Emiel engineers clever workshop hacks and joyful devices on YouTube

Today we’re talking to Dutch YouTuber Emiel Noorlander, AKA The Practical Engineer. Using his background in engineering, he designs and builds all kind of crazy contraptions and useful inventions.

For example, he’s made a hands-free oreo dispenser, an RC Cybertruck, countless workshop tools and devices, and several large pieces of furniture.

Check out the full interview below, and be sure to visit Emiel’s YouTube channel (turn on Closed Captions if you don’t speak Dutch!) and website to see more of his work. You can also follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?

The Practical Engineer tank tread skateboard
Photo credit: Emiel Noorlander

I do two kind of projects on my YouTube channel: simple projects to build and improve your workshop and projects that bring joy.

The latter range from fun machines like my oreo dispenser to a tank track skateboard. At the moment I’m working on a hovercraft.

Tell us about your workshop

The Practical Engineer old workshop
The Practical Engineer’s old workshop. Photo credit: Emiel Noorlander

I moved to a new workshop which is 8×3 meters (~26×10 feet) about 4 months ago, but before that my workshop was in the shed at my home which was 2×3 meters (~6×10 feet).

In my first workshop, I carefully planned the whole workshop in Fusion 360 to find the optimal spot for everything. I used it for almost 3 years.

Right now in the larger shop I use the same approach where I still try to maximise the efficiency to make the most of the available space.

How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

The Practical Engineer new workshop hovercraft
Hovercraft WIP in the new workshop. Photo credit: Emiel Noorlander

When I was a kid you could often find me taking apart old VCRs, radios, printers, and anything else I could get my hands on.

I loved opening them up, seeing what was inside, and (once I was a little older) understanding how things work. I also made a few things as a kid, but it wasn’t until I studied engineering that I really started making things.

Read also: 12 essential woodworking tools for beginners

The only problem was that during my studies I had to learn how to design parts and components FROM A TEXTBOOK!

It was obvious that this didn’t work for me. I couldn’t learn how to do things without actually doing them.

That was the moment that I realised that I wanted to make stuff, learn how to do it, and understand how the things around me work. 

From then on I’ve always had one or more ongoing projects.

Any advice for beginners?

Pick something that excites you, learn the absolute basics, and just start.

If you enjoy the process (and allow yourself to fail), anything is possible.

Who inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?

My biggest inspiration as a kid was MythBusters, where Jamie and Adam built all kinds of cool machines and rigs to test myths.

Right now there are a lot of people that inspire me:

Check out more of Emiel’s work on his YouTube channel and website, or follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for his latest projects.

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