As daylight and temperatures begin to drop and the winter season draws near, we start to think about spending time with those we love (and with our workshops). That’s right, the holidays are here again, and with them comes the timeless tradition of trading gifts.
Now, finding a gift can at times be a little stressful, but we’re here to help! The members of the Make: staff has collected some of our favorite tools and toys that we’ve each loved using over the course of this year, and we’re now listing them for your shopping convenience. These ideas come with our strong recommendation (some also generate affiliate revenue for Make:).
Check out our gift guide video, then scroll below to find links to the items in it and more. Good luck! We hope the list helps you find or make the perfect present.
3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers (sponsored): SOLIDWORKS did something really cool this year, releasing 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers, which puts their industry standard CAD tool into the hands of makers and hobbyists and anyone doing non-commercial work for just $99 a year. A solid gift for everyone on your list. Learn more at discover.solidworks.com/makers
Bear Claw Leaf Scoops — perfect for yard cleanup, hay, and more.
Dewalt 20V Battery-Powered Chain Saw — light, powerful, go-anywhere cutting fun.
Leather gloves — a must for anyone working in the field.
Battery jump-starter — I was waiting for my wife at the hospital for a few hours. When it was time to pick her up after her procedure, I discovered I had drained the battery. Fortunately, I had my jump-starter in the glovebox and was able to get our minivan started a minute later.
Prusa Mini 3D Printer — small, affordable, reliable. Great results and great company service.
Gerber E.A.B. — everyone needs a handy cutter. Get one for every drawer in your house, and each pocket of your pants.
Hakko soldering station — soldering with a quality iron makes such a world of difference.
Leatherman Sidekick — it’s a treat to not have to dig out a toolbox when you’re looking for one specific tool. This has almost everything in a tiny size.
Ryobi oscillating multi-use tool — one of the more underrated power tools. You can use them for almost anything. (bare tool)
Carbon backyard pizza oven — top and bottom flames make your pizzas perfect every time. It’s hackable if you want to try different floors, etc..
Flume water monitor — monitor your water consumption in real time with this wireless, plumbing-free smarthome device. Get leak alerts and more.
Personal Weather Station — what’s the wind speed? how much did it rain yesterday? get all that info and more, hyper-localized to your back yard. Our editor uses the included wireless in-home temperature unit to track refrigerator performance, and to ensure the bread proofing box is at the right settings.
Phone tripod — we’re all content creators now; this is a must-have for getting that camera set up just right.
5-Inch Hook and Loop Round Hand Sanding Blocks — get that finishing touch without your random-orbit sander with these ergonomic sanding blocks that use the same 5-inch sanding discs.
USB Battery Pack — keeps your phone going when you’re on the go too.
Acrylic Pouring Paint (Set of 32) — a beautiful set of paints to make unique art.
Stretched Canvas 8-Pack — pair these with the pouring paints and you’ve got custom gifts for everyone.
Butane Torch for kitchen or art use — versatile and useful handheld blowtorch.
(and be sure to check out Kelly’s art on her YouTube channel to see all these supplies in action.)
iPad Pro — if you’re into digital sculpting and you haven’t tried it on this yet, you’re in for a treat.
Moment lens — 58mm for smartphones. Take your photos from “wha?” to “wow!”
The Maker Magician Handbook — Mario Marchese’s great book, fun for the whole family.
Robot Magic book — a followup to the Maker Magician Handbook, goes deeper into electronics.
FOR THE ASPIRING 3D PRINTER
Ender 3 3D printer: The super-popular staple of affordable 3D printing.
Glow-in-the-dark multicolor filament: Have a little fun with the lights out!
Temperature-sensitive color-change filament: It’s so fun to watch this change color as you hold it in your hand.
Hatchbox PLA: Make sure you always have material. This filament will get the job done.
Anycubic 4K resin 3D printer: It’s cheap (but not the absolute cheapest) but provides those high-resolution results that you can only get from a resin printer.
Elegoo washing and curing station: Really helps reduce mess and waste with your resin prints. Your family will thank you.
Isopropyl alcohol 99%: For cleaning your resin prints. Higher concentration that you typically can get at the corner store.
Elegoo UV 3D printer resin: Basic material for most of the affordable resin printers. Good to have on hand.
Siraya Tech ABS-like resin: A bit higher-quality resin offering similar physical properties to ABS.
IFUN jewelry-casting resin: Use lost-wax casting with this material to turn your digital designs into metal creations. If you have access to a jewelry kiln, this is what you need.
