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The hand tools are packaged into a tool bag.
Here’s a tradition worth spreading. Tom Smith, a woodworker in Iowa, has started giving a set of tools to his grandchildren when they turn 15. Smith describes the kit as “a shop in 2 sq. ft.”
The kit is meant to give the kids a headstart, get them ready to live on their own. When Smith first moved out, he had no money to buy tools, and was frustrated by not being able to fix things that needed fixing. He didn’t want his grandchildren to have the same struggles. So he gave it some thought, and over time put together a kit of more than 40 tools. It’s not all woodworking gear. Much of the kit includes tools that any homeowner or apartment-dweller will need. He even makes a 2-ft. by 4-ft. plywood worksurface that can be clamped to a table—an instant benchtop.
Along with a tool bag, for storing the hand tools, the kit includes power tools such as a cordless drill-driver, a circular saw, a jigsaw, and a random-orbit sander. The hand tools run the gamut from wrenches to screwdrivers to chisels to a hammer. He even includes a variety of glues and tape (masking and electrical).
But the best part of the kit is the note that Tom writes for each grandchild. It’s not only a tool manual, but it also offers life advice for a young person just finding their way. Here’s a snippet:
“Good tools are only the first step on a long road of discovery. How you get there and what you find when you arrive is up to you to decide. This toolkit will come in handy along that road, I promise. …
When you use these tools, remember all those craftsmen who preceded us. Take pride in your work, never signing your name to anything that reflects poorly on you as a craftsman. Try to do each job better than the last one and you’ll be really good at it in no time at all. Most importantly, have fun. If you can’t derive pleasure from working with your tools, you’ll never become a master of them. Treat them with the respect they deserve and you’ll go far, and this toolkit will last you a goodly long time. Maybe even your entire life. I can think of no finer gift for a grandson than that.”
Wrenches, drill bits, and a drill-driver.
A few of the essential hand tools.
A few of the essential hand tools and safety gear.
Some commonly overlooked items, until you need 'em.
The bag is jam-packed with goodies.
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When I was just a young lad my grandfather, perhaps hoping to address my father's lack of manual dexterity, also put together a toolkit.
Handsaw, screwdrivers, hammer, folding ruler and a pretty good selection of nails and screws.
He only erred slightly by then giving to my older brother.
Big brother went to to learn the fundamentals of big business by retailing the screws and nails to me.
Although he now has an MBA, I certainly got the better end of the deal.
I became a highschool shop teacher.
Good idea. I did some thing like this on a much smaller scale when my daughter got her first apartment. She could at least hang a picture or tighten a screw.
Dean, Mr. Smith says the entire kit cost around $600 (he recommends buying the items when they're on sale--more good advice).
Thanks Tom for the great article. As a grandfather myself, I was wondering if Mr. Smith shared what it cost to put such a tool kit together. I would like to do something similar but was wondering how much I would have to save to give my grandchildren a gift like this.
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