I love to learn how things work, to make new things, and to fix rather than replace. Figuring out some new skill for a project is such a great way to enjoy life! Every time I can find an excuse to put something together, I take it. It isn't always pretty, but it is always fun. Even as a kid I would take things apart to see how they worked, which is why I chose to be an engineer. As much as I love science and math, the application of those techniques is where it is at.
I am happy to see that the Maker Movement has been gaining steam. Even though shop classes are getting canceled all over the state, now there are at least Make inspired school activities. One of the larger such events at my kids' school is The Cardboard Arcade inspired by Caine's Arcade. My kids had so much fun they even built their own here at home, more than once!
Mostly I just tinker around, and don't have a huge list of impressive projects, but I plan on eventually posting some of my better projects up at Maker Share. Until then, here is a bit about a couple of my favorites.
So far the project I am most proud of is a tree stump prop I built for my daughter's competition dance solo for 2016/2017. A perfect combination of woodworking and art. It had to be strong because my daughter would be jumping on and off of it, but light enough that my wife could easily handle it at events. Plus, it had to look great! I got the skeleton together fairly quickly so that she could practice it with it. I used 3/4 inch plywood for strength, and then cut out large sections of the interior panels to help reduce weight. Then I went through many trials with cardboard, Great Stuff, and wood-glue-soaked-paper-towel trying to get the texture right. I finally finished it up over Christmas break in time for competition season.
During competitions, the prop worked out perfectly. There were lots of compliments from other parents and dance studios, a judge even called it out! At one competition a mom tried her best to get my wife to sell it so she could put it in her daughter's room 😄. As proud as I was of the prop I made, it still just served as a backdrop to my girl's fantastic dancing!
Along with making new things I strive to "Do It Yourself" whenever possible. Wall repair, plumbing, car maintenance, and whatever else comes along. I like it the best when I get to learn some new skill that I've never done before. It probably takes longer, and in some cases it might not be as perfect as a professional. However, I always enjoy it and it still gets done. Though there are a few exceptions. I don't change my own oil since it is a messy, boring chore that also doesn't save much money. Also recently I had my garage door spring changed out (mostly because the guy had the spring in stock on his truck that day).
Owning a home certainly provides plenty of opportunity to scratch my DIY itch and sometimes mini-disasters turn into opportunities. One day I wasn't paying enough attention and my Weed Eater threw a rock into the glass of my back door! It was immediately cracked all over, and I could literally hear it cracking more as I inspected it. So I quickly taped up some plastic to contain any falling glass shards and headed to Lowe's where we picked up one of those nifty doors with the blinds embedded in-between the panes of glass. Certainly much nicer than what we had (even before the cracked glass). We even managed to get the door in the back of our Toyota Highlander. A few YouTube videos later and I was ripping out trim and the old door, and putting the new one in place. It certainly was not what I had in mind for that weekend, but now there are no more dogs messing up the blinds, and I could add another notch to my DIY belt.