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My favorite YouTube channels

Since I wrote a long post listing my favorite TV shows, I thought I’d follow that up with another source of my screen time: YouTube. While there are many other channels I turn to, this post lists the YouTube channels that I watch with some regularity.

Here’s a list of the topics in case you want to skip there:
Home Building and Remodeling  | DIY & Maker Channels  |  Astronomy   |  Live‑aboard Sailing  |  Adventurizing  |  Regarding Music  |  Madcap ExperimentersSkilled Woodworking | General Information | Past Favorite


Home Building and Remodeling

This section belongs at the top because it is one of my favorite categories. Partly it is the satisfaction of watching a job from start to finish, and partly I like learning more about how things are made.

Whatever the reason, of all the categories on this page: this is my porn. If I could do my life over again, I’d be an architect or a general contractor or both. Sigh.

Perkins Builder Brothers

Erik and Jaime Perkins, two brothers from a family with its roots in construction, have a construction business in North Carolina. They upload [almost] daily build videos on their progress as they build custom homes, starting from a bare lot and ending with a beautiful home with all the fine finishings.

Not only do they show you their work, they talk about how to do the job right and why they choose one method or material over another. They know that many of their viewers are also people in their field, so they also pass along tips and how-tos here and there: watch for their “pro tips”!

They have a regular crew of builders who work for them, and they all seem to be a nice group of guys. I’d love to give them a thumbs-up if I ran into them at the local coffee shop! (Heck, this makes me want to visit Waynesville, NC just for the chance to do just that!)

Life Uncontained

Once I got hooked on some “We don’t know what we’re doing but, damnit, we’re going to build a house!” shows, I hunted for more, and found this gem. This young couple, Mackenzie and Spenser, sold their home in Florida and bought land in Texas in early 2018 with the goal of building a container home and living entirely off-grid.

Their first few videos are a little rocky in terms of quality, but you’re along for the ride as they learn how to manage the audio and video, eventually adding some nice drone footage and some very lovely shots from around their land. You’re also along for the ride as they—well, mostly Spenser—learn how to install an impressive solar system, install a rainwater capture system, and build what is looking to be a very lovely home out of two shipping containers. Honestly, I’m very impressed, I can’t wait for the next video!

Once they finished their home they got to work on a cabin, so I’m still watching.

DIY & Maker Channels

I am a Do-It-Yourself junkie. Well, to be honest, if there’s a project to do around the house I do-it-myself by calling a handyman. However I love to watch others, especially experts, do-it-themselves.

Okay, that sounded dirty… let me try again: I am the fool that slows traffic by construction sites because I rubberneck to see everything there is to see. Sometimes I wish I could bring a lawn chair and a picnic basket to construction sites so I can watch the build. And since I can’t do that, I watch DIY stuff on YouTube. Better?

Laura Kampf

Laura lives in Germany and makes stuff, usually funky stuff,  and also has been remodeling a 120-yearold house. Even when I’m not completely interested in what she’s making, I love to watch her videos because she’s just that charming and authentic, and she seems to be genuinely having fun and to have an infectiously positive attitude.

She recently started living part time in Los Angeles. I’m not sure how this will affect her channel (and so far I get the feeling she’s not sure either), but I know I’ll keep watching — because her videos are Geil! (If there are any native German speakers out there, let me know if I used that correctly!)

Adam Savage’s Tested

Building craft meets nerddom, add in some sheer entertainment, and you get Adam Savage’s channel. Recognize the name? You may know him as one of the two stars on Mythbusters, where he applied his many years of experience building movie sets and special effects to re-create stuff with Jamie Hyneman to prove whether things are real or a myth.

Adam’s channel shows him in his pirates-cave of a workshop (which he actually does refer to as his cave) doing a wide variety of things: building strange costumes and sci-fi gadgets, modding furniture, fixing tools, and generally just trying things out. It also shows him gleefully geeking out on the things he loves, much to my delight.

I think what I like most about this channel is more the opportunity to visit Adam than to watch him build stuff. He is an intensely cheery person, the very definition of upbeat, and a shining beacon of an example of embracing your child within. His building style is to move fast, perhaps too fast, deftly embodying the “good enough is good enough” philosophy. Sometimes as I watch him I think he’s for-sure going to cut a finger off on camera.