FOR YOUNG LEARNERS (AND OLD!)
micro:bit Go Bundle v1: Always a staff favorite, especially for learning coding. With the component shortages of 2021, it’s been next to impossible to find one of these great little boards. We’ve got a few. Grab a Bit:Booster or Bit:Buddy+ to turbocharge your micro:bit even further.
Circuit Scout kit: Learn the basics of how circuits work and then put them to use to make your own unique inventions, including LED circuits you can wear.
Grove Beginner Kit for Arduino: Has an Arduino-compatible board and 10 sensors that clip together with easy Grove connections. No soldering needed.
Make: Geometry: Our great new book that makes geometry great again.
Scrappy Circuits book: Scrappy Circuits is an imaginative “do-it-yourself” way to learn about making electrical circuits that cost less than $1 per person!
3D Splat rainbow set: Innovative tool that teaches three-dimensional object drawing.
Makey Makey: Electronic invention kit for all ages. A Maker Camp favorite that allows you to use everyday objects for physical computing .
Free to Make: Make: founder Dale Dougherty’s study of the global Maker Movement that explores how “making” impacts our personal and social development — perfect for enthusiastic DIY-ers.
Brush-E Robo Racers: Racing brushes! A fun and simple way to introduce kids to electronics. Perfect party activity too.
Pizza Race: Another great way to add a little learning and competition to your next pizza party! Build these vibration-moving kits to see who’s fastest.
Lectrify class pack: Embeddable snap-off circuits for kids, educators and makers from a small maker-owned business in San Francisco with countless uses in projects.
FOR THE ALWAYS-PREPARED MAKER
Drybag backpack: This versatile backpack has become a go-to for one staffer; even when water and rain are not in the plan this bag is great to grab, stuff, and go.
Survival kit: For camping, hiking, or keeping in your car in case of a cross-country breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
Firebiner: Carabiners are incredibly useful for the outdoors and organization… this one combines a carabiner, screwdriver, utility blade, bottle opener, hang slots, and coolest of all, a fire-starting Spark Wheel.
Magnetic fishing set: A great entertaining activity for all ages. Dang are these magnets strong — you will be hooked on this hobby (pun intended) with one toss.
MORE FOR THE WORKSHOP
Brother ScanNCut vinyl cutter: Make signs, stickers, art, cards, and more. A great tool for the classroom or any crafting workshop.
Contour tool set: These devices are really useful for getting the exact shape of an object, then transferring it to a material you’re placing around it, like floor boards and tiles. This kit comes with multiple gauges and rulers for the most demanding layouts.
Laser tape measure: So frequently used in one Make: editor’s household it lives permanently in the kitchen drawer.
USB endoscope: Peek inside walls, under appliances, into engine cylinders or ear canals.
Adafruit Clue: A kitchen sink of a microcontroller board. As seen on the cover of Make: v74.
Raspberry Pi Pico: The most notable new microcontroller released this year. Tons of power, super low price.
Digital angle finder with laser line level: Get your table or mitre saw blade to the exact angle with this great little tool. Also useful to track how off-kilter a surface is, the angle of a ramp, and more.
Clamp-edge circular saw kit: Table saws can be bulky, but this tool lets you get perfectly straight lines with your existing circular saw, then tucks tightly away. Easy to use on-site too.
Full-face shield: Much nicer than wearing goggles that fog up. We always forget we have ours on.
Upgrade your shop lights: If you’re still using a pricey, old-fashioned incandescent lightbulb to illuminate your space, do yourself a favor and get some bright, power-saving LED fixtures instead. Your eyes will thank you. We like these 3-armed, directional ones.
Makita 5” orbital sander: Makes quick work of even very big jobs. Our editor appreciates the extended grip for those marathon sanding sessions.
Sanding discs, 5”: A rare assortment of almost every grit you’d want. 54 pieces.
Block printing kit: Get started in a new art medium.
Canary cardboard cutter: Cardboard is all around us these days, and is a great material for crafting and art making. The Canary cutter makes it so easy to cut it apart for any of your needs.
Sizzix die-cutting and embossing machine: A budget way to do intaglio printing. Or use it as intended!
Lincoln Power Mig 210 MP welder: Fix stuff and build cool art. Dial in the settings with an intuitive screen-based interface.
Hypertherm plasma cutter: Embrace the power of the gods as you cleave thick pieces of metal. We like this one because of its built-in air compressor — no need to hook up multiple pieces of gear to get going.
