So, in case you’ve missed it, there’s this thing called YouTube, where peeps post stuff. Now, the quality of those videos run the gamut, but one of my family’s favorites is “I Like to Make Stuff” by Bob Clagett. From 3 to 43, all of us love it.
Bob explains his work succinctly, particularly for someone who has 2,074,329 subscribers and 138,644,274 views since February 2013.
“I like to make all sorts of stuff, with all sorts of materials. I have lots of projects including woodworking, metalworking, electronics, 3D printing, prop making and more!” he writes in his About page. “These videos are my attempt at teaching, inspiring, and empowering others to make the stuff that they want to have.
“Hopefully, you’ll see something here that will inspire you to make something that you’re passionate about!”
Well, beyond all the other stuff made by Bob (currently a modular outdoor table, a Transformers Bluetooth boom box, a catapult, and a custom roof rack are just a few current projects), Clagett is a HUGE Star Wars fan. Most recently, there’s the Tie Fighter Grill, a lightsaber, giant lawn-size lightsabers, a Shore Trooper helmet and costume, and a holiday Death Star decoration (yes, you read that correctly).
I tracked Bob down this past summer and asked him about his content creation and his love of Star Wars.
“It’s just always been a part of my life,” said Clagett. “I was born in ’77, in July, just a couple months after A New Hope came out. I was talking to my mom one time and she said, ‘Yeah, we took you to a movie when you were five days old.’ So my parents were those parents, we tried to figure out what movie it was because they couldn’t remember, and I went through all the movies, released that summer and ask them, did you ever see this or this or this? And the only one that they’d ever seen was Star Wars.
“So, I’m pretty sure that I went to see Star Wars in the theater when I was five days old. So it’s just kind of always been a thing I just loved as a kid.”
As an adult, Bob still loves it; with the OT holding a significant place in his personal story.
— Bob Clagett – I Like To Make Stuff (@iliketomakestuf) June 19, 2018
“It was right in the sweet spot, you know, of growing up when the Original Trilogy was coming out,” he explained. “And it just – I don’t know; I love the magic of [it]. I think it’s so fun.
“I love the tech end of the space part of it, too.” he added, connecting it to his current work. “I guess it just hit me in all the right places at all the right times. When I was growing up and it’s just kind of stuck around.
“And then when we started having kids, it was one of those things that I was just dying to share with them,” he explained. “You know, I love a lot of the 80s properties. I’ve shown my kids G.I. Joe and Transformers and all this stuff.
“But Star Wars is the thing that seems to work really well between parents and kids. You know?”
We know, of course. But Clagett added the most important bit.
“We can enjoy it for different reasons at the same time,” he said. “And so that’s been a lot of fun.”
The convergence of his vocation and his fandom remains a lot of fun, personally, as well.
“It’s hard to say which one was my favorite,” said Clagett. “The [Shore Trooper] helmet was great because I’d never done anything like that from scratch.
“Even though it’s not perfectly screen accurate, I’m really happy with how it came out,” he continued. “And so that was super gratifying to get to the end of that and be like, look at that thing like that. Looks like it’s supposed to.
“That was cool.”
“The giant lightsabers that we did in the front yard was a ton of fun,” he explained. “And when I saw them in their final form, I just started laughing like a little kid.
“And then when my wife and I remember swinging them around, then our friends, our neighbors…
“That was a lot of fun.”
It looks it! However, “fun” isn’t the only satisfaction Bob gets from making Star Wars stuff.
“I really enjoy skill gathering,” he said. “I love when I don’t know how to do something which is pretty often I love just trying to figure it out for the sake of figuring it out.
“And as I started doing some prop builds and cosplay type pieces, I just got really fascinated with the process of how people make these raw materials into these things that look exactly like you’ve seen him on screen. I was starting to get interested in that, and I made a few prop weapons. And then when Rogue One came out — I’d never really had any interest in making a Star Wars costume — I liked the costumes. It was this first set of entirely new types of troopers. We had some adjustments to the stormtrooper in The Force Awakens, but then like Rogue One was, it was new.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that would be a great way to jump into building a costume for the first time’; something that has not been overdone.”
The #shore trooper costume is getting VERY close to being finished. Come hang out on the livestream today as we make the final piece!! Wednesdays 3 pm EST on Twitch. https://t.co/t4RY7G8mXG #iltms #iliketomakestuff #vadersfist pic.twitter.com/en39kcJi5z
— Bob Clagett – I Like To Make Stuff (@iliketomakestuf) October 3, 2018
But, just as a padawan aches to build their own unique lightsaber, it was that project that meant the most to Clagett.
“I think it was probably one of my favorites because it was something that I worked on and off for over a year,” he said. “Actually, I think it was about two years.
“I started in, met a technical problem, got stuck and then I had to move on,” said Clagett with a sudden seriousness. “I’m trying to get the lights, or whatever, working, put it aside for six months or so; come back and solve a problem and another problem and I’d put it aside.
“And so when I finally got it to work and I finally was able to light it up for the first time on camera, that just, it made me so happy,” he said. “That was probably one of the most gratifying ones just to have it done after such a long time.”
Persistence is key to any Jedi’s life, but probably just as important in a content creator’s world, as well.
“It’s an amazing job and I am fully in charge of the things that I make where I put my time, but at the same time I still have a family to provide for,” said Clagett, who recently published a book on content creation. “I have an employee now.
“Anytime that you become your own boss, you who are taking on the freedom, but also the responsibility of all that that entails,” continued Bob. “If you’re not working, work is not getting done, which means money is probably not being made.
“And so there’s this a kind of flip side of it where there’s always work to be done and you could be working all the time… So I try not to do that; not to work all the time and to be intentional about, and really productive when I’m at work, so that when I’m not at work I can be fully focused on the family.
However, there is gratification knowing how inspirational his work can be to people, be they Star Wars fans or not.
“Yeah, that’s a pretty huge part of what I tried to do,” said Clagett. “I mean I’ve got kids and I want everything that I do to be accessible by them and it’s really awesome to hear when like families watch the stuff that I do together.
“Hopefully it’s helping get the kids motivated to make some stuff on their own.
“So that’s awesome to hear,” he said.
And it’s awesome to see, too. So be sure to check out I Like to Make Stuff. JB