Large Fire-breathing Tiki explodes.. news at 11
September 4, 2007 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Manly projects? What completely useless but cool thing could a bunch of 30-something guys build as a bonding experience? There is

A group of friends and myself have been having an on and off poker night for the last few years, that has become stale - we been trying to do different things (bowling, shooting pool, etc) but nothing seems to catch our attention. So wifeHawk suggested doing something large and ludicrous. I like the idea, but was hoping for the hive mind to help come up with ideas. The guys and me are decently competent with tools, electronics, plumbing for air and water, etc... basically if the idea takes us, I'm sure we'll figure out how to get it done.

A few ideas I've come up with is building a Soap Box racers (or two) and racing down a block, a huge fire-breathing tiki, "pimping" out a wreck of a car (although no idea where it'd be stored)....

So I put it to the hive - what have you always thought.. "hey that's cool, I should build one of those!"
posted by niteHawk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (55 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
why not put your urge to build to use helping out Habitat for Humanity? That way you're helping other people out, building stuff, AND bonding, all at once...
posted by tumbleweedjack at 12:28 PM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

You can always build a treehouse/backyard fort for one of the group's kids.
posted by mikepop at 12:32 PM on September 4, 2007

How about a Trebuchet?
posted by ekstasis23 at 12:35 PM on September 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

How bout Life sized Rockem sockem robots?
posted by Megafly at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

Have any local inconvenient ravines? Build a rope bridge. You can do a remarkably good bridge in just a few hours; all you need is lots of rope and some timbers to use as supports on either side.

One possible problem is that they aren't permanent; the rope will stretch over time, so you can't leave it up forever... it'll get dangerous. If you wanted something that would last, you'd have to make it out of wood or stone.
posted by Malor at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2007

Response by poster: tumbleweedjack - Unfortunately, since most have kids, we can't dedicate the amount of time needed for HFH.
(I've done it, and will do it again)
This is more along the lines of something we can work on for a few hours every couple of weeks...
posted by niteHawk at 12:39 PM on September 4, 2007

posted by amtho at 12:42 PM on September 4, 2007

Best answer: A Viking longboat.
posted by cardboard at 12:42 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

How about some giant Rube Goldberg device? If one of you has a backyard he wouldn't mind sacrificing for a few weeks, I bet you could come up with something really awesome.
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2007

Buy a vintage badass muscle car and restore it?
posted by jtfowl0 at 12:51 PM on September 4, 2007

Kit car.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:55 PM on September 4, 2007

Build an arcade cabinet out of an old computer running MAME?
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:58 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Model rockets? Not just for kids anymore, but still y'know for kids, so you can get the kids involved if/when necessary.
posted by Gungho at 1:00 PM on September 4, 2007

Best answer: Home Brewing
posted by Gungho at 1:01 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go for cool but useful and occasionally delve into the frivolous. That'll keep the wives not only tolerating the time you spend together, but positively encouraging it.

Start with some Tetris bookcases for the house. Then maybe make a paper pinhole camera and then later graduate to one with a nice wood case. Check places like instructables, MAKE: Blog, and other DIY sites for ideas.

And second homebrewing. These projects are useless without beer.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:05 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding the MAKE:Blog, and will also plug the magazine. Plenty of neat projects in every issue.
posted by jquinby at 1:08 PM on September 4, 2007

Seconding trebuchet. Start with "throw a cue ball 100m" and work your way up to "throw a Volvo."
If you're going to build soap box racers, you should up the ante a bit and add 5HP lawnmower engines. x + internal combustion engine = much better x.
If you know someone who can weld, a Pyrophone would be dangerous and impressive.
posted by leapfrog at 1:10 PM on September 4, 2007

DrFedora stole my answer. To it, I'll add: build an arcade coffee table (cocktail mode), or build a few MAME cabinets and network them, if possible. If it's not possible, make it possible. This could turn into a business if you get it down solid and work out the licensing issues.
posted by knowles at 1:10 PM on September 4, 2007

Why don't you do something manly and get brownie points from the wives at the same time? Have every guy think up spme kind of home improvement that his wife would enjoy. ie: deck, playset for the kids, enclose a garage, etc. Every fella is responsible for the cost of materials for his house and you all go from house to house until all the projects are finished. You get some bonding, boy time, learn new skills from each other and best of all, the wives are happy and can't complain about you being "with the guys". Best of luck!
posted by pearlybob at 1:25 PM on September 4, 2007

posted by jdfan at 1:32 PM on September 4, 2007

535 ft, downhill slip n slide
posted by ijoyner at 1:39 PM on September 4, 2007

Two words: potato guns.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:39 PM on September 4, 2007

I've always thought it would be cool to build a hovercraft.

