Ever since my children were old enough to hold tools, I have included them in my woodworking. My workbench is right in our main living space–on one end of the dining room–so the kids can all see me every time I work wood. They have all dabbled in woodworking here and there, though their interest waxes and wanes over time.
Here are a few pictures of what the kids have been up to over the past six months.
My oldest, N., is my most active woodworker. She’s also old enough to be able to design her own projects and use all the tools effectively and safely.
She has tried her hand at many kinds of woodworking over the last few years.
Last Christmas, she experimented with wood burning, and she made a number of lovely ornaments from sections of limbs that I had cut and smoothed down. She sold some at a local craft market, and others went to various family and friends.
This year, she made her first pipe. Then she made a second pipe, which she sold to a friend.
N. is quite the entrepreneur. She makes wooden spoons and spatulas, as well as other little items, as time allows. Every time I sell my wares at a craft fair, she is my able assistant.
A few months ago, N. suggested that we make some woodenware conditioner to sell alongside our woodenware. She researched different recipes and eventually settled on an oil/wax mix that could be sold in small tins. She and my next-oldest daughter, K., mixed up a batch and got it ready for market.
K. has worked wood in the past, but at the moment she is more interested in tending the garden.
But, when the need arises, she still likes to make simple things out of wood–like her little berry patch sign. She is very fond of setting up fairy gardens.
The youngest two girls, A. and M., share their oldest sister’s entrepreneurial spirit. They’re not quite mature enough to take on building projects yet, but they are old enough to handle sandpaper. When I make spoons and spatulas, I contract out some of my sanding work to them, paying them a fraction of the purchase price of each utensil. They get to earn a little pocket money while learning a valuable life-lesson: money comes from work.
My youngest, R., especially enjoys working alongside me. When I pull out my tools, he often asks me if he can do woodworking, too. He loves to try out different tools on bits of scrap wood.
Sometimes, though, he gets to do something genuinely useful.
When one of his wooden trucks broke, I glued it back together. Then he reinforced the joint with a couple of screws.
He also likes to make his own building blocks.
He will happily saw up four or five blocks out of a single stick of wood, and then go build towers with them. Sometimes I help him start the cut with the hand saw, but once he gets going, he finishes each cut. A few years ago, I made that saw’s handle to 3/4 scale in order to fit a child’s hand. I keep it sharp, and R. really likes using it.
R. also enjoys using a hand plane. A Stanley #2 fits his hand just right.
But like all good woodworkers, he also knows that woodworking is hard work. It takes a lot of energy, especially when you’re a kid.
Sometimes you just have to take a break and look at the clouds.