by Joanna BrichettoJune 2011
Books for handy dads
Ken Denmead, the best-selling author of Geek Dad, returns with more fabulously fun things to make and do in The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun. All 28 projects are pitched to fit into an average weekend with parents and kids working together. Goal-oriented folks take note: It’s the process which is key, including the gathering and perhaps buying of materials. Some projects only require stuff already lying around, like the NERF Dart Blowgun and Lego Trebuchet. Some, like the Zip Line, need a specific new component to ensure safety. But the range of hacks, games, edibles and crafts is wide and varied. Highlights include making a Sound Box with a musical greeting card, a steadicam from a smartphone, candy molds with Hot Wheels cars, ice cream from dry ice, stenciled T-shirts with freezer paper, Alien Drums from PVC pipe and art with shaving cream. How to choose? Every project is rated by cost, difficulty, duration, reusability, tools and materials, which makes it easy to decide what is feasible for the weekend at hand.
Unscrewed by Ed Sobey is a great resource for computer geeks, techno-users, workbench hobbyists, DIYers and those who simply feel compelled to take things apart. Dismantling discarded appliances and gadgets isn’t just fun, it’s “reverse engineering.” Creative destruction can teach how something works (or used to work), yield costly components for free and perhaps result in a nifty new hack. Sobey, author of The Way Toys Work, The Way Kitchens Work and other must-haves, is also the founder of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He brings his expertise to bear on 50 deconstruction projects, ranging from a child’s bubble gun to a wireless router. Discover new uses for a hair dryer, digital camera, remote control toy, floppy drive, ink-jet printer, shredder, computer mouse and more. Each project is assessed according to overall coolness factor, “treasures to collect,” disposal concerns and tools required. Step-by-step instructions and photos make all the take-aparts clear, and anything with a capacitor comes with ramped-up safety warnings.
TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES
Looking for a “simpler, more sustainable and authentic” approach to daily life? Anyone, anywhere—even city dwellers with only a sunny windowsill—can “take control of their own food supply, live more lightly on the planet and make their own corner of the world safer and cleaner.” The City Homesteader shows how, with sensible and simple instructions for a wide range of skills. Author Scott Meyer, former editor-in-chief of Organic Gardening magazine, presents options for any level of experience and commitment. Grow food in containers, raised beds, up a pole or in a jar, and learn how to preserve it for later or prepare it now. Don’t miss the chapter on foraging: A surprising number of yard “weeds” are nutritious salad components. Plus, find basics for raising small animals (bees, poultry, rabbits, goats) and home/apartment care, with details about composting, rain barrels, pest control and home remedies. The author throws in a growing guide for 54 vegetables and herbs suitable for small spaces, along with a list of resources for further eco-exploration.