Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

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livesoft
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Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by livesoft »

So where did all you do-it-yourself handy women and handy men learn your skills? Was it from watching PBS? Reading books? Youtube?

For me, it was my parents. My mom taught me how to sew and use a sewing machine. My dad taught me how to rebuild V-8 engines among other things like small engine repair, appliance repair, carpentry, plumbing, etc. He also made the kids paint the inside and outside of the house. I got electronic build-it kits for Christmas, too. I can take anything apart and put most things back together.

I rarely call a tradesman to fix anything around the house, so that's the financial tie-in. I've seen people pay lots of money to have something simple fixed like replacing a fuse.

So where did you pick up your handy skills?
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thomase
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by thomase »

For things like landscaping, irrigation systems, deck building, concrete, mainly books from the library. For car repairs, I learned a lot from reading online forums for the specific model of car. Also youtube is really useful for specific repairs, that's how I learned to diagnose and fix things like brakes, drive axles, timing belts, radiators, oxygen sensors, etc...
Woodshark
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Woodshark »

I learned because of two reasons.
1. I grew up poor. As in government housing poor. If I wanted something fixed I had to learn how to do it myself.
2. I always liked working on things, figuring out what made them work. Instead of asking for toys I asked for tools.

Back then there was no youtube or internet. The learning came from “This Old House”or “Hometime” on PBS and books from the library.

I'm over 50 now and could afford to pay for the work on our auto's or home improvement projects. Instead I still do them myself because I enjoy the work.
Louis Winthorpe III
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Louis Winthorpe III »

Woodshark wrote: I'm over 50 now and could afford to pay for the work on our auto's or home improvement projects. Instead I still do them myself because I enjoy the work.
Stop by my house sometime. I've got a long to-do list -- you'll have a ball. :)
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dodecahedron
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by dodecahedron »

My mother was amazing--she apparently got it from her father, who was apparently also amazing. Unfortunately, I am total klutz, all thumbs, and find it very difficulty to learn from her example. Watching is not enough for some of us.
ddurrett896
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by ddurrett896 »

YouTube everything! I've learned 100% of my DIY skills from there.
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Kenkat
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Kenkat »

I learned most of my car repair and home repair skills from my dad. There wasn't too much he wouldn't repair and so I just sort of learned along with him. A lot of it is just having the confidence to try things and be willing to accept the occasional misstep.

I learned outdoor and landscaping skills from a high school job I had helping an older widow maintain her seven acre property. Drove a big Kubota tractor, cut down trees, took care of a mating pair of swans, sprayed plants, dug holes - you name it and I probably did it at least once.

With the Internet, you can often get step by step instructions which makes things even easier.

I do occasionally still have certain work done, but it is nice to be able to handle things yourself.
texasdiver
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by texasdiver »

From my Dad who was a depression-era farm kid and from my early jobs.

My first summer job during college was driving combines and wheat trucks on a harvesting crew. I learned a huge amount about repairing and maintaining heavy equipment and just gained confidence in being able to tackle projects.

Second job was on a commercial painting crew for a big painting company in Portland. I learned a huge amount from the old journeyman painters and picked up a lot from the other finish carpenters and such that we were working around.

Since then I just tackle projects. I use the Black and Decker series of books on home repair and home improvement. They are all excellent

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-Comp ... 004ROI4JO/
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MathWizard
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by MathWizard »

Older brothers, shop and the library.
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by sschullo »

Grew up on a farm where I learned lots of stuff: veggie gardening, operating dangerous farm machinery safely, roofing, fixing fences, chopping wood, maintaining machinery, repairing buildings, milking cows, taking care of livestock, fixing engines and machinery with my father, and other house chores such as canning, cleaning fish, painting, wall papering, oil, spark plug changes and tune ups when I was young and had a VW. Now, I hire out for just about everything, except swimming pool, gardening and back yard cleaning and trimming.

Right now, I have the biggest tomato plant in this county that I planted last Sept. and survived through the winter. It exploded in growth since late feb and has now produced 100 tomatoes, and still producing! Image

I learned to cook as an adult and so I am blanching and skinning the tomatoes and cooking and freezing delicious pasta sauce. My mother would be proud of my gardening skills with this one tomato plant. :sharebeer
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Spirit Rider
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Spirit Rider »

Growing up my dad had a business attached to the house. It was called "The Fix-it Shop". We pretty much fixed anything that existed in a 60's/70's house. I said we, because all the three boys worked in the shop from about the age of 12. Even my little sister had to work there (there were no boys left)

He didn't believe in hiring anyone to do automobile, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, tv repair, welding, etc... So we learned all of that growing up. Also, even though I was on a college track, I took auto-shop and machine shop in high school. I did most of my auto repairs out of financial necessity.

