Emerging Tech

Do you measure up? 25 DIY skills every man should have


In its October 2007 issue, Popular Mechanics published an article called 25 Skills Every Man Should Know: Your Ultimate DIY Guide that is interesting and funny in a male-chauvinist-kind-of-way.

The best part is that not only does Popular Mechanics provide the list, but it also provides basic instructions for each item. There are a number of tech items on the list, which most TechRepublic users will already know. But there are also some general handyman items that geeks like me are clueless about.

Here are the items on the list that I did NOT know how to do until I read this:

1. Patch a Radiator Hose

3. Rescue a Boater Who Has Capsized

4. Frame a Wall

8. Fix a Dead Outlet

10. Use a Torque Wrench

13. Fillet a Fish

19. Clean a Bolt-Action Rifle

20. Change Oil and Filter

22. Bleed Brakes

So I knew how to do 16 out of the 25 things on the list. How many of items do you know how to do? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

189 comments
LocoLobo
LocoLobo

3. Rescue a boater. If you're in a river or stream approach from downstream not downwind. I suppose that's common sense though. 4. Frame a wall. Yep, I'll call someone. I have helped friends do it but won't say I know how. 12. Perform CPR. Taking courses in it or reading an article strikes me as very different from doing it. If I'm the only choice, sure, I'll try. Hope it never happens. 19. Clean a firearm. Done that. I hunt and fish and keeping any firearm in good condition is important. If you are not going to own/use firearms then you don't need the skill. If you're not going to protect yourself no problem. If you're going to use a knife, sharpen it. Nothing worse than getting stuck with a dull knife! To W2ktechman, personally I prefer a baseball bat to a pan. :) 21 & 22. Will worry about them when I need to. Don't need to yet. Although the wireless thing is coming up at work. Might as well admit I don't have a clue.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I didn't catch it the first time but it's a funny slip. [i]Clean a firearm. Done that. I hunt and fish and keeping any firearm in good condition is important.[/i] ?? Shotgun fishun' LOL :D

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

My granddad did mention fishing for gar with a 22. He grew up in the horse and buggy days. He told a lot of stories. Some of which I still believe, some of which I wonder about.

DanLM
DanLM

Best fishing youl ever do. ;o) Dan

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Commercial fisherman use seal bombs they are waterproof and have a markerd fuse to set depth, just clip it at the number of seconds to set it of fat a specific depth. THey are more fun for blowing stuff up though, about as illegal as you can get but they sure make firecrackers look stupid. I've seen one blow a hole in someone's front door, while set in teh mailbox, it took the entire mailslot out of the door along iwth a good chunk of the door. Now THAT'S fun! Place it in a pop bottle and let it float down river, BOOOOOOOM!!! Glass shards everywhere and a big mushroom of water to follow, great kicks for kids!

neilb
neilb

No noggins in the wall in #4! How crap is that! Don't you Yanks use noggins - or 'dwangs' as they call them in Scotland? Very shoddy... Neil :D

Tig2
Tig2

What's a noggin and why do I want them in a wall?

neilb
neilb

A noggin is a short length of wood inserted between two studs or rafters to brace the frame. They're usually put in staggered so that they can be nailed or screwed straight through the studs. I just think that it's such a great word!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

