These days, when it comes to skills development, the focus is very much on digital prowess – coding, design, data analysis – and not so much on the hands-on practical skills that humanity has developed ever since the caveman began experimenting with tools. Since then, men and women have achieved incredible feats of personal engineering through the practice and development of practical skills. If you feel you’re accomplished in the virtual or business world at the expense of some good old-fashioned DIY skills, then take a look through this step-by-step guide to learning and refining life-long hands-on techniques.
Choose Your Battles
First and foremost, you’ll need to be shrewd with what personal projects you choose to take on. This is based largely on context – your current skill level, your availability, and your ability to source specialist tools and materials. If you’ve never used a hammer, it’s probably best to avoid ambitious cabinet-building projects until you know your way around some basic carpentry. Taking on a practical project is exciting and rewarding, but should meet your current skill set.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking on something that seems daunting. You’ll discover that patience and have a willingness to learn are crucial in completing any construction or DIY project to a good standard. Never rush into a project either – it’s about picking something that’s within the realms of possibility and settling down to consider what to do next.
Plan and Learn
All good project planners – whether on a grand scale or a tiny domestic plan – will break down their tasks into smaller components which will then fit on a timeline of things you’ve got to get done. You can’t fit the legs on a table without buying the wood; you won’t be able to replace a bike’s wheel without having the correct tools and some form of instruction to guide you through it.
It’s likely that there are some parts of every project you’re quite confident in, like sanding wood, tightening screws, or sewing material. If you’re developing your practical skills, though, you’ll certainly be under-skilled in one or two areas. This is where learning comes in. Watch YouTube tutorials from trusted channels, read through DIY websites and manuals, and don’t be afraid to ask friends, relatives or even store owners for advice – they’ll always be happy to help.
Buy Materials and Tools
While your hands-on project could range from rebuilding a laptop to creating a garden fence, there are some materials and tools that are fairly universal in their application to a wide range of practical tasks. A screw-driver, hammer, wrench, pliers – you get the picture. All of these should be in your possession, in a toolbox of your most commonly required tools. Plenty of projects require one or two specialist tools, which you could either borrow, rent, or buy – depending on your budget and your likelihood to reuse them.
You’ll also need the materials. Do your research here; it pays in DIY to understand the pros and cons of each material, instead of blindly following an instruction manual. It’s similar to cooking. Follow a recipe, and you’ll know how to cook one dish; understand how the flavors combine and how the cooking enhances those flavors, and you’ll be expanding your skill base. Order your materials online from reputable sources such as Custom Fittings Ltd for quick, hassle-free delivery as well as tailor-made advice.
Start Your Project
You’ve now got everything you need to commence your venture into DIY skills development. Once again though, it’s imperative not to rush. Take your time and follow a plan, and be aware of both safety concerns and the implications of a botch job for the longevity or functionality of whatever you’re making. See the process as a slow, methodical journey, not a hammer-and-tongs bonanza, tempting as that may be when you get your hands on your tools for the first time.
Pay attention to each task you’re doing and, again, try to understand how this will eventually contribute towards your final creation. To give an example, if you’re creating a metal structure that needs to be very strong to avoid collapse, understand why you’re following instructions for triangular patterns, and why you need different nuts, bolts, and washers to assure reliability. This means you’ll be storing information for the future when you’ll hopefully no longer need to follow any advice.
Don’t Let Setbacks Frustrate You
This is probably the biggest source of unfinished projects: setbacks becoming so intensely frustrating that you put your spanner through a window or give up on the project you’ve worked on. Perhaps these responses sound extreme, but you’ll likely meet a DIY mishap on your first couple of projects that really calls you to question your overall motives for taking the project on.
Be calm and collected and take breaks from the project when it becomes something of an ordeal – DIY should be fun. You are training your hands alongside your brain, so the moment it ceases to be fun is the moment to step back and take stock. Come back to your project with a calm, practical-minded approach to deal with the problem. Maybe you’ll need to do some disassembling or buy new materials – all solutions you come up with are essential elements of your practical schooling. It’s all part of the learning process.
Celebrate the End Result
Finally, once your project is finished, it’s important to reserve time to reward yourself for the time, effort, energy and mental capacity you’ve invested in whatever DIY project you’ve been working on. Be proud of the achievement and don’t be afraid to show it off to friends on social media. Plenty of projects never reach their conclusions, so just finishing something to whatever standard is cause for celebration.
At the same time, though, evaluate what went well, what could be improved, and what you’d do differently next time. Check the quality of your work and consider where you might have rushed parts, or even spent too long and wasted time on irrelevant work. As mentioned earlier, your constant awareness of your own working abilities is a fundamental part of developing practical skills. Keep in mind your development as it happens, and crack on with your next project with more confidence.