Do you yearn for self-sufficiency? Is your time and talent larger than your bank account? Then the following sites will appeal to you, as we’ve gathered some of the best and some of the most eclectic do-it-yourself sites and tutorials on the Web for your convenience. The first category contains general DIY network sites that help you learn about any project under the sun. From there, you can learn more about anything from how to raise goats to how to wire your house for sound. In between, you can revel in the fact that you save money when you tackle parenting and herbal remedies on your own.
General DIY Networks
The following links are to sites that will tell you how to do just about anything. In other words, if you want to learn how to grow an apartment garden, you could probably find advice on how to do this at just about any site listed below. Some sites are easier to understand than others, and some sites are larger than others, so you’ll need to browse through them to discover the places that are to your liking.
- DIY Network: “DIY Network is your television source for the best know-how and how-to when it comes to any type of do-it-yourself project.” They aren’t kidding, as you can find projects for just about any interest on this site. As for the TV portion, you can discover quickly if DIY Network comes to your viewing area, then you can plug in and watch.
- eHow: “How to do just about everything” and every subject is presented in simple and easy-to-understand step-by-step numbered instructions.
- eSSORTMENT: Thousands of freelance writers and researchers to write answers to commonly asked questions, from “How do I Unstick a Stuck Window” to “How to Plan a Wedding Shower.”
- Garden and Hearth: Don’t let the name fool you, as you can learn about more than home and hearth at this site. You can tap into business and finance matters, health care, entertainment, and more at this site, and it’s all based upon frugal living.
- How to Do Things: HowToDoThings strives to solve people’s everyday problems by compiling reliable information from experienced contributors and making it available to inexperienced readers.
- Instructables: Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others.
- Pioneer Thinking: From mind and body to lifestyle, you’ll discover a plethora of information about how you can take charge of your life and your surroundings. This is one of the first family oriented DIY information websites.
- RealSimple: This online extension of the RealSimple magazine focuses on making busy women’s lives easier, from preparing a fast, healthy breakfast to getting a good night’s sleep. Don’t hesitate to browse through this information if you’re a man!
- Show Me: AOL’s Show Me is a new website that encourages visitors to discover and share their knowledge on everyday tasks.
- SoYouWanna: SoYouWanna.com “teaches you how to do all the things nobody taught you in school.”
- The Site: TheSite.org claims to be the first place all young adults can turn to when they need support and guidance through life. This site seeks to impart impartial information about all things teen, from money to makeup.
- wikiHow: wikiHow is a collaborative writing project with the intent of becoming the “world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual.” wikiHow currently contains 22,620 articles written, edited, and maintained primarily by volunteers on every topic imaginable (and some you’d never imagine).
- Wired How-To Wiki: Another collaborative site dedicated to the burgeoning DIY culture and recently produced by Wired Magazine online.
Do you want to learn how to change a tire or do you need to rebuild your brake system? You might find what you need at any one of the sites listed below.
- About.com Auto Repair: Matthew Wright is your guide to auto repair at the About site. You can learn all the essentials here, including an auto buyer’s guide.
- Auto-Facts.org: MasterTechMark teaches you how to take care of your automobile on this site. If this isn’t enough for you, then tap into Mark’s Do It Yourself Auto Repair column at Squidoo, along with that site’s other car care ‘lenses’.
- AutoEducation.com: This site is geared mainly toward beginners, as it’s easy to understand, and it walks you through all the basics. But, you can find advanced auto repair here as well.
- Chilton DIY: How can you mention auto repair without the mention of Chilton? Receive accurate, complete and detailed repair information on your car, truck, van or SUV. While manuals and subscriptions carry a price, it’s less than the price of a mechanic. You might find what you need in free downloads that are available at Chilton’s online.
- IOW40: This site is collecting all the individual articles from the Web into one place and sorting them by type of problem or project. You can find all the free auto repair advice you need by checking 10w40’s huge database of auto repair articles and parts suppliers from across the web, or you can post a question on the forums to get an answer to your problems.
Beauty and Style
Forget that hairdresser and those expensive skin creams. The sites below will show you how to style it on your own.
- DIY Hairstyles: Click on an image and you’ll learn how to re-create that particular hairstyle.
- Erica B’s DIY Style: Share Erica’s adventures in taking standard patterns from “drab to fab” with inspiration pulled straight from boutiques, the runway and fashion magazines. Back up this site with the Budget Fashionista, and you can’t go wrong!
