Dear Reader. As the director of content and web here at Gardner Business Media (Publisher of Modern Machine Shop) I am more accustomed to … well, directing content than I am to writing it. But here’s my confession: I geek out over the holidays and all things gift-giving, and I begged to write this gift guide. The idea got a lukewarm reception—we are, after all, very serious journalists here at Gardner, and it’s not as if we regularly delve into the world of Favorite Things, à la Oprah.
But I’d argue that here at Gardner we have something better—a view into the real world of our readers. We cover Metalworking, Plastics, Composites, Mold Making, Automotive, Industrial Cleaning, Precision Machining, and Additive Manufacturing – so who would know better just the right gifts for the amazing, hard-working men and women in our industry?
Once the editorial teams here at Gardner got going, there was no stopping them. The recommendations came flooding in, and this list got HUGE. We know that a pocket loupe is helpful on a shop floor. That an industrial designer will appreciate the craftsmanship of a composite messenger bag. That women machinists are total badasses and deserve to show off their skills. That sophisticated upgrades on shop-floor necessities like safety glasses and steel toe shoes are an everyday luxury.
So here we go… drum roll please… the very first (dare I say ANNUAL?!) Gardner Editors’ Great Big Holiday Gift Guide.
Santa’s Job Shop, if you will. he he.
Wishing you and yours a very healthy and happy holiday from all of us here at Gardner,
– Kate Hand, Director of Content and Web, Gardner Business Media
PS. If you buy a present from our list—please take a pic and post to social media so we can bask in all that second-hand gift-giving glow!
GIFTS FOR CARBON FIBER ENTHUSIASTS
“2020 has driven a lot of us to drink, so one can’t open that next bottle of wine with just any corkscrew. This carbon fiber corkscrew will do the job every time, and it’s priced accordingly.” – Jeff Sloan, Editor-in-Chief, CompositesWorld
“Who wants to be out paddling in nature with a product that doesn't match up to your own love of the outdoors? Lightweight, high performance and made from 100% recycled carbon fiber, Whitewater Technology’s wide paddle range offers up brains and beauty minus the waste, so that you can commit yourself without the environmental impact.” – Grace Nehls, Assistant Editor, CompositesWorld
“As the product arm of the recycling/upcycling company Elevated Materials, 121C skateboards offered some of the first commercially sold products made from recycled carbon fiber composites. That alone makes them worth supporting. But the designs are also really unique, not your average skateboard, and the company was started by an engineering student from the University of Southern California. They’re cool, recycled and a testimony to entrepreneurial engineers.” – Ginger Gardiner, Senior Editor, CompositesWorld
“TUMI's collection of luxury suitcases, backpacks and other travel necessities are both stylish and promise the quality and durability of carbon fiber composites made from carbon fiber composite innovator Carbitex.” – Hannah Mason, Associate Editor, CompositesWorld
“The Vollebak carbon fiber shirt looks like a run-of-the-mill black shirt, but it features 120 meters of carbon fibers woven into it, which gives it uncommon durability, stretchability and abrasion resistance. It might just last forever.” – Jeff Sloan, Editor-in-Chief, CompositesWorld
“Everyone likes a good pen, but everyone loves a good pen with an aesthetically pleasing grip that features a carbon fiber weave. It’s a small price to pay for such a satisfying writing instrument.” – Jeff Sloan, Editor-in-Chief, CompositesWorld
“For the tech-savvy and eco-conscious on your list, Pela Case offers a variety of colorful, compostable phone cases and other tech accessories made from biopolymer and flax fiber composites. Sustainable, durable, and they look cool, too.” – Hannah Mason, Associate Editor, CompositesWorld
GIFTS FOR THE VERY SPECIAL ENGINEER
(METALWORKER, MACHINIST, MAKER)
IN YOUR LIFE
“If you’re thinking about bringing a 3D printer into your home, keep in mind that even “safe” filaments like PLA still release nanoparticles that you don’t want to breathe. Look for an enclosed printer or consider adding one on to your purchase to minimize contact with emissions. Some enclosed models even include air filters, like the Tiertime Up Mini 2, which has a HEPA and activated carbon filter combination to deal with both nanoparticles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). As an added bonus, an enclosure protects your 3D printer from drafts, dust, pets and other things that can interfere with a build.
