Whats your policy about having children in the shop?

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Forum topic by MrWoodworker posted 05-18-2011 06:25 PM 1839 views 0 times favorited 46 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MrWoodworker's profile


65 posts in 2559 days

05-18-2011 06:25 PM

I had a scary experience recently. I had a boy of about twelve years old, that I simply assumed had some sense, in the shop with me a while back.

Go ahead – spank me – I was operating my table saw without a guard, free handing a pretty big rip, and the boy was standing to the side watching.

I don’t know what got into his head, but suddenly he reached his hand in toward the blade, quickly I might add.

I have no idea how my reflexes kicked in so fast, but they did. My hand shot out like a T’d off rattlesnake and grabbed him by the wrist. I think his hand must have been within 4-6 inches of the blade!

Somehow, I managed to grab him, maintain control of my work piece and shut off the saw with my knee in one quick motion.

Needless to say, he is banned from the shop indefinitely.

I accept that I was in error not giving him better instruction and not having a guard in place.

This has me totally rethinking ever having children in the shop, and I even wonder at what age I would allow anyone.

What is your policy?


46 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1743 posts in 2823 days

#1 posted 05-18-2011 06:33 PM


Banning him from the shop is probably not the best solution. Instead, take the time to explain that ALL the tools CAN be dangerous and lay out the basic rules. Teach him to safely enjoy working in the shop instead of banishing him because of YOUR failure to set the standards, including training. He would not have been the unless he was interested. Get him back in and properly engaged in working safely in the shop.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2800 days

#2 posted 05-18-2011 06:34 PM

My only current policy is no speaking while the equipment is running. I would have to say that it depends on the child but I would assume it becomes acceptable around the age of 8 for a kid to come in and watch. By age 12 I hope to be teaching my daughter how to properly use some of the equipment and for her to understand that the items can do some severe damage.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2632 days

#3 posted 05-18-2011 06:35 PM

Nothing wrong with children in the shop, as long as they are thoroughly educated, and with in my arms length, and I am working on a project with them.
Otherwise they are not allowed.

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View StumpyNubs's profile


7578 posts in 2765 days

#4 posted 05-18-2011 06:38 PM

I think a better place to have a child is the Hospital. But if you’re wife is willing, us woodworkers think we can do everything…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View dbhost's profile


5705 posts in 3196 days

#5 posted 05-18-2011 06:41 PM

For starters. YOU KNOW BETTER! Put that guard back on your saw!!!! If your guard is too much of a pain to use, seek out a better one, there are some great guards on the aftermarket.

Okay now the spanking is done…

That boy should be smart enough at 12 to know to keep away from spinning blades… But I must say, not everyone learns at the same pace, or the same things at the same time I guess it was 6th grade when I got my introduction to ME using the table saw. I had been around them in my Dad’s shop since I was 6… I wasn’t as fearful of what the saw could do to me as I was what my Dad would do to me if I misbehaved in there… There were some VERY clear rules, and lines that just did NOT get crossed…

You didn’t indicate what relation this child is to you, but I have to assume it is either your child, or grand child. You will have to determine if that child is capable and likely to follow certain hard and fast shop rules. If they are not, they MUST be banished from the shop until they have matured enough to do so. As Grandpa that is a bit easier than as Dad… Gradnpa can usually give the kid back to mom & dad, as Dad, YOU have to deal with this kid 24×7… For his own good find a good way to drive the youthful stupidity far from him… (meaning TEACH that youngun before he can’t count to ten anymore!)

Oh my policy for now is NO CHILDREN IN MY SHOP. But then again, I am not a parent yet… (not that we haven’t tried…). I am not anti kids in the shop, I just don’t want to be responsibly for some one else’s child…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2632 days

#6 posted 05-18-2011 06:45 PM

Never assume a child is going to do what you think he or she should do

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View DonH's profile


495 posts in 2781 days

#7 posted 05-18-2011 06:53 PM

You know what… This issue is not limited to just small kids, some big kids can be pretty dumb as well – or at least seem that way. Remember that those who dont know, dont know.

As a former professional pilot, I brief all visitors to the shop on safety practices re what is about to happen – same as a preflight crew or passenger briefing. It makes them feel better and engages them in the process as they now know what to expect and dont feel dumb and left out. Going this route I can often provide visitors with a (well briefed) role in thte activity and further develop their interest in what initially appears to many as a complicated and highly technical endeavour that they could never master – just like flying!

My two cents (Canadian – now worth a bit more – just joking….right???)