- Homemade Beauty Recipes: A great mix of concoctions that you can mix up in the comfort of your own home. Think of it as from your kitchen cabinet to your face and body.
- Make Your Own Cosmetics: Most of the recipes at this site are the original creations of Donna Maria Coles Johnson, IBN’s founder and president (Indie Beauty Network), producer and host of the weekly Indie Business Radio Show airing on Global Talk Radio.com and author of “Making Aromatherapy Creams & Lotions” (Storey Books, 2000). But, readers can also send in their recipes to be scrutinized and possibly included.
- Prom Spot: DIY facial treatments and a Sweet Vanilla Soak from a site that covers everything that any teen would want to know about her prom.
Brew Your Own Beer
Most of the more established DIY sites listed here carry at least one article on how to homebrew beer. But, the sites below are worth a visit if you plan to build this DIY project into a hobby. A warning: This DIY project wasn’t made federally legal until 1978, and it’s still illegal to home brew beer in many states. So, before you embark on any project listed below, check to see if you live in a homebrew state. If so, have fun. If not, maybe you should move?
- Beer Brewing Recipes: If you have a gluten intolerance, never fear - Sean Sweeney offers his recipes for gluten-free beer.
- Homebrew How-to Page: The links provided on this page are a compilation of articles from Homebrew Adventures and from throughout the web that best describe beer brewing.
- Homebrewed Beer Recipes (and beer in food recipes): The links on this page will take you to recipes from Chef2Chef.net and RecipeSource. Some links contain many different recipes. Say thank you to Mr. Goodbeer for this directory!
- How to Brew Beer in a Coffeepot: Perhaps the simplest method to make beer. Brought to you by All About Beer Magazine.
- Your First Brew: If you follow the steps in this article by Brew Your Own Magazine, you’ll make a batch of all-malt ale and bottle it.
Clean It Up!
If you own baking powder and vinegar, you probably could clean just about anything. How? The sites below will tell you, along with information about how to get organized and how to stay non-toxic.
- 131 Uses for Vinegar: How do I use thee? Let me count the ways… Use your vinegar to polish car chrome, to clean rust from various objects, to prevent lint from clinging to clothes and more. You can back up this list with another one provided by the Vinegar Institute.
- Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit: Care2 is a site concerned with health, human rights and protecting the environment, and their non-toxic cleaning kit is right up this alley. Most of the cleaners are made with soaps, baking powder, and vinegar.
- Organized Home: This site is like the recovery program for a disorganized person, as it touches on just about every aspect of living. If you don’t know how to unclutter your life, this site will show you how to do it.
- RDLiving: Reader’s Digest offers a list of just about everything you can use to clean around the house other than commercial cleaners. For instance, you can clean a toilet bowl with Alka Seltzer (think what it does to your stomach!), and you can use bread to dust your oil paintings.
The sites below are the hardcore back-to-the-basics sites you’ll need to make the move to the country. Learn about how to raise livestock, can, build a woodstove, and more.
- Backwoods Home Magazine: This site is based upon the Backwoods Home Magazine, and it also includes author blogs and the ever-reliable “Ask Jackie” section where you can find answers to everything from how to transplant tomatoes to how to can pureed bananas.
- Goodbye Citylife: So you want to move from the city to the country and raise goats and chickens? You can rely on this site, along with all the others listed here, to make that transition. Even if you remain in the city, there’s no reason why you can’t build a bat house or make your own soap…
- Homestead.org: This site focuses on homesteading, but it also appeals to backwoods living. You can “Ask Aggie” about country homesteading and real estate questions, learn how to live in the country, get involved with chats, or take advantage of the long list of links to other like-minded sites.
- Horses and Horse Information: If you want to move to the country to raise or board horses, this site will treat you to reality. You can get all the basics on horse pasture creation to forage and grazing information, equine training, breeding, and more. This is an excellent site for the wanna-be horse owner as well.
- Mother Earth News: This site is based upon Mother Earth News magazine, and you’ll find articles here based upon organic and ‘natural’ living. Learn more about organic gardening, livestock and farming, and alternative energy sources.
- Water Well Helpline: If you need to learn how to build an inexpensive water well, this is the place to start. Fred Dungan started this tutorial in 1997 and has added to it over the years.
Craft Projects for Kids and Kids at Heart
If you have time and kids on your hands, the following sites may save your life. Even if you don’t have kids, you’ll find some great gift ideas here.
