|Project by Canexican||posted 01-29-2012 11:39 PM||2039 views||3 times favorited||7 comments|
I have a six year old nephew. He lives about five hours away and I really don’t get to see him too often. When I do, it’s usually just as a fast blur of bright blue eyes, a freckled little nose and a crew cut emitting race car engine sounds while chasing my squealing daughters with a rubber band gun. He’s a great kid – rambunctious, but a great kid.
This Christmas I decided that instead of giving him something from the aisles of Wal-Mart, I’d be a little selfish instead. I decided to give him something that was really and truly a gift to myself… time together, just the two of us doing what I love to do – build. And guess what? He loved it.
A couple of weeks before our annual family yuletide gathering I came up with a design for a simple and sturdy tool box; nothing fancy, just an old-fashioned open top box that we could “build” in a day. This was a low cost project as I used some odds and ends I had lying around my shop: ½” Baltic birch plywood for the sides, ¼” plywood for the bottom and a 1/8” brass rod for the pins. I precut, routerred and sanded each piece and then did a dry fit to ensure that all was well before wrapping it up and placing a bow on top. The beauty of this little project is that it’s quick to put together with a kid. There’s no drying time as its mortise and tennon joints are held together with brass rod pins rather than glue.
Well, on Christmas morning he tore into the package. His brow furrowed and his mouth twisted in concentration as he tried to decipher the meaning of the oddly shaped pieces of wood spread before him. It wasn’t until he opened his second package containing a shiny new kid sized hammer did a look of understanding begin to spread over his face. “Oh man, are we gonna build something Uncle Grant?” he asked.
We headed down to the local Home Depot and picked out a tube of Minwax color gel stain (which, by the way, is very easy for a kid to apply… as long as they wear gloves, old clothes and you cover everything you value within a 20 foot radius with a drop cloth! No – seriously it goes on with very little mess.). I knew his favorite color was “Lightning McQueen red”. So I was completely surprised when he pronounced that his toolbox would be green. “Why green?” I asked. He looked at me like I had suddenly declared that boys should wear pink tutus and play dolls. Finally he said really slowly, so that my obviously inadequate adult brain would be sure to understand “Because green’s a good color for a toolbox, Uncle Grant.” O.K., I couldn’t argue with that logic.
After staining, and while we let the pieces dry, I took him for a hike. I had intentionally not included a handle in his toolbox kit because I thought that finding one might be a little more fun. We walked through the woods behind his house and after much deliberating and measuring (as all true men must do), we finally settled on our victim. My nephew had never used a saw before and boy was he pretty proud to learn how. Then, freshly amputated limb in hand, we set off for home where I was privileged to initiate the little guy into the time honored, front porch tradition of whittling wood and shooting the breeze. Just a little aside here, fellas – don’t let your wives anywhere near you two at this stage in the build. No matter how competent and safety minded you are, women tend to get a little jumpy, bossy and flat out angry when they see a six year old with a five inch blade in his hands.
When the pieces had dried, my nephew proudly used his new hammer to pound the brass rods into the predrilled holes, magically and quickly assembling the new toolbox. This took hardly any time to pre-build and barely cost a dime; but, man, hands down it has to be one of the most rewarding projects of my life (and I think it made a pretty good memory for him, too, as my sister-in-law assured me the other day that everyone who comes to their front door is immediately accosted by her son proudly showing off his new toolbox)!
I included a set drawings for anyone that wants to create one themselves.