I’m obsessed with “How It’s Made”

How It’s Made is a television program produced in Quebec, Canada by Productions MAJ Inc.  It is broadcast in America on the Discovery/Science Channel.

The show walks through the processes by which diverse everyday products such as snowboards, ice skates, and bubblegum are manufactured. Each half hour show has four segments, with each product, be it a bagel or a helicopter, getting five minutes.

Source: How It’s Made – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (includes entire episode list!)

200px-Howitsmade As my friends will tell you, I’ve become quite obsessed with the TV show "How it’s Made".  The funniest part about it is that I don’t watch television at all so the fact that I even found the show was lucky to begin with, and now I’m so hooked on it that I bought a Tivo so that I don’t have to bother programming my VCR to tape it (yes, it had come to that).

What I love about the show is that it combines two things I love: mechanics and business.  It’s the mechanics of business!  My favorite segments are ones with a lot of machines in them.  It will change the way you look at things once you realize how they are made – like toothbrushes, light poles, snack cakes, matches – and I love spotting something in my daily activities and being able to think about how it’s made.

My favorite episodes/segments so far have been toothbrushes, cymbals and hydroponic lettuce.  There are interesting things in every segment however – like how metal handles are polished by vibrating in a big vat of little pellets or how the tubes in a trombone are made uniform by pushing balls through them.  Some of my least favorite episodes have been mannequins (they were lame wanna-be mannequins), artificial logs (zzzz) and some of the sports-related ones (assembling a see-do isn’t that interesting when they buy most things prepackaged, and how many different pieces of hockey equipment do we need to see sewn?).  What’s really frustrating is when they do hand waving over the most interesting parts.


I’ve learned a few general things about manufacturing that I was surprised about: there’s a lot of glue in stuff.  And staples.  You can bend wood by heating and humidifying it and it’s really hard to do.  Assembling machines go really fast (I love it when they slow them down and then speed them up!).  A lot of things are made by hand that you’d be surprised at, and a lot of processes require a human at seemingly strange junctures in a more mechanical process. 

I’ve considered starting a blog where I comment on every episode – I have enough to say! – but have resisted because I know it’ll take a lot of time.  I may do it eventually.

How it’s Made web site

Discovery/Science channel How it’s Made web site

Posted in TV

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