Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Mat Marquis

Mat Marquis

Web designer, developer (Bocoup)

Posted in designer, developer, mac, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Mat Marquis, inscrutably nicknamed "Wilto" since high school. I design and build fast, accessible, responsive websites at Bocoup. I do a decent amount of speaking, and I published JavaScript for Web Designers with A Book Apart a couple months back.

Outside of work, I collect hobbies. I'm a born-and-raised New England woodworker. I box better than someone who does not box, but not by very much. I cook, mostly French. I am endlessly repairing my '78 Triumph Bonneville.

What hardware do you use?

I own a lot of tools.

The family policy is "buy the cheapest version of a tool, and if you end up using it until it breaks, buy a good one." I've burned through a lot of loose-handled knives that refused to take a decent edge and bottom-shelf-at-Home-Depot wood planes. Here's some of the stuff I ended up with.

I'm prepared to say that I own more screwdrivers than anybody in the greater Boston area, and I'm easily in the top five for pairs of kinda-rusty pliers. I have a Disston D-8 handsaw that works better than it has any right to for being, y'know, roughly one hundred and fifty years old. I inherited a whole range of old Stanley planes and an indestructible old Occidental Leather framer's belt that doesn't see much use anymore. My tablesaw is a decent little Bosch jobsite saw; I ain't got much room to work with. My bandsaw is an Amazon-dot-com-discount-bin benchtop job that has yet to break down on me, but that clock is tickin' - I had a beastly JET a few years ago, but y'know, I'm an apartment woodworker now, in a tiny garage. I miss my old DeWalt mitre saw, which straight-up broke on me. I got a Rigid now; it kicks a little and the laser sight thing is goofy, but it cuts just fine. Diablo blades in er'rything. My favorite hammer has a skull on it.

I box with Cleto Reyes gloves (red, of course) - which make every other pair of gloves feel like big dumb foam Hulk hands - and a custom Impact mouthguard that has almost definitely saved my oft-punch'd jaw. I'm still in the "use cheap ones until they break" phase with my boxing shoes; Adidas something-or-others? They work fine.

In the kitchen, I have a rattly old KitchenAid stand mixer (red, of course) that I completely took for granted up until I started baking bread in earnest, and now plan to have buried with me someday. I don't exactly have a "knife kit" where I'm never taking my particularly low-production-quality show on the road, but: a Shun Classic 8" chef knife is my go-to, and I have a carbon steel knife I handled myself (padauk, of course) for heavier duty jobs. The blade for the latter was from Hock Tools, who also make damn fine woodworking plane blades. I have a mistreated Shun 5 1/2" Santoku that I picked up for like thirty bucks as a "utility" knife, and a Shun Sora paring knife that I hardly ever use.

I've managed to piece together a pretty respectable collection of pots and pans - mostly All-Clad - and more Lodge cast-irons of various sizes and shapes than anyone could ever realistically need (which, for the record, is "five"). I just got ahold of one of those "lightweight cast-iron" Field skillets and so help me, it might just be my go-to from now on. It doesn't retain heat quite as well as my beastly ol' Lodge, but man, it is so much easier to maneuver.

I... I recently bought a sous vide gadget. I did. I am deeply, deeply skeptical of it, mostly because I don't like the threat of getting technology all up in my food. I'm really more of a "iron, fire, and action" kinda guy than "aluminum, water, and patience." Still, an hour in a bath and a quick sear over an irresponsibly high flame is having some mean results.

Work-wise, I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro that's getting a little long in the tooth. It does okay; I ain't find much enticing about the new ones anyway. My dark secret is that I use the built-in keyboard and trackpad exclusively; no external mouse or keyboard, even when I'm doing design work. I have no idea why or how this ended up being the case, but here we are.

I recently made a "standing desk" out of some old pallets we had kicking around the office. Not, like, in a Pinterest way. We ain't talking "teal chalk paint and white script-y 'live laugh love' lettering" here - more "actual, literal trash." I'll use it until it breaks, as tradition dictates. My secondary monitor is also hot garbage, speaking of, but it really only ever has full-screen iTerm goin' on it. It's actually kinda nice for quickly checking potential color contrast issues.

And what software?

For code, I use Sublime Text in unspeakably inefficient ways, akin to spinning a pneumatic nailgun around backwards and using it to hammer nails by hand. Canvas is a damn fine writing tool - using it as we speak, in fact - but I still miss Editorially nigh daily.

Design-wise: I'm a little behind the curve, but I officially became Sketch people a few months ago. I'd be ready to ditch the Adobe suite altogether, except for the sake of janky ol' Photoshop's "Save for Web."

I've probably logged more hours in 12 Rounds than any other app on my phone. One of these days, though, I'm gonna use a little of my open source time to cook up a boxing timer of my own; why the hell not, y'know?

What would be your dream setup?

Countertops. Countertops, countertops. When I close my eyes and dare to dream of my perfect home, I see only countertops. End-grain butcher block, soapstone, marble - y'know, I'm not picky. Countertops in every room. LMM and I got like three feet of counter space and a wobbly IKEA table in our apartment kitchen, and it is killing us. I wouldn't balk at a more professional-grade range, either. Maybe a nice freezer chest. Or a walk-in; that'd cover me for both cooking and Rocky-style boxing.

I'm relegated to an unheated two-car garage for all my woodworking and endless motorcycle-tinkering, and that isn't the ideal situation up here in the frozen northeast. Just... just heat, y'know? I'd like heat. We're not even talking seventy two degrees year-round, here - just, like, warm enough that my wood glue doesn't turn to chalk during everything but our week and a half of Summer. I mean, sure, I wouldn't be mad about having enough space to ditch some of these tiny benchtop tools. But man. Heat.

At work, y'know, I'm doing just fine. "Have laptop, will travel." I am - at least, at work - pretty low-maintenance.