This month, I want to delve into the topic of do-it-yourselfers. As mini-truckers, we collectively try to tackle many challenges throughout the buildup of our endless projects. This is an awesome way to learn and advance your skills in any area, but I want to go over some simple dos and don'ts. We've been working our tails off day and night to put together some really cool do-it-yourself articles, which have already appeared in a few issues. We are going to continue on the do-it-yourself path to help you take your truck to the next level with stories on tube-bending, plasma-cutting, and many other tasks.

These articles are meant to be a guide to help you practice on your own vehicles. One thing I've noticed lately, though, is that every guy with a welder thinks he's a professional and charges people to 'bag trucks out of his garage. I want to stress that there's a reason why professional custom shops perform reliable work: These shops pride themselves on getting you back on the road safely. Suspension, body drops, and so on are dangerous areas to mess around with, so to practice on other people's vehicles without the necessary experience to do the job right is not only dishonest, but you could very well cost someone their life. I'm all for working on your own truck to learn and build your knowledge of customization, but it's very scary to see a truck on the road that was obviously 'bagged by somebody who didn't know what he was doing. That truck quickly becomes a danger not only to the driver, but to all other vehicles on the road.

Let me say it again: There's nothing wrong with learning and practicing on your own vehicle. However, just because you 'bagged your own truck doesn't mean you can start charging people to 'bag every truck on your block. Mini-truckers fit right in with the hot-rod crowd as far as building up projects in the garage and outsourcing the work we can't do ourselves to professional shops, but somehow we're still known in some groups as "hacks." This label would be unfair if all we were doing was trying our best to mold our trucks into the true custom visions we have in mind. So, please take into account both your experience level and safety the next time you go to cut someone's ride up.

With that out of the way, there are tons of benefits to practicing and perfecting your skills on your own projects. Aside from the obvious money-saving element, there's a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction driving a badass ride that was built with your own hands that money just can't buy. Of course, everybody has to work for a living, and most of us will never be able to work full-time fabricating customs, so you might not be able to tackle all the areas of a full buildup. The professionals are always there when it comes time to handle a chore that you want perfect and aren't too sure if you'll be able to do it right. Never be ashamed to call upon the help of others for paint and body, suspension, engine mods, or interior help to get the job done right the first time.

I've come across so many different people during the past few years that all have their own talents. A lot of these people work for amazing custom shops and turn out full-custom mini-trucks day in and day out. However, some work 9-to-5 jobs for the phone company (or whatever pays the bills) and come home, perfecting their craft on their own project that's been in the garage in pieces for five or more years. Neither of these types is better than the other, and I encourage you to not think less of others for not building their own ride. You don't know the stories that go into each and every buildup, and if someone is smart enough to realize that they can't safely 'bag a truck and instead take it to a professional, you should thank them for not putting another unsafe truck on the road.

Everyone has his or her place in this sport, and for it to thrive for years and years to come, we'll always need every kind of mini-trucker, from the beginner all the way to the most hard-core custom-shop owner. So, treat each other right, help each other build the trucks you've always wanted, and keep your eyes peeled for more useful do-it-yourself articles to add to your customization arsenal. L888.