As a follow-up to my last post, I would like to offer a few more observations about passing on the knowledge of your craft to the next generation.
1. If your children are grown, all is not lost.
There may be grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or even neighborhood children to invite in (with their parents’ permission, of course). There also may be kids at church or at neighborhood schools who would be interested in working wood. Keep a sharp lookout for homeschooling families, many of whom are eager to pursue arts and crafts as a way of life. And if you can’t bring people into your shop, take some of your woodwork out onto the front lawn. Working outdoors is a great way to take your shop to people.
2. This works with grown-ups too.
When I was a kid, my dad loved gardening, but I wasn’t much interested. But now I’m grown up and have a house of my own, I enjoy gardening nearly as much as my dad does. I learned to work wood as a young adult, and I’ve been grateful to people who have opened their shops to me.
If you’re in a relationship, invite your significant other to hang around a while as you work. You will learn as much about a person–especially a man–by watching him work as you will by talking to him. And your significant other will gain a new appreciation for the work you are doing.
As one guy said to me, children are your ultimate project, even though you’re never finished with it.
3. This isn’t easy.
I don’t want to give the impression that it’s all rainbows and roses when you let a child into your shop. Now that my children are old enough to play with my tools, I have to suppress my “get-‘er-done” attitude. It’s hard to interrupt a project to interact with a child in the shop, especially when I’m working on a tight deadline. I have to suppress my annoyance when my kids reorganize the trays in my tool chest, and I have to contain my fury when they break my sharpening stones or use my machinist’s square as a mallet. But I’ve never regretted the interruptions afterward. It is easier to repair a broken tool than a broken relationship.