Popular Mechanics February 2017

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

2 min
the new self-sufficiency

LOOOOTTA TALK ABOUT self-sufficiency these days. Donald Trump pretty much won the election by preaching the wisdom of not relying on nobody for nothing. This of course has its risks as a foreign policy, and I hope the pros outweigh the cons. But as an individual policy? I love it. If the meteor hits or the grid goes down or America gets sold to Russia, it would be nice to know that you could get on without leaving your homestead—a clean water supply, a way to charge your phone, plenty of Swiss chard out in the garden, that kind of thing. I’m nowhere near self-sufficient yet, but we do compost. And the boys have enough Nerf guns to at least wound a squirrel. Of course, there’s my friend Andy up the…

1 min
a homemade crib that turns into a bed

When Rob Jablonsky learned his wife was pregnant with their first child, he used the news to exercise the fine woodworking skills he’d picked up in high school shop class but hadn’t used since. He was going to build a crib. Jablonsky found rough plans online and adapted them to meet the safety standards of production cribs. Borrowing a drill press from a neighbor and sourcing local red oak from a small mill near his hometown of Columbia, Missouri, the civil engineer built a few more years of use into his design. With the removal of a few wooden pegs he could take out the crib’s crossbeams, lower the mattress, and convert the crib into a small bed when his infant grew into a toddler. Jablonsky finished just two weeks…

1 min
the people’s choices

Elwood Adams Hardware (Worcester, Massachusetts) It’s the oldest operating hardware store in the country, opened in 1782—America’s original “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” —Joe Petkiewicz, Cherry Valley, Massachusetts Deck’s Hardware (Ambler, Pennsylvania) My brother and I are thirdgeneration owners of Deck’s, which has been serving our neighborhood just outside of Philadelphia since 1908. Sometimes our customers just want to come in, browse, and take in the sights and smells. —Tyler Deck, Ambler, Pennsylvania McLendon Hardware (Renton, Washington) McLendon’s has hardware of every kind imaginable and replacement parts for almost all of it. Need a drip pan for a 30-year-old air conditioner? That’s aisle 27. A replacement tire for the push mower your granddaddy bought when he got back from World War II? Aisle 13. —Sam Nash, Renton, Washington…

1 min
popular mechanics everywhere

ONLINE Assistant online editor Jay Bennett takes you behind the scenes of the Air Force’s Special Operations Command training facilities. He even jumped out of an airplane while reporting. Be glad he survived, because now you can read his story and watch the video exclusively at popularmechanics.com/AFSOC. INSTAGRAM! THE PODCASTS! Here’s what to listen for on our Popular Mechanics podcasts this month: On The Most Useful Podcast Ever, host Jacqueline Detwiler brings you even more tips for living off the grid. She’ll speak with Lehman’s, an Ohio-based farm store, about the most useful tools and nonelectric machines used by the Amish. Plus, technology editor Alex George teaches you how to build the ultimate entertainment system to take along when you abscond from society. Meanwhile, on the How Your World Works podcast, host Kevin Dupzyk sits down…

2 min
calendar february

SUNDAY 5 Super Bowl Sunday. Come for the football, stay for 24: Legacy after the game. 12 The 59th Annual Grammy Awards. 26 The Super Bowl of stock car racing, the Daytona 500, is on today. No episodes of 24: Legacy after, this time. MONDAY 6 20 President’s Day. Plus, the day John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. 27 The Mobile World Congress starts today with new smartphone releases expected throughout the week. Save the headphone jack! TUESDAY 31 7 Author and comic-book creator Neil Gaiman reimagines Viking myths in Norse Mythology, out today. 14 Valentine’s Day. Or our annual argument for woodworking as an expression of affection. 21 28 Mardi Gras. Celebrate Louisiana-style with a local drink. WEDNESDAY 8 15 Keep an eye on the Chicago Auto Show this week. Automakers tend to roll out new trucks and SUVs here. 22 If your heat’s been running since November, now is a good time…

1 min
how to fix congress

Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration, in 1861, was staged on the steps of the United States Capitol as its dome was still a work in progress. A few years later, Lincoln insisted that the construction of the dome continue through the Civil War. “If people see the Capitol going on,” he said, “it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.” In 1866, less than a year after Lincoln had been assassinated, at the dawn of Reconstruction, the dome was completed: nine million pounds of cast iron covered in Dome White paint, capped with a bronze statue called Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace. But the work goes on. Since the dome’s last complete restoration, from 1959 to 1960, decades of abuse by rain, snow, and slow leaks degraded the…