They say, "It don't matter if you've got a lot, you can't be happy till you're happy with what you've got." And that's true. But getting free stuff never hurt, either, so why not enter this week's True Value giveaway! Read on to see how to enter! THE PRIZE:
As part of our ongoing house remodel (read more at our sister site, Curbly.com), we ended up with a bathroom door that swung in the wrong direction (well, not 'wrong' precisely, but just not the way we wanted it to). It opened into the bathroom, which was fine, but it swung from left to right, and we wanted it to swing the opposite way. So, with a few trusty hand tools I picked up at the local hardware store, I managed to get it flipped around. Read on to see how I did… read more
As a kid, I loved making those paper ring garlands to help count down the days to Christmas. They weren't much, just strips of red and green construction paper, one looped inside another and held together with a swipe of glue stick, but, buddy, I loved the ritual of ripping those suckers off as soon as I woke up every morning.
So, for this holiday season, I wanted to embrace the idea of a countdown craft, but update it to something a bit more adult, a bit more masculine, and reusable season after… read more
There are two of us here at ManMade. There's me, Chris, and I handle the content of the site, publishing the daily posts and projects. The other half is my compadre Bruno, who works behind-the-scenes keeping everything running smoothly. It's a great team, and we compliment each other well. I'm a dedicated Christmas fan, and Bruno...well, his last name is Bornsztein. Guess which winter holiday he grew up… read more
This summer was a busy one for my family; we had a new baby (our second, a boy), and moved into a new house that we gutted and remodeled. At the same time. Needless to say, it was a bit crazy, and one side-effect of that was that all my tools got completely disorganized. Plus the new basement had no good storage for tools, save an ancient, ramshackle work bench that was barely standing upright. Enough of that, I thought, and made a plan to fix it. Read on to watch my video and see how easy it is to improve your own workbench situation.
I was really bummed when my wife, Alicia, suggested we install a shower shelf. I mean, figuring out how to arrange and balance all those shampoo bottles and soap bars on the two-inch-wide edge or the tub is what kept me occupied during those boring morning showers. But after the four-thousandth time I knocked a domino-ish chain of plastic containers into the tub, I began to see her reasoning. Fortunately, installing a shelf in your shower is really easy. Read on to see how I did it, with a few supplies and some help from my local TrueValue hardware store...
I've lived in my house for three years, and I have but one giant blank white wall left: the one across from my bedroom headboard, the first thing I see when I wake up. For the past thirty-six months, I've been slowly filling my walls with DIY art projects, screenprints from my favorite artists, even a full-on collage of colorful paint samples glued to the plaster (which are never coming off, by the way). But this guy...taunts every morning. Or, had been. Cause last weekend, I decided to do something about… read more
If you'll recall from your grade school science lessons, a screw is a simple machine. It's a continuous helix-shaped thread that cuts a groove into the surrounding material, thereby keeping the screw in place and, usually, holding two things together.
And, they work great...except when that "surrounding material" they're supposed to cut into gets worn away, and the screw just spins and spins inside the hole, holding absolutely nothing together.
Luckily, there's a super easy solution to fix it, and it costs about four cents and takes less than five… read more
The great Dutch thinker Erasmus once said, "“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” And for most ManMade readers, I imagine it's the same. First things first: books, records, and, in particular, tools and supplies for making stuff and completing projects. And then the rest.
Today, we wanna help you with that, so we teamed up with True Value to give you a hundred bucks to spend on tools, materials, and other goodies so you can execute all those great ideas in your… read more
Last year, ManMade was honored to be a part of the 2011 True Value Blog Squad, where we joined the ranks of talented DIYers, makers, and home improvers from around the internet, showing folks all the cool stuff you can do with supplies from your local hardware store.
Bruno and I had tons of fun last season, so we were very excited to be invited to participate again this… read more
This week, Chris and I will be hosting True Value's "Ask the Blog Squad" sessions on Facebook. We'll be taking questions from readers about anything you can think of (well, anything DIY-related you can think of; don't start getting too personal on me, buddy).
For our latest True Value blog squad project, we decided to tackle our fireplace. In our 1960s-ish family room addition, the fireplace takes up a lot of visual attention, and its size and placement make it clear the previous owners built it as a focal point. Here's what we were dealing with:
(Note: this picture is about four years old)
Last year we decided to paint the fireplace white, but it still lacked some appeal.So, it's not surprising we often chose to 'hide' the fireplace by stacking our daughters various toys in front of it:
The list of things we didn't like about this thing would go on and on. Here are a… read more
When my neighbor, Gina, moved in next door, a standalone porch swing appeared on our shared patio. The thing was at least thirty years old, and had been outside for just as long, and showed the wear of snowy winters, blazing hot summers, and all the rainy days in between. Not that it was likely much to look at when it was new.
