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The 7 Key Categories of DIY

Do it yourself is making a big comeback, and you can learn pretty much everything you need to know online. But in the endless parade of weirdy-beardy, nettle wine-brewing sites out there, where do you even start? Right here, son. Right here…

60% of middle-aged nails experience this problem in later life.

We grew up in a world of wusses, so unless we had an awesome relative (or watched A-Team montages really closely), our first chance to learn about spot-welding, soldering, sawing, or sautéing was at an adult age. Nowadays, a corporation farms our food, a robot butchers our meat, and a Vietnamese orphan glues our shoes together with a mordant made of tears. We’ve never churned butter, brewed beer, or fashioned a clockwork man to be our dearest steam punk companion. Yes, modern man is a helpless, undereducated serf, fit only to crank out term papers with titles like “Parasites & Grenades: Objectivism in The Jersey Shore”.

Well, no more! Reinstall your spine and roll up your bootstraps, junior, because you live in the age of the internet. People with common interests are sharing information, and joining forces to practice their interests in the real world. By the time you get done reading this, your handlebar mustache will no longer be ironic, and the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt will slap your back on his way to slaughter the ghosts of Spanish soldiers. To the DIY-mobile! Below, a few of our favorite DIY links in seven key categories.

We believe in recycling, but have no idea how to repair a blender. Thankfully, some people are rescuing old electrical devices, repairing them, and guaranteeing them for the next couple of decades. Meet your teacher: Uncle Harry. He’ll tell you how to fix appliances so fast that 100 years ago, Thomas Edison burns his fingers. Get his platinum course, and you gain total mental control over electrons. At any level, the consumer's thrill of buying new, yields to the superior satisfaction of personal achievement.

And he’s not the only one. Over at Lifehacker, an entire culture spots ways to turn ping pong balls into mood lighting and twist ties into a girlfriend. If you give them thumbtacks and a key no one can identify the lock to, they’ll use it to sink the Spanish Navy. It’s like making soup but with whatever’s in the junk drawer instead of the crisper (or in the case of the Maxim office, the trashcan. What, you’re too good to eat garbage soup? Well, ain’t you fancy!).

Whether you’re looking to save money, get some exercise, live green, or just be an insufferable hazard to everyone on the road (including yourself), you can’t beat a bicycle. Let’s be clear that Maxim is 100% pro-bicycle, and only about 70% anti-cyclist. The remaining 30% of the time is people who know what they’re doing, swell dames with their hair flying behind them, and old-timey bikes that sure are sweet to look at. That purty thirty is where BikeHacks come in. You can't build a car from scratch without serious investment, but anybody with a spare room and a toolbox can build a bike out of nothing. Seriously, we once saw a kid riding a bicycle made from duct-taped pennies and hard-packed snow. And you can’t prove otherwise.

What’s more satisfying: a cold beer at the end of a long day, or knowing that you brought forth that beer from the mere building blocks of life? We’re going to have to go through a lot of beers before we’re sure. Either way, you’ll feel like a god when you take a class at the Philly Beer School. For $40 you will be given the secrets to the universe, which even if you don’t want them, is about the same cost as a Saturday night out. Alternatively – learn to make beer by yourself at home (Maxim takes no responsibility for any completely unrelated poisonings in your area).

“Replace your kids with me! I’ll love you and brew your beer. And then kill you.”

Man needs three best friends: a reliable counterpart, a decent-sized dog, and a sassy robot. But for so long have we been denied this last one (and, in all honesty, the first two)! You can cry about it, or you can do what your Paleolithic ancestors did when they realized dogs didn’t exist: get down with the DIY and build one. Brooklyn-based NYC Resistor bills itself as “The hottest hacker space in the Tri-State area,” and in addition to its pro-robo work, picks locks, whittles with lasers, and yes, brews its own beer.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like pickles, and dead folks. A man doesn’t waste: He packs light, he keeps his motor clean, and he makes sure the peaches get eaten. If that means boiling some glass jars and filling them with sugar and salt to enjoy them at a later date, so be it. This land of plenty thing’s only going to last another year, you know. It was foretold in The Road. You’re going to want Culver City’s Chicks with Knives on your side, and luckily enough, that’s who teaches the lost art of sweet & sour shallots. Mmm… sweet. Mmmmmm… sour.

You can take a class taught by master butchers in New York’s Lower East Side, although how you intend to procure, slaughter and dismember a pig in a kitchen the size of a baby’s crib is another question. Fourth-generation butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter will put beer in your hand well before noon, then hand you a knife while he explains the methodology and history of his trade. Plus you get to take home bloody good bloody goods. And any website with animated gory cleavers is okay by us.

If you just want to educate yourself on what part of the animal you’re eating, then this handy guide will give you the basics, although it’s probably best not to start trying to chop your own Short Loin without a little training (and definitely not with a chicken). Still, learning butchery is all very well, but where to procure a large mammal? Oh, read on, friend…

You can find a knitting circle in any major city by following the strains of indie rock on the summer breeze. But leather is like cotton for men, and the number of stores that will sell you a raw patch of preserved hide is small compared to the pervasive demon fabric yarn. Good thing the badasses at the Maine Primitive Skills School will show you how to tan a hide like you caught it stealing from your wallet. Should you find yourself with a deer carcass but no knife (presumably because you got hungry, ate the knife, and killed the deer by spitting a plug of tobacco at it), they’ll teach you to use an animal’s own body to kill its family, carve out some bone needles and stretch sinew thread. Now that’s DIY we can get behind! Of course, you don’t haul off and kill an animal and then leave half of it there: that’s insulting to its death. You might have gone out for venison, but you’re coming back with a sweet set of antler buttons, friend-o!