There’s this weird idea out there that, for the DIY-inclined person in your life, the only gifts worth giving are those that are stored in a toolbox. No disrespect to toolboxes, but this is a bit reductive.
The best gifts for the DIYer are supplementary to the “it” they are doing — or are a new “it” altogether. In our guide to the best gifts for the project nerd of your life, we’ve got both, plus a few toolbox items for good measure.
Viking Election Pencil
Prized by carpenters, designers and creatives alike, Viking’s jumbo-sized pencil is made how pencils used to be, with solid wood and lead. The 100-year-old Danish company designed this pencil specifically for use in voting booths.
Dewalt Exocore Sledge Hammer
There’s a certain category of gift-giving dedicated to gifting vastly better versions of tools the giftee already has. The items in this category are often a bit excessive, a la this 10-pound, carbon fiber sledge hammer Dewalt released this year. Do you need a carbon fiber sledge hammer? God, no. Does that matter? Not at all.
1620 Double Knee Pants
In the words of 1620 Workwear, “We’re more expensive, but our customers are worth it.” This is workwear that’s for legitimate work, and gifting a pair of pants this specific to DIY-ing is a subtle way of saying you care about the state on their knees.
Red Wing Buckskin Work Gloves
There are work gloves, then there are work gloves made by Red Wing. Its gloves are held to the same standard as the 113-year-old Minnesota company’s boots are held to. These gloves arrive a pale yellow but will develop a patina of their own over time.
Korin Mizuyama Two-Sided Sharpening Stone
Korin is a legacy knifemaking outfit that’s only recently gained a foothold stateside (its store in Tribeca is a knife lover’s dream). And, while buying a sharpening stone for just anyone isn’t the best idea (there is a learning curve), it’s safe to say the DIY nerd is one of the few people willing to dive deep into the annals of Youtube for tutorials.
SOG Power Access Deluxe
Say it louder for the people in the back: Leatherman isn’t the only company competently making multitools. SOG’s knives and multitools stem from a single blade carried by a classified US special ops team known as MACV-SOG, and, frankly, it and its 21 different functions and superior materials are the upgrades a DIY enthusiast will appreciate.
Filson Rough Out Belt
From Filson’s very limited edition Ranchland line, the Rough Out belt is a full grain, thick-cut leather made on a working Colorado cattle ranch. Again, it’s not something the overly practical workman-type will seek out, but that doesn’t mean they can’t admire its quality.
There are few better product endorsements than those that come from professional use. White’s Boots is not a stylish or trendy brand at all — it’s been operating out of West Virginia and later Washington for more than 150 years — and it comes roundly recommended by loggers and forestry workers across the US.
Black Diamond Icon Headlamp
A rugged headlamp is an invaluable asset when hobbying and fixing things up around the house. Black Diamond’s Icon lamp is its more premium option, but with a IP67 rating it’s also its most badass — this thing would still be working if you held it under water for half an hour.
Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer
There are few things more uncomfortable than the greasy, shiny layer or moisture most lotions leave on hands. That is the difference between Jack Black’s hand healer and others — it smooths and refreshes beaten up hands but doesn’t leave them unable to grip a beer afterward.
Kennedy Manufacturing Toolboox
A few hours northeast of Indianapolis, Howard and Charles Kennedy made the first metal toolboxes ever in Fort Wayne, Indiana more than 100 years ago. The toolboxes were heavy — very heavy — and became popular with shop managers and enthusiast metalworkers alike. Guaranteed for life, a Kennedy toolbox is just about the best of the best in its crowded category.
Darn Tough Boot Sock Cushion
Simply put, these socks are life-improving. Darn Tough uses a merino wool blended with nylon, lycra and spandex to create a sock that doesn’t slide around in a boot, wicks sweat and is guaranteed for life.
Saphir Renovateur Luxury Leather Care Balm
French Saphir Renovateur describes its leather balm in as French a way as possible : “A refreshing drink for your thirsty leathers.” This compound is the key ingredient in mink oil (that stuff everyone rubs all over their leather gear), and should be lathered all over your boots, jackets, belts and any other leather you own.
Stargazer Cast-Iron Skillet (Bare)
Cast-iron skillets can be frustrating things. The seasoning they ship with is often barely worthy being called seasoning at all. Stargazer is one of very few (any?) cast iron makers selling unseasoned skillets, also known as the perfect Saturday project for a DIYer to dive deep into.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation
Those that are project-inclined may often be frustrated with the lack of reliable, primary sources when scouting out new hobbies. If fermentation happens to be on their list, look no further than a guide penned by folks that run Noma, a Denmark restaurant that’s been named best in the world four times over.
Yeti 5-Gallon Bucket
Giving someone a bucket will feel a bit odd. But, giving someone something they will use day-in-day-out is a quiet winner. Trust in the words of Amazon Reviewer P. Montero: “Have used to carry crap, wash boat, mix chum, trash bucket in sandbar days and everything in between. Won’t be needing another bucket ever.”
Schoolhouse Extension Cord
Brian Faherty’s Schoolhouse (formerly called Schoolhouse Electric) is a nostalgic company. Based in Portland, Oregon, the brand has monetized the idea of “they don’t make it like they used to.” All its wares feel both from a time gone by yet firmly present, like these extension cords, which satisfy the need for good looks and toughness.
Post-it Extreme Notes
We laughed too before we reviewed Post-it’s Extreme notes. Engineered to keep sticking even when covered in water or pulled by wind, these things are the ideal workshop or outdoor reminders (they survived a Nor’easter spent on the exterior wall of my apartment building). Pro tip, though: they don’t accept ink from gel pens very well.
Don’t know what to get the people on your list? We’ve got you covered with our holiday gift guide