- All Free Crafts: Craft projects at this site are categorized by holiday and season for kids and for adults, but you can also find free craft patterns for knitting, crocheting, and sewing, and tutorials for soap making and for making birdfeed. This is one of the few craft sites that doesn’t link out to other sites for information, so you won’t encounter broken links for these projects.
- Amazing Moms: This site aims to bring simple,fresh and practical solutions to busy families with the thought that when families do things together, they become closer. You’ll discover arts and crafts, party ideas, recipes, and more at this site.
- Design It Yourself: This site is based upon the book, “D.I.Y. Design It Yourself,” written by Ellen Lupton. You’ll find many projects that help to demystify the technical side of small-scale publishing in various media while opening up your mind to the creative side of design. While the site contains few tutorials (mostly as downloads), the ideas may stimulate your creativity.
- Family Fun: This is a Disney site, so you know you’ll encounter Disney-related topics here. But, this can be useful if you need to come up with slick (yet still free or very inexpensive) parties, games, and other DIY ideas. This site is an extension of Disney’s Family.com site, where you can expand your resources into parenting, travel, and more.
- Enchanted Learning: If you want ideas on how to entertain your child with education, you’ve come to the right place. Combined with How Stuff Works, these two sites can answer all your kids’ questions (especially when you don’t have answers!).
The sites below are just a few of the many new “green” sites on the Web. The following sites contain practical and do-able information that you can implement immediately.
- Build It Solar: The author for this site, Gary, is a retired airplane product development engineer who lives in Montana and who has always been interested in solar energy projects. The topics come with DIY projects as well as with information about how and why each project works. You can also find some experimental projects along with some test results. This is a great place to receive basic education on solar energy.
- Connecticut Energy Blog: This blog’s author, Bruce Crowder, is a mechanical engineer who lives and works in Connecticut. While the focus is on that particular state, you can learn much about how to conserve energy no matter where you reside.
- Eartheasy: This site tackles topics such as general living, gardening, eating, and recreation. More than a guide, this site offers insights into how to take control of many projects yourself.
- How to Go Green: Some of the projects contained within this blog are easy to implement, and some will be costly to create. Either way, the ideas will help you to make your life greener.
- d.i.y. naturally: Not only can you learn about all things green at this site, you can learn how to use salt to clean your laundry, and how to use baking powder as a beauty aid.
- Twin Cities Green Guide: If only every American city had a site like this…The Twin Cities Green Guide covers local information, but it also provides tools and information about how to do anything green no matter where you live, from citizen action to vegan recipes.
- Weekly DIY: Green Options provides an archive of their weekly DIY guides that show how to use green products and how to create your own.
Health and Fitness
Don’t use the sites below to substitute for your general check-up or for serious illnesses. With that said, this list contains some interesting and educational information that can do nothing but help you learn more about a healthy lifestyle.
- Andy Weil, MD: “Your trusted health advisor,” is a man who combines alternative and traditional health focuses to produce a site that appeals to anyone concerned with health and aging. This is an informational site that focuses on how to eliminate free radicals and how to build optimal health and a preventative lifestyle. You can also “Ask Dr. Weil” about your health questions.
- Everyday Hygiene: This is a list of “old fashioned” advice and remedies for everyday hygiene, focused mainly on oral hygiene. You can also scope out the “old fashioned” recipes for illnesses at this site, among other free/cheap/easy products used to clean the home.
- Herbal Remedies: Organic Foodee brings interesting advice on how to use various herbs and spices as health remedies. You’ll learn that cinnamon is an antiseptic and that herbalists use oats to treat nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and “weakness of the nerves.” When you’re through with this list, browse through the rest of the site to learn more about organic foods.
- Project Aware: An American website designed for women who have issues with menopause, HRT, osteoporosis and heart health.
- Seven DIY Fitness Tests: The Guardian Unlimited outlines seven tests that will help you determine your physical weaknesses and strengths.
- WebMD: Everything you’d ever want to know about fitness and physical and emotional or mental health, no matter your age.
The list below contains some fairly slick and professional sites that will help you pull your home together. Unfortunately, we cannot include every site online that focuses on home improvement (like House Hacker), so you might conduct a search for specific projects that will help make your life easier.
- Ask the Builder: This site belongs to Tim Carter, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who focuses on home improvement and construction. You can watch some of Carter’s videos on YouTube as well.
- Bob Vila’s American Home: You probably know Bob Vila from his televised show, and this site is a recap on various home construction and improvement projects. You can learn from step-by-step instructions, videos, or ask questions on the forum or to Bob Vila directly.