I ended up learning A/C installation and repair again out of necessity. I have a house heated by oil FHW and no duct work. Add to that, all windows are crank open casement windows. After dealing with many unprofessional HVAC companies, I just did it myself. Going on 20 years with just a couple of capacitors and a fan motor (all replaced my me).

P.S. I do oil changes and brake repairs myself (I don't trust them to do it right), but I now leave all the other repairs to the real mechanics. That is pretty much true of everything now. I might do a few things to see them done right or for enjoyment, but I generally hire someone else even though I could do it. Time to share the wealth.
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Kosmo
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Kosmo »

I learned some very basic stuff from my dad and a little bit more from my uncle. But mostly I learned by trial and error and reading about things. I do mainly around the house tasks (carpentry, drywall, electrical, flooring, etc.), but as for mechanical and electronic tinkering...things generally go back together in the reverse order it took to get them apart, it's not brain surgery.
barnaclebob
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by barnaclebob »

Grew up watching my grandpa make and fix just about everything and he would let me help with things. That gave me the DIY mentality. Any new skill is learned from youtube videos and internet forums. Once you get over the fear of messing things up and know when you have done enough research to not mess things up then DIY is very liberating.
Tamales
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Tamales »

I think it started from an early age, I was always taking things apart to see how they worked or how they were made. I used to build a lot of model planes and cars as a kid too (anyone remember the "visible V-8 engine" model from the '70's?). In junior high and high school I took sheetmetal, welding, aluminum foundry, fiberglass laminations, home construction, electronics, and several semesters of woodworking. Probably some others that slip my mind.

As a kid, we bought a house with a large unfinished basement, so I learned a lot from my dad as that was completed over the course of several years. The fact that he always had a full complement of hand and power tools around helped as well. I could tinker at-will.

I used to do most of my own car repairs, but that was back in the days when you could actually work on cars with a standard set of tools. I never rebuilt a car engine but did rebuild a couple motorcycle engines.

Once I moved out on my own, I did most everything myself, from electrical to plumbing to landscaping and irrigation to designing room additions and drawing city-approved plans. For whatever reason, it pains me to pay someone to do what I can do myself, even if a professional could do it a lot quicker. About the only aspects of house construction that I've not done at least once are concrete slab, HVAC, and roofing. Most of this was "pre-YouTube" so books and other people were the best sources to learn from.

So I just realized, I should easily be able to get a job at Home Depot once I get to semi-retirement ;o). I've learned over the years that if you have a question and you're in a big box home center, always find the older guys, who have actual practical experience. The younger ones just have textbook knowledge. I think the home centers are finally realizing that since the proportion of older folks seems higher than it used to be.

PS, no doubt all these years of DIY work has added countless thousands to my investable funds.
Last edited by Tamales on Mon May 25, 2015 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
jordank
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by jordank »

Grew up in a household where I was the oldest male, starting at about age 8. In a country where there was no 'oh, just go buy a replacement' option.. (ex Soviet block). Lots of encouragement from older male family friends, uncles, neighbors, with "of course you can do it, just try it" type of comments. Advice, ability to borrow tools, and lots and lots of trial and error. My first car was purchased with $250 as gifted to me by my mother, and had to be towed to our house (as part of the purchase price) - as the engine and transmission were in trunk... A month later - I drove it out of the garage...

These days - with the astonishing amount of information the Internet brings to everyone's home - it is SO much easier. Youtube, wikipedia, user forums about specific technology (cars, a/c, drywall, framing, landscaping, roofing... you name it it's out there). It is all about confidence, and the more knowledge you have about something - the more confident you are at trying it. So do as much research as makes you confident.

