Now for something completely different, a Christmas gift question!
December 13, 2011 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Two gift questions: 1. What is a good gift, ~$30, for a 9-year-old boy who loves anything to do with construction and is forever building things out of scrap wood? (It's for this kid, who, two years later, is growing up to be completely awesome and a joy to have around.) 2. A while back someone asked a fashion question and one of the answers had a link to a store that I can't find now. It seemed to be a British store that had come to the US because it kept referring to their various lines as "our [blah blah] range." It had women's and kids' clothes, I think men's, too, and the kids' clothes were colorful and whimsical and somewhat modern looking. It's the kids' clothes I'm after, so if you have other suggestions for clothes like that, that'd be great, too. Thanks!
posted by HotToddy to Shopping (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Was the store Boden?
posted by needled at 9:38 AM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: Yes! Ha!
posted by HotToddy at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2011

My 9yo boy, who is heavy into construction-type play, seriously grooves on Snap Circuits.
posted by apparently at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, needled!
posted by HotToddy at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2011

I was going to say Boden as well...their stuff is so cool.

For the gift idea - how about Lego Master Builder kits? They teach some more advanced skills for building things and look perfect for his age range. Kit one is only $30 or you can splurge and get him the subscription for $70 and he'll get a new kit ever two months or so.
posted by victoriab at 9:45 AM on December 13, 2011

If he's actually building stuff out of real wood, my first instinct is to skip over toys and go straight to tools. In particular, if he's just borrowing yours/parents'/etc, even if they're always available, the extra awesomeness of this is mine is not to be underestimated.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:46 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Lego TECHNIC is more advanced than the typical bricks and will probably challenge him in a very fun way; allows for interactivity of parts(gears, cams, pulleys etc.) in a fashion that wood-and-nails may not.
posted by MangyCarface at 9:47 AM on December 13, 2011

Here is another clothing catalog that I drool over but haven't purchased from yet - Tea Clothing. They have different regional themes each season and have really cool stuff for boys.
posted by victoriab at 9:48 AM on December 13, 2011

The question has already been answered, but I just read the earlier thread and wanted to let you know that you and your husband are awesome for staying involved in this kid's life. Parents are important but it's also good for kids to have a healthy relationship with other adults who take them seriously, instead of only tolerating them because their kids play together.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If I can refine my question a little bit, I think Tomorrowful is right, he'd probably like something REAL. He does have some tools already. I wonder if maybe I could get him some interesting building materials? Something beyond just wood? Like what?
posted by HotToddy at 9:57 AM on December 13, 2011

Best answer: A 9-year-old could use a Dremel, but that's out of your price range, I think. Even now, as an adult with money and time, what I'd like would be building materials. There's never enough wood for whatever project I have in mind. Seriously--a stack of 8-foot 2x4s would be great.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:01 AM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: You know what, that actually would be super cute. I could tie a big red ribbon around a stack of 2x4s and have my husband sneak over and leave it outside their door on Christmas Eve. Yes?
posted by HotToddy at 10:04 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

family members of mine buy their godchildren a new tool every year on christmas. First year is a tool box; second year is a hammer; third year is wrench. Really nice, grown up tools. So, by the time the kid is 18, really super nice tool set. You might want to start something like that.

(but I love the 2x4 idea, too!
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know what, that actually would be super cute. I could tie a big red ribbon around a stack of 2x4s and have my husband sneak over and leave it outside their door on Christmas Eve. Yes?

