The Best Maker YouTube Channels

12/28/2018 |  154
  Published by Cool Tools

I have descending into the YouTube click hole. Forget TV, movies, Netflix; I spend most of my discretionary media time watching YouTube tutorials. I go to them whenever I need to learn anything, and in particular when I need to make or repair anything. Nothing appears missing in the YouTubeverse. The most obscure esoteric subject, item, skill, technique, problem will have five videos dedicated to it. At least one will be good. Against this very uneven quality of the average random YouTube episode, I have discover a good shelfful of dependable high-quality YouTube channels dispensing amazing information on a regular basis. Below are the YouTube channels I currently subscribe and return to often. They are informational, rather than entertaining, and they are biased to makers and do-ers. I have divided them into four groups: Experimenters, Makers, Explainers, and Nichers — esoteric interests that probably won’t appeal to many. Don’t take the categories too seriously; there is much overlap. I emphasize that these are the channels I personally subscribe to, and so reflect my interests, and do not include such obvious other maker-type channels like food, cooking, travel, makeup simply because those are not my interests. But I for sure have missed some great channels. So in the comments please tell me what channels you subscribe to. To be most useful, state what they are about, and why you think they should be included. I’ll check them out, and if they resonate with me, I’ll add them to the list. — KK

EXPERIMENTERS

Cody’s Lab
This is my all around favorite at the moment. Cody specializes in chemistry. He’ll make frozen solid oxygen in his kitchen, or try to walk on a pool of mercury, or purify gold from jewelry he bought on ebay. He famously made gunpowder from a year’s worth of his own urine. Whenever he needs a chemical, he’ll just make it from other cheaper chemicals. He imitates the crude materials of the original alchemists who first made the compounds. It’s inspirational because his stuff is so jury rigged you realize you can do this too. He is a good explainer and is also seriously into other stuff like bees, astronomy,and unusual garden plants. He likes to recreate classic science discoveries.

How to Make Everything
Very cool site. This guy attempts to remake crucial materials like glass and iron from elemental materials, or less essential things like fireworks, candle wax or sunscreen. In a classic video he documents how he made a sandwich from scratch, growing his own wheat, and raising his own turkey meat. The sandwich only cost him $1,500.

King of Random
Older videos in the archives of this channel offer very explicit instructions for making things, like your own rocket engines from hardware store chemicals, or blow darts, or water balloon slingshots. Recent videos spend more time on doing science stunts and unusual experiments, and less on how to. But still with a good maker vibe.

Backyard Scientist
While there is a large stunt aspect to this channel filmed in a suburban backyard — like pouring molten aluminum into a watermelon — the host does a lot of research to explain what’s going on scientifically. Come for the dangerous explosions, stay for the science.

Applied Science
This guy tinkers with high-end esoteric scientific equipment, like home-made electron microscopes, and also invents new instruments and techniques. It’s advanced tinkering, which requires attention to details and supplies most weekend tinkers won’t have. But he is very good at teaching what he learns.

Mark Rober
Mark Rober was in the news recently as the ex-NASA scientist who make a thief tracking package that was a glitter bomb. But with many million followers, he’s made many other equally cool science experiments. He tested out the absolutely best way to make the fastest pinewood derby using science, how to drop eggs from a roof without breaking, and so on. There’s no how-to; it’s kind of a one-man mythbuster.

Project Farm
Project Farm features very thorough, scientific tests of workshop tools and products. He’ll test 10 brands of duct tapes, or 15 different kinds of chain lube, or the best penetrating oil, or best AA battery, with quantitative measurements, and then he’ll post the results. You could skip to the end for the winner, but there is a joy and education in watching his elaborate and thorough process.

MAKERS

I Like to Make Stuff
Bob Clagett likes to make a refreshingly wide variety of things, far more variety than most YouTubers. Furniture, household items, crazy toys, backyard projects for kids, home improvements, and odd ball experiments, like customizing your car horn. He is incredibly prolific and he works in wood, metal, 3D printing, and electronics. He’s pretty good with the how-to, and has a great series of workshop tips videos.

Adam Savage’s Tested
A group effort by Mythbuster Adam Savage and his current Tested teammates. There’s a range of videos from a weekly chat session, to Adam interviewing his heros but the best are the one-day builds that follow Adam as he build props in his shop. He’s a fabulous teacher and eager to show and tell.

Izzy Swan
The ultimate do-it-yourselfer. He bootstraps his own shop tools starting with a $20 skill saw and going from there. Lots of fun backyard and workshop projects with in-depth how to. Great at sharing tricks and techniques.

