Just do it yourself

One of the longest-running and most active parts of Popular Mechanics is Do it Your Way. I’m often astounded at how ingenious and resourceful our readers can be when it comes to alternative problemsolving. (Given the wackiness of some of the hints proferred, I think sometimes contributors start with a solution and then find a problem that fits.)

DIY has been a big part of what we at Popular Mechanics do and I’m glad to be able to say that won’t be changing anytime soon. On the contrary; we plan to put DIY firmly centre stage in our October issue. Besides the erudite and awesomely competent efforts from expert DIYers, you’ll be able to read a bit about my own modest contributions to the
genre. I’ve noticed, though, that over the years my contributions have evolved – in keeping with the way technology is headed – from physical objects into things you can’t actually see. Here I am talking about finding ways of making the
smart home even smarter through the many devices and technologies that are filtering into the home environment, from music streaming to automation.

Or maybe it’s just that I prefer not to get my hands dirty so much any more. In between messing around with invisible digital stuff the other day, I stepped into our recently refurbished guest bathroom, whose every surface bar the ceiling is covered in deeply gleaming and deeply expensive nano-finish tiles. Buried underfoot somewhere, I realised with a pang of regret – perhaps it was relief – was the remnants of the terracotta tiles I had laid years ago. Not just laid: painstakingly cut, practically every last one of them, to follow an intricate pattern of my design, involving a contrasting cobalt blue ceramic mini-tile.  Like a true alternative DIYer, I had used a tool wholly inappropriate to the job: a circular-saw attachment on a Black & Decker drilling machine, fitted with an angle grinder disc. It seemed to work okay as an angle grinder (main function: cut a bit and create as much dust and noise as possible).

It’s fairly likely that the latter was largely to blame for eroding my hearing acuity to the extent that I really can’t seem to hear pitches higher than 13 kHz these days, tinnitus permitting. And DIY can be quite educational, too. As anyone who has ever tiled floors must know, you never forget the moment between leaping up to answer the telephone and landing on a freshly completed but not-yet-set surface.

Got an interesting ride?

My ride
This month, the featured vehicle in My Ride is the one I’m pictured with above. Although the plan is to scour the country’s roads tracking down interesting vehicles and interesting owners, it seems to me that the Popular Mechanics community must surely be filled with rides that will make compelling reading. If you think that either you or your ride measures up, drop me a line and let’s tell the rest of the world your story.