Tag Archives: Resources

In a Van Down by the River!

A Hackaday article reminded me of a project I want to try some day and that is converting an old bus into a sweet RV.

Jake VonSlatt has a cool page showing how he did it and was the page that originally got me wanting to do the same conversion. Time and space to put any project like this have kept me from doing it, for now…

If you have attention issues like myself, here’s a video VonSlatt made, check it out:

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Cold Casting Small Stuff

No, I’m not dead…

Anyway, check this out! Cold cast using a mixture of real powdered metals and clear resin. He starts with a 3D printed original but there’s nothing saying you couldn’t had carve a piece out of wax, etc.


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Getcher hands on some copper and build a still!

Legally, of course…

This outfit sells kits that require some assembly but they have helpful videos on the Youtube that show how to assemble their products.

The Home Distillers Forum is a fantastic resource for people who live in New Zealand where home distilling is perfectly legal…

There are currently bills in Congress to legalize hobby home distilling and I truly hope they pass. Lots of folks do so in spite of the (weakly enforced) law but my employer would come unglued if I got caught moonshining so alas, I must wait…

Even the most basic digging around on the interwebs will lead a person to detailed tutorials on how to constrict a still.

George Washington would approve

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This Instructable leave out the whole “where to get a huge boat” detail…


This is a great step by step tutorial on how to convert a tug boat to a recreational vessel…

Okay, not so much step by step. In fact not at all.

But it’s a cool record of the transformation. Oh and this project is a wee bit past the average DIYer.

Just a smidge…

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Raw Materials

Wow! Well after a longer than intended hiatus while I settled into my new job I’m back and hopefully more diligent about opining about DIY topics near and dear to my heart.

Anyway, I recently read this article in which a smart young man shows how he forged small knives from drill bits and it’s reminded me to discuss a subject I’ve wanted to talk about for a while.

When should we make things from raw and new materials versus re-purposing/recycling old materials?

I used to be somewhat involved in the knife making community and this question comes up in one form or the other all the time, usually asked by people just getting started. Often people would ask how to turn an old file or car leaf spring into a knife and when someone suggested a different steel source than scrap, a lot of new people would get quite huffy and defensive about the steel source they had their heart set on. Why would they do that?

Just because something designed and constructed by industry to fill a certain role does not mean it will translate well to a new role without a LOT of work. The steel they make files out of is generally plain carbon steel that is heat treated to be very very hard which is great for cutting other steels but generally a poor choice for a knife blade due to brittleness. Also, in order to effectively work with it, you will have to anneal the steel which involves heating and cooling it at a proscribed rate and every time you heat steel, you run the risk (especially when you’re learning) of burning the carbon out of the steel and thereby nullifying the very attributes for which you chose that material.

Sometimes it’s just smarter and easier to buy new raw materials. You can buy the same steels they make files, car leaf springs, ball bearings, and even razor blades out of brand new online. It will come fully annealed and ready to be formed into whatever you wanted. It’ll already be flat, have no hidden cracks from years of use/abuse (because it hasn’t been used), and you will know exactly what you are getting which means you can get the right heat treating data and turn out a better final product. If you want to make the best possible knife, sourcing virgin steel for the blade is smart.

My point is this: I’m a huge fan of re-purposing and upcycling things but let’s all be honest here, we often do those kinds of things because we want to and like the aesthetic and the process of creating, not because it’s a better final product.

And that’s totally okay too.

As I said above some folks would get kind of bent when another critiqued their choice of material in the knife making forums. However, I don’t think it’s because they’re ignorant or stubborn but rather they had already began to envision the process of turning that file or that leaf spring into something else and that process is what they were going to truly enjoy, rather than having the bestest most badass awesome knife ever created when they were done.

We often allow ourselves to believe that the final product is more important than the journey taken to create it but that isn’t true. I love the journey and the sense of pride I feel when I’m nearly done but once I’m done, I’m looking for the next project and journey.

I hope that all made sense…

Here’s my hero talking about the obsessive creative process.

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The Mario Bros. would approve of this table.

Here’s a pretty decent video on how to build a simple table using lumber and pipe. People are using pipe in a lot of DIY furniture products I think because it’s readily available at the big-box stores and is pretty easy to build with, yet still has the industrial look that is all the rage right now.

In my opinion the biggest downside of using threaded pipe from the stores is that you’re stuck with whatever dimensions and lengths they have on hand and if you’re trying to make something fit in a particular space, you may be out of luck if that space is an oddball dimension.

For example, what if you’re a young married couple who bought their first house that was built in the 1940’s and it had multiple additions done by someone who clearly had no idea what they were doing and not a damn thing in the house was square, level, or plumb and you spent more time trying to unf*ck what the previous owner did than you did making any actual improvements? And since nothing was square or level, what if any shelving you installed basically had to be custom fitted and some day you’re going to find the home inspector who was probably on the take and said the place was great and punch him square in the dick?

I mean “theoretically”.


Anyway, so what’s the solution? Use unthreaded pipe and socket weld fittings to build your project.

Here’s Jody from Welding Tips and Tricks building a chin up bar using unthreaded pipe and socket weld fittings. Though not quite as easy to use as threaded pipe, you have tons of flexibility and complete freedom to use whatever length of pipe you want. Also, these types of joints are incredibly strong. The only major downside is once it’s welded, it’s pretty much there forever so if you ever want to change it, it’s going to take some cutting.

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Unique gift ideas for the DIYer you don’t hate.

The holidays are, for many, either a time of peace and reflection or a stress inducing months long nightmare culminating in an orgy of greed. I know I sound cynical about the holidays but I’m really not, I just get frustrated when I see otherwise rational people lose their minds this time of year because they allowed themselves to be pressured into participating in the frantic consumerism.

And here’s some more stuff you can buy for people who like to make and do stuff!

  • Dial Calipers: a super useful tool that I opined about in the link and you can get a serviceable yet inexpensive set for under $25 at your local Harbor Freight Tools.
  • Lagesse LaSquare: a cool twist on a classic tool in that this one has a wide base that makes it way easier to use with pipe, etc. They have different models on their website and their 12″ model is under $40.
  • Rolling Wedge Bar: many people have never even heard of a rolling wedge bar but they are great tools to have around, especially if you’re a car geek. The prying side can be used for prying in tight spaces and the tapered pin end is wonderful when you’re trying to line up bolt holes, etc. You can find them for around $20 bucks for the Sears version or spend more on Snap-On, etc. You could also totally kill a zombie with one.
  • Carbide Scribe: available for less than $5, a carbide scribe is a cheap little tool that can scratch a precision mark on damn near anything and is a must have. That and a couple Sharpie markers and you’re set for stocking stuffers.
  • Bench Block: sometimes having a solid chunk of steel to hold stuff in place for you while you work on it is like having a second set of hands. Bench blocks comes in a variety of shapes and sizes for a huge range of applications and specialties. This one even has a V shaped groove for holding round stock and dowels and is under $25.
  • Trail Jack: my father in law gave me an old beat up trail jack that was covered in rust and I’ve probably used it more than any other tool in yard projects over the years. I have lifted and crushed concrete, lifted stumps, pulled concrete posts out of the ground, and even leveled a house. Basically, they’re the Incredible Hulk of bumper jacks and you can get one for less than $40.

That’s a start. Add your suggestions in the comments section!

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