Make Holiday Gift Guide

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Circuit Scribe Ultimate Kit

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Unlike “building-block” packages designed for kids, this kit introduces you to fundamental electronic components and gives you practical circuits to build. As you gain experience building the circuits, you will also learn how to read actual schematics, the circuit diagrams that serve as the shorthand language of electronics.

Recommended by Make:

I am a big fan of where art and science meet. Sun prints are classic and super easy; I always recommend a larger pack because you WILL want to experiment. When exposed the light, the paper undergoes a chemical charge, turning the paper blue and creating a beautiful image. You can experiment with simple shapes of leaves and flowers, or use sunscreen on plexiglass with photo negatives for creative projects.

Recommended by Gracie CT

Artist and Make: Contributor

Although you can definitely make this mechanism yourself, this is the best way to press flowers and leaves. I like this one because it’s a pretty good size, and you can press larger leaves.

Recommended by Gracie CT

Artist and Make: Contributor

More science! This magical bottle of chemicals is a compound that etches glass, allowing you to put designs on windows, mirrors, and glassware. It is a corrosive crème, so make sure you wear gloves and don’t get it on your skin (just wash it off real quick if you do). Armour Etch is specifically for glass, so pyrex and plastics won’t etch.

Recommended by Gracie CT

Artist and Make: Contributor

This is a great starter tool for linocut or relief printing. The handle of the tool opens up and you can store your other tips in there. If you don’t have any linoleum sitting around, you can use pieces of rubber or even a potato to make printable shapes and stamp. Remember, if you want to include text, remember to make the text backwards on the stamp. ☺

Recommended by Gracie CT

Artist and Make: Contributor

I’ve bought dozens of tool holders for my belt over the years, but the Nite Ize Pock-Its is the only one I’ve ever replaced because I wore it out. It confidently holds a multi-tool, flashlight, pens and has a couple of small pockets big enough to hold a mini-lighter. It also has a key chain hook. Importantly, it has a hooked belt clip that holds under extreme conditions. Many belt holders stick out so far that they catch on things, but the Pock-Its lays flat against my side.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

The Blue Yeti USB Mic is among the best choices you can make for podcasting and computer recording. It’s a tri-capsule condenser array. This means that it can operate in 4 modes; as a cardioid mic (picking up in front), an omni (picking up 360˚), bidirectional (to the front and back), and stereo. It has gain control and a mute button as well as a headphone jack. The headphone allows zero-latency monitoring of your input and serves as a USB headphone output for your computer. The features are great, but the sound is what really makes this a fantastic microphone.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

My workbenches are against the wall. On a weekly basis I manage to drop things back behind them. Rather than practicing my anger management skills, I’ve begun using a 36" flexible pickup tool. It’s great! The tines that emerge from the pickup end are surprisingly strong and the length allows me to use it in places I couldn’t otherwise reach. The flexible shaft even makes it useful for shoving down the sink.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

I’ve cut metal with a 14" abrasive chop saw for years. The resulting cuts are HOT, spew sparks, and require cleanup. Enter the RAGE3 15A 10" compound sliding miter saw from EvolutionTools. This saw cuts steel, aluminum, wood, and PVC with a single blade. The resulting cut is cool to the touch and startlingly clean. The ability to make compound as well as sliding cuts is a huge advantage over my chop saw, and the cuts happen much faster. The saw spins at 2500RPM, so it runs slower than many other saws, but apparently that’s optimized for the muli-material blade.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

It’s important not to let yourself have any excuses not to wear safety glasses. Yet those of us who wear readers for closeup work often have to wear safety glasses over them. As a result, I’ve been buying safety glasses with bifocal-style readers built in. Of all the brands I’ve tried, I really like the ones from Pyramex. They are low profile goggles that seal around the eyes to prevent wayward bits from coming in around the side. The V2G pair I bought came with both arms and a head strap and fit comfortably.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

Having an emergency car jumper box is essential for all my vehicles. These devices have become smaller in recent years and are a lifesaver when needed. I also like to use these devices as power sources for projects that require significant juice. For this to be realistic, the device needs to have a 12V outlet other than the jumper clamps. The GOOLOO GPower 180 provides 18 amp-hours of power and has a 12V barrel plug as well as USB power outlets. Compared to the giant car jumper batteries I used to use, this one is a pleasure.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

I use chalk pencils to mark cloth, leather, wood, and metal. But many chalk pencils make such a thick line that they’re close to useless for precision work. The Bohin Extra-Fine Chalk Pencil can take yellow or white refills and makes a smaller line than any other chalk device I’ve found. These are sold as a quilting tool (like so many great tools!) but are useful for a wide range of purposes.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

Measuring a curved corner is very frustrating without radius gauges. I purchased these radius gauges (in both metric and fractional sets) for help with 3D modelling. Something as simple as getting the corner of a smart phone right goes from guesswork to science with these gauges. Some people prefer gauges that are mounted together like feeler gauges, but I’ve found that these individual gauges are easy to use and less awkward in my hands while measuring.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

