a fairly good weapon of choice, but what if you could augment it a bit by, you know... forging it into a tomahawk? Well that's exactly what Miller Knives did in their recent YouTube tutorial and it's definitely worth checking out...   

    created at: 09/02/2016You'll want to start with a large wrench to begin with obviously to avoid a teensy little axe. And while it's not exactly an intuitive change to go from wrench to tomahawk, straightening out the jaws of the wrench and the hammering them flat is actually a pretty easy transition. 

    created at: 09/02/2016

    Check out the video below:


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    Photography workshop

    We're really excited to announce that Curbly (the company that publishes this blog and Curbly.com) is putting on our first ever photography workshop! We'll be bringing in one of our all-time favorite ManMade contributors, Gabriel Cabrera, for an intensive two-day course on styling and photography. 

    You've probably seen some of Gab's photos here on ManMade; he's super-talented:

    Gab Cabrera

    Christmas gift tags

    If you want to learn how to take stunning, professional-looking photos like Gab's, head over to the information page for our Fall Photography Workshop to see how you can sign up (hint: there's an early bird registration discount going on this week only!)

    Any questions? Feel free to ask me in the comments!

     

     

     


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    Bottle openerI'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.Bottle Opening

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

     


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    How to Prepare for a Day Hike

    As autumn cools the air here in the south you will quickly find all the campgrounds and nature centers booked up from September through November. It seems like everyone comes out of their humidity-soaked habitats and are starved to trek all the great mountains and valleys all across the southeast. Hiking season is upon us!

    As often as I find myself trekking through the trails and byways of Nashville and surrounding areas, I am constantly forgetting to pack the proper goods and gear for our trips. So, I've made myself a simple list of all the things I may want to think about as I plan for my trip.

    How to prepare for a day hike

    Shoes

    If you find that you’re hiking more than once or twice a month, you might want to invest in a pair of hiking shoes. Otherwise, you don’t need a fancy pair just to gallivant around a worn path, just something with a tough sole and decent grip.

    Backpack

    I don’t always tote all the listed things, especially if it’s going to be a scorcher outside, but if you happen to need something to carry your goods for a hike, just grab your old backpack and fill it up! No need to get the sportiest and lightest bag from the outdoor store.

     How to prepare for a day hike

    Apps!

    I love using my run-tracking app to tell me how far I’ve walked and how far I have left. Something like Map My Run or Map my Hike works just fine. There's also a few really great apps for your inner outdoorsman like All Trails that will map out more than 50,000 trails in the US or Project Noah for sharing, exploring and documenting wildlife around you.

    Snacks and Water

    Whether you buy it or make it you just can’t beat trail mix or meat jerky! I also love a good Kind or Lara bar. You’ll definitely anything small, lightweight and full of energy. 

    And be sure to carry water with you, no matter the temp. A simple 24-32 oz bottle per person will do in normal temps for hikes under three hours.

     how to prepare for a day hike

    Pocketknife

    You never know when you might need a knife on a trail! Whether it’s observing plant specimen up close or cutting open your trail mix bag having a multi-tool at hand is always a win-win.

    Walking Sticks

    Depending on the kind of trail you take a walking stick can come in handy. Whether it's for added balance and stability or to simply reduce the swelling in your hands, a walking stick is a welcome friend on longer, more rigorous trails. Find one on the trail, or take along some trekking poles. I think a handmade walking stick might be a great post in the future! 

    How to Prepare for a Day hike 

    An Identification Book

    Sometimes, I tend to speed through a short hike like I’m running a race. I end up staring at the ground as I walk and completely forget to look up! One of the ways I combat that is by taking the time to look at trees and see if I can identify them as I walk. If I’m ever stumped (which is all the time) I pull out my Audubon Tree Identification Guide. Depending on what you’re interested and where you’re hiking you can grab a bird, rock, plant or tree identification guide and easily add an hour or two to your trip. If you don't want to tote a tome, there's certainly apps for any of those things too!

    How to prepare for a day hike

    Camera

    Depending on what kind of hike you find yourself in, think about what kind of camera you want to bring. If it’s a rugged trail with lots of climbing, you might not want to bring a DSLR with a $2,000 lens. For shorter trips, I bring my compact DSLR for longer trips I bring my iphone. Either one packs light and doesn’t require a chiropractor readjustment afterwards.

    A Sketchbook or Journal

    Sketching and journaling is another great way to get the most out of a trip.  Unless your goal is to hike to the summit of a mountain, getting to the end of a trail isn’t always the best mindset for hiking. Take some time to sit and absorb the internet-free silence of our planet. This is your chance to be just like Thoreau, instead of Instagraming it write it down and keep it to yourself.

    Binoculars 

    Depending on what kind of hike you're going on or where it is, you might want a pair of lightweight binoculars. I could spend hours just sitting at a vista point and looking at what's below me. I've spotted all kinds of wildlife just a few yards from me and binoculars make it feel like inches. It's a total must-have if you don't mind adding the weight.

     

    Use your judgement when you are packing for your next hike! If you plan to walk 5-10 miles in a day, you might not want all of these goods in your backpack. Sticking to the essentials will make for a less sweaty and tiresome walk. If your walk is short but full of points of interest, you may want to pack all these items I've listed. Either way, as you plan your next hiking excursion, remember to take it slow and take it in. The world is a beautiful place!