- DIYonline: DIYonline.com “raises the bar for how Do-It-Yourselfers use the Internet” to help them plan, design and implement their home improvement projects. This site goes beyond the home to help you with your yard projects as well.
- DoItYourself.com: DoItYourself.com is the leading independent home improvement and home repair website, and it was named as one of the “‘Top 50 Sites in the World’ by Time Magazine.” You could build a house from scratch with the help of this site, as they cover electronics, plumbing, decorating, and painting. They also branch out a bit into cars, boats, and personal finance - but homes are their focus.
- HGTV: This site is a companion to the popular Home and Garden television show, where you can learn about everything from how to sell your home to curb appeal to designing on a dime.
- Hometime: Hometime helps you to tackle everything from landscaping, painting, and kitchen facelifts to managing new construction and major additions to older houses. The site is a companion to their television show.
- Popular Mechanic’s Home Journal: And you thought Popular Mechanics was all about automobiles, didn’t you? The home care section on this site tackles everything from how to upgrade your thermostat to wood projects complete with free plans.
Lawn and Garden
The following sites focus specifically on your lawn and garden:
- Backyard Gardener: You’ll find answers here to questions about everything from annuals to perennials and from cutting a concrete paving slab to mounting a cedar ladder trellis.
- Free Landscape and Design Ideas: Get your free landscape plans here! You can also learn about principles behind great lawn design and how to use various landscape components.
- Garden Organic: Although this is a UK site that seeks memberships, the information they provide for free online is invaluable.
- Organic Gardening: Learn everything you’d want to know about organic gardening, including soils, landscaping, and more. You can also tap into their blog, “GoodnPlanty.” Rodale Press brings this site to you.
- Wildlife Habitat: Create your own backyard natural habitat with these Natural Wildlife Foundation guidelines.
Why buy menu-planning software or purchase costly home-delivery diet plans when others have already done the work for you?
- Changing Shape: The home page carries some basic caloric-based menu plans. If you sign up for membership, you can also receive a ‘personal trainer’ who will help you to lose weight and get fit. The price is right - currently from $1.05 to $2.50 per week depending upon the length of contract. They also carry menu plans for vegetarians, vegans and even for high protein (low carb) dieters. Fitness Magazine, where you can learn more about fitness and health, recommends this program.
- Healthy Menu Planning: Learn how to plan your meals through the World’s Healthiest Foods site. These plans speak to various physical ailments, from asthma to rheumatoid arthritis. Browse through the site to learn more about balanced and healthy eating from The George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods, a nonprofit foundation that offers an independent perspective that is not influenced by commercial interests.
- Hillbilly Housewife’s Menu Planning Made Easy: Maggie (aka The Hillbilly Housewife) offers three different menu planning methods that work well when you’re on a tight budget. If you’re into Country-style Steak, Oven Fried Chicken, and Beanie Weanies, then this is the site for you.
- Menu Planning and Recipes: The American Heart Association offers two caloric-based menu plans and enough recipes to keep you busy for at least one week.
- Menus for Moms: You need to sign up for the menu plans, which are delivered weekly along with recipes, grocery lists, organizing tips, and more. If you don’t like the menus, simply remove yourself from the email list. What have you got to lose?
The sites below differ widely, as some contain a focus on the typical “normal” two-parent family, and others focus on imperfect parents, dads-at-home, and more. Enjoy!
- Family Education: The focus is on moms, and the information ranges from how to raise your kids to how to wire a wall for cable TV. This site is part of a network that includes information for teachers and kids as well.
- Inside Fatherhood: Stay-at-home dads need as much help as anyone with parenting. The nice thing about this blog is that Steve Remington also includes many tutorials on household chores from the male perspective.
- Kaboose: This site is geared more toward moms, with advice and DIY information on family and home life, health, and crafts.
- Parenting: This site seeks to answer your parenting questions with resources and guidance on how to successfully raise, praise, discipline, teach and love your child.
- The Imperfect Parent: This is a great site, as it offers advice about parenting, but it also allows parents to be adults with topics on political and social issues as well as a focus on parental health and well being with a dose of humor and a flair for imperfection.
Do you have an urge to write? The following basic tutorials and tools will get you started, and the only investment is your time and talent.
- DIY Poetry Publishing: The DIY publishing resource links include mostly poets, poetry presses, & poetry chapbooks, focusing on individuals, very small independent operations using DIY methods, & handmade book arts.
