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We try not to post too much snark here on Toolmonger, as that’s not really our style. But sometimes you just can’t help it. I caught this unremarkable BBQ grill over on Uncrate recently, and I almost dropped a brick in my shop chair: It’s probably the single best representation I’ve seen of the “manly men” craze and just how much some people will pay to pretend to be the kind of people most Toolmongers naturally are.

Let me explain.

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TM reader Jeremy dropped us a line and tipped us off to something that’s been eating my time ever since: a site containing scans of hundreds of old pieces of industrial equipment ranging from machine tools to steam and gas engines, and even advertisements for many of them.

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It’s that time again, where those of us who get to (sometimes) take weekends off are looking for a little piece of inspiration — something to help us transition from work to play, often using exactly the same tools. This video comes from the PROFESSIONal series, which I wrote about back in October, but this vid tells the story of Eric Karakawa, a nice guy who built his own surfboard because he couldn’t afford to buy one. Over time he discovered that he loves building them so much that he dropped out of school to build boards for others.

Like the other PROFESSIONal films, this one touches on lots of concepts familiar to Toolmongers, from receiving a helping hand which one later returns to transferring the love of building into a final product. But most of all it shows what it’s like to turn one’s passion into a living without that passion turning into a job. I need more lessons like that.

PROFESSIONal: Eric Arakawa, Surfboard Shaper [Vimeo]


We wrote about specific lending libraries back in 2008 and 2009 here on Toolmonger, but guess what? Wikipedia now hosts a listing of scores of ’em in 20 different U.S. states. It seems the idea of lending and borrowing tools caught on. Wikipedia even links to a post by our friends over at Pop Mechanics who listed “building a local tool library” as one of their 10 ways to change the world.

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Here’s your lunchtime (or post-work-with-a-scotch-in-hand) entertainment for today: a kick-ass 10-minute flick that tells the story of Joel Bukiewicz, a guy with an MFA in creative writing who turned to “making stuff” after facing difficulties selling his first manuscript — and ended up as a successful professional knifemaker. Like previous videos we’ve linked here on TM, I’m sure lots of you will identify with this guy’s experiences.

This video is part of a series by Keeth Ehrich titled “Made by Hand,” in which he focuses on “objects that surround the space we dwell in” and how they “tell stories … not just about us.” Asking questions about these objects like “who made them?” and “how are they made?”, he exposes a hidden side of life.

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TM reader Essie forwarded this ~10 minute video to me, and it made my day. As HD video equipment gets cheaper and cheaper, we’re seeing a total glut of video content that’s pretty much the same as print content. Then, every now and then, you get something like this — the story of a guy (like a lot of guys) that I think a lot of Toolmongers will recognize.

If you’ve got 10 minutes, give it a watch. If you’ve ever made your living with your hands — or been related (blood or otherwise) to someone who does — I’ll be really surprised if it doesn’t stir a little something in you.

PROFESSIONal [Vimeo, via]


The housing market sucks. Really. The days of buying a house “as an investment” are pretty much over, though owning a house still offers some pretty big perks, from allowing you to pick your own appliances to leaving you free to blast Robyn at ear-bleed volume at 2 a.m. But I’ve heard some pretty strange conversations at the local big box lately. Those same folks who bought $500,000 houses on sub-$100,000 salaries a few years ago, you know, for “an investment?” They’re into remodeling now. And you should hear the cockamamie reasons they’ve dreamed up to buy more things they can’t afford.

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Money seems tight everywhere these days, but that doesn’t mean Murphy’s Law has taken a vacation. On any given day the car brakes might start squeaking and need new pads, the water heater could stop working, the check engine light could come on, or the lawn mower could quit. No one’s an expert on everything, but with a simple online search a Toolmonger can locate how-to websites or videos. There’s also Smartflix, a DVD rental Netflix service for the “How-to”er that Chuck wrote about a few years ago. I’ve found a number of these videos, websites, and forums incredibly useful in the last couple of years and can’t think of a better way to help get the job done on my own.

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A  reader turned us on to these cool vise bookends found via the re-purposing site CoolMaterial.com. But we’re pretty sure no Toolmonger would shell out $70 for ’em. That said, we bet you’ve got some similar out-of-use tools lying around the shop — we do — that would do the job just fine.

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I came across an old thread on the Contractor Talk forum where a member asked an interesting question: “Have you ever walked into a pawn shop looking for tools… and saw some of your own tools that had been stolen?” The answers are what you’d expect. In some cases, yes; others had found their stolen tools at the pawn shop. Many even bought their own tools to recover them.

Some of you might be thinking “What jackass would BUY tools that are legally yours?” And if some of the other forum posts are to be believed, some states now allow you to recover stolen goods from pawn shops in a pretty easy fashion. But I have to admit that this didn’t faze me at all. I can totally see buying back your own tools.

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