Starting off Right: A Message to All DIYers

The only redeeming quality of a day whose temperature-high was in the negative numbers, is that it forced me to stay inside where it’s slightly less frigid and work on some of the updates I started making to this sight back when I was strung out on cold medicine.

Well, we might as well start 2010 off right.

Side Note: Incidentally, has anyone figured out how in the hell we’re going to refer to this year? More than once I’ve referred to it as oh-ten. Two-thousand-and-ten has too many syllables, and just plain ten is confusing. Ten what? Ten o’clock. Tenth of the month? October? This illustrates one of the problems of getting all of your news through RSS feeds… you don’t actually hear anyone say anything out loud and I’m sure the news people have figured out this mystery of the universe already.

Back to the matter at hand, however. There have been considerable updates already, which you can browse around the site to see, but most notably the addition of a Do It Yourself section with what I hope are useful resources, along with some other fun things under the Spare Parts tab.

The site has also been optimized for mobile users as well, so what you see on your phone will be streamlined and won’t take fifteen hours to load. (If you like viewing the full site better via phone, there’s an option to turn off mobile mode at the bottom of your screen.)

As I was putting together the content for the DIY page, I found myself writing about a topic I preach about here as often as I can, and I thought it was an important message to share, especially as we start off the New Year with all our shiny new resolutions.

This content is reposted from the Do It Yourself page, and has links to some of the new DIY content which you can reach by clicking through them, or by using the tabs at the top of the page. So without further ado, here is my message to all DIYers, and wannabe DIYers, for 2010.

06_brass_malletDo It Yourself

A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, and building a picnic table, a picture frame, or a whole dang house starts with picking up a hammer.

Actually, this is a lie. It starts with Google, and the search terms “How do I…

At least, that’s how it works for me. I was talking to an acquaintance not to long ago about a simple bench I built, and he asked me, “How did you learn how to do that?” And then I blinked at him thirty times. I mean, how does anyone learn how to do anything? You give it a try, make some mistakes, figure out what works, and then apply what you learned to something bigger and more complicated. And you Google things. A lot.

Now, I don’t think that every man, woman, and child should have to pick up a drill and build their own bookshelves if they don’t want to. Most days I’d rather get a splinter under my fingernail than do the dishes so, hey, to each her own. The fight I fight through this website is for those people who want to do something but don’t know how, or maybe don’t even know they want to do something because they’re too overwhelmed by the Can’t. Sometimes, it’s other people in our lives who tell us we can’t do things, but more often than not that little voice comes from ourselves.

So let me just clear that up right this second. Yes. You. Can.

I’m not saying anything about quick, or easy, or that if you just try something once you’re going to do it right the first time. But I do think we’re all capable of doing really awesome things, if only we take that first step. And of course, if it comes to advice or encouragement, or you just need someone to give you a good boot in the ass, I’m here to help. Feel free to send me an email, or leave a comment, because there are a ton of people who visit the site and are always up for giving some good advice.

To get you started, here are my Top 3 Bits of “How Do I Do That” Advice:

1.) Google. I wasn’t kidding about that. You can also check out the Projects, Plans & How To page for a list of projects on this site, or check out the list of DIY Resources I’ve put together. There are always twenty different ways to accomplish the same task, so look at what people do the same, or what they do differently. Check out the tools they use, the materials, and how long it takes. If it seems overwhelming, see number 2.

2.) Start small. DIY is 40% sweat and 60% confidence. And some days it’s 4% alcohol by volume. (Um, hi Dad. Just kidding, everyone. Don’t drink and DIY.) If you want to build a deck, awesome. Maybe start with a simple bench, to get use to using measuring lumber or using a saw and drill. You’ll learn some things, get more comfortable with the tools, and then building a deck might not seem like such a big deal.

3.) Use the right tools. Don’t let the ones with power-cords scare you. You can build a wall with a hand saw and hammer, but it’s going to take a long time and be a lot harder. And for you ladies, the hardest thing is finding powerful tools (the pink ones usual aren’t) that fit our smaller hands. Check out My Toolbox for recommendations and information all the tools in my shop, and a list of those that are perfect for us little’uns.

And hey, when you kick that project’s ass, come back here and tell me about it. There’s nothing I love more than a DIY happy ending.

7 Responses

  1. I would say 20-10 (Tewnty-ten) I think is sounds the best. FYI – your page is still one of the slowest to load for me through But I love your writing style and admire your hoo-has on what you are able to do.

  2. Cheers to THAT! So encouraging and truthful! And I totally agree about finding the right tools. Home Depot and OSH always piss me off with their teeny tiny hammer with flowers and crap all over it. I WANT A REAL TOOL. Just because I’m smaller doesn’t mean I like pink and flowers god damnit.

    Here’s to 2010 (and I really did lol when you said “oh-ten” because I have already done the same thing)

  3. Meryl – One day we should have a pink-tool burning party! Not that you can burn a hammer, but symbolically, at least.

    Monique- Thanks for letting me know about the slowness… I thought it had to do with the computer I was running on, but actually one of my plugins was creating problem. I hope it’s considerably faster for you now! Also thanks for the encouragement!

  4. I fully approve of the DIY attitude. If anyone needs more in the confidence category, volunteering with your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate is a great way to build (hah!) some confidence. They’ll teach you what you need to know for whatever tasks you’re working on, and you can take those skills and the added confidence home with you.

  5. Aahcoffee – Still? I thought I had it down to a reasonable 3-4 seconds (it was like 30- yikes!). Also, I’ve noticed you haven’t updated your site lately… just sayin’.

  6. Year ten. And their aren’t enough people to get confused and think 1910, and if there perchance are, well we already know they’re easily confused anyway.

    Good post. You must have been told “can’t” a lot when you were younger.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.