Tool Use Policies

Tool Use Policies

Inside the Shop

We believe that giving kids the freedom to invent means providing the tools to do so, and creating a safe and productive space in which to use them.    This means keeping a low kid/adult ratio (6:1) and making sure there is always an adult on-hand to supervise and assist.    It also means using convivial tools — in the sense of being accessible and human-sized — and providing the support structure for kids to learn how to use them appropriately.  With that in mind, here are a few basic things you need to know!

Tool Rules and Guidelines

1.  All of our tools — with the exception of certain power tools — are available for kid use.  This includes hot glue guns, soldering irons, power drills, hand saws, hammers, screwdrivers, and various small hand tools.  Kids are expected to be aware and responsible for their surroundings, and to use basic common sense when they are using tools.

2.   Safety goggles and shoes are required in the tool area. If you have long hair and are planning on using something with moving parts, tie it back before you turn it on.

3. If you’ve never used a tool before, ask an adult from Parts and Crafts to show you how to use it.   Lots of our tools (for instance, power drills and saws) require a few extra steps (for instance, clamping) that are important and not immediately evident at first glance. If you want to cut wood or PVC with the chopsaw, mark the cuts and give it to one of us to cut for you.

4.   Glue guns and soldering irons get hot!   Minor burns are the number one injury that we see in the space.  Please keep them in their holsters when not in use, and be sure that your project is DRY and COOL before you take it off the table and show it to your friends.

5.   No running, biking, roller-skating, kid-launching, go-karting, or otherwise being chaotic and noisy in the tool area.   It’s distracting and dangerous, and makes it hard to concentrate.    If it’s got wheels and moves quickly, take it to the other side of the building  (or better yet, outside).

6.   Make sure it’s unplugged before you take it apart.   Certain objects — televisions, microwaves, and CRT monitors — contain high-voltage capacitors and should not be taken apart.

7.   Many of our projects and inventions are in various stages of development and may not yet be “kid-safe.”   Untested projects may move faster (and in different ways) than expected, so if you want to try it out, be sure to ask us first!

8.   Shop tools are not weapons.   Anything in the space that is used as a weapon — even in play — will be immediately taken away.

We expect that kids will use common sense, and be aware of their surroundings when in the tool area, and reserve the right to restrict tool use for anyone who is not using them responsibly.

Tool Classification

We have a 3-tiered tool system to guide appropriate tool use in the space. Many of our introductory projects are designed to build familiarity with basic hand tools and materials, with the goal of building competency in craftwork of various kinds.

GREEN TOOLS are available for anyone to use. They do not require specialized training and are “open access” tools that circulate freely in the space. Included in this category are common hand tools such as screwdrivers, wirestrippers, scissors, low-temp hot glue guns, pliers, unpowered hand drills, and so on.

YELLOW TOOLS are available only by permission and typically require direct supervision for use. Kids may be authorized to use these tools independently under certain circumstances, but only with explicit permission and regular oversight by a supervising adult. These tools do not circulate freely and must be returned to the shop (with the exception of soldering irons). Yellow tools include soldering irons, high-temp glue guns, hammers, hacksaws, utility knives and battery-powered drills.

RED TOOLS include all power tools (with the exception of battery powered drills). With few exceptions, red tools live in the shop and must be used under direct supervision by the shop manager or other supervising adult. These tools include: Miter saw, benchtop drill press, belt sander, rotary tools, and paper cutter.

We also have a small number of BLACK TOOLS which are not available for member use but may be used by staff. These tools include the bandsaw, the mini lathe, and the grinder, the latter two being new acquisitions and not yet in regular use.

What kind of stuff do you have?

Soldering irons. Basic electronics components, multimeters, prototyping tools (breadboards, microcontroller development boards and programmers, mostly in the atmel and arduino families). Lots of LEDs. Craft materials of various kinds. Scrap wood, pipe, random mounting hardware, hinges, casters. Hot glue guns! Screwdrivers, hand drills, hand saws. A mitre saw, a reciprocating saw, and a few different kinds of power drills. Magnets. A few computers with a couple of different programming languages and environments set up on them, as well as image and audio manipulation software. A stop-motion animation setup. Lots of tape. Some audio recording equipment. A few guitars and a set of 3D printed recorders.  A 3D printer, and a bunch of computers set up with design software (Adobe Creative Suite + Autocad).   Piles of wood, PVC, and other various building materials.

Why don’t you have [x]?

We are always expanding our tool-set and actively researching to figure out what the most useful and kid-friendly tools and materials are to meet our needs — if you are curious whether we have the thing that you need, or if you think we should have something that we don’t have, let us know!