For every popular YouTube channel with millions of subscribers (think Mark Rober, Adam Savage’s Tested, and The Slow Mo Guys), there are even more interesting, under-the-radar channels worth following. These are perfect for an end-of-work-day distraction — a soothing way to get you through the last few hours of a 9-5.
We’ve rounded up some of the best YouTube channels you’ve never heard of that are definitely worth hitting that subscribe button.
There’s no shortage of vintage car restoration videos on YouTube, but baremetalHW doesn’t focus on classic Mustangs or GTOs. Their painstaking restorations instead bring vintage Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Tonka, and other toy cars back to life. At the start of each video the toys often look like they’ve been salvaged from a garbage dump, but by the end, through an often complicated multi-step restoration process that can often take weeks to complete for vehicles just a few inches long, the final results look better than when kids first tore these packaged toys open decades ago. It also doesn’t hurt that each of these videos features some of the most soothing narration you’ll find anywhere online.
There are thousands of YouTube channels where Lego fans show off their MOCs (my own creations) but what sets JK Brickworks apart is that not only are Jason Allemann and their partner Kristal incredibly talented builders (two of their custom creations were actually turned into official Lego sets), but the models they share on their YouTube channel are often irreverent and fun, while at the same time being surprisingly complex. It’s an excellent source of inspiration if you’re a Lego fan yourself, and their piece-by-piece build videos are a form of soothing ASMR.
3D printers are now cheap enough and accessible enough for almost anyone interested in the devices to own one. The only speed bump is finding a practical reason to wait for hours on end for the machines to do their thing — how many plastic toy boats do you really need? Stian Ervik Wahlvåg manages to justify a 3D printer’s existence all by himself with clever designs and projects that often super-size Lego minifigure accessories into human-size objects that prove everything really is awesome.
Everyone has at least one cool thing they’re proud of, but not everyone has enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame because of it. Guy Georgeson and Coolest Thing Productions wants to change that. The short documentaries feature people from all over the world and highlight a cool thing they own or have built, including a hovercraft DMC DeLorean, a sprawling miniature railroad, or a backyard roller coaster with a working loop-de-loop. If you build it, they will come — with a camera and a desire to show the world your coolest thing.
You don’t always need a cutting-edge recording studio or the ability to sing and play instruments to make music. Sometimes all you need is a house full of noisy appliances like electric toothbrushes and toasters and the patience to hack and reprogram them. The Device Orchestra takes seemingly boring electric devices and turns them into artists, performing some of music’s biggest hits by simply doing what they do, but timed to a beat. The gratuitous use of googly eyes and jiggly pipe cleaner arms just adds to what are already very enjoyable performances.
Do you consider yourself a home theatre enthusiast who borders on obsessed? Do entire companies rise and fall during the time it takes you to research and pick out a new TV? You’ve got nothing on Vincent Teoh, whose YouTube channel HDTVTest might be the only place you really need to “do your homework” when it comes to deciding on what flat-panel display to buy. Teoh’s testing is, to put it mildly, thorough and exhausting, but at the same time their spec-filled video reviews are surprisingly entertaining to watch, if you’re into that kind of thing. (We definitely are.) Teoh’s reviews are especially enjoyable when they’re eviscerating a company’s boastful performance claims, and can be about as savage as someone from Manchester can possibly be.
Mother Nature puts on quite a show in the American midwest during the summer, but instead of risking your car’s paint and windshield by chasing monstrous tornados and hail-spewing storms, let the pros like Mike Olbinski do it. Olbinksi, who happens to be an incredible photographer and editor, captures nature’s raw power through timelapse footage that always seems to be taken at just the right place at just the right time. (Does he have a weather machine hidden inside his truck?) On his YouTube channel, Olbinski not only shares amazing footage, but incredible compilations that Hollywood can’t even begin to compete with.
Most knives are made from steel, some ceramic, but have you ever wondered if you could make a razor-sharp blade from chocolate? What about Jell-O? Or aluminium foil? The answer is yes, to all of the above, thanks to the obsessive knife-making skills on display in the kiwami japan YouTube channel. What’s even more impressive is that no matter the ingredient chosen, the long, drawn-out process of making it solid and hard enough to shape into a blade always results in a terrifyingly sharp implement thanks to a methodical sharpening process. That alone makes all these videos worth watching.
Have you ever wondered what’s inside random objects around your home? What secrets do a bowling ball really hold? Taking a hacksaw to the cuckoo clock that’s been in your family for 50 years is a real chore, but the folks behind YouTube’s Waterjet Channel have a shortcut — which you’ve probably already guessed is a waterjet capable of blasting out a 60,000 PSI stream that can cut through almost anything like it was warm butter. Thankfully for us, curiosity often outweighs safety, and their channel is full of fascinating videos of random objects getting effortlessly bifurcated, revealing their secrets inside.
Time-lapse photography seems to magically put a fast-forward button on the world around us, revealing natural phenomenon we otherwise would never see play out by condensing it into bite-size clips perfectly timed for our limited attention spans. If you’re going to dive into the videos shared by Temponaut Timelapse on their YouTube channel, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a strong stomach, because more often than not their incredible footage reveals what happens to foods and animals when abandoned for days on end. The results aren’t pretty, but for some reason we just can’t look away.
Look Mum No Computer
Mix one part mad scientist with two parts electronic musician and you’ll get Sam Battle, whose YouTube channel Look Mum No Computer exhibits his twisted sonic creations that look bizarre and often sound even stranger. His most famous creation to date might still be an organ built from 44 hacked Furby toys, but Battle is also known for resurrecting old hardware and turning it into electronic instruments, including a wall of classic Game Boys that might be the ultimate chiptunes machine.