It was, in every way, an eyesore.
But, my goodness, if that thing wasn't useful. I'm sure I sat on it a good fifty times more often than she did. I took to enjoying my breakfast on it, and built a little morning routine around sitting outside, reading the week's New Yorker before I started my day. I used it to prepare for my bike rides: changing shoes, making adjustments, etc. And my friends and I would eat dinner out there, and watch thunderstorms. Boy, it was ugly, but it made me appreciate my patio, and got me out there frequently.
Then, Gina did the unthinkable: she got married, had a baby, and moved away. And, with her, away went the porch swing. And though I love my current neighbor (Hi Jillian!), she brought no shared furniture to the arrangement.
So, I figured it was time to make some outdoor seating of my own. For inspiration, I turned to the most iconic of mid-century bench designs, the Platform Bench by George Nelson (1946). It was created from easy-to-find 1x6" cedar decking, making it quite inexpensive to build, and safe for outdoor use.
A part of me retches at the very word 'landscaping', as if the 1/4-acre parcel I inhabit on the vast surface of our billions-of-years-old planet somehow requires a few hours per weekend of my inexpert, indifferent care. Come on; any scaping we do to the land will be obliterated by the pitiless passing of time. We might as well lie under our beds 'scaping' dust into piles.
Still, that's a tough argument to make to your neighbors when they walk past your overgrown garden, over the shin-high weeds in the sidewalk cracks, and through the 'native habitat restoration' area you call your front lawn. They don't have to say much, but even at a distance you can see the raising of eyebrows.
Not that I care that much what they think; horticultural conformism be damned. But seriously, this summer the front of our house was getting to a point that would make even the most hardened iconoclast a little embarassed.
So, with a shrug of my shoulders and a roll of the eyes, we decided to finally do a little landscaping. It's been at least five years since we've done so much as weeding in the front, so things were a little, um, hairy. Read on to see how we improved it, and watch a video of… read more
In the late 60s and 70s, string art became a popular paint-by-numbers-y way for the masses to get crafty. Head to your local thrift store, and you'll likely find a few, in all their harvest gold glory. Usually sold in kits, these guys involved strategically placed nails or pins that were connected by string or yarn to create geometrical shapes or mathematical patterns.
But, I'm not really into geometrical shapes or mathematical patterns. I'm into letters, so I decided to create some original string art with a typographic twist. It's super fun, easy-to-make, and infinitely customizable. Plus, it's my favorite kind of project, where the supplies come from both the craft shop and my local True Value hardware store (we're a part of the 2011 True Value Blog Squad!).
I know it's not cool to say so, but I hate recyling. Or maybe it's more accurate to say I'm incompetent at it. I forget to take it out on time, I get plastics and papers mixed up, and trash things when I should recycle them and vice versa. So it's no surprise that our kitchen recycling area has long been an embarrassment:
That's how our 'recycling center' used to look. Note the problems:
Shallow pantry means the doors won't close when it's in this state
How many brown paper bags does a guy need?
Well, after an inspiring trip to my local True Value store, I decided this was a solvable situation. I searched the internet far and wide for some recyling bins I could just buy, but our 10-inch-deep pantry made that very difficult.
This is my backyard. All of it. A roughly 4 x 4 1/2 ' patch of gravel and clay.
I think even the most blackest of thumbs can recognize that nothing's gonna grow in that soil. But, that's not okay with me. I want a garden. I want to be able to just walk out of my door, and grab fresh herbs, greens, and produce when I'm preparing meals. I want to participate in my food. I wanna weed, water, and scare away all those dang chipmunks that nibble at my plants.
So, as my first project for the True Value Blog Squad, I built a garden that allows my plants to thrive regardless of the soil condition, or the fact that the space is smaller than me.
When the people at True Value got in touch with us about joining their DIY Blog Squad for 2011, we were psyched. Last year's group included some heavy hitters like DesignMom, DIYdiva, and The Lettered Cottage, so I knew we'd be in good company.
Chris and I have a list of fun projects lined up for the summer, including, but not limited to, so don't hold us to this list in court, ok?:
- A Nelson-inspired slatted bench - Raised garden beds - Etched copper plant labels - A sloped garden re-lanscaping project - Some other miscellaneous fixer-upper projects
Of course, if there's a particular project you'd like to suggest, please let us… read more