Woodworking after a child?

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Forum topic by B4B posted 11-24-2016 05:00 AM 899 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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163 posts in 1594 days

11-24-2016 05:00 AM

I have a 9 month old who is a joy to be around. I have a full time job, and we are fortunate that my wife can be a stay at home mom. She also runs a home-based business which she needs to dedicate time to.

I know caring for the little one is dreaming on her and I pitch in whenever I can, which is usually in the evening during the week and on the weekends so she can dedicate blocks of time to work on the business or take care of bills, budgeting, etc. We also run errands and chores on the weekend. Time for my hobby is on the back burner and seems like it will be for some time.

My “shop” is my carport. Any projects require me to ensure I have enough time to setup, work on my project, and break down. Leaving my tools out unattended is not an option. I feel if i cant dedicate a full afternoon, i shouldnt bother. We don’t have the land to build even a small dedicated space, and converting the carport to a garage is probably going to be cost prohibitive, we’ve had one contractor out already, but he hasn’t gotten us a quote (a garage would add resale value as the other houses in the immediate area have one, including our two direct neighbors)

I’m at the point where I’ve resigned that I won’t have any significant hobby time for the foreseeable future and we are considering adding a sibling. I’ve at times thought I should just sell my big tools until ‘later’ and find a new hobby. If I had a garage or other dedicated space it might be different.

Anyone else been here who can offer sage advice?

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

15 replies so far

View JADobson's profile


1328 posts in 2347 days

#1 posted 11-24-2016 04:36 PM

I’d hold off. I’ve been where you are with the little ones. Our fourth is on her way. I found that transition to working primarily with hand tools helped with noise and also made it easier to stop and start without having all the set up. Don’t worry, it gets a lot easier to find the time. I do most of my work between 9 and 11 PM when everyone else is sleeping.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View WillliamMSP's profile


1084 posts in 1841 days

#2 posted 11-24-2016 05:08 PM

I have a 3-month old and my my primary work space is an unattached garage. Like you, I find that it takes a significant time commitment to get out there. That in mind, I’m putting together a smaller shop space in the basement – even though it’s a compromised space (size/storage), having it under the same roof helps.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

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Steve Peterson

395 posts in 3318 days

#3 posted 11-24-2016 06:20 PM

It won’t be long before you will be allowed back into your shop. My kids would come out to the shop when they were around 2-3 years old. They would sit on the floor and stack blocks of wood. Eventually it progressed to pounding nails into blocks and gluing pieces together. It slows you down a bit because you always have to keep a watch on them, but I was always able to get a few things done.

Like James, I also did a lot of work late in the evening or on weekends when my wife took them to visit her sisters.

-- Steve

View B4B's profile


163 posts in 1594 days

#4 posted 11-25-2016 12:59 AM

TThanks. I’ll hang in there. I have thought about hand tool woodworking, but I would have to pickup the necessary tools. The used tool market is bloated, and new hand tools of a decent quality are pricy. I do have a small utility room where I could work on some quiet or small projects.

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1880 posts in 2205 days

#5 posted 11-25-2016 01:25 AM

I’m right there with you. I have a two and a half year old and a 1 month old. My time out in my shop consists of an hour here or there. I found turning to be nice as its usually quick. And carving also. Quiet work.

Hang in there, your wife and kids need you now as mineneeds me.

You can always start drawing out ides for the future when you get the time. Then all you have to do is cut.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View DrDirt's profile


4526 posts in 3978 days

#6 posted 12-05-2016 09:32 PM

Hold on to it. Things would sell pennies on the dollar and depending on what you had, you may be kicking yourself regarding the cost of replacing it later.

Is closing in the carport a possibility? That can at least take care of security, as well as opportunity to go out at different times without disturbing the little one or neighbors.

As others point out – it won’t be long and they will join you… or you will start to be the go to guy making pinewood derby race cars.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View B4B's profile


163 posts in 1594 days

#7 posted 12-06-2016 02:10 AM

My “big” tools are a craftsman contractor saw, a craftsman radial arm saw, and a craftsman 6” jointer. I could sell them and purchase replacements later for around the same coin. . So it’d be a wash.

