The Mirror Steeror Years ago a friend offered me a large pile of plexiglas mirror rejects. At the time I was teaching a science and carpentry class for kids, so I was always looking for interesting materials. While turning possibilities over in my mind, I took two pieces (8″ X 24″) and fastened them, side by side, to a board so that one curved in, the other out. The kids got a kick out of this. They could see their faces in weird shapes, which was good for a laugh, but left me wonderin...
Introduction When I was about 50 I wrote my first little book, Builder Boards. I started writing in the morning, and I’d have lunch around noon. Then I’d work for another hour, but that was it. I found if I was trying to finish up a chapter and worked longer, nothing would get done. After a certain point I could write no more. However, if I went down to my shop and did something, anything, those things I’d been writing often fell into place and I’d be ready to go ...
SAFETY and a few words about hand tools When I first thought about teaching woodworking to kids I wondered, “would it be safe?”. At the time I couldn’t find any written information other than wear safety glasses and “be safe”. After I had been teaching for a while I found the first question parents always asked was, “is woodworking safe for my child?”. The article below is the chapter on safety from my book Woodshop for Kids with a few minor changes. This was written with the...
A Day in my Summer Shop Class Below are three pictures of the shop I used for 20 years. The first is on the left of the shop as you are looking into the garage/shop, then center, and right. I liked having the space open to the outdoors. You may notice the steam engine on the table in the first picture. When I started teaching I was doing a science class and a woodworking class. The kids from the science class saw the woodwoking and said, “we want to do that.” And the woodworking...
Woodworking with Kids, my first class The excitement and interest of my own kids about using tools, about building, and about woodworking taught me how competent kids could be and inspired me to volunteer to do woodworking at my sons’ school. My plan was for the children to arrive with an idea of something to build and I would help them build it. From woodworking with my own kids I knew enough to collect a workbench, kid-...
It’s been a while since I posted under this topic. As some of you know my daughter has been in my shop with me working on things since she was about 4 years old and she turned her first pen at that age as well during a “Turn for the Troops” event. She is now 10 and not working as much in the shop but does find she like to have her workbench still and does still like to turn. She decided (with very little pressure) that she wold accompany me to the Virginia Woodturning Sympos...
Turns out that my little girl can rock a spokeshave. She asked me to help her make a mallet for her to use in the shop. I thought that was a dandy idea, so we set to it. We glued up a few pieces of cherry for the head of the mallet. Then I showed her how to use a spokeshave on rectilinear stock, in order to take off the hard corners and make it more hand-friendly. For those of you wanting to get your kids to spend time in the shop with you, let them use a spokeshave. It’s the ki...
This DIY kids play table was a fairly easy build. I made it into two sections that screw together for easy transport. Everything was also made out of common lumber sizes so nothing had to be cut down to size. View on YouTube
When it comes to sharing woodworking with my grandkids, I keep it simple. In fact, I really don’t care if they take a shine to woodworking, I would just rather they get the opportunity to be creative. When they come over for a visit, they don’t ask if they can do woodworking, they just ask, “Can we build?” At this point, I have done very few structured projects, I usually just let the kids have at it with the bin of wood scraps. Kids don’t need to be to...
Well I missed another week of posting this time though it was not due to pleasure. My aunt passed on Monday and I was with my Uncle most of this week. She has had kidney problems for several years now and 2 weeks ago things started to get bad. I visited last weekend and on Sunday she was having a good day. By Monday morning everything had changed though. My Uncle is doing as well as can be expected. While I spent a large portion of the week away from work and my shop I did some brain storm...
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