Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred

Reviewed by Major Keary

The book has a sub-title, Seriously geeky stuff to make with your kids, which is not to be taken to mean 'turning your kids into geeky stuff', but rather entertaining them with simple, but interesting projects in which they can participate. Apart from parents (and other rels) the book is a useful resource for teachers.

The materials required are inexpensive, or even free; the tools are simple; the instructions are in clear language supported by illustrations; and there are plenty of safety warnings (did you know that the friction from a saw can heat PVC sufficiently to cause it to release phosgene?). Along the way there are gems of knowledge that, because of the informal environment created by the author, are likely to be remembered (such as, the didgeridoo is in a class of instruments called labrosones, and luthiers are craftsmen who build and repair stringed instruments).

There are twenty-four projects that range from simple (such as making a teepee--tent in ozspeak) through a ticklebox (a step-up transformer that delivers a "safe 100 volt jolt"), to musical instruments (drums, guitars, a synthesizer. and an electronic didgeridoo), and on to locomotivated projects (including boomerangs, a water rocket, and a marshmallow muzzleloader). For each project there is a list of necessary tools, a list of materials, and clear "Building It" instructions (Step 1, step 2, …) supported by illustrations and digrams.

One of the early projects, Switchbox: A soldering Project for Greenhorns, is a concise guide to soldering, circuit diagrams, and switches, and has a brief tutorial on voltage, current, and resistance. At the end of the book an appendix, Electronics Components, Tools, and Skills is a valuable, well written and well illustrated, resource.

No Starch Press has been a leader in publishing innovation, such as the Manga Guides, and it is to be congratulated on Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred. The writing is well suited to a young audience. Good value. Recommended a library acquisition, not just for crafts-and-hobbies shelving, but for anyone who wants a hands-on plain-language introduction to electronics.

David Nelson: Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred
ISBN 978-1-59327-259-3
Published by No Starch Press, 337 pp., RRP AU$ 29.95

Woodslane. This title can be purchased from the Australian distributor at
A discount can be redeemed by entering the following code at the checkout:


Looks like a great book with

Looks like a great book with lots of experiments and projects for kids to play.
My only question is, are kids (10+ years old) capable of following the step-by-step instructions in this book by themselves without the help from an adult?
I'd be willing to gift this to my kids and it would be great if they could play both together and not having me to do the 'hard stuff'. hehe

Thanks in advance, and great review.


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