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This book = your next beach read
This book = your next beach read

I Couldn’t Put Down This Savage Book!

From my DIY idol and "MythBusters" legend Adam Savage, "Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life is What You Make It" is my favorite summer read so far

Neil Patrick Harris is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wondercade. In his spare time he also acts — fairly well, too, as his Tony and Emmy Awards can attest.

July 3, 2024 4:16 pm

I’ve got a new obsession in the domain of DIY: Adam Savage, special-effects maker extraordinaire, longtime host of the hit show MythBusters and EIC of Tested.com. I recently came across Adam’s book Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life is What You Make It, and promptly fell in love with it. Which is to say I won’t stop talking about it. So here’s my top summer book recommendation…and why you should follow Adam Savage’s work ASAP.

So, I’ve become a fairly dedicated DIY maker-in-training, and I often find myself looking online for inspiration. There’s an oversaturation of YouTube influencers anxious to show you how to build a workbench, or organize a tool cabinet…and while that’s all fine and good, I find myself getting stressed about just whose advice to take, because everyone has different opinions. (I think there’s a proverb about buttholes and opinions, but I forget it. Once I hear “buttholes,” I tend to lose focus.)

Then the clandestine happened: my algorithm stumbled upon an Adam Savage “One Day Build” video. He has a website called Tested.com, and he literally knows everything about everything as far as making goes. He knows how to use a lathe. He knows how to cut metal. He knows how to solder. Dude, Lord Savage knows all of it. In a past chapter of his life, he was a model maker for Industrial Light & Magic (the visual effects company George Lucas started during Star Wars). ‘Nuff said. His YouTube channel is essentially him talking about something that he’s learned. He’s very self-effacing, he’s very humble and yet he’s an absolute Jedi grandmaster. He loves building cosplay costumes, he loves doing one-day builds, he loves organizing his shop.

So I became — very unabashedly — obsessed with Adam Savage. I’ll tell you what makes me like him the most: his utter enthusiasm for the process of creating. He has an undying belief that process is everything. That multiple iterations of any build are necessary for completion. You must forge ahead and make something — anything — before you can then realize how to improve it…and then you improve it. Over and over. That’s how you learn. How you grow.

The great Adam Savage in his workshop in 2016…with a casual Stormtrooper helmet or four

See, what I have typically done is try to make things right the first time — I want every decision to be effective, but it never is. Much like life. Adam embraces the process and the trying in his book Every Tool’s a Hammer. He has brilliant advice about his specific style of organization, called “first order of retrievability,” which refers to being at his workstation and having, within arm’s length, all the tools that he might possibly need to use — which eliminates a lot of wandering around the workspace and picking things up and going back and forth. Other people have different ideas, but this is his, and I’m so on board with it.

But moreso, he has made me become very enthusiastic and excited to make anything — not to make anything well. To just make anything. And I really believe this as a big life lesson — the more you enjoy the process, and the more you laugh and learn from your failure, instead of being hard on yourself, the better. The creative process becomes a delight.

But man. If Adam Savage could even know that I’m a fan of his! I’ve gone to his website and just bought everything — bags and work aprons made of leather, which are fantastic. I may soon get the same tattoo that he has on his forearm. But I probably won’t because that’s a little overkill and stalkery. But perhaps that’s what it’ll take to get him to notice me. To one day be the Obi-Wan to my Anakin…

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