I recently found a 4-volume set of the Popular Mechanics Illustrated Home Handyman Encyclopedia & Guide (from 1961) in the bargain bin at a local used book store.

The ~4000 pages of projects are basically the equivalent of today’s MAKE Magazine with tons of stuff that wouldn’t be printed today due to liability concerns.

They’ve got everything from planning/building/remodeling a house, woodworking, metalworking, making your own boat/go-cart/children’s playground equipment, indoor shooting ranges, to radio repair, electronics, photography, gardening, farming, and equipment to make handling your farm animals easier.

I’ve taken pictures of the title pages and illustrations for the most interesting articles, and put them up on Flickr. I’ve also contacted Popular Mechanics to see about getting permission to break out the scanner and make proper PDFs of the best stuff.

The Flickr collections page, with one set for each volume, is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbill/collections/72157603639900790/

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1 Comment so far

  1. Robyn on January 17, 2008 10:21 pm

    I know this doesn’t pertain to the newest article but I just found your site & pics of your beautiful home and I had to say Hi! It really put a smile on my face to see that someone else appreciates the unique charm and beauty of the 1950s homes. I live in Northern VA and WAY too many homes of the era have fallen to sad fates from remodelling (that appears to have been done by a drunken designer) to out and out teardown/McMansion. I get all happy when I see 50s homes with the original metal casement windows that indicate they are still as designed. Am I the only one who detests vinyl replacement windows and feels that when you change the windows you lose a huge part of the “fabric” of a home’s original design? My favorite homes are located here in Northern VA where I grew up, but the area has too many “up & coming” types who don’t appreciate the beauty of the GORGEOUS 1950s houses/developments here. There are nice brick ramblers, three & four level splits, and even some of the more “California Modern” designs not far from me, but so many are done over so badly that you’d think they should exist only in someone’s bad dream. Persian Palaces just don’t belong in a neighborhood of low brick ramblers but..when “those that has……do” you end up with some pretty scary combinations. Someday I hope to get my hands on an all original 1952-53 brick rambler in Springfield, VA and preserve it for all I am worth. Casement windows, snack bar, original painted wood cabinets, vintage appliances and the works! Good luck to you and all those who find your site in preserving our Mid-Century homes before they all end up destroyed by “progress”. I am with you all the way!

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