Reply by Dan Lyke

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Posted on Woodworking merit badge - Boy Scouts

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Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4126 days

#1 posted 10-15-2007 07:02 PM

I’d consider a bit about your hand tools restriction. Maybe there’s some way you can let ‘em do a number of the cuts with power tools and a lot of supervision? My middle school shop had me using power tools in 8th grade (and my dad and grandfather’s shops earlier, but I’m trying to be reasonable for “most kids”), and I’ve helped a developmentally disabled man who, despite being in his early 30s, has the mental development in the 2-4 year old range, make a birdhouse with a Festool saw on a rail for his cross-cuts (although we did have four hands on the jigsaw while cutting out the bird hole).

Sometimes a power saw way less dangerous than a hand in front of a chisel…

A recent Woodworking had a rather nice shelf with a pull-open cubby for mittens and such that looked like it’d be a relatively simple project, you could have ‘em cut the curves with a coping saw, so probably do most of that by hand.

Aaaand… I know that in 8th grade woodshop class I tried to do an inlaid harmonica box. The inlay wasn’t terribly great, and I was pushing well beyond what my classmates were doing, but if in high school (when I was ticking off Merit Badges) someone had showed me the basics of how to do a hand-cut dovetail and let me go to town, I would have been ecstatic to both learn that skill and have anything like it. I still have the musical instrument I made for some merit badge (a Laosian two stringed bowed instrument built with a coconut for the sounding board that I can roughly transliterate as a “hsee sa-u”), had I had the chance to do a hand-cut dovetail box in high school I’d definitely still have that in a treasured place.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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