The Best Handmade Gifts
Obviously the best handmade gift you can give someone this year is a piece of pottery made by a sexy lady and the ghost of her (even sexier!) murdered lover. But. In absence of that, the following handmade gifts are pretty good alternatives.
Handmadeness and badassery are the only qualifications I used in selecting these items for my best handmade gifts list. They aren't gender specific, so if you're looking only for gifts for men or gifts for women, head to those sections in Dude's gift guides.
Note: Prices for the best handmade gifts are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.
Bicycle Taxidermy Wall Display Bike Racks
You might hunt elk and deer in the woods to taxidermy into prized wall art, but in Portland they make theirs out of saddles and handlebars hunted down in the hipster Goodwills. Home furnishings designer The Iron Roots hand-crafts this series of Bicycle Taxidermy bike wall display racks from a shop in - no surprise here - Portland, OR.
Golf Ball Cannon
Having made a whole list of the best projectile launchers, I know a good desktop cannon when I see one. And, dude, this golf ball cannon is one damn fine desktop cannon. Handmade by Butterfield Machine, the Black Powder Golf Ball Mortar is a 5.3 pound badass whose barrel is machined from a solid 2.5" 1018 steel round bar. An oak carriage and brass hardware support the barrel, and add to the cannon's elegant industrial aesthetic.
Deer Antler Beer Tap Handle
Antler Artisans uses real white-tailed deer antlers - shed antlers only, so no Bambis are harmed - to create a range of household goods. Their beer tap handles for kegerators, keezers, and bar taps are the most standout to me, and a top choice for anyone seeking unique beer gifts for their favorite suds lovers.
Fishing Man Table Lamp
Know any fishermen, plumbers, electricians, or steampunk enthusiasts? Mr.J + Mr.C's Fishing Man Table Lamp covers a whole lot of bases for those looking for a gift for a man. And even if he is none of the above, the design of the pipes and exposed bulbs in this piece make it a standout twist on the industrial pipe lighting trend that would be a welcome addition to any desktop.
JHO Knives & EDC
Simple and clean look sharp. Meticulous design and robust metals make sharp. JHO blades and implements of EDC are nothing if not sharp.
Air Plant Living Chess Set
Living Chess makes the flora-filled sets with water-lacquered bamboo boards and tiny planters 3D-printed to: 1) maintain some of the classic characteristics of traditional chess kings, queens, bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns; and 2) provide a good home with plenty of space for air circulation and full body watering to their resident air plants.
The chess sets come with the 16 x 16-1/2" board and 32 black and white planter pieces hand-padded with felt. You'll also get 32 air plants. Living Chess recommended plant care includes soaking the dry plants in their containers once every 7 to 10 days, climate dependent.
A 3D compass isn't so much an invaluable outdoor tool as it is a nifty demonstration of physics and Earth's magnetic field. Don't get me wrong, it might be the most accurate compass you'll ever use. But being made of neodymium magnets encased in a domed glass housing, this 3D compass is better suited as a decorative paperweight or gift for a geek than a must-have addition to your survival gear.
Crazy Horse Craft Origami Leather Wallets
Native America meets old world Japan in Crazy Horse Craft's leather origami-style wallets. The minimalist cash and card carriers have a classic, scholarly look, with 2 openings for quick access, and two interior compartments, plus a hidden pocket for cards, bills, and coins.
Kyle's Kinetics Balancing Sculptures
Kyle's Kinetics are a collection of metal sculptures in motion. Each one - from Tiny Tim, bearer of a bent barbell, to Sparky the spark plug airplane, to an intricate, expertly smithed beach cruiser bike - is mounted to a bar and balanced to perfection with counterweights. So that it lolls and rotates with Cirque du Soleil finesse around its cylindrical base. Often on a Cirque du Soleil-style tip no bigger than the point of your pen.
Mille Cuirs Leather Grimoires
Grimoires are books of magic. Recipes for cooking up spells, crafting talismans, and calling forth angels and demons. The pages of a grimoire can protect the secrets of witches and wizards, binding them in leather and charms so none but their creators can use them. Or they can, like, act as the food journal that's part of that 2019 diet you're trying out.
These handmade leather grimoires from Mille Cuirs could be a perfect gift for the girlfriend who diaries, the Lovecraft fan who draws, or the beer and fantasy fanboy who keeps notes on all the microbrews he tries.
Hand-Carved Real & Replica Skulls
Zane Wylie carves skulls. He carves them, real and replica, intricately and elaborately, with themes ranging from Celtic warriors to Asian dragons to Goonies maps and Mandalorians. Replica skulls are made of resin, but shaped and carved to look pretty darn real.
T-Rex Folding Knife
Caution: both ends bite. Metal Worn's T-Rex Folding Knife don't need no stinkin' proportionately-sized arms to do pushups or give high-fives. He don't need no stinkin' arms at all! With a 3.25" 440C stainless steel "tail" heat treated to 60~62HRC, this custom beast of a design is doing just fine without all your stupid extra appendages getting in the way.
ShaveSmith Custom Straight Razor Kit
ShaveSmith handcrafts all parts of the straight razor kits, collaborating with buyers over email to establish preferred designs, details, and blade features. Blades are made from high carbon steel, hand ground into your choice of French, Spanish, round, square, or barber's notch tip. ShaveSmith then carves an elegant wood handle for holding and housing the blade, whittled from your choice of over 15 species of wood. Prices for the work, samples of which show blades etched with cresting waves and Celtic designs, and handles with aesthetics ancient to ultra-modern, are steep. They vary according to the level of kit you select - the larger the blade and more fine the handle material, the higher the price.
Inupiat Ulu Knife
This handsome devil of an Ulu knife is handmade in central Alaska by the North Star Knife & Ulu Company. Its damascus-style blade is a combination of 1074 carbon steel, 15N20 steel, and about 2.5% nickel for added toughness. North Star Knife & Ulu also points out that they're located in a place where temperatures can drop to -60 degrees F in the winter, so they have no choice but to use rugged, hardy materials in their products to withstand the weather.
The Ulu handle is made of walnut.