Popular Mechanics Projects

Gordon got his first subscription to Popular Mechanics because he had a call center job and subscribed to ten different magazines to stave off the soul-sucking boredom. Turns out, it is now the only one of the ten we still take. We made our first PM project after getting serious sticker shock while looking for a meat smoker and then finding plans in the magazine to build one out of a 55-gallon drum instead. We were hooked.

A couple years later, Gordon found several old (we’re talking 1950s) issues at a thrift store and discovered he likes the magazine even better when it’s pretty out of date, so when he discovered Google books had an archive of old issues going back to 1905, he was thrilled. Especially in earlier years, the magazine was full of build-it-yourself projects of varying difficulty. And until October, 1960, the subtitle for each issue was “Written so you can understand it.” It’s every ambitious amateur handyman/electrician/carpenter/boatbuilder/mad scientist’s dream.

Since finding the archives, Gordon has been working his way through projects spanning a dozen decades. He’s also started rating the projects based on the exactness of the instructions, easiness to build, and relevance. I’ll update this list as we go, but for now, here’s what we have:

Casserole Carrier – 1977



   55-Gallon Drum Smoker – 2012



Lino Print your Own Christmas Cards – 1977



Make a Knife out of an Old File – 1944



Telephone Notepad from “New Plastic” – 1936



Any fans of Popular Mechanics or DIY projects or the 1950s out there? We’re open to project suggestions!

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