Children and Tools

Had a few smaller visitors to the shed over Easter. My daughter and her cousins, who were quite intrigued by the place. But what better way than to show them, (and better yet), get them involved (at least as far as possible)?

So we decided to make some toy vehicles, using the same basic concept as I wrote about in a recent ManSpace magazine (and have written about here as well). A length of Tasmanian oak for the vehicle bodies, and a board of the same to cut out the wheels.

Each of the kids helped choose and design the vehicles, sketched out along the length of timber. This was then cut out on the bandsaw, sanded on the spindle and disk sanders, holes drilled (by the kids) on the drill press for windows, and edges rounded over using the corner rounding 3D bit from Toolstoday.com. More on that bit another time, but just to say, it is perfect for toy making.

Wheels were cut out using Carbitool wheel cutting bits, holes drilled for axles, exhausts, headlights etc.

Each then worked to glue wheels to axles, dowel for exhaust pipes and siren lights as appropriate.

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From left to right, we have a double-decker bus, Formula 1 car, police car and jeep. Think the kids got a good amount out of it – sure hope they did!

Later, I gave the vehicles a bit more detail, using a branding iron, and pyrography pen to add details like front grills, racing stripes etc.

It is really rewarding working with a younger generation in the workshop, so long as you have proper supervision, safety equipment (that they love wearing), and tasks that are applicable to their skill level. If you have the possibility of the occasional visitor, it is really worth having some projects up your sleeve, ready to go (and child-sized PPE). This may be no more than the concept and a mental plan, but it would be even better if you had a drawn-up plan, templates, even some precut material ready to go.

Even a small amount of involvement in a project sows seeds that can influence a child across their lifetime.

Forgot to mention- there was one casualty. The drill press decided to smoke itself (literally, but very mildly), and lost about 90% of its already limited power. I sure hope the DVR drill press is not too far away.

SawStop, and my Woodworking Assistant

On one hand, the shed is regarded as a dangerous place for the unwary, and the inexperienced. Not so much inexperience in woodworking, but inexperience in life.

On the other hand, being able to enjoy woodworking with you child (or grandchild) can be an immensely rewarding experience, for both of you.

I would normally be very reluctant to have an inexperienced hand using a tablesaw, yet while making some shelving for some kitchen cupboards, Jess (my 7 year old) wanted to help, and not just help by standing around watching. Having a SawStop meant the answer to that question was not “No” or even a reluctant “Maybe”. It was a definite “Yes, of course”.

Now she didn’t get to cut the board unsupervised or unattended – I’m not that confident! Tablesaws can do damage in plenty of other ways, particularly hurling things at you at 250km/hr!

By setting up a featherboard, having the guard in place, and standing beside her, she was able to feed boards through the blade, and not give me absolute conniptions. Even on a regular saw, she would have been safe, but knowing that there is also the SawStop technology between her and a disaster really enhances the experience of woodworking with your offspring.

And it is another activity for her to add to the crazy quilt that is life’s experiences.

SawStop really makes a huge difference in relieving some of the stress that can surround the workshop.

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