Do You DIY?

After spending the majority of the weekend puttering around my working garden, I find myself wondering how many of you DIY whenever you can.

I have a theory that people who like hacking around with tech and starting numerous side projects in their free time also generally like doing meat-life projects themselves too.

DIY rules, until you cut off your fingers using the Pexto Jump Shear.

Long ago, I was bitten by the urge to do home improvement projects myself. Not just painting and beautification, but electrical, plumbing, tiling, stuff like that. Now that I have a yard and live in place where I can consistently grow just about anything outside (except citrus and avocados), I’ve started spending more time in my working and ornamental garden.

Aside from the sense of satisfaction when you successfully grow and harvest something, having a working garden saves quite a lot of money on stuff like herbs that supermarkets force you to buy in large quantities, e.g. a recipe calling for basil rarely uses the amount they sell in the store, causing waste.

Aside from the obvious cost savings of DIY, there’s an air of self-sufficiency that appeals to many people, especially those of us who tinker with tech.

I keep a list of projects that keeps getting longer, and each weekend, I review it and decide which (if any) I want to tackle. Some stuff may never get done, like the plumbing jobs, because the risk outweighs the rewards. One thing I learned pretty quickly about home improvement is that electrical is easier, at least for me, than plumbing. This is the opposite of what I expected.

Obviously, fear of the unknown and potential risk (and cost) keep people from dabbling with lots of DIY projects, but I ignored the itch to try new projects for too long. And I haven’t looked back, yet; another nice benefit to DIY is that experience helps you assess projects and problems, i.e. you can tell more quickly if a given project will require an expert or not.

My next area for dabbling will be cars, if I ever reach that comfort point of time and money that would allow it. Unfortunately, pursuing this hobby would further worsen an issue I didn’t expect with DIY–too many tools and nowhere to keep them. Or as my wife calls it, the stuff for your stuff problem. This is why places like TechShop are so very awesome.

Anyway, since most of you have the hacker spirit, I’m curious to know if it has spilled over into other projects in your DIY life.

Let us know in comments.




  1. Yes. always have.

    I rebuild cars, hot them up, paint them. I do my own carpentry, plastering, electrical and plumbing.

    The internet has been a great help with DIY, especially cars. The collective knowledge available is amazing. I've also noticed that DIY tools are getting cheaper by the year.

    I don't do gardening!!! You're welcome to come to my place and do some.

  2. I had a friend who would build wood furniture…nothing fancy mind you, usually a bunch of 2x4s slapped together with a slab on top. I'm still using a desk that he built 12 years ago.

    I enjoy building things, but seriously lack the patience for it. Measure twice and cut once? Bollocks. Just cut it.

    It's probably why I like tech so much, the only tangible thing lost is time.

    If I ever found someone that would take me in as an apprentice though, I'd be all over it.

  3. I love DIY: currently in the middle of a big project to finish off an extension – joinery, plumbing, electrics and plastering (but that needs more practice before I get it really smooth enough). The only problem is I don't have time for the garden!

  4. Good point about the intertubes helping w/DIY. It does yield a lot of tips that are helpful, along with crud, as with anything online.

    I'd be happy to handle a working garden, but it wouldn't save you money. I'm not cheap 🙂

  5. Yeah, measuring is kinda critical, not like testing code. I end up wasting a lot of material from borked measurements. I'm getting better though.

    Apprenticing is a great concept, one that translates into development too. I was thinking that would be a good way to start learning cars, since I don't have a spare one to break.

  6. Time is always the problem, isn't it. In my case, I got tired of mowing a crappy lawn and getting nothing in return. So now, I'm a wannabe farmer 🙂

    Good on ya for plumbing. I can never seem to get that right, but my plumber loves me.

  7. I'm also a closet gardener. This year's veggie garden was very successful. Aside from that, I'm into RC sail planes… although I haven't done that in a while.

  8. I managed to find time to plant Courgettes, Squash, Potatoes earlier in the year, but they are having to manage on their own at the moment. At least they are big enough to swamp the weeds.

  9. My wife is a certified master canner and has a big enough garden to can tomatoes, beans, peas, squash, strawberries, blueberries and eat plenty of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant through the summer and fall.

    I've done a lot of DIY electrical and plumbing work as well as built a shed, put in hardwood floors and replacing windows. What a difference new windows make. I had a friend show me how to do the first and then I did another nine. Don't pay $150 per window installation unless you don't have a ladder that reaches second story windows; if you can operate a drill and a level, you can install a window for free.

  10. If they can make w/o a lot of care from you, win. The only thing better than each food you grew is spending very little effort to grow it.

  11. Nice tip. Too bad I had my windows (22 in total) replaced a few years ago. Generally, I investigate DIY first, but the windows were a package deal that included the installation.

    Your wife's garden sounds awesome; I love eating home-cooked, home-grown food.

  12. Can I speak frankly ? I despise DIY and take no pleasure from it whatsoever.

    I feel like I have failed as a man and husband but I'd honestly rather pay a professional to do it and do it well rather than waste time trying to fix a washer or assemble a garden shed. Even if I succeed in a simple task, I don't really derive the same pleasure as I would from getting a computer program working.

    In the last (UK) economic downturn, a significant number of my mates did evening courses in 'Plumbing'. I thought they were mad. Completely mad.

    Or maybe I'm just weird. [ Now worries that every single socnet comment of mine ends this way ]

  13. No failure there, just different strokes. This discussion may have some overlap with the one we had about Amateurism vs. Art (…).

    My theory won't hold for every single person, but there does seem to be a correlation between hacking and DIY. Ten years ago, I was like you, but over that last decade, I've gradually converted myself into a DIY freak. The danger is expecting I can do pretty much anything, which has blown up in my face (literally) a few times. It's good to know your limitations.

    You're not weird, at least not b/c of this comment 🙂

  14. I've been experimenting with seeds lately ( I just ordered some broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, peas, and garlic. This summer we grew about 5 different varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, radish, chard, beets, beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, onions, cucumber, and a few other things. It was a pretty good Summer… great dirt helped.

  15. I have a few packets of those (cilantro, basil) set to go for next year. I tend to buy local seeds though, assuming that they have been grown in soil like mine.

    You grew a lot of stuff, impressive. I'm waiting on my Fall seeds: radishes, cilantro, parsley, romaine lettuce, carrots, spinach, and broccoli. Hoping to save the basil and sage I grew this Summer. Next Spring will be a big one.

  16. Andy,
    You're not alone; I could've written your second paragraph word-for-word. Whenever I'm in a situation where DIY is required, I'm reminded that my 10 thumbs best suited for typing. 😉

    Time changes things, though, so maybe messing around at the keyboard will eventually translate to real-life tinkering. Feels like all that is missing is time.

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