Simone Giertz

I don’t know how much fame she had before she gave this TED talk, but Simone “queen-of-shitty-robots” Giertz (pronounced as “yetch”) is a nerd superhero. Her momentum slowed a bit as she took some time out for health reasons (which she shares a bit with her YouTube followers), but she is back in her workshop making delightful stuff, and has opened an online store to sell some of her creations.


I’m not quite a science nerd: let’s say I’m nerd-adjacent. But nerddom isn’t necessary to be amazed by the sheer wonderment of space, let alone the beauty of the night sky.

Astronomy Cast

This weekly show is a conversation between Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, and astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay on and around a set topic. I always learn something new, but beyond that, this channel is like listening in on extremely smart friends talking about a fascinating subject. They take a break every summer and for a few weeks over Christmas, so if you look for them then, you might have to catch up on older episodes until they return.

Weekly Space Hangout

This show, also hosted by Fraser Cain (try not to think about Frasier Crane), features a small handful of guests for a lengthy conversations about the latest news about space: the research, the astronomical events, and more.


Adjacent to the astronomy channels, this channel is more about astrophotography. This is a clever, unassuming guy in the UK, “Mr. Biscuit,” who has a subtle sense of humor and loves astrophotography. He is quite good at explaining it, and takes us along as he experiments with getting good shots. His video editing is awesome, with the occasional cameo by a pink plastic bunny named, well, Bunny, and great (sometimes comical) use of music by his musician buddy Riktenstein.

Unlike some of the other astrophotography channels I’ve sampled, this guy realizes that we don’t all have expensive DSLRs, telescopes, and trackers. While he does cover how to get good photos with his higher-end equipment he will often also show you how to use a smartphone and binoculars to get you started.

Dr. Becky

Dr. Becky Smethurst is an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford. She talks with a great deal of “smitten with the wonder of things” enthusiasm about the universe — especially about her favorite topics: black holes and the toenail moon.

She explains things in a way that usually us merely mortal laypeople can understand and, most importantly, without making you feel stupid. She also has a segment in which she tells you where and when to look to see interesting events in the night sky.

Sometime since covid I feel like she shifted her focus away from us mere layperson astronomy fans and now is speaking more toward students of astronomy and astrophysics. As I nowadays feel like I don’t quite have the intellectual capabiilty to follow what she’s saying, I find I am watching this less.

Live-aboard Sailing

I’m drawn to the sailing life for the sheer beauty of it, but not enough for me to actually ever have been on a boat, aside from a ferry or just a few brief attempts at kayaking. There are quite a few channels on YouTube that feature people living on their boats and sailing around the world, but there’s only one, so far, that has completely captured my fancy:

SV Delos

This is one of two channels that, after watching one or two videos, I scrolled all the way to the beginning to watch them all. This is the story of Brian Trautman, who quit his engineering job in Seattle and sold almost everything he owned to buy a sailboat. His plan was to spend about 18 months living on board and sailing while he figured out what to do next with his life. A few months later, his brother Brady joined him, and more than ten years later they were still sailing. They added others to the gang along the way, including a rotating crew of friends and Patreon patrons. In fact, Brian met his wife, Karin, on this adventure.

They began regularly vlogging their life on the seas in 2014, although they have a few videos older than that. By the time I discovered this channel, they had matured into experienced vloggers, with a lot of very good videography and drone footage of the exotic places they journeyed to. They also are accomplished divers with the underwater videography gear they need to add great dive footage to their offering.

As with any group of people, the story has evolved as the years have gone by. Brady and his girlfriend are off crafting their own story, whether or not to return later. Brian and Karin took some months off from travel in 2019 to live for a short while in Sweden, returning with a new crew member, baby Sierra. This has certainly changed the flavor of the channel, but I trust that it will continue to be interesting.


There are several channels in this category that I have watched, but only two so far have held my interest. There are a few others I used to watch: specifically people who lived full-time in their tricked-out vans and drive them all over the country (and beyond). But as these van-lifer YouTubers shifted to other things in their lives, I shifted more to these other adventurizers.

