Witnessing the construction of a traditional Finnish log house is strangely soothing

Maybe it's because I'm not doing any of the work myself, or perhaps how serene all of the craftsmen involved in the project seem to be, but this 25-minute video of a traditional Finnish log house being built, from soup to nuts, is one of the most relaxing bits of video that I've watched in weeks. Read the rest

People who make their own mechanical watches

Here's Chris Baraniuk on people who make their own mechanical watches, from scratch: an intricate and delicate traditional craft that is, for once, not lost to time.

He started reading forums, researching tools and materials, and checking out where parts could be acquired, such as cases, dials, hands, strap and movement. “It becomes like a big jigsaw puzzle, you try to work out what pieces will fit together,” he says.

Thanks in part to the availability of information over the web, many people just as curious as [Matthew] Wright have embarked on their own home-made watch projects. And some have even launched businesses as a result. But how easy is it to get started?

A quick hit on Google will bring up a wave of results that can kick things off for enthusiasts. There’s the Reddit Watch forum, the TimeZone Watch School, which offers courses via the web for a price, discussions on the WatchUSeek forum, and hundreds of YouTube videos aimed at makers.

People can buy kits for assembling watches or individual parts online with relative ease, too. This is the exact rabbit-hole that Wright fell down when he started researching.

“You see other people who’ve made little changes to watches, they’ve changed dials or whatever, and the next thing, I stumbled across websites where you can buy the cases completely empty,” he recalls.

Pictured here is a watch made by Mike Hamende, who also took the photo.

I once almost managed to put together a Lego kit and I'm still proud of myself. Read the rest

Relaxing video of a high-end luxury car wood shop

The good folks at YouCar took a tour of a wood shop that makes dashboard panels for Bentleys, and it's a real pleasure to watch such fine work being produced. Read the rest

Playable violin made of 16,000 matchsticks

In 1937, Polish bricklayer Jan Gwiżdż made a matchstick violin that traveled Europe as a curiosity. When Jan's grandson Hubert Gwiżdż took possession of it, he decided to get it rated for concert performances. Read the rest

Chabuduo: China's culture of "it's fine"

Explosive growth and change in China means many things must be built. They are not built well, writes British ex-pat James Palmer.

The apartment is five years old. By Chinese standards, it’s far better than the average. Our toilet works, while in many of my friends’ houses, flushing the loo is a hydraulic operation akin to controlling the Nile floods. The sockets do not flash blue sparks when plugged in, and all but two work. None of the lightbulbs have ever exploded; and the mirror merely broke away, rather than falling spontaneously from the frame. The shower is not placed next to the apartment’s central wiring and protected by nothing more than rotting drywall.

It's so brutal—"My time in China has taught me the pleasure and value of craftsmanship, simply because it’s so rare"—I can't help but wonder if it's really that bad! The word Chabuduo is offered as the cultural gravity point at hand. Meaning "close enough," it is depicted here as a powerful and useful concept in earlier times (think: improvisation, effectiveness, ingenuity) that has become dangerous in the context of modern life (think: slapdash, jobsworth, irritable.)

Yet chabuduo is also the casual dismissal of problems. Oh, your door doesn’t fit the frame? Chabuduo, you’ll get used to kicking it open. We sent you a shirt two sizes too big? Chabuduo, what are you complaining about?

At my old compound, the entrance to the underground parking lot was covered by a 20-metre-long half-cylinder of heavy blue plastic. Nobody had noticed that this made a highly effective wind trap, and it had been only crudely nailed to the brick foundations.

Read the rest