I had a plastic welding kit when I was a kid — one very much like the one (pictured above) that I ran across on Gizmodo last week. It’s a pretty simply toy: a motor in the “welder” spins plastic “welding rods.” The friction between the soft plastic “rod” and other plastic items creates enough heat to melt the rod, which then hardens and attaches things together.
(I know, since it’s almost always the rod that melts instead of the items kids are hooking together, this is technically brazing. But try writing kid-friendly packaging with “brazing” on it.)
As the Giz points out, this kind of toy is probably a lawsuit waiting to happen — you know, when little Bobby gets a small welt from spinning the rod on his finger, or when Timmy brazes his toy cell phone to the front of daddy’s new $5,000 plasma HDTV. Such is our litigious society.
So instead of learning from the welt, Bobby grows up in blissful ignorance, eventually picking up a Harbor Freight MIG unit after a long night of American Chopper reruns, and proceeds to flash and burn the crap out of himself and every metal item he owns. (Timmy, well, grows up to be a well-adjusted kid spared the merciless ass-beating he’d have endured after jacking up the TV.)
My point is simple: it’s easy to hurt yourself with tools — especially as a child. But that doesn’t mean we should shield children from every possible injury, robbing them of valuable — and often inexpensive — life experience. Toys like this plastic welder give kids a chance to use a real tool and learn how fun it can be to take charge of one’s environment instead of just accepting things the way they are. As most Toolmongers know, with a few tools, a lot of sweat and spare time, and enough desire, one can have most anything.
Anyway, if you want to buck the trend and give your kids an early start, you can have your own Discovery Power Welder for about $30 via the link below. And do us (and yourself) a favor: follow up that tool gift with the gift of knowledge and experience, lest you find (as Gizmodo suggests) “all your credit cards fused into one lump, never to be used again.”