We feature a lot of do-it-yourself projects here at Lifehacker, but often they seem undoable because they require a skill you don’t have. Thankfully, there are quite a few DIY skills out there that are much easier to learn than you think. Here are our 10 favourites.
Instead of waiting around for someone to build the exact program you need, knowing how to code means you can make it yourself. To get started, check out our Night School lesson on learning to code. It’ll introduce you to the basics. While you won’t be writing the next great operating system within a few weeks, you could easily get started on making your own website or putting together a Chrome extension. And, after tackling your first coding project and doing a bit more research, you can move onto something bigger.
9. Working with Electronics
A lot of the coolest DIY projects out there require working closely with electronics like an Arduino. If you’re trying to create a house of the future or just put together your own ambient lighting setup, you’ll need a basic knowledge of electronics and (probably) soldering. Luckily, there are simple how-to comic books for getting started with both, not to mention our own feature on making your own electronics with Arduino and someone else’s code. Not that you need someone else’s code since you read #10, right?
Stereotypical gender roles aside, everyone should have a little sewing knowledge. Whether it’s just so you can sew a button back on or fix size issues in an otherwise perfect shirt, knowing how to thread a needle can come in handy. Best of all, it’s super easy to learn the basics — this illustrated guide is a good place to start.
7. Auto Maintenance
Car repairs are actually pretty easy to perform and pretty hard to screw up. You’d be surprised by what you can pull off and the kind of money you can save doing things for yourself. Check out our list of car repairs that anyone can do themselves, despite their abilities for more info. That way, when you see the check engine light, you’ll break out the toolbox rather than heading to your nearest dealership.
6. Home Repair
Everyone should be able to patch up a little bit of their house, whether it’s fixing a hole in the wall, filling a hole in the floor or even just fixing a stripped screw hole. You should also know a few basic things about plumbing, like how to unclog a drain. None of these things are very difficult, but knowing how to do them saves you a call to a repair man (not to mention a bit of money) when something does go wrong. Image: Sharon Pruitt.
If you’re still eating cereal and two-minute noodles three meals a day, it’s time to learn a few things about cooking. Check out our 10+ dishes and drinks everyone should know how to make at home, plus how to eat healthy when you hate cooking. And if you’re on a budget, don’t let that stop you — you can still enjoy great food without blowing a lot of money, too.
4. Photo Editing
So maybe you’ve got the basics of photography down, but you’ve always wanted to learn how to make those photos look even more awesome with software like Photoshop. We’ve taught you how to touch up photos with colour correction, whiten teeth, remove blemishes, brighten an image, change a specific colour and more in our learn the basics of Photoshop Night School, so check that out to get a primer on everything you can do to edit a photo. If you don’t want to pay for Photoshop, though, it’s worth noting you can do all those things in the free, cross-platform Gimp as well. While you’re at it, check out our photoshop tag to see all the Photoshop tips and tricks we’ve shared over the years.
3. Building A Computer From Scratch
If you’re still buying Dells, it’s time to take the leap into custom computer building. You’ll get a lot more out of your machine, being able to control what you put in and get the perfect PC for your needs — plus, if you’re lucky, even save a little money. Check out our Night School on how to build a computer from the ground up to see how easy it really is.
2. Jailbreaking/Rooting Your Phone
You’ve heard us talk about it constantly, whether we’re sharing the 10 best root-only Android apps or how to remove manufacturer-installed junk like Carrier IQ. If you still haven’t rooted or jailbroken your phone, it’s time to take the plunge, because it’s super easy. We have guides for both Android and the iPhone, plus a whole host of information on what to do after you’ve jailbroken or rooted your phone.
1. Emergency Preparedness
It’s hard to argue that survival isn’t the most important thing on this list. If you don’t already have a 72 hour emergency kit and some basic survival skills, there’s no better time than now to learn. You never know when disaster might strike and when it does, you may very well be left on your own, so knowing how to help yourself can make a big difference — even a strategically placed phone can be part of a good emergency plan. And, as always, none of this is actually very hard — it just requires a bit of forethought.
Got any easy, useful DIY skills we forgot to mention? Tell us about them in the comments.
Title photo by 3355m (Shutterstock).