I still do all my own car maintenance, restore old cars, landscaping and home repair and improvement. The only things I have paid for in the last few years is roof work (I have a fear of heights, so I find it unpleasant ;-) , and large painting projects... painting is one of the most boring things one can do... happy for someone else do it. ;-)

I now think on what is the best way to instil this type of mentality into my children.... My plan is to have them help me at every point possible, as well as encourage them to explore the garage, tools... have their own 'projects' (bird houses, small play boats, kites, etc). And most importantly - teach them the process of learning about something, how it works, and then being able to choose the way to 'fix' it. What different tools do, how to use them safely, etc.

ps> Yes, you WILL break something, sometimes. And it will cost you MORE for someone else to fix your mistake. It's part of the game. As long as you stay safe, and don't brake yourself - it's just the cost of doing business.... Over your lifetime - those few mistakes will be mentioned with a smile...
DVMResident
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by DVMResident »

For handy DIY, I go to youtube. Demo and rebuilt a whole bathroom, installed new floors and cabinets, and put in new lighting using youtube videos.

Initially, it was because I was too cheap/couldn't afford contractors for everything. But I learned so much, I'm much more confidant when talking to contractors because I understand how long something should take and have a rough idea of material costs.
tim1999
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by tim1999 »

I'm not all that great, but what I do know, my father taught me while growing up and when I bought my first house.
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dbCooperAir
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by dbCooperAir »

My parents, Middle School and High School shop classes, working at the local small engine shop while in High School.

The biggest learning came from just being a broke kid growing up in a low to middle income household, you want to drive you bought and fixed your own car. Given the choice to walk to work or learn how to fix something made for some good motivation.

I had very open minded parents, they let me tear apart just about anything, I think I lost about 3 sets of my dads tools over the years.

I still fix and maintain our own cars and home.
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vtjon
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by vtjon »

I learned most from my dad. He was a shop teacher for many years and built kitchen cabinets at night. There is a story that I fell asleep in a set of kitchen cabinets they were building when I was about 18 months old and they could not find me for a while. We did a lot of projects when I was growing up (building a deck, a trailer, etc) and later remodeled one of my rental houses.

These days, I'm pretty busy so I do hire things out. However, my dad lives about 2 hours away so I joke that I pay people to work on my stuff at my house so I can drive to his house and help him work on things. It is good bonding time though and I know he enjoys spending the time now.

I use to think it was common that everybody knew how to do this kind of stuff. But as I've grown up, I've noticed that it's not as common as I thought. Some people find it funny when I tell them I'm capable of doing XXX (remodeling, etc) but I just don't like it too much anymore. I do have some reservations and wonder if my sons will be able to learn the same things and not grow up too "yuppie". We do live in a smallish, rural town so that will probably help.
Rodc
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Rodc »

Mom and dad certainly got me started.

Books at times helped as an adult.

Just pondering before starting helps a lot.

An auto mechanic once told me that 80% of the battle is just being brave enough to start.

Most things frankly are not that hard if you think it through and do not rush, and are meticulous about approach and details.

I have done all sorts of construction both rough and finish, fine furniture both wood and upholstery, painting, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, and automobile repair, etc.
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dbCooperAir
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by dbCooperAir »

Another thing that comes to mind when I look back at it.

It seems that less people maintain their own autos, keep the home front up to par etc.. But with todays products/engineering maintaining and or building something has become much more friendly. As an example I would rather work on a car from 2000's vs wrenching on a car from the 80's with 10 miles of vacuum lines and some leaky carb.

Same goes for building, lot the old hand framing has been replaced with trusses, the air nail is the best thing ever invented. Cast Iron pipe lead and oakum joints replaced with PVC. Copper water piping replaced with pex piping.

In some sense I can see why people choose not learn how to maintain and fix an auto, they are fairly reliable and just don't require as much as they used to.
Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. | -Dwight D. Eisenhower-
btenny
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by btenny »

I was a curios kid and had train set and erector set toys when I was 6-9. I also lived on a farm for several years as a kid and watched my dad fix tools and plant gardens and fields and so forth. Then when I got to 10 or so I got my first bike and I started "fixing" that for a few years. Then when I was 13 I worked all summer (yes I worked hard, 10+ hour days) for my uncle at his appliance repair and sales store. I learned how to haul washers and refrigerators with a hand cart. How to load them into trucks. How to take them apart and fix them and how the timers controlled stuff and how the electrical circuits would shock you and power the machines. I thought it was fun and it kept me busy and I got to play with my cousins at night and we went to the beach and Disneyland on the week ends. I also started to drive a little that summer. I did not even get paid $$. But my uncle did let me live at his house (he lived far from my home) and fed me and supported me and taught me a ton of stuff so I guess I got paid well.