Jimmy Diresta
Diresta is a professional maker who works very quickly. He rapidly makes stuff in metal, wood, plastic, leather, paper and does old tool restorations. Half of his work is for clients, half his own art. His videos are long wordless time lapses of him working. His methods are always creative and fun to watch. (His Patreon supporters get access to his narration of this workflow.) His series of tips videos, where he instructs, are the best — real pro tips, delivered succinctly.

Matthias Wandel
In addition to showing how he makes all his shop tools himself using plywood and other off-the-shelf parts, Matthias constructs cool devices like marble mazes, pipe organs, wooden gears, unusual jigs mostly from plywood. He is a very gentle, meticulous teacher.

Frank Howarth
This guy creates a lot of innovative wooden bowls and unconventional wooden furniture with high craftsmanship. He also makes his own tools, uses laser cutting a lot, and occasional experiments with the video form itself. Most of his videos is just a time record of his work, with his very mellow narration overlaid afterwards. The adjectives I associate with Howarth are “careful” and “exact.”

FliteTest
Let’s see how many things — a chair, a pizza box — we can get to fly. What’s the smallest plane we can make? What’s the biggest cardboard plane we can make? In each episode this small gang of enthusiasts take on a different challenge to create a never ending variety of flying machines. They show their work, and provide plans. So far, there is almost nothing that haven’t been able to fly with some control. It’s a fun course in aviation.

Paul Sellers
A born teacher, Paul Sellers emphasizes learning new skills in how to work wood on his channel. He’s been a daily woodworker for 50 years. You’ll learn way more than in most schools. Basic skills as well as advance techniques.

Colin Furze
Frenetic, fast-paced, noisy, non-stop loud mouth, blazing builds of home made jet powered vehicles, crazy cannons, backyard explosives and other things that might kill or maim you. Outrageous machines. Entertaining primarily.

Alec Steele
Extreme blacksmithing, especially esoteric knives and swords.

Simon Leach
A professional potter gives lessons as he makes piles of pottery.

Tom Fidgen Unplugged Workshop
Although there are few recent posts, the archives of this channel are all about woodworking with hand tools. Totally unplugged. The advice and instructions are pretty timeless.

Kyle Toth
This guy’s claim to fame is making massive bowls and innovative wood stuff on a lathe. No instructional, just time lapses as he works.

EXPLAINERS

Vihart
There are other math video channels, but Vi Hart’s math tutorials are in a league of her own. She is unorthodox, playful, fun, creative, nerdy, brilliant, inventive, educational, and one of the best things on YouTube. You don’t need to know much math to get something from her creations.

AvE
I have never encountered anyone with as much knowledge of materials, electronics and manufacturing processes than the faceless host of this entertaining channel. In a riot of cheerful creative cussing (often politically incorrect), this Canadian pair of hands (no one has seen his face or knows his name) takes apart tools and dissects their every component, commenting on how they were made and might be improved. It’s a university course in modern manufacturing techniques. Because of his creative patter, you’ll either love him or hate him.

James May Reassembler
A well-known TV celeb in England re-assembles antique machines, such as a old lawn mower, from the parts laid out in his basement while reminiscing about the machines.

Primitive Technology
Without ever speaking a word, the mysterious man wearing only blue shorts is recreating civilization one prehistorical invention at a time. Watch as he makes fire from sticks, a house from mud and fire, and his clothes from plants. He is now trying to make iron from rocks.

Veritasium
This is perhaps the most scientific of the explainers, with interviews and explanations by working scientists, in addition to the host. In addition to explaining interesting discoveries, there is a lot of explaining about science itself.

Smarter Every Day

On this very popular channel, host Destin goes deep into a science puzzle or new discovery, and explains it with creativity and intelligence. He’ll try to make a physical demo to prove his points, which is very compelling. His demos are often clickbait — like shooting a gun underwater, or trying to undo a tattoo — but the clicks are well-deserved.

Practical Engineering
We are surrounded by sophisticated technology in our roads, bridges, towers, tunnels — our infrastructure. This channel examines and explains with clever physical demonstrations how things work.

NICHERS

Clickspring
Watch as a human makes a clock by hand, crafting tiny gears and screws with hand tools, the way it was done centuries ago.

Locklab
Group effort in lock picking. Various members share their video tips on picking locks; the harder, weirder, rarer, the better. Viewers send in “challenge locks” to see if they can stymie the pros.

Hamster Miniature Studio 2
Japanese guy who makes exact dollhouse scale miniatures. Not just furniture, but food, package goods, electric appliances, and sundry extras like Amazon boxes!

Kaplamino
All kinds of chain reactions, from mega domino runs to mega marble machines.

Steve1989
Have you ever wondered what an old army ration meal tasted like? No? Then this channel is not for you. Steve collects MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) — often, but not always, military meals, both today’s and yesterday’s from institutions around the world — unboxes them, gives you all the minute details of where the food and ingredients come from, and then eats it. Then he rates them.

-- KK


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