If there’s one truth about men, it’s that we love our space. It starts at youth, with our Huck Finn-like desire to be independent and self-sustaining. We don’t need much, just our freedom. Whether it be a fort as kids, to a tree house, to a shop or (I still hate the name) our man cave. Men just need a place to call our own.
When I was a boy growing up in the south, we had a bunch of wooded land to call our own. My friends and I would create forts wherever we were. We would create our haven using whatever was around. With our Swiss Army knives, we would cut down branches (not entirely effective… it took ages to make any progress) and construct our forts that resembled a wood pile more than an inhabitable structure, but it was ours, and there was no way we weren’t going to hang out in there. We’d talk about girls (sometimes affectionately), trade baseball cards, and talk about our grand plans for the future. We would also find ways to defend our turf… which usually just meant camouflage and sharp sticks… we couldn’t have the older kids taking our home, after all. These were some of the best times of my life, and I still remember them fondly.
Fast-forward to adulthood, and not much has changed. While I love my family more than anything else in this world, I still love a place that I can call my own. What went from being a bachelor pad, became my home I shared with my wife… all of it was shared. Just as I had made “my room,” we had our first child, and that became their room. Eventually I was able to commandeer an unfinished room in my basement to call my man cave (still cringing just typing that… somebody please come up with a better name for it!).
I used my basement dwelling for everything. I would spend hours in the dank space doing all that interested me. Sick of the same Disney movie the kids have watched a million times? Go to the basement and watch the Braves (even in the 80’s when they were miserable). The in-laws are coming to dinner? I have some important work I need to do in the basement (working on my model trains). It was, and still is, my haven. Eventually my son started working on things with me, and it became our space. It wasn’t my man cave, but OUR clubhouse. He gets it, even at a young age, and it’s awesome.
Most of the projects we work on down there are of the hobby nature. RC planes, cars, trains and boats take up a majority of our time. Anything with a motor was on the table (or work bench). We had a blast making all of these things even when we destroyed them much faster than we built them. Recently he’s had an interest in making our own, for lack of a better term, weapons. It sounds dangerous, I know, but they are generally of the benign nature…Think Nerf guns with edible ammo: Our favorite was a marshmallow gun from some copper pipe, and a wood stock that he designed for a school project (we won’t get into the fact that he was forbidden by the school to submit it because it looked like a gun, even though it was much less dangerous than many other students’ projects). We still had a blast making it, and who else can catch marshmallows in their mouth from across the room?
After clicking around the internet seeking new, inventive ways to make my son some safe weapons to help him in his army-man fantasies, I found some really crazy (and awesome) ways to created homemade defense mechanisms. Right now, my favorite is from the guy in the video below that has created a fully automatic crossbow that shoots hex nuts at insane rates. I won’t be able to work on something like this until my son is much older, but hopefully one of our readers will make one and submit it.