Kathleen Kalina’s article about making a bowfishing boat jumped to the top ten articles--out of over a thousand articles--within a month of publication. Why? Because Kathleen told people how to do something valuable. So what makes a great how-to article? What makes Kathleen's article a great how-to article?

    People want or need to know what is in it.
    It is well organized.
    It is easy to read and understand.
    It is generously and clearly illustrated.
    The materials are affordable and easily obtainable.


by Jill Christensen

These are instructions for building a Whatsit from inexpensive materials and using tools you probably already have in your toolbox. You can use your Whatsit in your garage (Steps 1 through 3) or weatherize it for outdoor use (Step 4).

[This article illustrates a visual means of presenting lists and steps as an alternative to a series of paragraphs punctuated by illustrations. Both styles are effective. The choice is the writer's.]

When you finish, you will have a sturdy whatsit that will do this or that, depending on which method you choose to build it. In the first section, we will tell you what materials you will need to build a whatsit. In the second, we will provide the steps for building a Whatsit.


1          Round trash can with lid
2          Nuts, bolts, and washers (brass)
1          Caulk gun
2          Tubes of cheap acrylic caulk (fresh)
4          Building grade pine 2 x 4 x 10s
1          2 foot square piece of plywood

Note:  Avoid any wood with excessive knots as these will reduce the load the wood can handle.


If you are going to use your Whatsit in your garage, then you only need to follow Steps 1 through 3. However, if you want to use your Whatsit outdoors, you must also do Step 4, Weatherize.

1. Do this…
                                                                    [insert figure]

2. Do that…
                                                                    [insert figure]

3. Do the other…
                                                                    [insert figure]

4. Weatherize
                                                                    [insert figure]

Finished Whatsit.