From that point forward every vacation summer or winter I got some sort of "job" fixing stuff or working on a farm for one of my Dad's or Mom's friends somewhere until I went off to college. I worked in my brother in laws gas station on and off pumping gas and making some car repairs like fixing flats. I worked as a driver for farm tractors and working special machines. I worked in the repair shop fixing some of those machines. I took "shop class" in high school and learned to take apart car motors and weld steel and a run a big band saw and a few other machine tools. I was too young to drive but all my friends were older and had cars they were always fixing them and I helped some. I fixed stuff around the house for my folks.

In those days kids did lots of work and very few people worried about us getting hurt but we learned a ton about life as well as how stuff works. In many places around the world they still let kids work and call it "apprenticeship". I think we could learn a lot from that system.

Oh yea. They I studied engineering in college and took lots of classes on machines and how they work and then worked more summers as a technician fixing stuff and became a pretty good engineer by the time I graduated from school. Fun days.
dickyboy
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by dickyboy »

For the most part I've learned by doing. Made a few mistakes along the way but always learned from them so they weren't a total loss. I always felt that at the cost of hiring someone, you can afford to screw the whole project up and do it over and still come out ahead. But of course that doesn't ever happen. Some of the so called experts that you can hire really don't look all that sharp. I always take the attitude that if this dunce can do it...so can I. I've saved a pile of money over the years.
Andyrunner
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Andyrunner »

A mix of everything:

You-tube is a good for visuals, my dad, ask neighbors/friends, my father in law, books (currently reading a gardening book). I'm generally not afraid to ask basic questions. The challenge is to pick out the bad/incorrect answers.
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Abe »

I had three old push lawn mowers that have been in storage for three years. I tried everything, but I could not get them started. I asked a friend who is a good mechanic. He told me to get a can of Seafoam and pour some in the carburetor. It worked great and I got all three mowers running. I sold two and kept one. My wife was real proud. I have a handyman who works on my rental properties. I've learned a lot watching him. Here's a tip. Go to the hardware store (also on ebay or amazon) and buy something called Drain King. If you have a stopped up sewer line just connect it to a hose and stick in down in the sewer line and turn on the water. Most of the time it will unclog the line and save calling a plumber. I took shop in high school, and I've also learned a lot watching You Tube. I'm no expert, but I can do some things.

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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by celia »

I learned from my past mistakes (not too many). I used to take my daughter with me when I went to Home Depot. The one near us has former experienced trades people working there so I ask for their opinion. (Asking for help/advise from others is something your kids also need to see. I believe that's why many of them don't ask their teachers for help.)
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Mudpuppy »

In chronological order, my great grandparents (cattle ranchers and farmers), then the library, then the Internet. A lot of the plumbing knowledge comes from having aquariums as a hobby since high school. I also took woodworking classes in college. So I do most of the minor work around the house like replacing faucets and toilet fills, repairing sprinklers, repairing the fence, etc.

I do however hire someone for anything involving the roof, including cleaning the roof-mounted HVAC unit. I wouldn't say I have a fear of heights, but I do have a fear of falling. And I also hire for any big jobs, just simply due to not having enough free time to tackle big things.

Edit: And I let a mechanic deal with the car. That's not something I learned as a kid and I don't have enough spare time to pick it up now.
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Mudpuppy »

sschullo wrote:Right now, I have the biggest tomato plant in this county that I planted last Sept. and survived through the winter. It exploded in growth since late feb and has now produced 100 tomatoes, and still producing!
That is one massive tomato plant that seems to have plans to take over the yard.... The table and chairs look to be the first "victims" of its reach.
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by gkaplan »

Mudpuppy wrote:
sschullo wrote:Right now, I have the biggest tomato plant in this county that I planted last Sept. and survived through the winter. It exploded in growth since late feb and has now produced 100 tomatoes, and still producing!
That is one massive tomato plant that seems to have plans to take over the yard.... The table and chairs look to be the first "victims" of its reach.
The attack of the killer tomatoes.
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black jack
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by black jack »

I learned how to do some things from helping my dad; he could do most anything, and learned what he knew from shop class, Army mechanic training, books and experimentation. I wish he was still around.