I have to confess that I love measuring devices. When I see one that I don’t own I get a bit antsy. When I discovered ring rulers, I knew I had to add them to my collection. I haven’t been disappointed. While wanting to measure circles isn’t something I do every day, using this adjustable ring ruler has made it a pleasure. Just slide the ruler to fit and get immediate numbers for diameter and circumference. All your measuring friends will be impressed when you whip this out and make their straight rulers feel downright old fashioned.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

Whether you’re drawing, marking, or modeling, measuring angles should be fast, easy, and precise. Your choice of protractor has a great deal to do with whether these conditions are met. Of all the types of protractors I’ve used, these articulating arm devices are my favorite. They easily set or measure convex and concave angles and can be locked with a thumb screw to hold the angle. They even have (perhaps optimistically) a vernier scale.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

DeoxIT is one of those products that, once you start using it, you won’t let your shop be without. A contact cleaner with a huge following in the music world, a surprisingly small blast of this plastic-safe spray will dissolve corrosion and improve conductivity. I’ve resuscitated many projects and treasured pieces of equipment with DeoxIT over the years.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

Multi-bit screwdrivers are a dime a dozen, but this mode from Picquic manages to stand out from the crowd. The problem with most multi-bit drivers is that the bits always get lost. The Picquic line avoids this by forcing you to push out the new bit with the previous bit. Bits never get lost. I was skeptical, but have been using this screwdriver for a year and will be ordering some other models from the Picquic line.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

Ok, big magnets are dangerous. But when treated with the respect they’re due, they’re amazing! This 500lb lift magnet is a monster. I’ve had to use a 3' piece of rebar to (barely) pry it off things. The attached eye is an absolute requirement if you buy one. People tie a rope to these and throw them in bodies of water to pull “treasures” out. Me, I’ve mostly used it to awe and impress friends, which it totally succeeds at! Seriously, it will take off a finger if mishandled so exercise requisite caution.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

Lots of companies sell starter bundles for Arduino. The Elegoo 37 in 1 Sensor Module Kit is one of the few bundles I’ve found that is interesting to both beginners and experienced microcontroller enthusiasts. There are a huge number of different sensors, all on breakout boards for easy integration along with a CD-ROM of example code to use them. There’s also a nifty power supply and LCD module. Even though I already owned a number of these devices, by the time I checked them all out I was delighted by my purchase.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

I always lose 2–3 sockets out of sets I buy. At least until I stepped up and bought this awesome 239-piece set from GearWrench (aka KD Tools). The carry case with removeable trays makes it easy to put sockets back. Most big sets like this inflate numbers with lots of screwdriver bits, but I wanted sockets and was thrilled with the range of metric and standard included in this set. Between the sockets and wrenches, I always have both sides of a nut and bolt covered.

Recommended by Tim Deagan

Fire Whisperer and Make: Contributing Author

I discovered paperclay when I was looking for a cheap, apartment-friendly way to scratch an itch for working with clay. Paperclay is basically paper and glue that's been combined until it reaches a modeling clay consistency. When it dries, it's like a very dense papier-mâché. I like working with it because it's easy to mold, will stay pliable/workable for a very long time if kept moist, it air dries, it's relatively inexpensive, it's not very messy, and takes water color and other paints beautifully.

Recommended by Lisa Martin

Make: Contributor

I can't explain why this book makes me so happy. It's a fun workbook revolving entirely around drawing your own maps. There are projects to draw all kinds of maps (crime scene maps, star maps, room maps, mind maps) and map symbols (compasses, keys, flags, road signs). Rian Hughes' illustrations are fun, but clear, and get you excited to start mapmaking. Okay, I can explain it, so let me just say this book makes me happy.

Recommended by Lisa Martin

Make: Contributor

Linocut block printing is a great, tactile way to make art and play around with stamp making. Many beginner kits come with a carving tool that has interchangeable blades and gouges, but I recommend getting tools with individual handles instead. The blades are more secure, which makes them easier to use and just a bit safer. These carving tools can be used on linoleum, softer woods, and even to sculpt details into your pumpkins next Halloween — just keep them sharp!

Recommended by Lisa Martin

Make: Contributor

A giant roll of paper is so endlessly useful that I have to wonder sometimes why it took me so long to keep one on hand. It's good for extra big sketches, pattern drafting clothes, impromptu mess guards, giant origami, doodle tablecloths, last minute gift wrap, and just about all of your paper needs without the constraint of a sheet size. I know it's pretty basic, but I still highly recommend it.

Recommended by Lisa Martin

Make: Contributor

Brush pens are a good way to begin painting with ink. Of the one's I've tried, the Pentel brush pens are my favorite. The ink is a good consistency and the quality of the brush tip is excellent (mine has never shed any of its bristles). The ink reservoir can be refilled, but it takes a good while to get to that point. It definitely adds a nice organic effect to inked linework.