“The quality of your 3D prints depends on the quality of the material that goes in. Many filaments are hygroscopic — meaning they’ll absorb moisture from the air which can affect how they print. Dry your filaments and keep them that way with a dryer and storage device like the SUNLU S1 dryer box.”– Stephanie Hendrixson, Senior Editor, Additive Manufacturing Media
“I think the ‘Lego Adults’ line actually seems pretty great for kids 10 and up who might have a mechanical aptitude. The end products are intriguing and the building offers an exercise in following instructions and thinking about the forms and components of structures and machinery around us. Also, a great respite into physicality for kids whose parents are worried they spend way too much time on screens and don’t know what to do about this.” – Peter Zelinksi, Editor-in-Chief, Modern Machine Shop
“It comes in different grits for every occasion, and the set can easily fit in any stocking.” – MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Jay Stuhler, Mold Maker, Accede Mold & Tool
A beautiful American-made tool chest from Gerstner, a company founded in 1884 and boasting a rich history. This gift is for someone really special to hold their really special tool collection. Recommended by Melissa Kline Skavlem, Chief Marketing Officer, Gardner Business Media
Once you get past that mouthful of a description, there’s a lot to love about LARNMERN’s shoe. This is not your grandpa’s steel-toed boot. Not only is it perfect for use on the factory floor, the sole resists skidding, the design boasts some catchy colors, and the faux fur helps keep you warm for the winter.
The Shapeways Marketplace is a virtual treasure trove of 3D printed jewelry, art and more. This stunning bracelet gets our pick for its soft, organic design. Recommended by Melissa Kline Skavlem, Chief Marketing Officer, Gardner Business Media
“Take a look at the history and mission of the company. Wolfpoint is a fourth generation watchmaker, Chicago-based, and trying to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Their story is interesting and their products are beautiful.” – Rick Kline, Jr, President, Gardner Business Media
“You’ll love it or hate it from a glance, and if you love it, it will be like your version of novelty socks – except practical.” – Evan Doran, Assistant Editor, Gardner Business Media
This would be an amazing addition to a post-Covid break room. Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Camille Sackett Director, Business Development and Engineering Support, Accede Mold and Tool
Shiny Things – Ultrasonic Jewelry and Eyeglass Cleaner
“This ultrasonic jewelry cleaner cleans more than just jewelry and does so with water alone, which means no purchasing extra chemicals that often accompany these machines. Tools, waterproof watches, coins, keychains, valves, machine nozzles, instruments and kitchen utensils as well as eyeglasses can all be cleaned in this 20-oz capacity machine!” – Lori Beckman, Editor, Parts Cleaning
PERFECT GIFTS FOR YOUR MANUFACTURING COWORKERS
Did you know Gardner has a fun new merch shop? This beautifully designed notebook would make a perfect employee gift.
A pocketknife is all well and good, but this 15-tool device lets you get a lot more bang for your buck. Whether the professional tradesman in your life needs something for on the go (it can clip onto a pants pocket!), or you just want to be better prepared than a Boy Scout, Gerber’s multi-tool does what you need it to do.
“For the woman in your life who is a cut above the rest, this t-shirt will let her show off her skills with pride.” – Jenny Rush, Digital Editor, Modern Machine Shop & Products Finishing
Gardner's creative department got to work designing this t-shirt as the perfect gift for the essential manufacturing worker in your life. Find more designs in our new merch shop.
What’s better than a multi-tool? A novelty multi-tool, of course! This key-shaped multi-tool may look untraditional (and fun!) but don’t be fooled – it still has all the functionality.
A vertical mouse is easy on the wrist. Bonus: this model stays charged and wireless for a full four months. Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Kyle Joseph, Design Engineer, Accede Mold and Tool
Give the gift of less eye strain and better sleep. This pair also comes with on-trend style and handcrafted Italian acetate frames, so win-win. Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Kyle Joseph, Design Engineer, Accede Mold and Tool
Carry forward the benefits of less eye-strain on the job with these sleekly designed safety glasses, which helpfully follow an “anti-fog” design that improves their functionality in humid or hot-to-cold-and-back-again environments.
For the Industrial Designer in your life: “intuitive, effortless and precise 3D navigation in CAD applications.” Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Charlie Daniels, CFO, Wepco Plastics
A stocking stuffer for the Mold Builder in your life: clean hands! Our favorite review states: “My husband is a union iron worker and is always coming home filthy. He always washes his hands with regular hand soap and drys them off on my clean towels, which ALWAYS leaves left over dirt/steel shaving on my clean towels. I needed to find something for him that works good so he could stop getting my towels so dirty!” Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Charlie Daniels, CFO, Wepco Plastics
For the company accountant: this aluminum keypad is rechargable, bluetooth enabled, blissfully cord-free, and super lightweight without feeling cheap. Perfect work-at-home accessory. Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Charlie Daniels, CFO, Wepco Plastics
For anyone in plastics who’s more of a film buff, this t-shirt is worth a laugh.
Rhino Feet (AKA – The End of Wooden Pallets!)
“I discovered this cool invention when on-site at United Tool & Mold for my January 2019 cover story. These feet are actually magnetic support pads that are designed to keep materials elevated off of surfaces and they travel with the workpiece. The concept, according to Rhino Products, LLC, came from decades of scientific research on how a rhinoceros can support its massive body weight with relatively small feet.” – Christina Fuges, Editor in Chief, MoldMaking Technology
Wordplay meets G-code meets a hot drink. What’s not to love?
A very cozy show of pride from our very own merch shop.
