Messages Archive

Kids in the shop

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
The next generation of woodworkers will, or will not, be developed by getting kids in the shop and helping/letting them make stuff. Effective motivation can be making stuff they want. Most take pride in their rooms so building stuff for their rooms can gain their interest.

Case in point. Both granddaughters wanted bed side dressers. They had a long weekend and their parents supported their interest in this project by driving them here (5 hours) to spend the weekend doing what they could do. So what can a 8 and 12 years old do? A lot it turns out, if provided some guidance and a loose leash.

12 year old: Table saw and router are off limits at this age but most everything else is fair game. I flattened cuttings for the tops on the jointer and she did the rest- planed to thickness, jointed edges, edge glued the panels, hand planed panel to smooth and finish sanded. I routed edges. Most adult woodworkers could take a lessen from her panel assembly. Joints were in near perfect alignment and there was just a tiny bead of glue squeeze-out. It was interesting that her father who watches UTubes asked about some panel gluing aids/crutches he had seen. I pointed out his 12 year old daughter just assembled a perfect panel without any of them. Yet another skill I learned in the Headley shop I can pass along.

She chopped dovetail waste for drawers and applied glue for drawer assembly. I helped with squaring the drawer.

8 year old:
She struggled with the hand plane. Bench height was too high for her. Will work on that task next visit. She sanded her dresser. I showed her how and what to look for that made a perfect job. She was quick to spot places where sanding was not perfect and worked to make them so. I showed her how to lay out dovetails on drawers, described in a post last week, and she completed this task. I sawed and her sister chopped, not gallery perfect, but as good as I strive for which is good enough.

Much as I would like to think so, these kids may have exceptional parents to provide the opportunity, but they are not exceptional. The kids in your life can do this work and make stuff they will treasure if you provide the opportunity. I expect that children age 12 did a lot of furniture building in 1720.

I have a friend who is a supervisor. He told of a 20 something year old employee needing to screw something together. Supervisor observed this clumsy attempt and inquired. The employee reported that he hasn't ever used a screw driver much. There is a parent problem behind this deficiency.

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