That would be basically awesome.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2011

I came here to say that old thread about the neighbor boy is one of the sweetest things I have read on AskMetafilter and that you are a great guy to allow him to spend so much time with you. I agree the kid is ready for tools rather than toys. Harbor freight has some cheap Dremel-type tools, but those are only good if he has some specific projects. Could the two of you build something together as your Christmas present to him? Maybe some stilts, or a wooden go cart, or something like that?
posted by LarryC at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2011

This kids' woodworking kit from Lee Valley is far out of your price range at $150, but it's assembled from actual tools and accessories that Lee Valley sells. You could use the list of things included in the kit (which are all child-scale, but real tools) to figure out a smaller gift.
posted by mendel at 10:45 AM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, one more question: Would a jigsaw generally be considered a safe power tool for a 9-year-old if supervised? Or is that crazy? I'd ask his mom but then she'd know I'm getting him something and feel like she needed to have him get me something too and that's not how I want it to go.
posted by HotToddy at 10:58 AM on December 13, 2011

This kit is $30.
posted by get off of my cloud at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2011

LarryC's suggestion to look at HarborFreight, if you are thinking of getting tools, is a good one. You can get quite a lot of ideas there, and the prices are perfect for this kind of gift. And even though things are dirt cheap, they do have some pretty decent things -- the reviews are usually a good enough guide to separating out the dross.

I'm terrible with ages, but would a stack of 2x4s be a bit much for a 9-year-old? It might be frustrating if he doesn't have a saw and has to lug them around. What about some 2x2 or 1x4 pieces cut down to 48" max. That might be a bit more manageable, and allow him to start making things without cutting or pulling any Three Stooges routines? Even 12" squares of pegboard would be really cool as a cheap modular building component. It would be great if you could get 2x4 or 1x4 pieces pre-drilled with regular holes, so that he could just start building huge things!
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:27 AM on December 13, 2011

Oh, right after hitting submit, I thought of another way to get wood cheap like that. If there is an Ikea near you, you could pick up the pieces for their Gorm shelving unit. That would both be a kind of giant lego project, but also a way to get a bunch of cheap, ready to use lumber and hardware. The various Ikea Hacks sites could give you ideas to show him, but that would allow him to have some lightweight wood and hardware cheaply, that he could do all sorts of things with. He may even find it really cool to just build the shelf and have his own piece of furniture that he built and could modify.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Depending on what he is building, 1"x lumber (1"x2", 1"x3", etc.), being thinner than 2x" pieces (2"x4"), is easier to cut and nearly as strong.

And REAL TOOLS would be super-cool: we have given both our boys a selection of real tools (from Sears) and they are always hot for a reason to use them.
- Can you afford the cheapest Kreg Jig? These let you use a drill & screws to make right-angle joints.
- Which reminds me: what about a cheap-ish rechargeable drill?
- A rafter square should be under ten bucks, allowing him to make true angles (and thus stronger joints).
- A miter box is good, but it requires someone teaching the lad to use a saw safely.

BTW, you rule.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: No, 2 x 4s are no problem for him, he has a saw and has already built a fort, tricked out his Radio Flyer wagon with a rack, etc. (had to trick out the wagon so he could haul home more building supplies that he finds in the trash).

The Kreg jig looks very cool and I could afford it, but I don't want to spend too much because he's got a lot of siblings that I'm not buying for and I don't want it to be too weird (I'm going to give a big bag of homemade caramel corn for the rest of the family).

Did anyone see my question about the jigsaw? There's a Black and Decker one for $30. I don't think he has any way of cutting curves right now and might like that . . . if it's not insane. But I'm leaning toward a bundle of dimensional lumber with a big red ribbon.
posted by HotToddy at 12:25 PM on December 13, 2011

I think a jigsaw may be a bit much for a 9-year-old. I sometimes think it's a bit much for me. If hand tools don't appeal to you, and building materials are what he craves, I think the lumber idea is perfect.
posted by that's candlepin at 12:30 PM on December 13, 2011

I have a kid who's almost nine and sounds a lot like your guy. Jig saw is a little out of his league. Maybe when he's around 12.

We're actually getting him a stack of lumber for Christmas. I think he's going to be thrilled.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:38 PM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, thanks everyone! Lumber it is. I'm favoriting MrMoonPie but all of these suggestions were terrific and now I have lots of ideas for the future. And thank you also for your kind words.
posted by HotToddy at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2011

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