Ball vice for metal engraving: Do detailed work on small pieces, jewelry, and more.
Adjust-O Magnetic Square: A must have for welders. Hold those pieces in perfect alignment with powerful magnets.
Wetools Rivet Nut Tool: Allows you to add nuts to metal surfaces by riveting them in place. Useful when you’re building out your camper van or food truck.
iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit: Various driver bits, spudgers, pullers, and more, to open almost anything.
Dent-puller: You know what would make everyone in your family happy? If you went outside after opening presents and fixed all the dents on their cars.
Car-starting battery pack: Will charge your phone. Will also jump-start a car in an emergency. Very useful glove box item.
Lego World Map: Almost 12,000 pieces come together into a 41-inch piece that you’ll be proud to hang on your wall. And make no mistake, you earned it!
Drill brush kit: A variety pack of brushes and pads that are great for everything from deep cleaning to getting loose paint off of old 2x4s.
Reusable lint rollers: Just wash them off with dish soap and let air dry to make them super sticky again.
YOUNG MAKER KITS
Rainbow Light Show Kit: Solder together (or get the pre-assembled version) then go wild with touch-free LED color mixing for whatever projects you can dream up.
Circuit Scribe Basic Kit: Conductive ink and a variety of components lets any youngster or curious person unravel the mystery of electronic circuits by drawing real ones that really work.
Love to Code Creative Coding Kit (Chibi Chip Starter Kit): Get started with coding now! The Love to Code Creative Coding Kit is a fun, friendly and new way to engage with coding.
Origami Paper Circuits: Combine simple electronics with the centuries-old Japanese paper craft art of Origami.
Magna Tiles: One of the best new toys in years. Quickly build all sorts of creative structures. We’ve never met a kid that doesn’t love these.
Dash and Dot: Program these adorable robots to do countless activities. One staffer’s daughter has been using these for years and still loves them.
Shape Shifting Box: This shape-shifting fidget cube turns into 70 different shapes, each held in place with internal magnets.
The Questioneers: This four-book set celebrates all of the members of the STEM-focused Questioneer series, including an architect, and engineer, and a scientist. Lets all kids know that they can pursue their dreams, no matter what.
Fermenting kit: Pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut and more — so much tastier when it’s made at home.
Sourdough tank: Glass, with lid and temperature markings on the outside.
Egg Poacher: Take the frustration out of your holiday brunch with this nifty tool and make that elusive perfect poached egg every time.
GARDENERS AND YARD WORKING
Clawed gloves: Why use your fingernails to get under the soil? These things do it so much better. And they look diabolically cool.
WANT MORE IDEAS?
Last year’s staff suggestions video is still as useful as ever — here you go, with more items listed below it:
Make: magazine subscription — a must have. $25
12V impact driver — small, powerful, and versatile. A great addition to every tool kit.
Laminator — so many applications you can use these for. Laminate everything!
Insta360 One-R 360 camera — it’s modular; pops apart so you can change lenses, battery packs, screens. Great for capturing projects in the workshop.
DJI Mavic Mini — tiny, but great video resolution. We’ve flown it a mile away and brought it back without any issues.
Kalimba thumb piano — relaxing way to collect your thoughts at the workbench or home office.
Wireless lav mic — the secret to video is good audio. Keep one of these on you to be sure your voice is audible. No wires to trip over!
Headband magnifier with light — for engraving, crafting, model making, or any other small endeavor.
Yarn and knitting supplies — there’s a reason knitting has been massively popular forever: it’s awesome. Try it.
Juice squeezer — a very useful tool for the kitchen. Get those nutrients straight from the fruit.
Table easel — nice gift for the budding artist, or the artist on the go.
Canary cardboard cutting tool — this special blade cuts through cardboard without any hassle. People love this thing.
Giant tweezers — for cooking or grabbing things you can’t reach.
Headlamp — once you get one of these you’ll wonder why you ever gave up one of your free hands to hold a flashlight.
Multi-port charging cable — we all have a drawer full of a tangle of cables. USB C, micro USB, Lightning. This cord does it all without having to carry three separate wires.
Flip phone — fight back against smartphone surveillance by simplifying your technology.
EVEN MORE FROM OUR TOOLBOX MAGAZINE SECTION!
Every issue of Make: also includes some great product listings. We’ve collected many of them here for you to easily access as well. Dig in and find just the thing you’re looking for.
Got anything you want to recommend? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org