This weekend, my boys uttered the words most Woodworking adults want to hear from the younger generation “We want to make something!”
My sons have always been supportive in my endeavors to work on things. They like seeing the things I made and will often ask me if I can make this or that for them. When I started this hobby, one of my goals was to reduce dependency on the cheap goods at the stores and reduce the mentality that one needs to buy instead of making what is needed. (I will admit to the irony that this non-materialistic attitude revolves around a shop with a couple grand invested in tools :) While they were supportive though, their interest in being downstairs just was never there. I would talk to them about woodworking but I never pushed. I just didn’t want them to do something because I wanted them to, but wanted the interest to spring from their own desire.
On Saturday, during our visit, they expressed the interest, so I went downstairs and set up shop for them. I had a light half pallet that I recently cleared and I straddled it over a fold out workbench. Because of the double layers, I could let them drill, hammer, paint, glue, whatever, without being a paranoid shop rat worrying about the condition of my workspace while they were working. I have a large box of pine scraps so I pulled out a number of pieces and set it out for them. Tools consisted of a Fiskar hand drill, a Stanley miter box and backsaw, a couple of 10 oz. hammers, glue, and clamps. My boys are almost polar opposites of one another. My oldest, Sam, has Aspergers Syndrome (similar to high functioning Autism. Smart, sweet, lovable kid but has his quirks from time to time.) He requires a little more hand holding and encouragement for these types of things. My youngest, Gabe, is more aggressive, curious, but likes to act first and think later. So I had to make sure I could pull the reigns on one while attempting to gallop the other.
I divided the work period in sessions. The boys drew out what they wanted to make and cut the parts during session one. Session two consisted of assembly, and I put wheels on their parts after they went to bed. Sam wanted to make a little train he could put on his dresser and Gabe wanted a jeep type thing for his action figures. I had them draw out what they wanted so that they could get a little used to the idea of working with plans. I helped them with proportion and estimating sizes of the blocks. No real measurements, just using the pieces to size each other. I set up the miter box and marked the pieces for cutting. Aside from some quickie wheels made from a hole saw, they did all the cutting, drilling, hammering, and assembly. They only did enough sanding to remove splintering that could potentially make the toy harmful to hold.
The following are pics of the activities -
Here Sam and Gabe (respectively) are concentrating on their cuts with the miter box. The box worked well because it kept their hands free from the blade and helped them make parallel cuts -
Sam needed to put a little smokestack on his train and Gabe wanted to do some hammering of his parts so I had him pre-drill some holes. The glue would have been more than strong enough to hold his parts in place but I could tell he really wanted the experience of hammering nails. I found it better to not discourage him and he enjoyed using the hand drill as well.
Sam was comfortable with just using glue, but Gabe wanted to use his hammer. I picked up 10oz. hammers for both of them. They take awhile to get the nails in there, but it goes much faster, easier, and straighter with the pre-drilled holes. This reduced frustration and impatience because he got to use two tools instead of one (good thing in a kid’s eyes) and we didn’t have to deal with splits and broken parts.
All in all, the time was spaced out nicely, neither one of them got too bored, I let them use the tools without taking over, and they were proud of what they made -
My thanks to the lumberjocks who posted the time they spent with their young family members. It helped me organize and make a much more successful session then if I tried to wing it completely on my own.
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.