As this month's challenge winds down, we look back at what we learned and point you to resources for continuing your DIY journey.
Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do 30 Days of GOOD (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for July? Do It Yourself.
It's just about the end of July, which means the 30 Days of GOOD: Do It Yourself challenge is about to come to a close. Hopefully you have become more comfortable using your tools, and feel good about getting creative with new craft and build techniques. Before we get to the last post in this series (coming tomorrow), let's take a peek back at what we've done so far, and look ahead to some places you can go from here.
First, we started the challenge with an overview of tools you'll need for general handiness. And now that we're near the end of the challenge, it's a good time to start thinking about how to augment those toolsets for specialized projects. Plan a trip to your local hardware store and spend and hour or so in the tool department. Browse through the tools and start getting a sense of which tools are used for specific jobs. Hammers, as basic as they are in utility, come in more styles than ice cream has flavors. Same goes with saws, pliers, and everything in the power tools section. Don't be afraid to ask questions. When I worked in a hardware store, I found the older employees were a wealth of knowledge. And they were happy to share it.
After running through some tool basics, we dug right in and got our hands dirty—from renovating old thrift store items, to making a compost bin, to fitting our spaces with hooks and hangers for easy-access storage. We fixed our bike tires and car headlights, and did some light plumbing in our bathrooms. We even learned how to sew a simple napkin.
Now for the next step in your journey: Start finding new projects to tackle, both around the home and for fun. Sites like Instructables and Wikihow have an endless list of things to make and fix. Both sites tend to be highly organized, listing the specific materials and tools needed, as well as the individual steps for DIYers to follow. They also have very active comment sections and forums, so any question you might have will likely get a quick answer. And both sites feature user-generated content, meaning you can upload your own handiwork to share with the world.
Lastly, don't let your learning stop now. Look for classes to help add additional skills and projects to your repertoire. Community colleges always offer a variety of affordable courses that range from simple crafts to hardcore skills like engine rebuilding. The Learning Annex periodically features speakers that focus on home improvement projects. Nearby museums also often have hands-on learning programs, and many cities have independent art spaces that feature classes (Machine Project in Los Angeles and The Crucible in Oakland are two great examples). And when you're in a crunch, consider calling a professional and asking if they'll tutor you on the basics for a day or two. That's how I learned how to weld.
I hope these daily DIY challenges have inspired you, and I look forward to hearing any updates, questions, or success stories you'd like to share. Send me notes here or via my site and keep me filled in. Just like learning a language, jumping in and participating is the best way to learn how to be handy. Now get busy!