a red book cover with white outline illustrations of people making stuff and doing things

Making Stuff and Doing Things: DIY Guides to Just About Everything

by Kyle Bravo Editor

When you’re young, broke, and in search of a life of adventure, Making Stuff and Doing Things is the most useful book on the planet. It’s been called “more important than the Bible.” It’s an indispensable handbook full of basic life skills for the young punk or activist, or for anyone who’s trying to get by, get stuff done, and live life to the fullest without a lot of money. The book started as a series of zines, with dozens of contributors setting down the most important skills they knew in concise, often hand-written pages. If you want to do it yourself or do it together, this book has it all, from making your own tooth paste to making your own art and media, feeding, clothing, cleaning, and entertaining yourself, surviving on little, living on less, and staying healthy on all your life’s adventures. You’ll never be bored again.


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Want more DIY books? Make your home handy, clean, and cozy with Raleigh Briggs' Make Your Place. Or learn to make things like bike trailers and musical instruments out of found scraps in Matte Resist's How and Why.

Looking to make your year more witchy? Check out Friday Gladheart's The Practical Witch's Almanac.

Comments & Reviews


It’s an indispensable handbook full of basic life skills for the young punk or activist, or for anyone who’s trying to get by, get stuff done, and live life to the fullest without a lot of money.



"...no matter what part of your life you wish to apply the DIY aesthetic to, you're sure to uncover some helpful advice around such matters within these pages."


"The bottom line is this: there will be tons of stuff readers don’t wish to know as well as tons of desirable skills to dip into. Making a packing-tape wallet, block printing, silk-screening, gardening, composting, punk-rock touring and more are featured in this great collection."

Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/entertainment/article121972049.html#storylink=cpy


"Making Stuff & Doing Things presents the information in a cheeky, humorous style and some of the ideas are off the wall, but other ideas are quite inventive and useful."



It's rare to find ANY book that can encompass many different topics while remaining relevant. This book accomplishes it however while not risking its poignancy and subtle charm. A must buy for anyone ready to get of their ass.


"Perhaps the best known, general-purpose, Do-it-Yourself guide around, Bravo’s comprehensive compilation of his legendary HOW2 zines includes information on projects as prosaic as bike-cart building and homebrewing and as potentially controversial as billboard liberation and birth control. An indispensable resource for the DIY “lifestyle” no matter what your level of commitment to it might be."


"Perhaps the best known, general-purpose, Do-it-Yourself guide around, Bravo’s comprehensive compilation of his legendary HOW2 zines includes information on projects as prosaic as bike-cart building and homebrewing and as potentially controversial as billboard liberation and birth control. An indispensable resource for the DIY “lifestyle” no matter what your level of commitment to it might be."


The most useful book I have ever bought and I recon it changed my life a bit too. :]


Quite possibly the best illustrated and most helpful DIY guide I have ever come across!


I saw this at Urban Outfitters. Hey, I like some of their stuff, and they sell magazines at half off after the month is over, but what's this doing there? I am not into elitist pedagogies among punk/Diy stuff, but that seems kind of...odd?


pretty much the most imporant and useful thing i own. thanks kyle - and the other writers.


this is BY FAR the most useful ten dollars I have spent in my life.


Making Stuff & Doing Things, the DIY book compiled by Kyle Bravo fell into my lap last summer. I was enraptured by the book, with its guides to doing just about everything under the sun – from playing guitar to making toothpaste – and by the use of the original layouts. I learnt about Hot Iron Press through the book. Unfortunately Hot Iron Press was in an area of New Orleans badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina – and the collapsing levees – during the Summer of 2005. I emailed Kyle to see if he would be willing to answer some questions about how Katrina had affected them, their reaction to Hot Iron Press being badly damaged and what the future held after the damage.


Honestly it wasn't as amazing as i thought it was, it still has neat ideas out, and if you can get it from here, or the library, or to support your local bookstore, I'd recommend it, as a beginners guide to DIY


Pretty good book. Well written, tons of info, I liked it.


I absolutely want this book. I will order it within the next 48 hours I'm sure of it.


This is probably the best DIY book I've ever held in my hands. Tons of this shit comes in handy all the time.


Within hours of reading this book, I had made dozens of pins out of crap that I would normally sweep into the trash. Its full of amazing information without being too heavy handed or too general. This book should be a staple in every punk house!