Itchy Boots

This channel features a fearless woman from the Netherlands, Noraly Schoenmaker, her treks around the world solo on her motorcycle. In one season she trekked from Argentina all the way to Alaska, spanning the entire continent of the Americas. She’s likewise traversed Iceland, Northern Europe, India, Africa, and more.

What makes this more than just “watch-me-ride-through-interesting-places” is that she goes out of her way to take interesting routes and to stop along the way to see things her viewers will likely never see and probably didn’t even know about; getting out her drone to get spectacular footage. She is very social and so you never know what you’ll vicariously get into as you watch. I also particularly enjoy that she was for many years a professional geologist, and so has far deeper knowledge about the rock formations and other things she is driving by.

This channel would be much more appealing to me if I were in the least b it into motorcycles, which I am not. But her videos are so wonderful and she genuinely seems like such a kind person. that I’m a fan. [Another such YouTuber to explore if you like this channel is Charlie Sinewan.]

  • The YouTube Channel
  • Favorite episodes: Her trek up the American continent was interrupted by Covid and so is told across two seasons: Season 2 and Season 6. I encourage you to start with Season 2, but note that she is still perfecting her videography craft so be patient at first.
  • Her website

Bald and Bankrupt

Benjamin Rich, both bald and having filed for bankruptcy in England, travels the world with his camera, going to places many of us would not dare. As someone who sometimes travels solo in other countries, I frequently note that he is able to go places and do things that a solo female traveler could (should) never go.

I don’t love all his videos, but he has quite a few that are remarkable. He has an amusing obsession with all things Eastern European, especially Soviet. That he speaks Russian nearly fluently made his videos all the more interesting. He traveled throughout Russia, visiting Chernobyl and other places before unfortunately raising suspicions and being arrested and briefly detained there. More recently he joined Soiuth American refugees who made their way along the dangerous path through the Panamanian jungle and northward toward the United States.

Regarding Music

There are many music channels on YouTube. Sometimes I head there to play something in the background while I work, usually Philip Glass, but other than that, YouTube is not my first or even second choice for my music consumption.

But there are two music-related channels I keep coming back to:

Guy Michelmore

My partner enjoys composing music in his spare time and suggested this channel one evening. The first time I watched it I was just humoring Dave, but I was immediately hooked by Michelmore himself.

Michelmore is an amazingly charismatic, interestingly energetic, knowledgeable, and talented guy. He walks his viewers through composing projects using the latest software. We watch him seem to just goof around and then end up with decent music, making it seem like, hey, maybe I can do that!

Even if you have absolutely no interest in composing music yourself, his exuberance is a blast to watch. He is like the very best version of the loud, infectiously funny, wacky-yet-very-wise uncle that every sitcom uncle aspires to be but can never quite achieve. Hollywood writers and novelists need to study Michelmore. I’ve added him to my list of strangers I would love to have dinner with.

Puddles Pity Party

This guy. Wow, this guy.

First off, let me tell you that I have always been one of those people who is incredible creeped out by clowns, or really, anybody in costume. I’d even come this close to calling it a phobia. Hence the surprise from those who know me that I absolutely adore Puddles. His singing is marvelous, his style is bizarrely fantastic, and his demeanor on camera is mesmerizing: He manages to look you in the eye both brazenly and uncomfortably. I cannot look away.

I learned of Puddles when I saw a few of his guest appearances with Postmodern Jukebox. Just like probably everyone’s first time seeing him, I thought, “What the hell is this idiocy?” Then when he started singing, I was amazed. I googled for more and found his YouTube channel as well as some videos of him on America’s Got Talent, and was hooked.

I am a Puddles fan… an admiration that has helped me tone down my general clown creep-factor. Thanks for the free therapy, Puddles!

Madcap Experimenters

These channels deserved their own category. In a way I’d call them Makers, but they are more in it for the experimentation, for trying out wild things, and to prove their theories about how things will work.