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    David Picciuto is THE FAN of bandsaw boxes -- the man literally wrote the book on them. This bandsaw box design of his is simple enough for a novice to produce with limited materials, but also offers enough opportunities for more experienced woodworkers to take challenging risks. Not to mention the final product has a gorgeous, mid-century modern look...   Picciuto's Instructables guide describes this box as having a pencil holder, although I'm sure you can come up with some more exciting things to put in it. Keep it to store valuables on your bedside table or consider its compact nature and give it as a homemade gift to someone. 

    Click here to view the full guide from Instructables.com.


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    Ice DivingIt's getting a bit colder here lately, but no matter how frigid it is there's always somewhere with a lot more ice. Here are a few videos to take in while digging out the long sleeves. 1. The Last Ice Merchant - This video starts out talking about the source of the ice, at one of the closest points on earth the sun. From there, we follow a lone ice merchant and his mules up to the source and back down with hand cut blocks of natural ice. tag along and see what it looks like to be the last ice merchant.

    2. Johanna Under The Ice - We all have our hobbies, our adventures. But Johanna has a passion - Ice diving. Cutting through over two feet of ice, she dives below the surface and proceeds to mermaid her way around. It's really worth a look.

    3. The Ice Man - Shaping a block of ice into something beautiful takes a lot of skill, and a little chainsaw. Take a look at the interactive piece this artist makes.


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    Portable Bluetooth SpeakerWith so many things able to connect via Bluetooth, isn't it time to make a few things to receive the signal? Here are 5 projects to make today.   For these projects, a bit of electrical background is definitely needed to make them work. But, if you've got the skills (or the time to learn) here are a few great projects to make Bluetooth work a bit harder in your life.Bluetooth Speaker1. Smooth Birch Bluetooth Speaker

    Bottle Lighting2. Bluetooth Accent Lighting

    bluetooth controller3. Bluetooth Garage Door Opener

    Portable Bluetooth Speaker4. Portable Bluetooth Speaker

    Bluetooth Door Lock5. Easy Bluetooth Door Lock

    Have you automated anything in your life with Bluetooth? We'd love to hear about it!


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    Bottle openerI'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.Bottle Opening

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

     


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    Leather Tool CaseA few weeks back we talked about some of the basic, essential tools for getting started in leatherworking. Once you're set up, its time to put them into practice. Here are a few projects to hone those skills, and end up with some great practical pieces you can use everyday   Each of these is a great starting place to help walk through the first steps of the hobby.

    Passport Cover

    1. Hand-Sewn Passport Cover - I don't travel enough to make this something I need. However, the few times I pull out that passport I already feel like a jet-setting fool, so why not feel like it in style. This project uses leather glue, layout and cutting, and plenty of hand stitching.

    Leather Cup Holder

    2. Mason Jar Mug Holder - I've got a few mugs in the cabinet that I really love. Thick walled and heavy duty, they are the perfect match to cold drinks on the patio. This project is a simple holder with handle to keep the liquid party colder longer. I love the crossed stitching and styled handle, so much potential for customizing each one.

    Leather Roll-Up Case
    3. Leather Tool Roll-Up Case - We all have plenty of tools that need a home. This simple project adds in a sewing machine if you're so inclined, but hand stitching is still a respectable way to go.

    4. Leather Cord Wranglers - Keep your headphones, charging/syncing, and USB cables under control with this simple taco-style leather organizer.

    5. DIY Leather Valet Tray- Keep all your daily carry items in the same place each night in this simple but stylish catch-all tray. Looks great on your dresser, night stand, or hall table. 


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    I LOVE my cast-iron skillet. I was in skillet envy for quite awhile watching other guys flaunt theirs at home and on camping trips before I finally pulled the trigger and got my own. I'm fairly certain I've got the hang of skillet maintenance, but having just come back from a wonderful camping trip in Big Sur, I realized there are some key tips everyone ought to keep in mind with this essential cooking tool...   

    The advice I recently found comes from the author of the upcoming cast-iron skillet cookbook Stir, Sizzle, Bake, and as it turns out there are a number of myths surround these skillets and their use and clean-up. For example, it's particularly important to heat up your pan slowly and avoid cooking directly on a cold pan:

    “Cast iron heats unevenly, but once it gets hot, it gets so, so hot. I preheat my pan as I’m prepping my dish over very low heat. Then I slowly, incrementally, move it up—to medium low, to medium, to medium high, et cetera. It's actually easier to get it hotter once it's already hot; by pre-heating it slowly, you can control the heat more easily.”

    Click here to read The 10 Commandments to Cooking With a Cast-Iron Skillet from First We Feast and let us know what other tips you find imperative.


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    created at: 09/12/2016Old tape players are abundant, and cheap. Many have solid speaker sets, perfect period styling and design, and handle-equipped portability.  So, what to do with 'em? Play music through them! Oh, tossed your mixtape collection in the late 00s? Then, I guess you gotta make that music yourself.    

    created at: 09/12/2016

    Austrailian maker "lonesoulsurfer" came up with this fine technique of turning a tape-playing boombox into a portable guitar amp. He shows you how to hack the tape heads themselves to deliver the signal to the amplifier and speakers. Pretty neat idea.

    Check out the full tutorial, with video, on Instructables: Hack Any Tape Player Into a Guitar Amp


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