reDiscover has 10+ years experience putting powerful tools in the hands of kids ages 7-12. We've tried out countless hand and power tools for cutting, joining, and finishing materials for maker projects. Our criteria for a recommended tool are:
- Is it safe? Is this tool well built, stable, solid, unlikely to be damaged, dulled, or destroyed in the hands of a child? Are there safety locks, guides, clear ways to use it properly? Is it in proper working condition, without frayed wires, broken casings, or missing pieces?
- Does it work? We don't put toys in kids' hands, we put tools in kids' hands. Those tools need to be effective: sharp, fast, precise. A tool that doesn't accomplish a useful task in the makerspace ends up collecting dust and wasting resources. We buy professional and consumer tools, not stuff from kids' catalogues.
- Does it fit a child's hand? We test tools by putting them in seven year olds' hands and watch whether they can lift it, hold it steady, use it correctly without assistance.
- Is it readily available at a reasonable price? We're not afraid of buying from the high end of the tool market when quality is only found there, but whenever we can, we look for the most cost effective option.
Check out our Pedagogy page for Tool Safety Onesheets on key tools and a wealth of links on teaching in tool-centered makerspaces.
All of the tools listed below are used in reDiscover programs at reDiscover Center and in schools across Los Angeles. We recommend them for elementary and middle schools, for home makerspaces, and for out-of-school time maker programs. Want to support reDiscover's charitable work to put tools in the hands of kids? Consider making a donation buy purchasing a tool from our Wish List.
Cordless Hot Glue Gun
Hot glue is an amazing substance for crafting, providing a smooth tacky glue that bonds in just a few seconds to almost any surface. Even though it's not that strong and you need to be careful not to burn yourself, the Hot Glue Gun Station is one of the most popular spots at reDiscover. Cordless models recharge when on their base stations and stay hot for 5 minutes for full mobility attaching bits and bobs to projects anywhere in the workshop. Highly recommended helper tool: leather work gloves.
A drill press is a powerful precision tool, capable of putting a hole in metal exactly on a measured spot and cutting out a 2" circle from plywood (not incidentally producing a 2" wheel that's perfect for a wooden car). As a one of our plug-in power tools, we take extra precautions around a drill press to avoid injury to the operator or anyone nearby. reDiscover stocks a heavy duty floor stand drill press and tabletop models good for everyday tasks.
This giant hole punch is easy to operate and makes beautiful holes through paper, cardboard, plastics, leather, and even tin cans. Combine it with wire, yarn, or zipties for a superstrong way to combine flat media.