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Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:25 pm
by Zeran
Whats a good DIY / Craft (or potentially marketable skill / product) that is worth taking up?
I'm thinking of things like knitting, woodwork, jewelery(bead) making.
I have ruled out those listed above because I don't think they are suitable.

Knitting - because I used computers a lot, wrists are already strained

Woodwork - Wood items are already cheap, and they are expensive to transport (bulky)

Bead making - needs a kiln and blowtorch - too much space.
I want something which I can do not on a computer and that creates something. I feel it would be nice to have a project of some sort, that I can do at home when I have spare time and feel like I am making some kind of progress.
What do you suggest? And what do you do yourselves?

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:04 pm
by Noob
Well if you wanted to combine the two.. I've been reading up on 3D printers. There's all kinds of websites to download files or you can make your own in a CAD software and print it out in plastic. Then put together your plastic parts to assemble your product and sell!
Although I can't speak for their sales numbers.. Websites like Etsy and Zazzle seem to be pretty big on custom made things. Hand made at home and not manufactured in a factory. So I think that might do some good for a little side profit no matter what you choose to make.
On that note, I've been shopping around lately for Hammocks. And hand made hammocks are highly expensive if you make the hanging chairs. I've seen some cheapos that go for like 50USD or so, but I wanted a hanging egg chair and it seems that I'm looking at thousands of dollars for one of these. I figure hand knitted blanket/ hanging chair.. kinda the same thing in that they will both take a while to do, you'll learn a skill that I don't know anyone that really does anymore, and afterwards you'll get to enjoy swinging outside in the summer breeze in your egg chair.
As for me, I just started painting little figurines. Trying to make them look lifelike and not like some cheap plastic toys is really hard. A friend of mine wants me to give him some seed money and move with him to Washington and grow pot, but I think I'll stick with painting my little guys. It's a great little mind meld that takes my mind off of everything while I do it.

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:35 pm
by George the original one
Wood carving is a cheap hobby that sells products for good money. Can be done with just a knife or two (drei-schnitz technique goes a long ways), though a set of traditional chisels and mallet will expand your range.
Personally, making computer art is a good choice if you don't want to use up space. Make videos or 3D modeling or pictures. Hard part is avoiding the gadget syndrome... the important thing to remember is that doing > buying.

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:12 pm
by george
gardening, jigsaws, bread making, cooking, piano, home maintenance.
Really enjoy sorting through stuff and making functional furniture out of things I already have but don't use.
Main thing is get rid of the TV.

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:50 pm
by Ego
I've been dabbling in watch repair lately. I've found a few non-working vintage watches without bands for a few dollars at thrift-stores and flea markets. Often the watch just needs a simple lubrication to get it running again. Add a walmart band and they sell for a lot on ebay.

Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:50 pm
by KevinW
Cooking! You make a tangible physical product, then eat it so it doesn't take up space.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:21 am
by llorona
I make polymer clay miniatures. Food mostly. I've given quite a few pieces to friends, although I haven't tried selling them on Etsy.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:36 am
by Ego
I was looking for a leather Brooks bike saddle on ebay a while ago and noticed a listing by a guy who makes the metal Brooks badge out of pewter. Many of the saddles are very old and they've lost their Brooks badge. He gets about $10 each. Once the mold is made I'd imagine these would take no time to make.
Link to ebay listing.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:24 am
by jacob
In order of importance:
1) It's useful even if you don't sell anything (you can still be your own customer)

2) You enjoy doing it (one can argue that (1) and (2) are equally important

3) It's sellable.
I've looked at Etsy for woodworking "products". It seems to be a[n extreme] hit&miss when it comes to price ~ quality. I see no correlation at all. A piece of so-called reclaimed wood with a couple of bent metal legs will fetch $500 when sold as a "Zen-table". A beatifully dovetailed maple box which would take a couple of hours to make by machine---a full day by hand---costs $15. When it comes to price, it has a lot more to do with salesmanship and fashion than craftsmanship. If you do anything commoditized, you're competing with Asian Tigers working for 50cents/hour. The value provided is not in the product but in the "story" that sells it.
In particular, I consider myself a competent woodworker... not a master by any means (going by the nomenclature of the ERE book). At the competent level, I can provide for myself but I can't charge a premium for what I make.
Then again, as seen from the latest blog post, woodworking has side-effects. No need to buy furniture. Also if something breaks, I don't replace it, I just fix it. DW wanted a window screen (=$10 and a trip downtown to HD taking 2 hours.). I made one in 10 minutes.
Also consider replacing something that would otherwise be expensive with something that's easy and cheap. For example, I make my own alcohol. DW makes jam and pickles. This, right there, fixes our entire gift-giving obligations.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:06 am
by akratic
If you want to make money, go to and find some stuff that sells well that you could make yourself.
If you want to save money, learn bicycle repair, home repair, or +1 cooking.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:09 am
by jacob
I second akratic --- if you want to make money, definitely do some consumer-research first(*)... and realize that there are more efficient ways of making money than competing with mass-produced Made in China.
(*) Etsy seems dominated by stores that sell nothing with a few that do rather well. It's severely Pareto skewed.

Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:58 am
by Zeran
There are some good suggestions here - and it's good to know what folks get up to with their time.

The idea of watch repair sounds intriguing. At the moment Wine making is the hobby that sticks out the most. I already have ~10 Demijohns and some of the equipment needed. Brewing equipment is fairly cheap and I think I can use the produce as gifts. :)

Although I feel there is an upper limit of the time that can be put into it.
Cooking was mentioned a lot. I realized I should have mentioned my current activities / hobbies.
I make finance spreadsheets / applications (for my numerical pleasure)
I cook a lot (I cook all my own meals, and well enough that going to decent restaurants sometimes results in disappointment)
I dance a lot. I have done a couple of performances, that have got me tea and cake at jubilee fairs and town fairs. I'm hoping to get good enough to perform at big university balls.

Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:47 pm
by Sclass
I've been happy with DIY auto repair for years. Though I used to dream of restoring a classic or building a hot rod, those cost way too much and are anti ERE.
I'm not talking about changing your own oil or rotating your tires. I'm talking about cutting your auto mechanic out of your transportation budget while still having vehicles.
Not for everyone. But some guys do this for fun and spend thousands a year on it tuning or customizing. I just like keeping some older reliable cars around for pocket change. With the Internet resources you can get DIY videos specific to your car, cheap parts, cheap cars off Craigslist and free forum advice off guys who specialize in your car.
I have a waste vegetable oil (free fuel) Mercedes 240d bought cheap with a bad transmission that took 20 minutes to fix after reading the trick online. I have an sclass Mercedes sedan that had a presumably bad transmission also bought at a deep discount...just needed an adjustment with a simple screwdriver. On that one I even had time to go home, surf the repair on a forum, test the car again to make sure it was the actual easy fix, then buy the car.
My seats had some torn panels that got bigger after Xmas road trips. I took the seats apart and replaced the torn panels with new material. Turns out my home sewing machine (1942 singer rummage sale special) could sew thick vynl...just had to try.
Couple days ago I resoldered some bad connections in my 2000 honda accord heat controller. I didn't even have to diagnose it, it was documented online. That was easily $400 saved.
The net has been great for me. I used to be a soso fixer but with forums, YouTube, Craigslist for cheap cars and motorcycles people dump, and eBay for parts kits and tools.
It is so easy now. I remember being at a car show 20 years back talking to a guy who restored a 1968 Volvo p1800. I'd recently given up on mine. He told me about all the bugs and how to fix them. I almost cried it was so easy once somebody told you. With the online forums that kind of info is at our fingertips. Sellers of critical parts are a click away. Videos to inspire confidence abound.
I cannot say it is my favorite hobby but it is certainly the most useful. I will never buy a new car out of fear of repairs on an old one.

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:23 pm
by JohnnyH
+1 auto mechanic... It incorporates a lot of different skills (electrical, mechanical, metalworking... even woodworking and painting)... And troubleshooting such a complex system can really rack the brain.

Looking for an Airstream/Avion right now -that is going to be fun, rewarding/challenging.
Like Sclass said, classic car restoration can get expensive... Most enthusiasts pay 1000% to get that last 10-20% on their car. The sad thing is they're only impressing other perfectionists in the niche... To most normal people a car with 20% of the cost (creative materials/methods) will be just as impressive.
Not to mention performing mechanic work is good gift and way to build up favors with people... Should probably add to the dating thread how much girls appreciate it! ;)

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:03 pm
by jennypenny

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:37 am
by buzz
Home rehabbing!
I'm getting into this right now, and it's very interesting. I like doing things with my hands and using my body after "working" at a computer for 9 hours.

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:03 am
by Noob
Zeran, have you read any of the (fairly) recent articles in the food world on what they are calling the up and coming trend of restauranteurs? The younger chefs are having trouble getting loans. So what they are doing is cooking meals and then they sell tickets for people to come to their homes and eat. It's obviously a limited offer because nobody wants to sit on your couch. So however many seats are at your table/bar that's how many tickets they sell. They keep it really exclusive too. One couple I read was like the originators of the idea and they give their tickets out for free to different people each week. But it's taking on a whole new life of it's own.
You could try something like this if cooking is a great passion of yours. I've thought about it, but I never got into it far enough to think about insurance or if someone gets sick or really any number of bad things that can happen to someone on your property or while eating your food. I think the catch-all way around it might be to say it's a donation for cooking supplies instead of actually selling the tickets. But If you really wanted to do something like this I'm sure it's well worth looking into.