Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World is by Mark Frauenfelder, founder of Boing Boing and Editor and Chief of Make. I was made aware of this book since it was on my brother’s birthday wishlist as a book he wanted. However, since I didn’t know what the book was going to be about, I got him something else (he’ll just have to wait for his birthday to see what I got him) and went to a Barnes and Nobles to see if they had the book in stock. They did and I read the first chapter and became hooked. I read it cover to cover in under a day.
Mark Frauenfelder describes his decent into DIYism after believing living in the L.A. area was causing issues and wanting to escape to an idyllic island with his family and remove themselves from the hustle, bustle, and chaos of the big city. The island ended up being less than idyllic and they found themselves moving back to the states after only four and a half months; which ended up being for the better since upon arriving he was offered the job as editor and chief of Make magazine. Getting to learn about the people writing articles for Make made him jump into the DIY realm and Made by Hand follows his (mis)adventures.
The chapters follow his many DIY projects from gardening to raising chickens to tutoring his children in math. In each of these stories he fesses up to things where he felt he screwed up and is completely honest about how he would do it differently next time. For instance, he describes how as he began working with wood more often, it because easier for him to figure out how to make things from wood and how to choose and handle the various tools that he needed to build or repair for the given task. Some of the things he does, I don’t think I would do: such as raising chickens or keeping bees but its still great to read it and see what his thoughts were and how people around him reacted to his situations.
The biggest messages I got from the book were “Don’t be afraid to screw up” and “only visit Home Depot once a day.” If you’ve ever wanted to make something, read up on how to do it, go buy the necessary equipment and go to it. You’re going to screw up. It’s life, but you learn and next time you do it, it’ll be better because you’ve grown. If you’ve ever wanted to do something yourself and haven’t had the courage; read this book and read it from the perspective of a guy who went from doing very little DIY to becoming a very competent DIYer in a short amount of time.