Art of Manliness Podcast Episode #50: Made by Hand with Mark Frauenfelder

by Brett on September 14, 2013 · 8 comments

in Podcast


In today’s episode I talk to Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Make Magazine, co-founder of Boing Boing, and author of the book Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. We discuss his experience developing a DIY ethos and becoming more self-sufficient.

Show highlights:
  • How shucking coconuts on a remote island in the South Pacific led to his DIY passion
  • How making things with your hands brings meaning to your life
  • What keeps most folks from fixing and building things themselves
  • How mistakes lead to success
  • How becoming more “handy” can improve other parts of your life
  • And much more!

Listen to the podcast!

Find us on Stitcher

Special thanks to Keelan O’Hara for editing the podcast!


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Doug September 14, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I’ve been following this blog for a long time now, and this is the first podcast I have ever listened to. For some reason I never really had much of a connection towards the other ones. But I listened to this one because I have been wanting to pursue projects like this before, but never found the passion to follow through. I found this podcast to be very informative, and motivating for me to pursue some of those long lost projects. I plan to first read both book and then the Shop Class as Soulcraft, to get a further read on this. Very well done Brett and Kate.

I have one question for you Brett: You’ve spoken repeatedly on here about having a mentor, both for life, and individual things as well. My question is, based on your interview with Mr. Frauenfelder, how would you recommend finding that balance between having a mentor to guide you along, and engaging solely in DIY projects? In one respect, having a mentor can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches, and it can help build good relationships, but on the other hand, doing things yourself can help you learn things better, and probably further ingrain lessons that you’ve learned. Thank you.

2 Nick September 15, 2013 at 9:40 am

Thanks for the interview. I’ve taken up whittling a few months ago and like Mark said, by trying something new you gain an appreciation for what ever it is you try. I’ve never taken interest in the shape of fish until I started whittling one, it compelled me to study fish. The whole DIY attitude can be summed up as Da Vinician. Just finished his biography, Leonardo had that childlike wonder and enthusiasm in learning and building. He didn’t just paint people, he also did anatomical studies. He wasn’t consulted on just painting but on a variety of things. He tackled projects he didn’t have much experience with but he went for it because of that childlike enthusiasm.
Anyway, thank you for the interesting podcast, and I’ll have to pick up a copy of the book.

3 Mark McGowan September 16, 2013 at 10:25 am

Great, stimulating podcast. Did the end of the interview get cut off? I was listening on itunes and it seemed to fade off with a few minutes left. Regardless, great interview.

4 Kevin September 16, 2013 at 11:12 am

So as a man who loves making things and fixing things (Woodworking, electronics, software, motorcycle repair), this was a great interview. However, I always struggle with the tradeoff between a chore and a project. I would love to hear some ways to get in the right frame of mind where these activities are rewarding throughout, instead of just chores to plow through. It’s frustrating when something you should love becomes just another make your bed/clean the dishes moment!

5 Brett McKay September 16, 2013 at 10:09 pm


That’s a really good question and one I’ve actually thought about a lot myself because a lot of people ask me for advice on blogging and often want me to guide them through the whole process. And the thing is, when I started this blog, I taught myself pretty much everything I needed to know. All the information you need is out there if you’re willing to spend time and dig. And I feel like that process of having to figure out stuff for myself was incredibly valuable. So I find myself wondering if I give someone the “shortcuts” to getting started, does it rob them of the same valuable experience of figuring it themselves? Or is it just smarter to cut to chase and not have to do the work if you don’t need to? I honestly don’t know the complete answer to that question. What I personally try to live by when I do something, is that I try to figure out as much as I can myself first, and I mean really try, and then if I am truly stuck, then I turn to a mentor for help. There’s a great excerpt we put on in our Manvotionals book on this subject:

Always Try It Yourself
From Ethics for Young People, 1891
By Charles Carroll Everett

It is important to learn early to rely upon yourself; for little has been done in the world by those who are always looking out for some one to help them.

We must be on our guard not to confound self-reliance with self-conceit, yet the difference between the two cannot easily be defined in words.

The difference is something like that between bravery and foolhardiness.

The self-conceited person takes it for granted that he is superior to others.

Self-reliance is very different from this. The self-reliant person is often very modest. He does not say about anything that is to be done, “I am so strong and wise that I can do it.” He says, “I will try, and if patience and hard work will do it, it shall be done.”

One way in which a person may become self-reliant, is never to seek or accept help till he has fairly tried what can be done without it.

Some scholars, if they come to a problem that seems hard, run at once to the teacher, or an older friend, or perhaps even to another scholar, who is brighter or more self-reliant than themselves, in order to be told how to do it. Always try it yourself. Even if it is nothing more important than a conundrum, do not wish somebody to tell you the answer till you have fairly tried to conquer it.

It is a pleasant feeling that comes from having done a difficult thing one’s self, a feeling that those never have who are helped out of every hard place.

6 Brett McKay September 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm


You’re right — it is cut off on itunes. I’m not sure what happened there and will look into it. Thanks for letting me know.

7 Jason September 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Great podcast. I’ve been finding self satisfaction following these principles. YouTube can help a lot for information and ideas. One other point regarding computer errors in a car, most of the auto parts stores (at least here in Texas) can read those codes and usually give great DIY advice on repair. Also, when its truly the computer I have had some success disconnecting the car battery completely for about 20 minutes, then reconnecting.

8 Omar Carreto October 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm

It is a very interesting podcast…I’ve been following you for a while now, Brett by the way congrats on your new baby girl Olive anyway I have read all of your articles and this is much better than reading not to say I don’t enjoy a great manliness article.

I will keep an eye on this next podcast…thanks Mark & Brett you just confirmed my theory of failure, failing is good to achieve great success.

God bless

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