-- DonH Orleans Ontario

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3033 days

#8 posted 05-18-2011 07:03 PM

When my kids were small, they often came into my garage shop with their friends. I made a point of telling all of them to never come into the garage if I wasn’t in there, or was running a tool. It worked really well. They would stand just outside the door where I would notice them, and wait until I stopped whatever I was doing before even talking. They loved going thru my scrap barrel and grabbing some new “toys”. If they ever broke the entry rules, they lost scavenging privileges. – lol

My only real problem was with my BIL a few years ago. They came for a long weekend visit and he was in the shop while I was working on some cabinets. I was making some long rips and he kept wanting to “help”. I shook him off 2-3 times before shutting down and asking him to just watch. I have a 7’ outfeed table and do this almost daily. There’s no way that the board will go anywhere and well intentioned “help” usually isn’t really helpful. – lol

The only other “issue” was when my daughter and SIL were going to help build a cabinet that they wanted. I had to tell SWMBO and her mother that they were NOT WELCOME in the shop while we were working. The “kids” werre going to be doing much of the work, and I didn’t want any distractions while they were running the tools.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7578 posts in 2765 days

#9 posted 05-18-2011 07:05 PM

Time to stop coddling the kids and remember all the stuff that we did when we were young that never killed us. If a child doesn’t get a chance to lose a finger or two, how will he ever become a man?

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2844 days

#10 posted 05-18-2011 07:06 PM

I have three boys ages 6, 4 and 2 and they all love to play in the shop while I am working. With boys this age its very important for me to make sure they are safe.

First I have made sure to have no dangerous hand tools at their reaching level. I have a little peg board on the side of my bench with some very safe plastic tools hanging on it and those are the ones my kids are allowed to play with.

I have also stressed over and over and over again to my older two that some of my tools are very dangerous. I tell them they are not to touch my tools and then I tell them the ones they CANT touch. I assume they may break my rules and touch my tools when told not to but there are a few tools I stress over and over again to make sure that if they do break my rules and touch my tools it wont be the big ones that they touch.

When I run the table saw I make sure they are no where near the saw or table. Same is the case for my jointer/planer.

Another thing I do is anytime I have got cut with my hand tools and my kids are around I will go show them the cut and show them that even I get hurt with the tools and I think that has really helped enforce the danger.

At 12 years old he should be old enough to maybe even teach him how to use some of the smaller power tools. I think I was that age when my dad showed me how to use the Radial Arm Saw and let me make cuts with it. Maybe by letting him use some tools it will help him understand the safety hazards.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2632 days

#11 posted 05-18-2011 07:20 PM

Allowing children in the shop while you are working, with machinery, is just as much of a danger to you as it is to them.
But a shop. Can Also be dangerous for children setting idle
Close Supervision is always needed

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View StumpyNubs's profile


7578 posts in 2765 days

#12 posted 05-18-2011 07:22 PM

When my grandfather was 12 (in the 40’s) he was driving and taking care of the farm and all the animals all by himself while his father was away trying to make some money.

When my father was 12 (in the 60’s) he was drilling wells for a living beside his father.

When I was 12 (in the 80’s) I was walking a mile through the alfalfa fields with a big rusty cycle to cut food for our rabbits without cutting my legs off.

When my nephew was 12 (the 2000’s) he was taking a dance class.

We need to teach kids things that will be useful in adulthood instead of worrying they’ll be killed by things that kids safely did for generations.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View jeth's profile


258 posts in 2802 days

#13 posted 05-18-2011 07:23 PM

I’m happy to have my 5 year old daughetr in the shop if I am not really working on anything too involved and I can pay attention to her. If I am using the table saw I would get her to wait outside as my shop is pretty small and I wouldn’t want her in the way of a kickback.
I have demonstrated to her the danger of the tools, showing her injuries from sharp blades and also standing her outside to view through a window as i tossed a small offcut onto the table saw blade.. big noise, totally destroyed offcut, point made. She now knows never to touch the thing.

Another poster was right to mention its not just the young ones who need watching. My neighbour is a carpenter, and an adult visitor to his shop (a client) walked up to a jointer as it was shutting down, blade still spinning though not at full power, he asks “so this is what you sue to cut the wood?” and sticks his finger in the blade, tip removed, and point made ….

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3138 days

#14 posted 05-18-2011 07:24 PM

And this is why ….. much to my own regret … I didn’t bring my (10 year-old) nephew into MY shop … even though he was eager to learn and do.

I’m visually impaired. It takes all I have (and often more than I have) to keep ME safe, when I’m in my shop. I have to err to the side of caution, when the safety of another—particularly a child, where … there’s no question about where the ultimate responsibility lies (with the adult)—is concerned.

I’m glad it turned out okay. I’m glad your coffee—or whatever—kicked in.

I DO hope—for the sake of both of you—you can find a way to go forward, with this one, and help him learn to be a safe woodworker.

-- -- Neil

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2898 days

#15 posted 05-18-2011 07:39 PM

The only time my kids are allowed in the shop is when all my power tools are not in used and disconnected.

I do drive the nail in wood midway and let the little one bang on it. he likes that.
My 13 years old one tried the scroll saw few time under strick supervision.

Maybe I should relax a tiny.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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