Oh! You can't build that -- I'm a girl, and I think it would be cool to build. Guess it's not manly then. Oops.
posted by yohko at 1:40 PM on September 4, 2007

Kit car? Bah. Kit plane.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:43 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


You could build a couple of boats and race them, or use them to assemble a floatilla and explore your local lakes, or pool your time/resources and build a single large boat and sail it together.


posted by Pecinpah at 1:57 PM on September 4, 2007

Best answer: If you have space, you can build a pretty extensive paintball field with not too much complexity, but lots of construction. Building a sauna house or a bath house is on my list of eventual projects. A trebuchet is pretty classic, though.

Nthing that homebrewing is a necessity for any project.
posted by devilsbrigade at 2:02 PM on September 4, 2007

A tricked-out, wood-fired sauna? Someone would have to dedicate a small amount of real estate for this one, but it sure would be nice come wintertime. There's almost nothing better than a well built sauna on a winter night.
posted by otolith at 2:03 PM on September 4, 2007

How about a giant wooden man, then set it on fire?
posted by Marky at 2:10 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

two words: half pipe
posted by loiseau at 2:14 PM on September 4, 2007

Bike Pump track and dirt jumps. I did it with a bunch of guys for my 43rd birthday. Holy shit, it was fun. It still is (I ride it most days).
posted by unSane at 2:15 PM on September 4, 2007

Analog synth.
posted by tmcw at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2007

First Class Horseshoe satisfies the urge to build something and provides a great beer swilling replacement for the poker game. We just added lighting to our pit and were recently found tossing shoes at 3am. I highly recommend a design with backboards that include a beer shelf. You need the space to build and neighbors who will tolerate the clanking, but it is a great project...there are lots of websites where you can research specs.
posted by cyclopz at 2:17 PM on September 4, 2007

Lots of ideas here. While in Boy Scouts, I led the building of one of these... To this day, I have no idea why the adults with us trusted us to construct something like that but we all survived, so I guess it was ok.
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:25 PM on September 4, 2007

An elderly relative passed away last year, and the bulletin board at his funeral included a decades-old photograph of him riding a tractor that he had built. Apparently he built two.

I thought that was cool. Sadly, I've never built any tractors.
posted by cribcage at 2:30 PM on September 4, 2007

Anything from Backyard Ballistics.

Sailboat building looks fascinating but is frought with complications and a sizeable investment in time, money and yard space.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2007

I say, treehouse or fort, but screw the kids (not literally). Build a fort for you and your friends...I'VE GOT IT! Build a fort for home-brewing! The end.
posted by SixteenTons at 2:56 PM on September 4, 2007

working model airplanes and/or rockets

Try to think of something that you would all enjoy (for example, I mention airplanes and rockets because I've always been fascinated by aerospace).

Your local hobby shop should have enough gizmos and things in the field you enjoy to keep you and your friends busy for decades.
posted by Avenger at 3:05 PM on September 4, 2007

Why not build each guy in your group a workshop that fits his style (which is basically a manfort), and then go for the trebuchet or giant slingshot or other backyard ballistics mentioned above? Hovercraft, boxcar, Rube Goldberg device or Viking longboat also sound intriguing.
posted by misha at 3:43 PM on September 4, 2007

Seconding Habitat for Humanity, but man, a trebuchet would be really cool.

