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  • Don Magruder

A Great Gift Idea for a Teen


The holiday season is upon us, and many folks are trying to find that perfect gift for their teenage child or grandchild. In this era of electronics, most adults throw in the towel and buy the latest computer game which is nothing more than a supped-up pinball machine that in the end numbs the mind and builds no real skillsets.

As a country, we need to get kids, both male and female, to be more engaged in hands on learning to provide self-sufficient skills for a lifetime. When I was a young teenage boy, I wanted to fix things, but many times I was limited because I didn’t have tools. My father was not particularly mechanically inclined, but to this day, I remember changing oil, and replacing alternators and starters on the family car, and it all started when I got a cheap set of tools. Had I never gotten those tools, I never would have started working with my hands which has led to a lifetime of tackling projects on my own.


40 years ago, there were no YouTube videos which demonstrated how to fix things, so many of my projects were trial and error until I found someone who had a nugget of information to offer me. Today, with the right tools, most projects can be tackled with the help found on the internet.


For this holiday season, consider buying that teenager on your holiday list a toolbox or pouch of basic tools that will encourage them to tackle simple projects on their own. No doubt, some teenagers may not use this gift right away, but as they grow older many will realize how useful tools can be as they become more accustomed to tackling projects independently. It is important that you stock the toolbox with a variety of tools, and as the teenager completes projects, they may want to add more tools to handle other projects. In essence, you will see your teenager’s skillsets grow and improve, and some may even choose a career involving the use of these tools.


Here are my Top 15 items to put in a basic toolbox or pouch for your teenager.

  • A battery-operated drill along with drill bits and basic screw bits.

  • A good 16-ounce hammer.

  • Basic slotted and Phillips’s head screwdrivers.

  • Medium size adjustable wrench

  • Needle-nose plyers

  • Regular plyers

  • Medium size hole punch

  • Basic hand saw or medium blade hacksaw

  • Very basic non-metric socket set

  • Medium size vise-grip plyers

  • Good 20-foot tape measure

  • Medium size square

  • Small to medium size level

  • Small Nail Puller

  • Medium size puddy knife

Including the toolbox or pouch the investment in your teenager may be $150 or less and can get them started on most projects. Understand, you do not have to buy premium grade tools, and here is a great hint, garage sales and flea markets are excellent places to find great buys on professional tools. The gift should be presented with all the tools in the box or pouch, and a demonstration on how each tool is used would be beneficial for proficiency and safety.


The most important aspect of this gift is for you to allow your teenager to work on things around the house. Encourage them to look at internet self-help videos and allow them to figure things out independently while being motivated to work with their hands.


Of course, never allow a teenager to work on dangerous projects like electrical components, or in dangerously high places. Safety should always be considered first. Hanging pictures or curtains, as well as repairing broken items around the house, are great starter projects.


A toolbox or pouch with a good assortment of tools will engage the mind, the body, and the hands to figure out complex problems. These tools are much more valuable to a young person than some mindless game that will make them sedentary and unattached from the real world. By the way, also encourage the teenage girls in your life to learn to use tools and become self-sufficient as well. They will always remember who gave them their first set of tools and will appreciate the learning experience. Many will keep these tools for a lifetime.


Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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