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What books got you diy-dreaming? Answered

I can remember reading DIY books as a child and feeling empowered to build.  Plans and dreams suddenly seemed within my reach.  Ultimate forts, robots, go-karts, chemistry experiments of rotten-egg gas...

Online searching is replacing the hunt for hard bound how-to's.  However, I still love finding instructions in used books or old library stacks.  A lab partner in college found an old schematic of a vacuum-tube amplifier at a flea market.  The clarity of that diagram convinced us to make the amp for his guitar.

Along those lines, I see some books have been mentioned in other forum postings 
The American Boy's Handy Book
The Forgotten Crafts
Haywired: Pointless (Yet Awesome) Projects for the Electronically Inclined
Play With Your Food

Two books I have found to be inspiring are The Art of Electronics by Horowitz & Hill and Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons.  Art of Electronics pulled me out of "the bush league".  As for Stalking, I had never before read a cook book which paid so much attention to the preparation of the ingredients, as wild dishes require.  Classics.

Care to share what set you free / inspired your creativity?


The DIY section in popular science, and popular mechanics.


8 years ago

The Foxfire series and the related Salt Book are really nice resourceful-living books. They are in the wonderful context of lives of "old timers", which adds much of the warmth and color.

Anyone else read any?

The Foxfire Book.jpgThe Salt Book.jpg
Deek D

8 years ago

Def, the American Boys Handy Book

Also- RUSTIC RETREATS from David and Julia Stiles

Cracker Ingenuity's half decent as well- although its got a ton of bizarre filler (which still makes for interesting reading)

  Lloyd Kahn just blogged on it too!

Nice books Deek D!

I like the look of your book, any Instructables forthcoming?

d diedricksen.jpg

Thanks CrLz-

    Once I get some book-shippin', and cabin-completin' done over the next few days, as well as 2004 other things, I'm def gonna be posting some stuff- and will properly post the "Wine-Lovers Cabin-Door Stopper" submission that I have (improperly buried somewhere on the board).
   Thanks for the feedback!

Because of my health issues, I learnt litle in school, except read, write and some maths. And I only worked 20 years total, in 4 jobs.

No training, but I always ended up in in very responsible positions.

Everything I know and can do, is based on about 150 assorted used copies of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science I bought after leaving school, as well as learning DIY skills I also learnt heaps on how gets get done, made, invented.

They taught me problem solving, to think out problems, work planing and I learn about other countries.

Based on PMM and PSM I went looking for more knowledge at the Library.

My happiest day was when Google Books put every edition of PSM and PMM on line, free to read. At 53, I am so busy, I may never finish reading the whole lot.

Awesome tip!
I found the links for PMM and PSM after your post mentioned it. Wow, I had no idea Google was providing so much content online!  Need to script up something to pull out the DIY articles across all years.
I copied the word cloud from PopSci (@ch’d figure). Some topics seem funny since they are no longer active discussions. Guess that happens with a magazine that started in the 1870’s.  Aleutian Islands- when was the last article on that?

PSM word cloud.jpg


That link is for Popular Science February 1946,.


That is Popular Mechanics, January 1940

All the other issues can be accessed via those two links

Tips for reading PMM & PSM on-line, and a work around to save single articles to your PC.

On their reader, there is a click box with arrows pointing outwards at each corner, there removes a lot of advertising, then click on the  + to widen the magazine page.

Next press F11 to make your browser go full screen, thats great, BUT it slows down the page scrolling, I use up/down curser keys to scroll. (I might have to make separate buttons for that, otherwise my keyboard will quickly be a goner.)

I have a 4-3 LCD screen, PC screen driver allows to to rotate what's on the screen by 90 degrees. That's best for reading PMM on line, I am soon making a bracket alowing me to tip the LCD onto its side. Be aware that it rearranges your desktop, and resizes all open windows. Resetting the screen to normal,  does NOT restore your desktop and windows to what it was.

Should you want to save an article from PMM, reduce each page so it fits the whole screen, hit the "print screen" button, which puts it into your clipboard, paste into a photo editor, crop away everything bar the PMM page, and save as a JPG. Open MS Word (Or Open Office) and insert the JPGs in correct order, then click on each JPG to bring up a resizing box, resize each JPG one by one to fit the page, then save. Or print to a PDF.

Okay for one article, but a lot of work to do the whole magazine, let alone ALL the magazines.


Thanks for the tips and clarifications Lateral Thinker!

You've got a good idea- bracket that will allow 90 degree rotation of LCD. Love to see the Instructable some day.

I prefer quick and dirty, my LCD is already on a swing arm, and the end of the arm swivels. So its viewable over my bed (TV and DVD watching as well as reading and PC stuff) and workstation where I have a CRT and another PC.

Quick and dirty means a simple door hinge as the base of the LCD is already attached to a wooden base.

The swing arm was meant for a 14" CRT TV, I used to have a 14" CRT monitor on it.

Quick and dirty is what Instructables is all about.


Look in Instrucibles


I posted links for The Boy Mechanic (by PMM) and the Boy Electrician (similar but not by PMM) Both are on the Internet Archive

These books are FREE to download as PDF. The Boy Electrician  is not a good scan but readable and is not on the Archive, but I will be scanning as copy I have, to post to the Internet Archive

Thanks for posting a cover for people to see.

Mostly any klutz book.  From time to time, my parents would buy me a "weird science" book, which had experiments along the line of "gelatin-izing chicken bones", to the corn starch and water goo.  I also had the type of "fun electronics" kits, like the personal room alarm system, which included a buzzer, a battery, and some tin foil.

I learned to juggle using the Klutz book.  Meet my wife because of the juggling, definitely good books.

You and your wife both juggle?  That's awesome!   (assumption)

I too learned to juggle from Klutz, unfortunately, I haven't juggled in so long, that I seem to have lost any hand-eye coordination for the sport.  In fact, I used to be a jester at folklife festivals.

Actually my wife does not juggle- we met in college at the dinning hall.  I'd grab some fruit to practice juggling after lunch every day.  My wife started giving me apples to juggle...the rest was history!

I once heard a comedian say, "If you are going to be a hitch-hiker, learn to juggle, because the guy that juggles will get picked up first." He was right.


8 years ago

Though I'd add one of the best alcohol books I ever had the chance to read:
The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible by Leon Kania.  Before reading this, I'd never understood what "jacking" was (apple-jack, etc.)  and I definitely never heard of corn-squeez'ns.

Also, this book and a former acquaintance of mine mentioned a clandestine pamphlet that circulated in the middle east during the 70's, that had expat instructions for making alcohol.  I've never seen or traced this, but I'd love to find it some day.  Apparently the author Kania included many of the "secret-still" designs from the pamphlet.


8 years ago

Thought I'd add another great book-Henley's Formulas , which you can access at the link.  The book has all sorts of DIY recipes, glues, paints, alcohols, etc.


None. It was from my family. Father used to DIY (including home-dentistry...), A grandfather was an engineer with BRM


DIY dentistry -> Ouch!  Definitely a pioneering soul.