Also a Viking long boat.
posted by nax at 4:04 PM on September 4, 2007

So the game's begun to pall for you
(Not to mention the rest of the crew)?
Eschew the Buds and butts,
Trim your ballooning guts:
Dawg, salvation lies within the blue.
posted by rob511 at 4:05 PM on September 4, 2007

Catapult: Harry and I Build a Siege Weapon by Jim Paul is an entertaining and humorous story about male bonding. Adding my vote to the trebuchet/seige engine project.
posted by levijk at 4:32 PM on September 4, 2007

jungle-gym equipment for your parks rec dept? Liability issues might complicate matters, but it'd be cool to make something useful
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:48 PM on September 4, 2007

Candyfab 4000.
posted by eritain at 4:59 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Form a stealthy ninja squad, and secretly hang a tire swing in a tree in every park.

The OMGThinkOfTheChildren! crowd will rush to pull them down rather than let wee Tommy have so much fun he might get grass-stains on his clothes, but some of the swings... those in the deepest depths of the woods where only the children go to explore... some of those will escape notice... except by the children... and thus the Legacy of the Tire Swing will survive another generation!
posted by -harlequin- at 5:08 PM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

How about each one of you thinks of things that they would like to do/have/build (it could be anything from a pimped out motorcycle to finally renovating the den), that don't necessarily benefit the group, perhaps only themselves, and then as a group you get all of these projects done. Thus the benefit to yourselves is that you get YOUR project done, and the cost is helping out with theirs.

One of the advantages of this is that it allows for the kind of cool projects that the group otherwise wouldn't be able to do because they can't easily be shared, like a fort/off-grid nuclear bomb/makeout shelter (which can only be on one person's property, which would otherwise limit the group appeal), and things which aren't as cool, but would otherwise cost someone a lot more time and money.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:25 PM on September 4, 2007

Also, potentially a dumb idea, but raise the suggestion of you guys forming a syndicate to pool a few grand with which to buy some cheapass plot of rural land. Once you've got land, then you can go NUTS with the kind of cool projects no-one ever does because the only land people own is for their home. Suddenly, the craziest stuff (build a modern stonehenge to last the ages) becomes doable.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:31 PM on September 4, 2007

ooo. I kinda like the "buy a chunk of land in the woods" bit. Depends a lot on where you're at.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:16 PM on September 4, 2007

Best answer: How about a basement/garage bar? Start with the counter, add barstools, personalized signs, etc. It can start small but then you can build all kinds of other bar accessories - like a shuffleboard table, custom etched glasses and pitchers, and so forth.

You could go more advanced and design a complex beer delivery system via lots of copper tubing, like the Yard House. Or some way of firing a beer bottle out of a fridge and down the bar. Whatever. The ROI on this is just tremendous, in man-points.

Only thing is, start with the small, manageable stuff and DO IT. Otherwise, this will become all planning with no actual doing.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:27 PM on September 4, 2007

Any of you got some big trees in the backyard? Build a treehouse. A BIG treehouse. A tree FORTRESS! Something that your kids and the adults can enjoy.
posted by zardoz at 6:30 PM on September 4, 2007

Wood-burning pizza oven? For the back patio. Not useless, though.
posted by Quietgal at 7:32 PM on September 4, 2007

Ferrocement catamaran.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:27 PM on September 4, 2007

My friends' imaginations have been captured by the idea of doing a high-altitude balloon project, but that's mostly electronics and physics, not so much carpentry and plumbing.

For the greasemonkeys: Do an alternative-fuel vehicle. Straight-vegetable-oil conversion, or electric conversion, depending on your group's skills and ambitions.

Oooo, boatbuilding. Of course, Habitat is a worthy cause, too. But boats! BOATS!

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." -- Kenneth Graham
posted by Myself at 11:57 PM on September 4, 2007

Get a schoolbus, add a 5000 watt sound system, spiral staircase, roof deck, full bar, side-mounted propane flame throwers, go go dancer cages, fricken lasers, and drive it around like a party on wheels. In the desert.
posted by mullingitover at 5:05 PM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Jumping off of the land ideas, don't underestimate how much fun large earth moving equipment is. You can do some pretty serious terraforming pretty quickly.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:19 PM on September 5, 2007

Response by poster: Damn good ideas everyone!
Favorites... well beer, the Longboat is an awesome idea, points for mentioning paintball (I play in tournaments)...

Thanks - now the hard part is getting everyone to agree on one to do :-)
posted by niteHawk at 9:28 AM on September 6, 2007

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