Years ago I used to consult books (Readers Digest, Time Life, Home Depot) and magazines (Family Handyman, This Old House). I used to say that anyone who could read and was patient could learn to do anything. Nowadays I rely on the Internet, and especially Youtube; it's so valuable to be able to watch someone demonstrate how to do something. I never ceased to be impressed at how many people are willing to share their knowledge with others there (I'm impressed by how many people are willing to share their knowledge with others here, too, but it's easier to write something out than to shoot and upload a video).
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by carolinaman »

I am reasonably handy around the house and less so with cars although I have done my own tune ups and simpler repairs. OTOH, my son is pretty amazing. He can do anything with cars: replace engine, transmission, etc. He is a small home remodeler and can literally do anything that a house requires ranging from carpentry, flooring, tile, electrical, plumbing, finishing, landscaping, etc. In high school he had a used car and learned a lot doing his own repairs. He started framing houses shortly after high school and gradually acquired knowledge and skill in all phases of construction, basically OJT. He seemed to have a knack for this from the beginning. Even when he was in high school, he often would assemble or install something that had me baffled. I was often confused reading installation instructions but he would read them quickly and do whatever was required.
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whatusername?
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by whatusername? »

Google, YouTube, and shamelessly asking for advice from people who know (and bribing them for help if I need it; a case of beer will get you a lot of good advice in these parts). Works for everything from computer repair to hanging drywall.
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Bengineer
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Bengineer »

I grew up the child of parents that had experienced the depression. Frugal would be generous. We built a studio & barn ourselves, getting help only for skilled carpentry like cutting rafters. We had a few horses during my teen years, so maintaining the land and equipment of what would now be called a "horse property" was part of the chore list. I worked various construction trades summers during college. I bought my first car, "built" the engine and repaired everything else. I think the half of it is that there was never any question that I would build, repair, or debug whatever it was, just wade in and figure it out.

It was dad, how-to books & friends in the early days. Now it is searching internet fora and youtube.
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fire5soon
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by fire5soon »

My dad can fix or build just about anything. I wanted to be like him, so I tried to learn. If I can learn just 10% of what that guy knows then I'll be fortunate. I lost interest in my teenage years and missed many opportunities to learn and spend time with him. Luckily I got over that a long time ago and am trying to learn as much as I can from him. Otherwise, youtube is nice but you have to be able to sift out the folks who really don't know what they're doing and are just getting lucky.

I try to do as much as I can myself whether it's auto repair, home repair, building needed items, helping others, etc. I'm a DIY kind of guy because 1) I'm too cheap to pay someone else if I can do it myself, 2) I really like being as self-reliant as possible, 3) I enjoy learning how things work and the sense of pride in accomplishing something on your own.
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3Wood85
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by 3Wood85 »

Youtube and handy family members / neighbors
roflwaffle
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by roflwaffle »

Mostly the internet and repair/howto manuals. Forums are a great resource for filling in the blanks.
TerryDMillerMBA
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by TerryDMillerMBA »

I started out very un-handy. Ever since about 1991 I have been growing in knowledge. Invariably, my friends are all people who are more mechanically inclined than I am (I am a computer/biz/math/music person = everything but!), and I pick up more and more things as I combat my fear.

One friend instilled a "Boglehead"-ish attitude into me without really realizing it. He mumbled that it 'is a luxury to pay someone to do something that you know how to do, or that you can learn.'
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livesoft
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Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by livesoft »

This is a great thread for me because there I can see where a lot of folks figured out how to do things without help from their parents. I know that my kids have never wanted to help me fix anything, so they will not learn that kind of stuff from me. In a sense, I feel that I am off-the-hook as far as that goes with parental duties. They will have to figure it out for themselves and will likely succeed at that, too.
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Atilla
Posts: 1459
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:44 pm

Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Atilla »

I credit my German heritage. For better or worse, we know how to get things done. A soon as I get back home next week I'm ripping up the deck to replace rotten wood.
Caduceus
Posts: 2827
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by Caduceus »

That's what boyfriends are for :D
ShiftF5
Posts: 751
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:59 pm

Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by ShiftF5 »

Mostly I learned just by jumping in and getting dirty. Many things, excluding electrical, plumbing, and roofing can be fun to learn and not a major problem if done incorrectly.

I really enjoy being able to do repairs and updates without having to call someone.

Being willing to jump in and not be afraid to try is step #1. I think that stops many people.

Again -- water, electrical and roofing -- I call a pro.
lightheir
Posts: 2571
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:43 pm

Re: Do-it-yourself handy person: How did you learn?

Post by lightheir »

Man, youtube is amazing. I dont' have any handy background, yet after watching a 10 min youtube video, I just did a cartridge replacement of a leaky shower - without youtube, there was no way I could even make sense of the written instructions, and I'm really good at reading things like that. But the youtube videos made it a cakewalk.
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