Scott McIndoe, aka makendo, has an amazing collection of instructables! His tree house, loft beds, Lego building table and Rubix cube drawers have been a huge hit with parents and kids alike. He's also been wildly successful in contests here, and it's easy to see why - his instructables are always well documented and he's always available to help in the comments! I got to ask him a few questions about his instructables and what he's up to now - I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see his new projects. :D
How did you discover the site and what inspired you to start posting projects?
A site with bizarre, eclectic and sometimes amazing projects kept turning up in my meanderings through the web. I figured it would be a good home for my work, having made things both wacky and (on occasion) useful. And sure enough, people have read about - and enthusiastically commented on - just about everything I've posted, even my illuminated wizard's staff made from a giant cabbage, a flashlight and a Christmas ornament.
Everything you've published has been amazingly documented. How long does it take you to take you to complete an instructable on average?
Like the projects themselves, I write the instructions in snatches of time here and there. A recent one of pretty typical complexity was bacon and egg icecream - we made the dessert one weekend and I wrote it up over the next week in half an hour bursts. My first is still one of the longest I've done and I probably spent more time writing the instructable than I did building the treehouse! I've gotten a lot faster since, probably because I've settled on a particular style.
Of all the projects that you have posted, which is your favorite?
I usually only make one of every project so, as prototypes, I'm pretty happy with all of them. The Catan board vastly exceeded my expectations. I still like the loft beds I made better than any commercial ones. The drinks were as photogenic as they were alcoholic. However, the Rubik's cube dresser was good fun to make, won a contest and the feedback online and from people who've seen it in person has been fantastic, so I think it gets top billing. It isn't perfect though - I'm going to improve on the design this summer and cover my costs by selling a few.
On the other hand - do you have any projects you weren't happy with that will never show up on the site?
I've documented a couple of different builds of play swords - each was supposed to be light, strong, and reasonably safe. My sons destroyed all of them in less time than it took me to build them, so they all failed to make the cut. I think I will have to compromise with a design that is heavy, strong, and capable of breaking an arm...
If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?
Do your project justice by taking good photos. For me, with no special skills and a 10 year old compact camera with less MP than an average mobile phone, that means snapping lots of photos and culling them brutally. I'm mildly obsessive about the main photo, and I always try to find an interesting angle from which to shoot it.
You have been super successful when it comes to contests - any words of wisdom for someone looking to enter a contest and win?
I think I've been lucky in that the projects of a science geek dad find a sympathetic audience here. The competition is getting increasingly tough, though - for the big contests especially you'll be up against professional designers and engineers with access to an amazing array of tools & equipment, and the quality of execution, documentation and photo(video)graphy is frequently way beyond me. Fortunately, the community also appreciates accessible projects, so we all still have a chance. Take good photos, write instructions that are clear and brief and that make the project easy to reproduce, and show it in action. If it's in the least bit dynamic, include a video. But the best tip I can probably give is this: go make something awesome, regardless of what is happening on the site right now. There are so many contests that one will soon show up that will be perfect for your project.
And I'm sure we all want to know - what projects are you working on at the moment? Any big instructables in the works?
Let's see... I have lots of unpublished instructables, because I use these as a place to park ideas as they occur to me. This summer I'll try to find time to make a wall-hung chess board, an equalizing bookshelf and a handmade wooden front door with an integrated iris peephole. My epic project will be a sliding bookcase that will turn our study into a secret room. I've been planning it for years, but have been working on other stuff until my skills & budget match my ambition. There's always next year...