Welcome to Provide Your Own - Skills

Today, we are a largely unskilled people. What skills we do have are very specialized and limited. This situation is lamentable. Here at ProvideYourOwn, we want to help to change that. We believe that everyone should strive to gain as many skills as they can. Not only will they help in a survival situation, but having a large skill set will improve our daily lives as well.

Can you Top a Tree with an Ax?

This fascinating video shows how lumber was harvested from giant redwood trees before the chainsaw.

Nowadays, some people get smug about how advanced we are. We might have some high-tech gadgets, but are we better for them, or worse? Looking at these fellows scaling a tree almost as fast as one can walk, and then to chop it down with an ax while suspended from its trunk is absolutely amazing.

Modern technology has not made us any better. In most cases, it simply removes the requirement of skill. Anyone can fell a tree with a chainsaw, but how many can fell in with a foot or two of precision as these guys could?

If we are to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on corporations and experts, we must learn new skills. Avoiding technology is not an advantage as some may think. What is important is not avoiding technology, but rather avoiding learning useful skills and relying on technology as a crutch.

We must be the master of technology, not its slave. Thoughts anyone?

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DIY Rivets from Plain Ole’ Nails

Have you ever wanted to rivet a project, but didn’t have a riveter, or the right sized rivets on hand? Another drawback to rivets is their look – on a lot of projects, the modern cheap sheet metal look just won’t do. This great article tells how to make your own heavy-duty rivets from ordinary nails that look great and work well for many projects.

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Are Boy Scouts Anti-Makers?


I was recently reading an article about soda-can stoves and was dismayed to discover that the Boy Scouts are more concerned about safety at all costs instead of providing a means for boys to be ready for any contingency. Despite the project depicted in the picture, the article states:

The Boy Scouts of America now prohibits “equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning ‘can’ stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.”

While I am not opposed to safe practices, our society has become such a worshiper of safety and security that we have become slaves of our current corporatocracy. The Boy Scouts prohibition of handcrafting such simple alcohol stoves in just another example of this lunacy. This type of thinking is exactly the kind that ProvideYourOwn opposes.

We want people, especially boys, to make their own stuff. While we don’t quite go as far as the tongue in cheek quip over at Make magazine – “poke your eye out”, we come pretty close. We don’t advocate avoiding risk, only unnecessary and foolish risks. We want people to become as self-sufficient as … Read the rest

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15 Minutes a Day …

…can change your life. No, this is not meant as a trite phrase. I really do mean it. This idea was inspired by a short but sweet TED talk by Matt Cutts called Try Something New for 30 Days. After listening to the talk, I started brainstorming about what 30 day challenges I would like to do.

Here is my short list:

  • Clean room/office for 15 minutes every day
  • Practice my violin for 15 minutes every day
  • Work on learning Spanish for 15 minutes each day
  • Do something to give someone an emotional lift or encouragement
  • Work on a goal for 15 minutes every day, even if just to think about it

The last one – working on a goal, would actually be multiple 30 day challenges. Each one would be a goal I have wanted to do for a long time, but never got around to it, or can’t figure out how to accomplish it.

If you look at my list, most of the items are things I have always wanted to do, but never have done so – things like keeping a clean organized room, learning to play violin decently, learning Spanish, and other big goals. As … Read the rest

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The Art of Painting Signs

Maybe you have never needed to paint a sign before. Or maybe you have, but have been too intimidated to try. Well, fear no longer. I found this great article by Rob Rohde-Szudy detailing some techniques the author tried and what he found successful. His application was painting a design on his boat.

Here’s an excerpt to get your mouth watering:

A little history

Here we are touching on the old and dying art of sign painting. When Ole Evinrude was selling his first outboard motors, every city had sign painters. It seems like a mundane trade, but these guys were artists of the highest caliber. Don’t believe me? Try painting some lettering on a vertical surface. Try to make it look really sharp and professional. Go ahead! I’ll wait.

See? I told you it was hard!

These professional sign painters painted lettering all day, every day. They could paint signs as fancy as anything we can do on a computer with nothing more than a collection of brushes and their highly-trained eyes and hands. Actually, some of the fonts you see on your computer came from styles painted by sign painters. Now, of course, computers and modern printing methods

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