Your crafty older relatives used to have to mail-order their video tutorials or wait for “This Old House” reruns to get their DIY on, but the age of streaming video has been good to those who like to tinker and try out neat tricks. From prying open beer bottles with telephone bills to picking locks, from sealing chips to folding T-shirts, we’ve posted a lot of concise but instructive clips at Lifehacker. Today we’re featuring 10 of our favourites, chosen for the tricks they teach as well as their watchable quality. Get ready to fill some weekend project time.
Hit the play buttons below to find out how to:
10. Buy a car without getting screwed.
Maybe you're the type of guy or gal who changes their own oil, keeps up on the latest auto trends and news, and knows exactly what to pay for a used 2003 Honda Accord DX with new tires. Most of us, though, feel blindsided when it's time to talk sticker price. Car guy Rob Gruhl can help ease the jitters with a fast-moving, five-minute video on what to look for, how to haggle, and how not to walk off with a lemon.
9. Seal chips without a clip.
Few things feel as disappointingly avoidable as finding a bag of tortilla, potato, or kettle chips completely crisp-less the morning after a party or pig-out session. This handy clip, however, shows how you can put an air-tight seal on your crunchy comestibles without having to get up for a clip (even the super-useful binder kind).
8. Get eight watch batteries from a AA.
Before hunting down and shelling out for cell batteries for your watch or micro-gadgets, consider the clip above, which shows how you can get eight watch batteries from a 12-volt (AA) battery. It seems unreal, until you crack open a 9-volt battery and find six AAAs inside. Sadly, not every battery is full of magical cheaper-than-store-bought goodness, as we learned the hard way. But for those batteries that do give up the free voltage, it's a neat hack. (via Instructables)
7. Fold a T-shirt in two motions perfectly (and fast).
The narration on this one is in Japanese, but all you have to do is watch to see how to fold a T-shirt perfectly—and fast!—in two motions. It'll take a few viewings to get your brain around what's happening, but mastering this one will make laundry-folding time actually fun.
6. Open a beer bottle with paper.
Sad but true: You will almost always win more accolades, and whispers of "brilliant" or "genius," by opening a beer with the flimsiest of materials than by changing a friend's flat. Having said that, popping a beer bottle with paper is really cool, and saves you or your fellow imbibers the time and embarrassment of hunting down an opener. Collegiate wisdom, however, warns that trying too many times on the same bottle can have eruptive side-effects, so practicing over a sink might be a good idea. (via Instructables)
5. Suck less at Photoshop.
Few software tutorials can make you laugh out loud—no offence, Mr. O'Reilly—but Donnie Hoyle makes it look effortless with his "You Suck at Photoshop" series. Hoyle not only teaches the kinds of things most people are really going to want to learn, like cloning, dodge-and-burning, and other photo touch-ups, and keeps the tips engaging by mixing them with surrealist, cynical humor. Months after watching the above clip, you'll still be thinking of layer tools when you see a beat-up "Vanagon."
4. Upgrade or replace your MacBook's memory.
Our own enthusiastic hardware hacker Adam Pash didn't feel like paying a super-premium to get more memory into his MacBook Pro, and you shouldn't either. In his instructive walk-through, he showed how to pop open your Mac laptop and make a simple memory upgrade. It's detailed but simple enough that most of us wouldn't feel bad leaving their parents to do it, and that's saying something.
3. Pick a lock with a bump key.
It's not a bad idea to have a last-resort plan for getting into your house or car when you have an I-can't-believe-I-did-that emergency, but forget the 10-piece kits and CIA training. A "bump key" is the layman's way of picking a lock&
mdash;something that, unfortunately, a lot of less-scrupulous types have known for some time. This video shows you everything you need to know, but keep in mind it's illegal in most states to be found in possession of such a tool, so don't plan on carrying this thing around in your cargo pockets. (via Wired's How-To Wiki).
2. Boost your Wi-Fi signal with tinfoil parabolas.
Extend and strengthen your Wi-Fi router's signal by fashioning a couple of tinfoil parabolas and putting them on your antenna. The experts at DL.TV demonstrate how to make a couple of "Windsurfers" for your home router so the signal makes it all the way to the basement. The guys in the vid said the parabola doubled his signal strength; our own Kyle said he only saw about a 5% gain—either way, worth it for the cost of glue, paper, and tinfoil. Here's the parabolic template for printing out your own "Windsurfer."
1. Turn a $5 flashlight into a $95 torch.
We're big fans of any DIY project that turns a simple consumer purchase into a value-added wonder at Lifehacker, and Kip Kay's tutorial on turning a checkout-aisle flashlight into a space-signaling LED torch definitely ranks amongst them. Best of all, no soldering required.
Got your own favourite how-to clip from our archives, or your own collection, that inspired you to break out the tool kit? Have an instructional video that helped you through a tough process? Let's see it in the comments.