- PrimoPDF: Want to create an eBook, but can’t afford expensive PDF software? PrimoPDF is reliable, fast, and works as well as any PDF creator. If you don’t like this one, try CutePDF™ Writer, which is also free.
- EbookBuilder 4: Create an eBook with this software that can be read like a normal book with a left and a right page and page navigation buttons to flip thru the book.
- How to Create an eBook: Learn how to create an eBook for HTML or PDF, along with a template that will help you to create that book.
- Lulu: This is the only eBook publisher that will print your book first, and bill you later through deductions from each sale. No set-up fees, no surprises, no minimum order. This company has now expanded into hardback editions, and you can also publish calendars, artwork, music, and eBooks through this company.
You can find many “frugal” and penny-pincher blogs online, but the following sites are our favorites because they get right to the point. Not only will you gather ideas on how to save money, you’ll learn about projects that you can create easily and with very little money.
- Free Budget Forms and Guidelines: There’s nothing like a visible budget to show how that money flies out the window. This page, offered by Living a Better Life, offers budget guidelines and free forms that range from a weekly budget worksheet to a holiday spending worksheet.
- Frugalist: You’ll find literally hundreds of tips on this site that will help you to save money. Learn how to save on gas, how to avoid paying retail, and ten alternatives to credit cards, among other practical ideas.
- The Frugal Life: Can you live well with what you have? If not, this site will help you as you learn how to handle everything from your automobile to your work at home worries.
- The Dollar Stretcher: “Living better for less” was never so easy with the help provided by this Web site. Yes, you can learn how to tame debt here, but you can also learn how to live frugally.
- DIY Live: DIY Live is written by Greg Lipscomb, a former NASA employee who has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. The Web site is geared towards providing quality Do-it-Yourself projects with the occasional technology update.
- DIY at Engadget: A series of posts that were tagged as “DIY” at Engadget, the geeky tech gadget Web site.
- diyAudio.com: “Projects by the fanatics for the fanatics.” Outside the numerous DIY projects listed on categorized forums, you can also participate in the diyAudio wiki, a collaborative effort to create the ultimate DIY reference site. The forums alone are fascinating, as many users include photos with their projects.
- DIY:happy: DIY:happy focuses on DIY projects from around the net that range from building your own nuclear reactor to knitting a scarf. While the focus is on hardware, electronics, and software, you can learn how to cut your own hair as well.
- Hacked Gadgets: If you want some crazy hacks, some human hacks, or even some normal computer hacks, visit this site. You could end up with a flying alarm clock or a pair of glasses that you wear on a special nose piercing.
- Lifehacker: C’mon - if you don’t know about this site, you must have been living in the woods without cable. Updated several times daily, Lifehacker brings computer how-tos and more to a geek market. While the focus is on technology, Lifehacker offers tips on subjects like where to find public records online to ten things your supermarket doesn’t want you to know.
- MAKEzine: MAKEzine brings the do-it-yourself mindset to all the technology in your life. This site, along with HackZine, is part of O’Reilly Publishing.
- RED Free Circuit Designs: From audio and auto to music-related circuits, you can find a circuit design here. And, you can find them for free.
What are you doing this upcoming weekend? Some of the projects listed below are just big enough to keep you busy for two days, and other projects - like the tree house - are perfect projects for a series of weekends.
- Bird Watcher’s Digest DIY: Do you need a woodpecker box? Or would you rather build a suet feeder? Learn about birds and create your own “birdy” environment this weekend with the dozens of projects presented by Bird Watcher’s Digest.
- Free Deck Plans: Do you need a deck, stairs, handrails, or a hot tub surround? Find free plans here, along with a materials list for each plan.
- Guide to Building Your Own Camping Equipment: Whether you consider camping as an adventure or as recreation, this site will supply you with DIY tools that will enhance your camping experience. The camp chairs, made from branches and fabric (possibly a towel?) are awesome, and the minnow trap will save you money on bait supplies. You can even use the marine telescope in your swimming pool if the camping trip is called off.
- Picnic Table Plans: This is definitely the primo weekend project, as it’s easy to undertake with these detailed plans and instructions. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more freebies, like plans for a modular shelf unit and plans for a child’s bench.
- The Treehouse Guide: Need an extra room? All the information you’ll need to build a safe and frugal tree house is included in this site.
Hopefully you’ll discover a project or two in the sites above that will keep you busy for a long time. Plus, we hope you find the cost of these projects fitting for your frugal budget. But, if nothing suits you, you can always learn how to complain. That act in itself is a talent, and it doesn’t cost a red cent to lodge your disappointments.