As you might have seen on my Patreon lately, I recently got a couple of new additions for the workshop: the Eastwood mini lathe and mini mill. (So far, so fun.)

I’m working on a couple of “newbie versus” videos for them, similar to my MIG welder series. Those videos aren’t ready yet, so instead I wanted to share a quick tip about machining, and really any kind of DIY project where your hands might get dirty.

This is something I learned back when i first started working at a machine shop about 15 years ago. I forgot all about this until i started using this lathe. That’s because it seems like just about everything on a machine like this is covered in oil or grease. …


So I’ve had this giant log in my garage since 2014.

The goal was to use it as a base for an anvil for blacksmithing. At the time, I wanted to learn smithing to open up some capabilities in the workshop, like making tools and heavier-duty metal hardware. Think chisels, not swords.

But first, I needed an anvil. Lucky for me, I knew a guy who was really into trains: My friend’s Dad, Pat. A chunk of old railroad track can work as an anvil in a pinch, though it’s not as easy to find as it used to be. Not for Pat, though! …


There might be some beautiful wood hiding there.

I spent the first five years of living in my current house with a gremlin on my shoulder. In this case, that gremlin was our deck. It was wobbly, weathered, and covered with deck mold. I was advised that it was too far gone, that it had to go.

I knew the “smart” thing to do was to just replace the deck. The cost to repair it and the work involved would surely “not be worth it,” and a complete replacement is doable by handyfolk, as demonstrated in this great deck-building series by Sarah at Ugly Duckling DIY.

But geeze. That was a lot of wood to throw in a landfill. And some wood removed from the deck in a separate project seemed to be perfectly fine when used in my deckwood dump cart. There just had to be a way to save this thing, I thought to myself. …


A project like this is more about the adventure than the final destination. Don’t forget that when you’re covered in blood and rust at 1 a.m. and need to work in the morning.

And so we again return to Project Old Grey, a journey to fix up my dad’s old 2002 Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

Last time, I started working on fixing the grinding rear brakes and nonfunctional parking brake. I took everything apart so I could get to the parking brake components underneath. Rust complicated things greatly, completely dissolving one piece and making it virtually impossible to replace another. …


In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” Robert Pirsig writes about the effect that one stuck screw can have on a mechanic’s psyche:

It’s normal at this point for the fear-anger syndrome to take over and make you want to hammer on that side plate with a chisel, to pound it off with a sledge if necessary. You think about it, and the more you think about it the more you’re inclined to take the whole machine to a high bridge and drop it off. It’s just outrageous that a tiny little slot of a screw can defeat you so totally. …

Right now this screw is worth exactly the selling price of the whole motorcycle, because the motorcycle is actually valueless until you get the screw out. …


In this video, I race against time to make two stands for a wedding: One to hold an outdoor arbor in an indoor venue, the other using handy conduit connectors to hold a hanging neon sign.

The arbor holder literally could have been a 2x4 with holes in it, but it was fun combining shapes to make this fancier version instead.

The sign stand, meanwhile, looks simple, and it is. It uses cheap 3/4" electrical conduit, simple Maker Pipe conduit connectors, and easy Montana Gold spray paint. …


After a lifetime of waiting, Andy has scored his first pickup truck — and, big surprise, it needs some work.

Ever since I have known about trucks, I have wanted a truck. That includes the little toddler version of myself who first laid eyes on his dad’s farm truck at the time, forever hoping, upgraded truck after upgraded truck, that maybe this would be the one he’d drive someday.

Well, finally, that day has come! Through a stroke of bad luck for my pops, I now own his latest old truck, a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4x4 with a 5.3 V8 and about 180,000 miles on the odometer.

It is rusty. It has bad brakes and a bunch of other issues. But it is awesome, and it’s going to be a blast to fix it up. (Note from Andy of the future: You think so, do you?) Inspired by David Tracy of Jalopnik, here’s a look at everything wrong with “Old Grey,” as my dad dubbed it, and what’s ahead for my very-excited-to-be-a-junky-old-truck-owner self. …


Do you really need to spend thousands of dollars on a computer-controlled plasma-cutting table to make intricate cuts in incredibly hard steel?

Well, if you’re in a hurry, then yeah, you should probably buy one of those tables (or find someone else who already has one).

But if you’ve got some time, such as, let’s say, a year or so, then good news: Such metalwork is totally doable on your own with simple tools.

For proof, consider this: A copy of Jimmy DiResta’s portable bandsaw stand, which I made primarily with a jigsaw.

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DiResta is a prolific maker and artist who has found quite a following on YouTube. He revealed his portable bandsaw stand back in April 2017. It’s clearly designed to be built with a CNC plasma cutter, which is a computer-controlled tool that precisely melts steel and then blows it away with compressed air. …


Warning: This post is about preventing one of the worst accidents a parent could imagine.

It’s a sunny Saturday morning. You have lots to do. Mowing the lawn is first on the list. If you’re fast enough, maybe you can beat the coming rain, get the grass cut and move on to your other to-dos. Lucky for you, your significant other volunteered to take the kids grocery shopping so you can focus on the task at hand.

Because you’re in such a hurry, you have deactivated your riding lawnmower’s backup-safety mode. Normally, the blades stop spinning when you go in reverse. But by disabling that feature, you can mow faster, since you don’t have to stop and start the blades all the time when mowing around obstacles like trees or making tight turns. …


Welcome again to Project 600, where we see how long it takes to fix or make enough stuff to cover the $600 price tag for my Eastwood MIG welder and the gas to run it.

Previously, I saved $25 by mending a broken shovel. In this episode, I’m going to try to fix a couple of broken metal fence posts. …

About

Andrew Reuter

DIYer, Project Lab. Web-editor-type, Lee Enterprises. Dad/husband. @djnf, @theexponentnews, @uwplatteville alum. Seeking best obtainable version of the truth.

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