We’ve looked at converting the carport to a garage, but so far none of the contractors we contacted have provided a quote. We could do it on the sly, but want to do it right.

I have a honey-do list a mile and a half long, so there’s no shortage of projects :).

Anyway. I talked with my wife and she is if the opinion to keep the tools too. So they stay stowed away for the time being. I do need to get out and winterize them soon.

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3949 days

#8 posted 01-04-2017 10:50 PM

One thing you may want to consider is the doing of chores and errands on the weekends. Sometimes these chores, and such, can painlessly be distributed through the week leaving those precious weekends for family and shop times. I used to save all the big chores like laundry, floor washing etc. for the weekends but now I try to do such things during the week giving my kids and I a bunch of free time on the weekends where we really need it. I would echo the idea of planning out some projects especially if you are learning Fusion 360 or Sketchup to draw them. The little ones all too quickly become big ones so savour these moments as they will whiz by!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View chrisstef's profile


17798 posts in 3243 days

#9 posted 01-04-2017 11:34 PM

What i did / do is to bunch my noisy work together so that when bed time comes for mama and the little one i can sneak away and work with hand tools quietly in the shop. I was a slow worker to begin with and now im even slower … but i still manage to do enough to keep me from getting itchy. Another good move is to prep your machinery for its next noisy task so theres no down time when you get that window of opportunity.

Theres a big learning curve to kids as im finding out but it gets easier. Concentrate on small projects or honing your skills at things like sharpening chisels and planes, refurbing an old tool or sketching out a future project.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile


542 posts in 2100 days

#10 posted 01-04-2017 11:54 PM

So…I’m in your wife’s position. I’m a stay at home dad with a 2.5 year old. I don’t really have a proper business, but I do sell a lot of projects.

I am in a constant battle for time in the shop. You’d think, oh, stay at home dad’s got tons of time on his hands.. But kids are kids and the wife needs a break too. She’s very understanding and encouraging of all my artistic endeavors.

I say all of that to tell you this…. It gets better. Soon, there will be part time day care in your lives, then perhaps full time preschool (unless yall are the weird religious folks that insist on homeschooling, in which case, your are totally foo-acked and should consider other metaphysical and educational endeavors ;-) )

But trust me, you will have more time…eventually. Don’t let it get you down and don’t feel guilty about not being in your shop. Your kid will only be this young once. Soak it up.

-- “If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” ― Lenny Bruce

View MrStyle's profile


87 posts in 1966 days

#11 posted 01-08-2017 12:14 AM

Align your hobby to needs of the family and adjust. Storage !! built ins – these are projects that your family probably needs and your wife most likely will make sure you have time to complete.

I am in the same position, full time job for me, stay at home wife with a at home business that demands 2 weekends a month from me and a 3 year old. Our other daughter just graduate from college this past Dec – so I know it gets better… just hand in there.

So I have focused on home improvement projects which provide me hobby time, improve the home and make my wife really happy – win, win, win !

So you doing the carport sounds like a great project, adds value, adds storage and gets you a shop. Granted there might be parts that you need to contract out – but I bet you can tackle most of it, just break it down into steps and move forward – you can save a ton by doing a lot of work yourself.

Good Luck

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3605 days

#12 posted 01-08-2017 12:23 AM

Hire a babysitter a couple evenings a week and one afternoon on weekends. You and your wife can use the break.

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1135 days

#13 posted 01-08-2017 01:57 AM

I hate woodworking after a child.

Plastic hammers and screwdrivers left on the workbench,
Juice boxes all over the place,
and the damn stools are adjusted so low… :>/

View B4B's profile


163 posts in 1594 days

#14 posted 01-29-2017 08:44 PM

Thanks everyone for sharing, it’s been helpful and encouraging.

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

View Kelly's profile (online now)


2182 posts in 3180 days

#15 posted 01-29-2017 09:11 PM

Think to the future. In time, you’ll be able to hand the kid a hammer and a bunch of nails. Then, rather than making a hundred trips to remove scraps, it can all be taken out in a single trip [after having been nailed together].

If you take up beer drinking, save the caps and get the right nails, you and all your neighbors can have boot scrapers for the entries. The possibilities are endless from there.

HINT: Never offer to hold a nail for a young novice (doesn’t get much more sage than that).

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