It seems like over the past month, so many people have said 'I wish I knew how to...' and I'd be able to say 'wait! It says how to do that in this new book I got!' This book really covers so much and it's so fun to look at. Thanks for all the great information. Its very motivating.


Totally an awesome book. Probably one of my favorite microcosm releases so far.


wow, how fucking amazing... ive already set up a greywater system in my bathroom, although im still tweaking it... the gardening section kicks ass, and i appreciated the part on "how to pee standing up." although i wish i'd thought of it first. not one bit of wasted space here. =] get this!


Totally worth ever penny and every second that I waited for it.


This book will be your own personal punk rock bible, it's amazing! Buy it now!


Well worth the wait. I haven't even gotten a chance to read it all, but it's already better than I expected.

This is not some DIY guide that comes with a subscription to Men's Health or Home and Garden. This is about becoming independent of others' agendas and living life as far out of the system as possible. This book comes off as a mix of Crimethinc literature, The Anarchist Cookbook, and punk rock cut and paste zines, with a dash of inspirational rants thrown in for good measure. Where else can you learn how to make puppets, find the g-spot, and relieve menstrual cramps? Build a silkscreen and then make toothpaste? Homebrew root beer and then learn how to play guitar? This book is clearly useful and inspiring to anyone living life outside of what is conventional in today's society. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to think outside of the box. There is seriously something for everyone in here (yes, even those who want to compost their own fecal matter).

Quite some time ago, Kyle Bravo put together a couple of issues of a zine called How2Zine. These zines were so thick they couldn’t even be stapled; I think my copies are bound with rubber bands. They overflowed with DIY tips on many, many different subjects. Now these zines have been compiled into a book representing the collective knowledge of a wide array of clever contributors. Just a sampling of topics: self-education, self-publishing, bookbinding and screenprinting, shoe repair, juggling, stenciling, gardening, insulative cooking, solar box cooking, wine and beer making, sex and health, pet care, creative recycling, home repair, and transportation. Yes, that’s a lot, and it’s only the beginning. This book belongs on the bookshelves of those who don’t want to just drive to the nearest box store for what they need. Highly recommended.

Kyle Bravo (Hot Iron Press) has compiled a pretty amazing resource book here in the same spirit as 2002's Stolen Sharpie Revolution (also from Microcosm). As the cover says, this book is "A Collection of DIY Guides to Doing Just About Everything" and I'm inclined to say that's no exaggeration. The many chapters include "Get Up & Go", "Self-Education", "Self-Publishing & Producing", "Arts & Crafts", "Creative Troublemaking", "Outdoor Survival", "Pet Care" and "Transportation" but that's only some of them. This is the book for you if you want to learn basic electrical wiring, bike repair, recycling tips, how to avoid ear infections, how to make root beer, composting, bookbinding, how to juggle or probably just about anything else you might be curious about. Plus, check out that great (wraparound) cover by Cristy Road.

Kyle Bravo was editor of How 2 fanzine and up until Hurricane Katrina was residing in New Orleans, where he also played music and ran a punk distro. How 2 fanzine, as far as I’m aware, no longer exists and this is Microcosm’s way of keeping his ideas in circulation. The thinking behind How 2 was an obscure one and just another example of how broad the parameters of fanzine culture can be stretched. Bravo offered us his D.I.Y solutions to just about all of life’s problems in the shape of alternative methods to resolving domestic and other issues. Ever contemplate alternative ways of disposing of your own urine? Uhhh … no, me either!! Well, in case you have, Kyle recommends pissing into a bottle kept under your bed when you don’t feel like making that long trek to the bathroom in the middle of the night … once the bottle is full you empty it out in the backyard … this will help with your garden’s growth! Can’t see that one catching on to be honest Kyle, (haven’t we already been there?) although I wouldn’t put anything past these soap-dodgers!
More useful tips include instructions for bike repairs, plumbing, silk-screen prints, stenciling, cooking, traveling and my own personal favorites “How to unstink your socks” (ever heard of a washing machine?) and D.I.Y. toothpaste (I shit you not brothers and sisters). Things really take a turn for the worse when our Kyle starts offering advice on butt-plugs and a woman’s guide on how to piss standing up.
The term “folk knowledge” is used to describe the advice given in this book, which I think is accurate. Every generation has a wealth of solutions to everyday problems and you can relate it to times past when we didn’t have such things as washing machines, glue, etc, etc. but society has moved on for better or worse and certain mechanisms have become obsolete. Progression isn’t always bad and for instance, I like the idea that we how have to use toilets instead of homemade bedpans, but some people will insist on taking D.I.Y. extremes.
There’s some useful information contained herein, but a good chunk of it is plain ridiculous, where the author cannot bring himself to accept that our idea of change doesn’t always have to be a backward step. We can move forward and be creative without becoming the next Bill Gates, but fear of the future and a blanket resistance to al advances in technology is something we will need to overcome in order to do so.