“Here’s a cool little toy that helps monitor steel temps, molded part temps, personal temps, etc. I find once I have this infrared pyrometer in my hand, I’m checking the temperature of everything around me within a 6-foot radius!” – MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Dave DiCarlo, Michael Tool & Mold
“In this business you are constantly looking at plastic parts; one that you just molded, one in a grocery store, or horrible looking one from your customer that was molded by your competitor's tool. With my old ass eyes I cannot see anything up close anymore; so I carry a Bausch & Lomb 3-Lens Loupe; so small you do not even know it is in your pocket until you lose it! It won’t make you younger, but it help you to see as if you were. That young engineer holding the part only 4 inches from their nose, with their naked eye, is pointing to 0.025” of flash on your competitor's parts and you can’t see it … or enjoy the moment properly!”
Oh, and when I forget my glasses, I use it to order from the menu too, you would be surprised how often you use it.” – MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member Brian Dippel, Operations Manager, X-Cell Tool and Mold, 2019 Leadtime Leader winner
“This small flashlight clips and hangs in your pocket and again you do not even know that it is there. You will use this thing even more than your loupe, it is small but it will light up you back yard. (350 Lumens) Looking at it directly is uncomfortable, it literally will blind someone for 3-5 seconds even if you just flash it in their eyes for ½ a second. (So maybe useful as personal safety too?) – Brian Dippel, Operations Manager, X-Cell Tool and Mold, 2019 Leadtime Leader winner
Engraved Steel Scale (Useful + Meaningful!)
Get this useful scale engraved with a beautiful message. Recommended by MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board Member James Jergens, EG Industries – Pixley, Operations Manager
PERFECT GIFTS FOR AUTOMOTIVE ENTHUSIASTS
“No, we don’t recommend speeding. But sometimes you just want ... situational awareness.” – Gary Vasilash, Editor-in-Chief, Autobeat
Sometimes that battery just needs a jolt. – Gary Vasilash, Editor-in-Chief, Autobeat
Throw one of these into your glove compartment because one day that tire sensor monitor is going to go off. – Gary Vasilash, Editor-in-Chief, Autobeat
Yes, not very useful if you live where it is cold, but these gloves (1) look cool and (2) let you look forward to summer. – Gary Vasilash, Editor-in-Chief, Autobeat
Don’t buy these shoes unless you know how to drive with three pedals. OK. Also maybe if you want to look like you can. – Gary Vasilash, Editor-in-Chief, Autobeat
If you or your teen loves cars, this intricate LEGO Technic replica of the Bugatti Chiron is a great way to showcase it. Just be sure you can take care of it – with over 3,500 pieces, this set is as expansive as it is expensive!
PERFECT GIFTS FOR KIDS OR KIDS AT HEART
“This is a favorite at the Skavlem house!” – Melissa Kline Skavlem, Chief Marketing Officer, Gardner Business Media
Give your kid some experience in assembly as they put together this robotic arm, and then sit back and relax as they learn how to control the grip and positioning. A great start to learning robotics!
If you want your kid to learn more about STEM and manufacturing, but don’t have the patience for dealing with multiple D batteries, this hydraulic arm teaches kids how to do robotics the old-fashioned way.
Modularity and motors are the name of the game here, with a set of parts that can form 10 different planetary exploration-themed vehicles and a remote control for the ‘Martian Rover’ vehicle. Educational sections in the manual help kids learn more about the real sources for the models they’re creating.
Awesome Engineering Activities for Kids by Christina Herkert Schul
This winter will likely include lots of time indoors. This book lets kids explore basic engineering tasks with craft supplies you can find around your home.
If you or your kid is always asking how something works, this is the perfect book for you. Gray examines the principles behind the functioning of many everyday objects, and includes a lot of interesting trivia besides. Mann's pictures, meanwhile, show off the many ways people have built things from clocks to sewing machines over the ages.
My sister, who is an engineer and lives long-distance from us, purchased a 3-month subscription to these boxes as a way to connect with my 6-year-old son, and they have been such a hit in our house that she decided to continue them indefinitely. The green box that arrives every month is met with shouts of glee, and its contents never fail to delight our whole family. They are so clever and fun to work on together. Teaching science and mechanics and engineering, and filled to the brim with fun facts and even suggestions for related DIY side projects. They are available for all ages and I can't recommend highly enough." -Kate Hand, Director of Content and Web, Gardner Business Media
This book (and included LEGO set) has ten different set-ups to introduce kids to the wacky world of Rube Goldberg machines.
Dive into the inner workings of clocks and gears with this DIY wooden clock.
This combination of storybook and model kit helps little ones practice their reading while getting hands-on with building some adorable little aircrafts. They may need you to help them – but your little aviator will love it!
History and innovation collide in this book for a full STEAM experience. Claybourne discusses the stories that resulted in the invention of several common devices we use today, with fun illustrations.
This kit includes pieces for multiple working models, with an accompanying book to provide instructions and teach the theories behind how gears and worm drives affect force and speed. Kids will be able to experiment at their own pace, with a quiz at the end if they’re feeling curious.