not rolled in! :| Gosh, some people! ;)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I did it in a 20' high garage with loft, long tall walls without a flor in between. I think the most common method these days is just to add a double header instead to add a breaker between floors.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Being from England, noggin is a very comonly used term for head. Neil posted about a noggin, I assumd he meant heads, as the topic was also hunting, I assumed he was referring to noggins being mounted on a wall, as in mounted deer antlers etc. I have done my fair share of framing and construction, had to pay the bills between gigs when I was younger of course. Fire blocks, is the common term as far as I have ever heard. Having built several fairly large structures in the last 5 years (4 car garage, kitchen extension, porch into a home theater room) I will keep my tick as they still stand and passed code. :) [b]Fire block[/b]- Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall. See also 'Fire stop' [b]Fire stop[/b]- A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. In a frame wall, this will usually consist of 2 by 4 cross blocking between studs. Work performed to slow the spread of fire and smoke in the walls and ceiling (behind the drywall). Includes stuffing wire holes in the top and bottom plates with insulation, and installing blocks of wood between the wall studs at the drop soffit line. [b]This is integral to passing a Rough Frame inspection.[/b] See also 'Fire block'. [b]NOGGING:[/b]A short piece of lumber set between two studs, joists, rafters or purlins to keep them rigid. So while NOGGING is actually seen as a way to strengthen a wall, it's real purpose is to be used as a fireblock. Neil had said: [i]Where are the noggins? [/i] perhaps a simple typo, god only knows how mny I make each day. But even though you may pronounce it noggin, the word is nogging and they are not structural, though that is an added benefit, they are required by code as fire breaks. I think my only mistake was not reading Neil's post more thoroughly, where he referred to them as 'dwangs', and referred to #4, which I didn't backtrack and see what #4 was.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

every individual trailor park and their building standards. J U S T J O S H I N :0 :)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

but it's not in the new house next door! I know, I watched it go up. H3ll, the crew didn't even want to build solid corner posts for the exterior walls! They just wanted to put in a couple of 6-inch spacers at top and bottom.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

[b]Nogging[/b]: Intermediate trimming between structural members such as studs, joists etc. Check out any 'building terms' website. Note the change in shpellink. But it is pronounced 'noggin'. This may or may not be correct or appropriate but let's face it, if the US can get away with Arkansas anyone can pronounce any word anyway they want. :) And they certainly still build American homes (particularly timber framed homes) with lots of noggins. I watch 'This Old House'. I have my finger firmly on the American building industry pulse. Feint though it currently may be. Nogging is Not to be confused with [b]Snogging[/b] which, compared to some of that sh1t on the list, is a far more appropriate skill for a boy to have.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

noggin n : informal terms for a human head [syn: attic, bean, bonce, noodle, dome] Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) Noggin \Nog"gin\, n. [Ir. noigin, or Gael. noigean. Cf. lst Nog.] 1. A small mug or cup. 2. A measure equivalent to a gill. [Prov. Eng.] Noggin \Nog"gin\, noun [Ir. noigin, or Gael. noigean. Cf. 1st {Nog}.] 1. A small mug or cup. 2. A measure equivalent to a gill. Hence: a small quantity of a beverage. [Prov. Eng.] 3. The head (of a person). [slang] Syn: noodle, noddle. [PJC] nog?gin (n?g′in) noun a small cup or mug one fourth of a pint: a measure for ale or liquor * Informal the head I think what you are referring to as noggin's, a new term for me too, are called fire blocks out here. Initially designed to stop verticle acceleration of flames in a wall, now used mainly as a way to laydown electrical or plumbing, makes insulation installation eaier, and of course strenghtens the strcucture. Most new homes don't use them, too expensive (time and materials) they generally just use double headers now. brrrrrr.#@^&*$# it's cold tonight!

Tig2
Tig2

NOW I get you. Yeah, we do that here as well. I've never heard it called a noggin before. But what do you expect? I'm in the US. We hardly speak ENGLISH here! Do NOT flame me. I'll BOUNCE you!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I BELIEVE he's simply referring to mounting Animal heads (the kills) on the wall, noggin being a head in the UK. In the UK snotty buggers have fox noggins mounted, after the kill. But Americans are always portrayed as people with moose heads over the mantle and a big elephant gun beside the fireplace.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

You kill it, you eat it. Referred to both game and fish. Although Mom had one more rule. "You clean it, THEN I'll cook it!"

Tig2
Tig2

Although I hear that in the south, you are as likely to visit a taxidermist after hunting as the processor. Up here, if you kill it, you eat it. I use as much of the deer as I can and we are pretty quick to get an animal to the processor. That preserves the meat and insures that you get the best yield. The correct place for one's elephant gun is the gun safe. I just don't understand the fireplace thing at all.

horndog
horndog

I have people do that for me........