If there is a book you get this year this is it. That is, of course, if you are interested in learning to do just about everything on your own. There is no fiction or folklore in here. It is all how-to actions. This massive compilation is split into various sections based upon the subject matter. For instance, there are sections on home improvement (like fixing a toilet or sink), transportation (like fixing a bike or car), mischief (wheatpasting or stenciling), health (herbal medicines and remedies), as well as guides on composting properly and on your own, building your own home, eating, drinking (making your own root beer!), and about everything that could possibly be a part of your life. It’s like the Time-Life series for punks all in one volume, for one low-low price! Seriously though, this is really a great resource for so many things, I want to try them all. This will be my survival guide for the Winter more or less. Essential if you are at all interested in doing things on your own and without the assistance of a repairman, mechanic, interior decorator, chef, etc.

In recent years, punk/radical culture has spawned a stunning amount of DIY guides, usually published in small-run, xeroxed zine format. They have emerged as a way to share and disperse new folk knowledge discovered by and gleaned from those involved in low-cost, resourceful living.

This book is by far the most extensive DIY guide I’ve seen, packed with ways to hone your self-reliance skills and aid your retreat from capitalism’s grasp. It is arranged into topics such as: Self-Education, Fun & Entertainment, Arts & Crafts, Clothing, Creative Troublemaking, Gardening, Food & Drink, Pet Care, Outdoor Survival, Health & Body, Inspiration. Aside from DIY lifestyle staples that you would expect from this type of book: zine-making, sewing machine use, healthy sex tips, wild food gathering, wheat-pasting, home brewing, dumpster-diving, herbal medicine, working on bikes - some fun and funny creations and contraptions. More novel highlights include “The Fang Jockey,” a turntable modification using a paperclip as the needle to create a noisemaking machine, how to unstink your multiple day-old socks, DIY flowerpots from old vinyl records, and how women can pee standing up. All in all Making Stuff and Doing Things presents a good balance between the pragmatic and the fun, the everyday and the strange. All of the entries retain their original zine format, typed or handwritten, often with hand drawn examples and illustrations.

Rest assured, with Making Stuff and Doing Things in your library you’ll never again have an excuse to be bored. Not like you ever had one to begin with…

Now here's an exciting compilation that makes a whole lot of sense! Divided into 18 sections, what you get is 115 "how to" articles of which Kyle Bravo himself contributes 17! My midwife picked the book up off my desk not only because of the book's title, but because of the colorful, artfully drawn cover. Thumbing through, she saw plenty she was interested in learning to do herself and wanted to know how to get her own copy. My Mother-in-law's husband, who we affectionately refer to as "The Energy Saver" is also planning on getting himself a copy. Already a sensibly frugal, outdoors mountaineer kind of guy, he was immediately drawn into the book because of the amount and variety of articles. I mention these two examples [to demonstrate] this book's wide appeal, reaching far beyond the punk DIY subculture. In a mainstream, corporate culture that has yet again co-opted and turned inside out a subcultural phenomenon, in this case the term DIY, reaching far beyond the punk DIY subculture while staying true to the spirit and motivation from which DIY hails is a fantastic feat. Beyond simply practical and useful information, this is an entertaining, fun, and inspirational collection of folk knowledge that resonates with passionate DIY spunk. It's from real people, not corporate "DIY article" copywriters at Martha Stewart's magazine who play it safe and smooth out the edges. In this book, you won't find shopping lists telling you exactly what to buy and where to buy it alongside instructions telling you exactly how the finished product should look and feel when you're done. This book inspires ingenuity and creativity.

