Men Have the Coolest Toys


I’m so jealous of men. As little boys, they get to play with weapons and take wood shop classes at school. This prepares them for pocket knives, hammers, saws, and maybe even matches if they promise not to burn down the house. The closest I ever got to playing with matches as a child was an EasyBake oven!

If you imagine jewelry-making as work for dainty girls dressed in pink, you’ve got a lot to learn. It’s true that my first forays into jewelry-making were with stringing and crimping. These were activities I could do while sitting pretty at the kitchen table, and my worst problem was having beads roll off. Then I got into wire-wrapping and my life began to change.

copper_wireSuddenly I needed 10 different types of pliers, and wire cutters, and metal cleaners. Then I heard about metal stamping, and I found myself at Home Depot looking for hammers and at Harbor Freight looking for metal letter stamps, after realizing that hardware stores sell hardware much cheaper than the sissy craft store. Recently, I learned about precious metal clay, and my obsession has reached new heights. Now I need solder, flux, torches and maybe a kiln. All of this has me wishing I was a man.

It’s not that women can’t do these things, but like many women I feel hesitant to try “manly” things on my own. In spite of my being a girly girl, I’m not useless by any means. I learned to solder circuits as a teenager, and I can build you a PC in no time flat. But there’s a big difference (at least in my mind) between techy and manly. Techy-ness requires skill, manly work requires brawn and knowing how to not slice off your fingers or burn off your face. The only men in my life are my brothers, and they don’t live near me, so I have to ask the salesmen at Home Depot for advice, which doesn’t always work out.

Tool bag

My tool bag

I wish that I’d spent more time with my dad when he was still alive, and that he’d taught me how to build stuff. I wish I’d bugged my brothers more when they did boy stuff. Maybe then I’d have grown up being comfortable with hammers and knives and fire. And though I won’t let my discomfort stop me, it makes my progress slower. So if you have daughters, try to teach them “boy stuff.” They may appreciate it a great deal when they grow up. Don’t presume that they’ll always be dainty girls dressed in pink, because one day when you least expect it, they might be swinging a hammer. And if they go all out and get themselves a torch, you’ll want them to know how to not set the house on fire.
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3 thoughts on “Men Have the Coolest Toys

  1. Your article really made me laugh! I recently bought a PMC kit from a hobby show – it has been sitting on my table for 2 months now. I haven’t even dared turn the blow torch on yet for fear of doing something or someone an injury! We did at least do one term of woodwork and metalwork at school, which I thought was quite progressive, but you had to see the hacksaw I produced as my finished piece – it did not inspire hope as to any latent future metalwork skills! I have at least purchased a fire extinguisher, so I am working up to turning that blowtorch on 🙂

  2. OK, some comments and manly advice:
    1. You are damn right guys get the best toys. I own three of those torches, a MAPP Gas+Oxygen brazing setup, and I still sort of regret letting go of the TIG welder, except it went to a high school shop program and I wasn’t using it, so it was the right call.
    2. When working with flame, my advice is to get one of those clear plastic full-face shields. And if you have a helper, PUT IT ON THEM.
    3. Keep some ice water handy to dip your fingers in if you get burned. And then keep on crafting!
    4. Dremel. It’s the yin to the mini-torch’s yang. Same advice about the full-face shield.

    • Thank you for the handy advice. Guess I better go pick up a few more things at Home Depot. Any recommendation on which Dremel product to start with? I don’t think I’ll do much drilling except for the occasional hole in thin gauge sheet metal. For sanding, I’ll probably just use a file. I’m thinking my next purchase will be a rock tumbler to polish my metal jewelry.

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