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

sorry, you set yourself up for it though :^0

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

He does provide employment opportunities for others :)

Jaqui
Jaqui

lying there, you are not sorry ]:) if someone leaves themselves open for a comment there ain't no regretting taking advantage of them ]:)

Inkling
Inkling

I've worked so many different jobs that I better know how to do most of those. #4 is wrong on three counts: (1) You [b]never[/b] just measure 15 1/4 inches in from the end of the plate to center your first stud. 99.999% of the time, your studs need to be centered over your joists and your rafters over your studs. This is so you can run ductwork through floors and walls without running into either studs or joists or rafters. Incidentally, floor joists are laid out by finding your toilets and making sure the plumbing is centered between them. (2) It is pretty rare to find a framing crew that crowns 2x4 studs, which is what 99% of walls are made of. Anything larger than a 2x4 though...if they aren't crowning them (studs, but [b]especially[/b] joists and rafters), you should be looking for a new housing crew if they are working on your house. (3) The doorway is missing two studs. Once a door (or window) is framed, a stud is placed on either side of the door (these are called "cripples"), right next to the studs (attached with 16d nails) that make up the sides of the doorway/window (these are called "king studs"). Just thought I'd share! =) Happy Halloween everyone!

bkinsey
bkinsey

Article did specify an interior, non-load bearing wall. If it's transverse to your joist direction, you'll still want to align the studs, but if it's parallel, you've got nothing to align to. The bigger issue for most DIY'ers is probably understanding that 16" centers give you nailing points for your 4'x8' drywall, so if it takes extra studs one on side of a door opening, or at one end of an odd-length wall, you'd better put them in, or face a whole lot more drywall cutting than you need to. Not crowning 2x4's may be common, but doing it is still a good idea. And on your #3, you're right, but didn't go far enough. You don't frame the king studs (full height studs) to the width of your door; you frame the trimmer studs (set just inside the king studs, supporting the lintel - cripples, in the terminology I'm familiar with, are above the door) to that width. Not that you can't frame a doorway as shown in the article, just don't slam the door too many times. . . . ;-)

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

Few people in the UK have ever seen let alone cleaned a bolt action rifle. I was able to learn this skill (?) from my Grandfather when I was 12, Not a skill I have ever used since, even Her Majesty's Royal Navy don't use them any more, although I'm a dab hand at priming a long nine cannon.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I was at a local fair and they had a Lee Enfield Mk IV, without the bolt at a booth recruiting army cadets. Apparently thats the standard drill rifle and they learn to shoot them as well. In Canada's high arctic they have a Rangers program - a local militia made up of Inuit. They use the Lee Enfield as it has less problems in cold temperatures than the more modern FNs and M16s that the regular forces use. It is also used up there for hunting. I've owned and cleaned bolt action rifles and shotguns. James

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

--Right before the long car trip and in the desert the filter falls off.Not too macho here.Install an operating system is a little tamer.

Joe_R
Joe_R

I can do all 25 of those, and could add many more DIY skills to the list. One very important addition, however, should be the ability to cook a meal. And I don't just mean burgers or grilled cheese sandwiches, but a real meal. A feast if necessary. How could any self-sustaining man get by without such a skill?

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

be able to cook in various ways. Campfire cooking, stove/oven cooking, BBQ cooking, etc... All require different ways to do things.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I learned from my mom. When my mom was in the hospital for a month, I fed my family (4 brothers and my dad). I was 13. Now I can make a stew or a chili, a stir fry, without working up a sweat. My wife is better at it though. I have to consult the tables on roasting times. I make omlettes. I buy Lasagne - so sue me, its a lot of prep. When I was a bachelor I once made duck soup. I lived in a shared house and we had chinese food, including a peking duck (new years party). So on new years day I made duck soup. Just winging it. Thats how you learn. My kids love camping cause they know I will make sausages with peppers. I do the grilling, wife doesn't like working with open flame. I don't bake - my wife does. She hasn't mastered pie crusts though - she is jealous of my mom. James