So you think you're pretty handy around the house? Think D, I and Y are your middle initials? Betcha don't make your own toothpaste. Learn how in Making Stuff and Doing Things: A collection of DIY guides to doing just about everything (Microcosm Publishing, $10). Topics range from DIY home repairs to DIY birth control, from "How to Make a Valuable Stash-Safe Out of an 8-track Cassette" to "The Solar-Powered Composting Toilet." Publisher and Portland resident Joe Biel thinks Portlanders are natural do-it-yourselfers. "That's partially due to having such high unemployment for so long," he says. "But I think they also just really want to learn where things come from. People naturally want to get to the root of things." Editor Kyle Bravo chose Biel's Portland publishing house, Microcosm, to turn his DIY-think into ink because Microcosm embraces a word many other publishing houses refuse to print: Copyleft. Biel says, "Copyleft is a creative commons license. It means these are things that people are free to use in their own creative endeavors. If someone wants to take a line from an article, they're free to use it as long as it's not for profit." So if you want to DIY your own DIY book, feel free to borrow from Bravo's.

Making Stuff & Doing Things is a collection of DIY guides gathered by Kyle Bravo. Based on Bravo’s How2 Zine and the Tree of Knowledge’s collection of DIY articles, this book is a meaty volume. A lot of the stuff you expect to find in a DIY guide appears in here, including bookbinding, gardening, silk screening, sewing, making stencils, wheat pasting, composting, dumpster diving, etc. There are also a load of articles on topics you wouldn’t expect to find, however, like juggling, fixing toilets, basic electrical wiring, making a quill pen, DIY lice treatment, and more. There’s definitely something for everyone in this book. For instance, I’m into natural health care for my cats right now, so two of my favorite pieces were those focusing on making cat food and holistic treatments for pet ailments. The categories on the table of contents can be a bit confusing when looking for something specific, but the index in the back of the book makes up for it. And, since the articles are culled and reprinted from various sources, there is no consistency in style or usefulness of directions, but the variety adds to the overall DIY appeal. There are also twenty blank pages in the back for notes, so readers can add their own DIY tips or alter directions published within. Definitely a worthwhile and useful read!

From making clothes, to making out, from taking care of your pet, to dealing with the problem of fruit flies, from binding a book to brewing some beer, this book has got everything covered. I was actually stunned by how many topics had something written about, the DIY solution to almost any problem you might have is contained within this book. There are - one hundred and fifteen articles on how to turn a quandary into a DIY success. Punk rock! The majority of the DIY guides have been reprinted directly from the fanzine that they were originally housed in. On the plus side, it adds some dynamism to the publication. It feels strange having these cut and paste pages printed on really nice offset printed paper. This is still an awesome book. There are some great DIY guides; especially where they delve into the author's personal experience to highlight how well it works, it's just a shame that not all the guides were of as high caliber from a design point of view. There's information here for both young and old, naive kids who only just discovered DIY and cynics who've supposedly been and done everything there is to do, everyone will find a bunch of useful stuff written about, and considering how hard some of information is to find, it's great having it in one easy to digest book, rather than 50 different zines.

You probably need this book. Dozens of underground zinesters compile their essays, diagrams, and comix about how to do things and how things work that will explain how to compost, fix a toilet, make toothpaste, clothes, and root beer, take care of sick animals, understand how your penis works, organize your day, or create your own buttplug. Plus about a thousand more hints Heloise never gave out.

Well, quite frankly this book is filled with awesome DIY solutions, projects, etc. for a ton of shit. This book is thick and full of excellent ideas. My dad was even sitting around reading it and was caught scratching his head saying "Wow, that's cool". Any self respecting punk and anyone else should have this book handy on the shelf. Get this book. It's more important than the Bible.

A very nice compilation of how to do it yourself from Kyle Bravo. Literally over 100 tips, tricks, and just plain common sense from "how to change the world in 4 easy steps" to "the diy punk rock cat diet". This is pretty much an essential book that will serve you well in the current and coming apocalypse. From self-education, self-publishing, fun & entertainment, arts & crafts, clothing, creative troublemaking, outdoor survival, gardening, food & drink, travel, health & body, pet care, reduce-reuse-recycle, repairs, home sweet home, transportation, and inspiration. If you ever wondered if you could do something yourself, then it's probably covered in this book. Mega cheers to the people involved in putting this together. This is one book that won't sit on your shelf collecting dust. Well worth the price.