T Nation

Learning a Trade


I'm sure this has been asked a time or 2 before but a search yielded nothing so I thought I'd ask.

I'm pretty busy with about 50hrs/week of work, a 1.5 yr old, and I'll be jumping on as a volunteer EMT here pretty soon but I'd really like to be able to start learning basic handy-man skills. I never really got any as a kid aside from whatever Boy Scouts taught and when I tried to amateurishly fix things after breaking them.

I don't own my house so projects are few and far between but I like to build things although admittedly that is rare. Essentially, I'd like to learn about basic electrical work so I can run wire, fix broken switches, etc. Also some basic plumbing, construction, small engine repair, and whatever else may pop up.

I don't really have the funds or time available to be able to go to community college or anything like that so I'm just looking for reading materials or other ways to learn. I try and tag along whenever a friend does some work and I've helped with demolition, renovating a kitchen, and a couple other projects so I'm not completely inept- just desiring to do more.

For reading materials- preferably online as my work has lots of down time as processes run so I could study up as I "work".

Any recommendations or ideas?

/tldr- need resources for learning home repair, basic trade skills, etc on a money/time budget.


Years ago when i was a kid we had at home an encyclopdic collection of Popular Mechanics Do it youself books. They were great, check your local library.


Google and YouTube are your friends. I've learned a shitload from there.


People overlook youtube as a valuable source of info and training on all sorts of
subjects including tons of ''handy man' training and tricks of the trade...It's not just for viewing Kittens chasing laser lights and
cops beating up on civilians...lol.


Toss in a few PMs to Skyzyks and you've got the trifecta.


Those are good, and keep doing the hands on stuff too. You never know when a bolt or screw is going to break or strip or sink too deep until you can feel it and just kind of know.

Same with a lot of the measuring and cutting type tasks. Sometimes a hair too big is perfect, sometimes not. Sometimes you cut it twice and its Still too short!


Also, if you're interested in learning car stuff, try listening to NPR's Car Talk. Entertaining and educational.


Maybe, but you gotta do better than that....are those NPR shows archived and indexed somewhere?
Or does one have to make time in their busy schedule to tune in and listen at specific times?


You can get to them here: http://www.cartalk.com/content/browse-shows


Look up NPR in the iTunes (free podcasts) store too. Now I just download and listen to them on my MP3 player.


All good stuff. I guess I just have to filter down my search criteria on YouTube and google.

Car stuff I get a decent amount of exposure on as I do as much of my own work as I can and I have a few ex-mechanic buddies with lifts and every tool needed.


My dad was a handy guy, did all sorts of things like building a house from the ground up. He had this set of Audels books that covered just about anything, 1950's technology though. I wish I would have saved those when he fled NY in 1991. If you could find an updated set that was comparable, it would be gold.

I have 2 sons, one age 24 with a liberal arts degree that is working as a summer custodian. The other quit college during his 1st semester, he bounced around waiting tables, but got into working in machine shops. He's a 3rd generation (maybe 4th even...) machinist in the family. I made a lot of money in the trade over the years.

I tried to steer them into something in the medical trade as an x-ray tech, etc. Even working as a mortuary assistant while earning a defree in that field. A guy I went to school with now owns 2 funeral homes. Anyway, people seem to steer away from jobs that can make you real money. They all want to do their 4 years and think they're gonna make $60K a year when they graduate and not get their hands dirty.