My next book: A hands-on guide to the handmade revolution

I just handed in the final chapter of my next book, called “Handmade: A Hands-On Guide,” and I wanted to give you all a taste. While my first book, “Build Stuff with Wood,” is all about…wood, this one blows open the doors to a dozen other ways of making things. There is a new handcrafted revolution happening, and it’s breaking down the old boundaries with an explosion of pure creative joy.

A brief history is in order. When the digital era first arrived a few decades ago—with video games and cable TV at first, then the Internet, social media, YouTube, Netflix, and so on—it dealt a crushing blow to the hands-on life. All you had to do was look around your neighborhood to see fewer people working on their homes and gardens, fixing things for themselves, and doing crafts like woodworking.

But the urge to make things by hand is an ancient one, and refuses to die. As best we can tell, homo sapiens walked upright onto the world stage 200-300,000 years ago, with a genetic lineage that extended millions of years before that. That makes modern society a mere instant in human history. We evolved—body and mind—to resist the brutal forces of nature, by hunting, gathering, making and using tools, and mastering all of the materials we could get our hands on. Our survival depended on it.

I argue that much of what makes us truly happy contains echoes of that evolutionary history: love, laughter, cooperation, outdoor living, being self-sufficient, and making things with our hands. For many of us, digital natives or not, these essential experiences are more deeply satisfying than pressing buttons and swiping screens.

Building things unites your body and mind in a single task, forcing you to focus on the moment, slowing your chattering monkey brain to a more methodical, peaceful pace. You were naturally selected to love it.

Power.of.the.Net
Like any tool the Internet can be used for good, bad, and everything in between. The whole time it was rendering us helpless, it was also feeding a rebellion. Inspired by the hacker movement and empowered by the Web, a new generation of makers began using digital tools like 3-D printers, laser cutters, microcontrollers, and circuit boards to build things on their own, outside the reach of corporations. Soon they were mashing up their projects with wood, metal, and other building supplies, and a rediscovery of traditional crafts soon followed.

Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 6.24.09 PM
It’s a Golden Age for makers of all stripes. Dozens of YouTube channels, blogs, and sites like Instructables.com will teach you how to DIY almost anything.
IMG_3693
Makerspaces are popping up in urban centers around the world, answering a new generation’s need for equipment, education, community, and a place to work. This is ADX in Portland, Oregon.
IMG_9692
Facilities like The Build Shop in Los Angeles offer affordable rental time on 3-D printers, laser engravers, and more, with expert help available.
IMG_3493
There are community workplaces of all kinds scattered around the country, like San Francisco Community Woodshop, which offers education and excellent equipment.

 

While, admittedly, most modern citizens are still heading toward those floating recliners at the end of WALL-E (a must-see movie for readers of this blog), there are unmistakable signs of life. Etsy has exploded with artisanal goods. Makerspaces and community workshops are popping up all over. School systems are learning that STEM doesn’t stick as well without hands-on experience, and shop classes are making a comeback under hip new titles like “Engineering.”

Whether they call themselves makers, woodworkers, leather crafters, inventors, hackers, or just people having fun, there is a common thread: the desire to build something rather than buy it.

This new maker movement is way more about creativity than perfection, about using whatever, tools, skills, and supplies you have to make something cool. And the old boundaries just don’t matter. Want to mash up micro-controllers with wood and metal parts, do it.  Want to dive deeply into a traditional craft, that’s great too.

“Handmade,” coming out in fall 2018, is for everyone on the outside looking in, enticing them with a wide range of projects anyone can do with simple tools and supplies. Better yet, you’ll be making practical items that will become part of your life. Here is just a small taste.

IMG_0991
Ezra Cimino-Hurt builds boom boxes into vintage suitcases, with high-end components that put real soul back into your mp3s.
IMG_0234
Jed White made this steam-punk lamp with copper pipe, an Edison bulb, and a few simple electrical supplies.
IMG_1131
Geoff Franklin shows how easy leatherwork can be with elegantly simple items like this tabletop valet.
IMG_3371
Mike Warren, of Instructables.com, made this tabletop fireplace with concrete and plumbing pipe, and a super-simple casting method.
06
Mike’s fellow full-timer at Instructables, Jonathan Odom, designed and built a cardboard chair that is amazingly sturdy and comfy!
IMG_5385
This outdoor table, with 2×4 base and concrete top, is the brainchild of Brad Rodriguez of FixThisBuildThat.com.
IMG_6214
And Rob Leifheit made this awesome LED sign with an IKEA frame, a laser-cut mask, a few LED strips and a $10 LED controller that makes the colors dance.
Advertisements

5 thoughts on “My next book: A hands-on guide to the handmade revolution

  1. Hi Asa
    Old English saying, what goes around comes around, and luckily for me that is so true. Some 60 years ago I was lucky enough to be learning woodwork at school. I remember my first project, it was a table lamp. Even back then in the 1950’s we were recycling, the oak I used for that lamp came from an old school desk. Then at 15 years of age woodworking ceased replaced by Latin and French. The shame is my career, even my life, may have been different if I had carried on woodworking, who knows.
    Move forward 7 or so years and by then I was a radar engineer in the Royal Air Force. At my last unit, before I got married, we had a hobbies room with a lathe. Great but nobody could show me how to use it, I had to wait nearly 35 years before I had another go.
    What skills do you need in married life when money is tight, yes woodworking, and so I bought a DeWalt Radial Arm Saw and started in making a lounge divider unit from white melamine coated particle board. That started my DIY bug and it has lasted the test of time. I ran my own computer business and went looking for a table saw and that ultimately lead me to into selling Australian & American woodworking tools for the last twenty years.
    So now that I have the right equipment and time for turning I find I am looking both to the past and the present for ideas and materials.
    When will your book publish and who is the publisher? I look forward to it being available because I find that often when I read a book that I am will also research the subject matter, at the same time, on the internet. It is fascinating and obviously, when you see a video on there it can also work in reverse. You find books on the subject. In the UK our local libraries are excellent and staffed by people who love books and to help people find what they are after.
    Regards
    Roger

    Like

    1. So good to hear from you, Roger!
      DIY is so fulfilling–I’m trying to spread the good news. The new book comes out in fall of this year. You might also want to check out my recent woodworking book. Here’s a link: https://www.amazon.com/Build-Stuff-Wood-Awesome-Projects/dp/1631867113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502129319&sr=8-1&keywords=build+stuff+with+wood
      Lots in there for woodworkers of all skill levels, but especially about doing more with less. Tool advice, piles of projects, etc. Stay in touch.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s