Recommended by Lisa Martin

Make: Contributor

Cordless soldering irons are mostly awful. This one isn’t, provided you feed it a topped-off set of rechargeable batteries each time you use it. The payoff is the ability to solder anywhere at a moment’s notice. If you don’t have a dedicated workspace at home, or you’re traveling, you can get up and running on any nearby table regardless of where the outlet is or the voltage standard of the country you’re in.

Recommended by Donald Bell

Maker Project Lab, Cool Tools

This is my favorite project board right now. It’s small, dirt cheap, the I/O pads work with alligator clips, it has a built-in battery connector, and an on/off switch. Best of all, you can plug it into any computer and the code file pops up like a USB drive, which you can edit directly without any extra software. It’s great for hacking toys, putting animated LEDs in things, and perfect for wearable projects.

Recommended by Donald Bell

Maker Project Lab, Cool Tools

Cardboard is such an abundant, useful material, but shaping it with scissors and box cutters can be dangerous. This cheap, Japanese, serrated knife works through corrugated cardboard and foamcore like magic. The blunt tip makes it hard to hurt yourself, and helps with slicing kerf cuts into material without cutting all the way through.

Recommended by Donald Bell

Maker Project Lab, Cool Tools

While wireless drills have the obvious advantage of being useful everywhere, with the work I do, I’m rarely too far from an outlet. You just plug it in and it’s ready to go! I’ve used this type of drill in industry as well as at home, and after several years of use I’ve yet to have a problem with either one. The linked DWD110K version also comes with a storage bag that I have not tried.

Recommended by Jeremy S. Cook

Make: Contributor

This trusty notebook fits right in my pocket and is the perfect on-the-go companion for jotting down my ideas, doodles, and notes. These notebooks stand up to wear and tear and are super affordable compared to other brands. They offer ruled, graph, or blank pages, so you can pick your poison.

Recommended by Emily Coker

Make: Contributing Writer and Workshop Technician

Just because the hit BBC TV series “Sherlock” is over doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate the iconic Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch one stitch at a time. This step-by-step craft book by Colleen Carrington shows how to pay tribute to Cumberbatch in his various acting roles using cross-stitch patterns. There’s even a pattern of Cumberbatch dancing next to fellow actor Michael Fassbender from the 2014 Golden Globes.

Recommended by Bonnie Burton

Make: Contributing Writer

Circuit Scribe Ultimate Kit dives deep into circuitry, electronics and coding! Create your own circuits filled with light, sound and motion using the Circuit Scribe conductive ink pen and magnetic modules. The included connector cables will integrate with an Arduino (not included) or other micro processor, even a Makey Makey!

Sponsored by Circuit Scribe

Circuit Scribe creates hands-on experiences in a world of screens.

Circuit Scribe Basic kit includes everything you need to start exploring the world of electronics. Use the included conductive ink pen to doodle circuits, add magnetic modules to bring light to your art or make inventions like a high-5 detector.

Sponsored by Circuit Scribe

Circuit Scribe creates hands-on experiences in a world of screens.

MESH is a kit of app-enabled blocks that makes it easy to program wireless electronics. Each MESH block has built-in functions to add sensors, internet connectivity, web services, and other devices to your project in an instant. With this kit, you can add remote control, orientation detection, shaking detection, flipping detection, tapping detection, an LED indicator, or a 10-pin, digital and analog, general purpose input/output to your project without any soldering or programming. Better yet, MESH GPIO can be used with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, sensors, and actuators.

Sponsored by MESH

MESH empowers makers with tools to build wireless electronics.

GoBox is a complete GoPiGo robot kit with a new coding Mission delivered monthly. GoBox Missions are step-by-step instructions in the form of a story that make it fun to learn how to code your robot and the 9 different sensors you’ll get throughout the program. GoBox is sequential, and every Mission builds on the next to keep kids engaged and learning month after month. Sensors includes distance, light and color, button, buzzer and more. Ages 8 & up.

Sponsored by Dexter Industries

Dexter Industries builds robots that make it fun to learn coding & robotics.

Thimble’s educational monthly subscription boxes help tinkerers build electronics from start to finish while learning the fundamentals of how hardware and software come together. Each box contains a fun new project. Advanced users can hack and add on to the kits to their liking! An open-source learning platform with tutorials is also included.

12 month subscription - $59 a month (SAVE $360)
6 month subscription - $69 a month (SAVE $120)
3 month subscription - $79 a month (SAVE $30)
1 month subscription - $89 a month
All subscriptions include Uno Board & FREE US Shipping

Sponsored by Thimble

Thimble’s mission is to make electronics accessible, inspiring, & fun!

This Jetson TX1 Developer Kit SE features the Jetson TX1 module with an NVIDIA Maxwell GPU powered by 256 NVIDIA CUDA cores. Plus, it comes installed on a carrier board with USB, Wi-Fi/Ethernet, SD, PCI-E, and HDMI connectivity, so you can get up and developing right away.
This is more than just a speaker — it's a journey. Before assembling and personalizing a Bluetooth speaker, kids discover how speakers work by completing a series of app-guided, hands-on activities. When they are done, they have a finished speaker that combines Bose sound with a sense of satisfaction.

Sponsored by Bose

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