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

...on the morning Concorde...oh...wait...not flying any more...D@MN! :_| I hear there's a new Greek restaurant just opened in Columbia. I know where I'll be at supper tomorrow. Hope it's worth it.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

I'll write up my recipes for tzatziki, cheats Moussaka, and Greek salad. I'll put them on Tigs' recipe thread. Chance to breathe at the moment would be good - not only am I doing the work of three people AGAIN, we're moving offices. Only 500 yards or so down the road, still on the same site, but every damn thing has to be crated before they'll take it.... and the guy I share an office with - who only works with paper, and has 300% more paper than I, is off with a bad back..... ah, but then again, I've just given myself a bloody good idea. If I make all that for dinner tomorrow evening, I can scrawl as I'm going....have laptop, will travel..... Yay! I know what's for dinner tomorrow! (yes, more than welcome: what time are you arriving?! :p ) GG Edit: I say again - Friday spelling. Oxymoron.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Cool. I love the stuff and have to make my own. You just can't get good tzatziki in the States.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

to do my cooking!!! I know how to make a handfull of dishes, really good. But the rest requires stress and good instructions, less I screw it up! I have no idea how to skin an animal, but with a sharp knife it may not be too incredibly hard (messy though)... I do however, cut as much fat off of any piece of steak that comes my way before prepping it.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

can you skin the rabbit, or pluck the fowl before you even start on the cooking? (yes, before you ask, can do both) Can also gut, clean and fillet fish, but as I can't handle a fillet knife properly any more, I'm barred... (but could still make a better job of salmon fillets than he does) Can also cook and clean lobster and crab. Oh, and cook cod roe, too. Make a mean greek salad, and make my own tzatziki too. ooops. That reminds me - have to write up some recipes for Tig.... eek. Musta slipped out of the memory banks.... GG ]:)

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I can only cook a few meals on the stove without instructions. But I reign at the BBQ.... However, I have mastered making a mean Hamburger Helper :^0 :^0 :^0

Tig2
Tig2

Mix a decent cocktail? THAT should be a required skill set as well. You never know when you will find yourself playing bartender!

kkopp
kkopp

I can do that too, but don't ask me to name it. Introductions can get sticky... Bob, here's your cocktail named John. John, here's the guy who's going to gulp you down... See, just doesn't work right.

brian.mills
brian.mills

Bartending skills are completely useless in my circle of influence, since my wife and I don't drink. I seriously doubt I'll find myself needing that skillset any time in the foreseeable future.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

If you're a good bartender you learn to handle different kinds of problems with people.

brian.mills
brian.mills

I may at some point be in a situation where bartending skills could assist in expanding my network of contacts, or help me win a client, so I can see the point of having them. However, being a low-level IT person with my company and not really having any friends outside of work who drink, I haven't had the need, desire, nor necessity to learn those skills. I guess I'll just be out of luck when/if I need those skills to get ahead, unless I start hanging out with a different group of people. Maybe I should learn at least a few basics at some point.

Tig2
Tig2

I used to cater in another life and good bartending skills allowed me to assist in some tight situations. You might not need it, or use it. But your clients might.

brian.mills
brian.mills

Now THERES a reason to learn some bartending skills! :D

Jester James
Jester James

My wife and I are professional bartenders as well as techs, though neither of us drink. That way you are always sober enough to use the blackmail on the drunken idiots.....

Joe_R
Joe_R

An excellent one!

DanLM
DanLM

I actually had the x wife over one year and made thanksgiving dinner. I've also made pies and cakes from scratch. Do I do it very often, no I don't. but I will never starve. Dan

Joe_R
Joe_R

A man who can't cook has to either starve, rely on another person (a woman), spends a lot of money eating out all the time, or eats a lot of cold pizza. Who wants (or needs) any of those things?