The only thing you can do to mess up making your own bagels is to make them, say, square.
This is a promise -- the secret to good bagels is that there really is no secret, other than you don't have to be anywhere near New York City to have perfectly chewy, fresh bagels for breakfast this Sunday morning.
More things that aren't true: that it's the New York water that makes them what they are, that you'll kill the dough by squeezing, forcing it into a bagel shape, that they're too high-maintenance and you'll go running (screaming) back to the grocery store standard.
Please don't do that. If you've ever mixed and kneaded any other dough, this will be cake. Let's do it together.
Note: This recipe is adapted from one by the bread man himself, Peter Reinhart. (Why mess with a good thing?) I use all-purpose flour, but you can swap any amount of it with whole grain flour (like rye or wheat) for a different flavor. Reinhart also uses barley malt syrup, as do most serious bagel people, but honey works just as well. —Kenzi Wilbur