Mark Rober

Mark Rober is a former NASA engineer who makes vastly entertaining videos. One type of video shows him demonstrating and explaining the answers to questions, like whether a shark can really smell a single drop of blood in water, or what would happen if every toilet in an area was flushed at the same time. Another type shows him using his knowledge of science and engineering to make and explain ingenious gadgets that solve life’s little problems, like harassing porch thieves or keeping squirrels out of the bird feeder. Or sometimes just cool hacks, like how to skin a watermelon.

In recent years he has focused quite a bit on scammer revenge, finding and targeting mischief toward Indian call centers that scam the elderly and the gullible. Watch these videos and you’ll find find yourself cheering.

He’s charming and entertaining, with a sizeable side of smart.

Slow-Mo Guys

This is a fun channel where two guys seek out cool things at which to aim their incredibly fast camera, usually making a huge mess while they’re at it. Things like: Popping a human-sized water balloon… with a human inside of it. Shooting a gun at fruit. Setting off mousetraps. A cat twisting as it falls so it will land on its feet.

Skilled Woodworking

Continuing on my theme of construction and building, I watch a handful of channels that show woodworking projects from start to finish. Actually, I watch quite a lot of these channels, but there are only a few that stand out.

Frank Howarth

I could be wrong, but I believe Frank is an architect who discovered his love for woodworking later in life. He has an impressive workshop at his home in Portland, Oregon, including a sophisticated lathe and an impressively massive CNC machine.

He narrates what he’s doing in a way that makes you feel like you’re there figuring it out with him. And his self-deprecating manner and his occasional stop-motion adds charm.

Chris Salomone

Watch a quiet guy build modern and contemporary furniture in his workshop. I’m sure there are quite a few similar channels, but many of his videos are done in a quiet way that seems almost like a meditation. I’m also a big fan of the style of the furniture he makes: contemporary meets modern with a twist of mid-century.

General Information

I’m not thrilled to have a category called “General information,” as it might as well be called “Miscellaneous” or “Stuff.” But I’m not sure how else to categorize a YouTube channel that I enjoy: Joe Scott.

Joe Scott

Joe Scott presents well researched, articulate essays on a broad range of topics. His presentation is very conversational: it’s like an engaging conversation with an articulate, engaging, and comical acquaintance. That’s right, comical: even on his headiest of subjects you can expect some laughs.

His channel helpfully categorizes his videos into these categories: Science & Technology, Space & Space Travel, Culture, and Comedy.

As for the comedy: It was only when doing research for this blog that I learned that his channel is often categorized primarily as a comedy channel. In fact, in addition to working in marketing as a copy writer and having some success as a screenwriter, Joe at one time tried his hand at being a stand-up comic. I knew that comedy was the thread that tied all his talks together, but I would never have put “comedy” ahead of “educational” in categorizing his channel. My take is that his comedy is the Trojan horse that sneaks data into brains that otherwise might never have opened their doors to learning something new.

Past favorites


Here’s one that I rarely ever watch any more, but I couldn’t bear to delete it. This used to be in my “DIY & Maker” category, and back then this was hands-down my favorite thing on YouTube. It posts every Sunday, and I was always excited when it dropped. This gem is created by Mads Dahlke, who bought a boat named Athena, sailed it to his home town in Denmark, and spent about two years overhauling it.

He is not an expert boat builder, in fact, much of what he does is stuff he’s never done before. But he is an engineering type with a keen intellect and an obsession for perfection, so watching him precisely (and sometimes over-obsessively) engineer the hell out of every single step is a pure delight. If I am working on something and going overboard on nitpicking it, my partner tells me “You’re being Mads” to snap me out of it. [… and if I am going too fast he’ll tell me I’m being Adam, which is a reference to Adam Savage (see above).]

Mads completed this build and, other than some odds and ends, is no longer in DIY-mode. He and his wife, Ava, live onboard Athena and are adjusting to life as full-time cruiser/YouTubers. (I believe he met his wife through some fans of his channel who thought he’d be perfect for a friend of theirs. I think.) My fantasy is that once there’s nothing left to overhaul, fix, rebuild, or modify on Athena, Mads and Ava will look for the next big project. We’ll see. Until them I don’t really watch this much any more.

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