Getting started running maker activities requires a few tools and supplies, even if you aren’t going to make a dedicated space. Here are some ideas grouped by type of maker projects.
If you take apart computers, or appliances, you’ll run into weirdo screws. My favorite screwdriver set is is this Japanese made set, with lots of types. They are hardened steel, and bite well into all the smaller heads you find in modern electronics.
Even without soldering you need a few tools to do even the simplest of electrical projects.
- Wire cutters: also useful for craft activities. If you plan on doing more heavy duty wire cutting for crafts, it’s good to get a larger size, but for electronics, the flush cutter is your best bet. It’s good to have at least one per two participants.
- Wire strippers: These remove the insulation from the ends of wires so you can connect them. Also good to have at least one pair per two participants.
Be careful when buying them, as many are made for electricians who use Larger gauge wire. The Klein strippers are good, and reasonably priced.
- Soldering Iron: These melt an allow of soft metals to make electrical connections. You can get really cheap ones, but it’s worth it to spend a little more, as they will be both safer and easier to use. Getting better results with less frustration is worth a little more. I’ve used these inexpensive velleman stations to good effect (~$21).
They don’t have a closed loop temperature control, and they don’t heat up super fast, so if you can afford it, it’s nice to have at least one station of higher quality like this Hakko FX888D
- Electrical tape. This is useful in insulating connections, especially when connecting wires to motors and things like that. If you want to go a little more pro, it’s fun to use heat shrink tubing. You can shrink it with a lighter, but it’s safer and more consistent to use a heat gun.
Some are obvious, like scissors, staplers, tape, glue. The true work horse of maker projects is:
- Hot Glue Gun: These melt adhesive and push it through a nozzle. They come in High Temperature and Low temperature varieties. Most of the sticks of glue will work at both temperatures, and the low temperature is definitely safer for small children to use, and cools quicker.