A book about London's gorgeous, brutalist architecture includes dainty DIY papercraft models to make yourself

Brutal London: Construct Your Own Concrete Capital tells the stories of nine of London's greatest brutalist structures (with an intro by Norman Foster!), including the Barbican Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, Balfron Tower and the National Theatre -- and includes pull-out papercraft models of these buildings for you to assemble and display. Read the rest

Here be dragons: Thrifted Ikea dresser remade with graphite paper and woodburning kit

Lorraine Andrusiak couldn't get a new Ikea Moppe dresser in Canada, but she found this one in a thrift store, marred by a thick, ugly coat of paint; so she stripped the paint, transferred vintage sea-monster art with graphite paper, and burned the decorations into the wood -- the result is gorgeous. Read the rest

Artisans revive the polissoir, a nearly-forgotten woodworking tool

André Roubo's series on carpentry called L'Art du Menuisier mentions a polissior, a small device made of broom straw for polishing wood. In the two centuries since Roubo's book, the device had faded from memory until a couple of years ago, when Don Williams recreated one from an illustration in Roubo's book. It turned out to work amazingly well. Read the rest

Cool hand carved "hobo nickels" up for auction

Exciting news from Heritage Auctions: it's selling the largest number of hobo nickels ever offered in one lot.

A lot of 23 Buffalo Nickels from assorted years  – the largest such lot ever offered in Heritage Auctions’ history – is featured in the firm’s Jan. 4-9 FUN U.S. Coins Auction in Fort Lauderdale.

The coins, known as “hobo nickels,” are modified coinage – commonly nickels – as the Native American chief on the obverse is transformed into tramps, a variety of tribal figures and a myriad of other designs. These carvings often resulted in bas reliefs in the coin, although the contours of the coin still can be felt.

Some buffalo nickel carvers developed a following. The entire collection of 23 coins being offered by Heritage Auctions is attributed to artist John Dorusa, who was a Pennsylvania coal miner.

Dorusa garnered fame for his mimicry of classical hobo nickels created well before he picked up a file for the first time. Dorusa claimed he was trained by Bert Wiegand and George Washington “Bo” Hughes, who are widely considered the forefathers of hobo nickel carving.

Dorusa produced hobo nickels from the 1980s until his death in 1994 and is considered an early modern hobo nickel artist.

For great examples of contemporary hobo nickels, visit the Hobo Nickel Society's Twitter account. Read the rest

Bake: Nutella-filled Boba Fett pie pops

Nerdy piesmith Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin celebrates Xmas in style with these Nutella-filled Boba Fett pie-pops, and explains how to make your own. Read the rest

Father/son gingerbread Apple ][+

Nathan writes, "My son and I decided gingerbread houses were boring, so we built a gingerbread Apple II computer instead, including the interior with power supply, motherboard, and an expansion card." Read the rest

Steampunk 1/4" steel geared lightswitches

Etsy seller Steampunk Interiors (AKA Meleny Chamberlain) of Bend, OR created this $65 plasma-cut 1/4" steel steampunk lightswitch and many variants, including the $95 triple-throw switch with a garden-hose sillcock dimmer. Read the rest

Nick Offerman shares his misadventures in sawdust and workshop projects for all levels

I got into woodworking recently after buying my first house. I started building furniture not so much as a hobby, but because after buying a house I couldn’t afford furniture to fill it. My thinking was, why spend a couple hundred bucks at Ikea buying a wobbly table, when I could buy a couple tools off Craigslist, get some lumber, and build exactly what I want. My utilitarian need to create something I could eat dinner off of, turned into a deep respect for woodworkers. So I was excited to read Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop. It combines my newfound joy of gluing wood together, and my fandom for all things Nick Offerman.

If you’re not aware, Offerman is an actor, comedian, author, but throughout it all he’s been working with wood as both a hobby and way of life. While Good Clean Fun is filled with Offerman’s sense of humor, it’s very much a shop book. You will learn how to build a birdhouse whether you like it or not.

Offerman sets up the book, explaining some Shop 101 tips, then he and other members of his woodshop walk you through how to build different projects. They explain how to cut, sand, join, and finish things ranging from dining chairs to a wooden kazoo. This isn’t a joke-per-page book, well it is, but it also gets very technical. So if you have no interest in sawing, drilling, or the smell of cedar, this probably isn’t going to be your book. Read the rest

Ulna-Stina Wikander: a Swedish artist who cross-stitches household objects and makes bracelets out of toy cars

Ulna-Stina Wikander's many pieces include a wide variety of household objects (chairs, mirrors, etc) covered in meticulous cross-stitched fabric; bracelets and belts made from toy cars, lamps made from framed slot-car racetracks, and a lively miscellany of other pieces. Alas, her Flash-based site makes it impossible to link directly to my favorites (and I had to install the Flash plugin just to see it!), but it's well worth your time to go looking. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Kickstarting six books on self-empowerment: fermentation, feminism, punk, bicycling, sewing, and comics journalism

Elly from Microcosm Publishing (previously) writes, "We decided to try something different this time, and put up a project to help fund and spread the word about all six of the books we're putting out this coming spring. They're all very different on the surface, but the thread that runs through them is exactly what makes Microcosm work as a publishing company: Book-shaped tools that help people create the lives they want to live and the world they want to see." Read the rest

Watch "Terminal Madness," 1980 TV special about personal computers

In 1980, WMTV in Madison, Wisconsin produced this feature about early personal computers and the geeks who loved them. I enjoyed the discussion of The Source, which was the first online experience I ever had.

George Martin, who posted the video to YouTube, writes: "About halfway through the video there is a segment filmed at my home showing how I had programmed a Cromemco Z-2 computer to control lights and appliances."

(Thanks, UPSO!)

Read the rest

Chimeric, horrific, cuddly stuffed animals

Pam and Robyn in San Francisco run an Etsy store called Frankestuffies, selling "monsters for lovies or lovies for monsters, lovingly re-assembled by hand from cleaned, recycled and, um, dismembered stuffed animals": Octo-Gorillas, Platy-Mice, Beaver-Crabs, Baboon-Tigers -- and more! Read the rest

Mininch tool pen: a "pop a point" screwdriver

The Mininch Tool Pen uses the "pop a point" mechanism used in mechanical pencils to hold and switch magnetic screwdriver bits; it's made from machined aluminum and weighs 93g with all six bits inside. It's $70 and comes in three colors and your choice of Imperial, Metric and EU bits. (via Wired) Read the rest

Kinekt adds three new colors to their amazing, classic geared fidget-rings

I bought a Kinekt fidget-ring when I first learned about them in 2010; I've since logged many thousands of miles worth of aimless spinning (ZOMG escalator handrails are fun) on mine; now designers Rachel and Glen Liberman have released their first updated product since the 2014 geared heart necklace: new versions of the ring in gold, rose gold, and gunmetal. Read the rest

Video teaches you battery basics

My old MAKE colleague Collin Cunningham made an entertaining and educational video that explains battery specs: milliamp hours, voltage, chemistry type, etc. I've never opened a 9-volt battery but Collin did, and he shows you what's inside: six little 1.5 batteries wired in series. Collin also makes the music for all his videos. Read the rest

Wind-powered record player how-to

Thom Leavy of PopSci shows how to make a wind-powered record player. Read the rest

Cyber/steampunk watch built around an ex-Soviet IVL2-7/5 VFD display tube

J. M. De Cristofaro used an ex-Soviet IVL2-7/5 VFD tube as the core for his Cyberpunk Wristwatch, which adds steampunk notes in the form of a brass "roll cage" around the tube. Read the rest

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