NOTE: The types of tools and variety of materials for the workshop can vary with the conditions. In poorer communities, you can use very low cost or scrap materials, including old cardboard cartons, or even mud. In communities with a few more resources, somewhat more costly items such as plywood and Velcro can make construction of assistive equipment easier, faster, and possibly more functional.

By the same token, depending on the situation, tools used can be more basic or more elaborate. Most aids can be made with only simple hand tools, but the work takes longer. It may therefore be hard to finish certain aids in a single day. A few power tools, especially an electric jigsaw and an electric drill, can speed things up considerably.

IMPORTANT: I cannot emphasize too much how essential it is that all the necessary tools and materials for the workshop be obtained and ready ahead of time. In the Nicaragua workshops, certain key supplies had still not been obtained by the beginning of the event. In one workshop the lack of an electric jig-saw meant that so much time was lost that the final trails and adjustments were not completed by the time of the final evaluation session. This caused a number of disappointing results that could have been avoided. Similar lack of nails the right size, and of pliers, led to other problems.

Before the workshop begins, some very responsible person should go down the checklists below and be sure all the agreed-upon tools and materials are on hand.

1. Tools Needed

  • pencils with erasers

  • marking pens (thin and thick line, bold colors)

  • yard sticks - or long straight rulers

  • tape measures (one per group)

  • hammers (with claws)

  • screwdrivers

  • pliers, regular and vice-grip

  • set of small hexagon wrenches

  • vices and wood clamps for gripping

  • hand saws

  • metal saw

  • hole saws for plywood

  • manual jig saws

  • electric jigsaw(s) with many extra blades

  • awl (small pointed tool to make holes)

  • hand drill, or brace and bit—with bits

  • electric hand drill and set of bits

  • sharp knives (e.g. linoleum knives)

  • wood chisels

  • hand-held electric sander (if possible)

  • wood rasps

  • metal file

  • wire cutters and tin snips (sheers)

  • strong scissors (at least 3)

  • heat gun (if possible)

  • staple gun with staples (optional)

  • paint brushes (for painting toys)

2. Materials Needed

  • sheets of paper (for writing, drawing)

  • poster paper (large sheets of paper)

  • duct tape

  • electrical tape

  • plywood (1⁄4" and 1⁄2" - 4’ x 8’ sheets)

  • variety of boards and strips of wood

  • nails (1⁄2," 3⁄4" , 1", 11⁄2", 2" and 3")

  • screws, assorted sizes

  • nuts and bolts, assorted sizes

  • small brads or tacks

  • string (1 and 2 mm thick)

  • baling wire or other thin wire

  • rope ( c and 1⁄4 inch)

  • Velcro (if possible)

  • fast drying glue (2000 o 5000)

  • sheets of foam plastic, 1" and 2" thick

  • sheet foam rubber, fairly dense, 1" thick

  • butcher paper

  • old newspapers

  • colorful cloth (for covering cushions, etc.)

  • old sheets and strips of cloth

  • cotton (for padding and filling)

  • old bed sheet

  • large needles and strong thread

  • old plastic bottles, buckets and tubs

  • old car tires (without wire in walls, if possible)

  • old inner tubes, from cars and bikes

  • sandpaper (fine and course)

  • thin sheet metal, or old metal cans

  • plasticine, Silly Putty, or firm clay (for making individually-shaped handles for holding pencils, spoons, etc.)

  • quick-setting “body putty” (Bondo) for car repair, 1 litre

  • building plaster (plaster of Paris)

  • pieces of leather

  • plastic hose, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4” thick

  • buckles and clasps

  • small bells

  • shiny paper or foil of different bright colors

  • paints: fast-drying non-toxic water-based, bright colors

3. Paper-Based Materials and Preparation

  • corrugated cardboard, large sheets of different thickness, up to 3⁄4" thick

  • white carpenter’s glue, at least 2 liters (see below)

  • old strong paper sacks (used for cement, etc.)

  • old magazines with colorful pages

  • broad paper tape (masking tape)

It is important to prepare ahead for paper-based technology. If aids using paper-based technology are to be made in a single day, it is essential that large, thick sheets of cardboard be laminated at least 2 or 3 days in advance, so that they are dry and strong when needed (see p. 7). If glued several days in advance, a low-cost home-made paste (a runny mix of wheat flour and water) can be used instead of more costly carpenter’s glue.