Secret Santa: Matt Richardson – Hakko FX-888 and PanaVise Jr.

Secret Santa: Matt Richardson – Hakko FX-888 and PanaVise Jr.

I admit, I panicked a bit when I drew Matt Richardson’s name from the Santa hat. I don’t know much about Matt other than he isn’t as tall as me and he has nice hair. We’ve exchanged several emails but most have been related to Make:Live coupon codes (since I set them up).  I’ve met him at a Maker Faire or two, have seen him in video conferences but have only exchanged maybe 10 words with him total. So what do you do when you have to get a gift for someone you know nothing about? If you’re me, you send a frantic email to Becky Stern, the other host of Make:Live for ideas.


I’m not going to say I got Matt Richardson for the secret santa project. But theoretically, if I did have Matt, what kinds of things is he into? I’m afraid all I know about him is that he is shorter than me and has nice hair.

(and don’t tell him you talked to me)

Thankfully, Becky was able to help me out considerably.

Matt loves all things photography, and all things pancakes. You might watch his videos to get a sense of what he’s into: He’s also really into the Cheesecake Factory for some reason. If I had him for this assignment I’d “get” him a nice soldering iron, like a WES51 or any Hakko model.



After watching several of Matt’s videos, I learned that, like me, he’s into everything. While I also enjoy the occasional picture, pancake, and trip to the Cheesecake Factory, I ultimately decided to get Matt a Hakko FX-888 Soldering Iron, because every maker needs a great soldering iron and because I once witnessed Matt soldering during a video conference so I know he’s passionate about soldering.

I have one, so I can attest to the amazingness that is the Hakko FX-888. It ranks up there with my Subaru WRX, Fender Stratocaster, Fluke multimeter, and Cold Steel pocket knife on my “Great Stuff I Own and Love” list, so I know Matt will love it too. The features of the Hakko FX-888 include 30-second heat up time, 392°F – 896°F variable temperature with 1°C temperature stability, and an integrated sponge / brass tip cleaner. But what I’m sure Matt will immediately notice every time he uses his new soldering iron isn’t on the feature list; It’s the amazing way the pencil will feel in his hand. It’s as though the engineers at Hakko calculated the optimum grip size for a soldering pencil and mated it to the most flexible, supple cord in existence. The balance makes it feel like there isn’t a cord at all and transforms soldering from a chore into pure bliss. Because it’s made for industrial use, it’s sure to be the last soldering iron Matt needs and because it’s pretty, it will look great should it ever be on Make: Live. Of course, I’m not going to give Matt a soldering iron and let him be on his way, I’m also going to give him a PanaVise Jr. to help him out as he solders.

The PanaVise Jr is expandable up to 2.875″ and the adjustable jaws rotate using a ball head to allow Matt to reposition his projects at almost any angle. It’s the perfect companion to any soldering project and workbench.

So Matt, there you have it. In addition to these gifts I also hope to increase my “words I’ve exchanged with Matt Richardson” count more in the future (which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.)

Merry Christmas, Matt!

8 thoughts on “Secret Santa: Matt Richardson – Hakko FX-888 and PanaVise Jr.

  1. Matt Richardson says:

    Thank you, Michael! They’re the perfect gifts. So can I just PayPal you the dollar I promised you for the comment about my hair?

    1. Anonymous says:

      You could mail it to me in pennies if you like (as long as you pay the postage:)

  2. Secret Santa: Matt Richardson – Hakko FX-888 and PanaVise Jr. Becky Stern says:

    This is a very funny article, nice work Michael!

  3. Joseph Cummings says:

    Nice commercial.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am the Evangelist for the Maker Shed. It seems that there is no limit to my making interests. I'm a tinkerer at heart and have a passion for solving problems and figuring out how things work. When not working for Make I can be found falling off my unicycle, running in adverse weather conditions, skiing down the nearest hill, restoring vintage motorcycles, or working on my car.

View more articles by Michael Castor


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).