A new challenge

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My own sons were long grown and gone before I got much chance to put together a decent wood shop.
But I am about to 'inherit' a boy just entering his teens. His Dad, a friend of mine, died almost 2 years ago and lately the boy has been drifting enough to worry some of the adults who know him. So his uncle asked if I would try to show him the ropes in a woodshop. In turn, his Mom asked if I would help him with his math.
He and his uncle will be here in a few days to begin and I'm wondering where I should start ...
I have spare PPE and some of the guys introduced him to welding last fall, so he is not a complete dufuss when it comes to following instructions -- in fact, he helped feed stock for me while I was working a crimping press to build a LONG wrought iron fence. He'll do what he is told.
I have probably a ton (literally) of poplar 3x3x42's (shipping dunnage that has been jointed and planed) and 2-300 sq ft of cdx rejects (also dunnage) before we start touching the 'private stock'.
I also have roughly two cords of turning logs in various local hardwoods that we could re-saw for project wood.
I want to work math, especially geometry and trig, into the projects so that they serve as tools to teach much more than slap-it-together wood work. I mean, I could cut the pieces of a birdhouse from a plank, give him a hammer and some nails and walk away ... but all he'd learn from that is to hate wood working.
I'd like to involve him in the planning part of setting up a cut on either the table saw or the bandsaw ... including starting with a mis-aligned machine (miter gage with the pointer moved?) and trouble-shooting the resulting error.
I dunno ... mostly I'm just thinking in print, trying to get the creative juices flowing ... it has been a long time since I've had a boy under my wing.
The thing is ... although I have worked as a die-maker, I only have a couple years in the woodshop myself. Thus "The List" of what I don't know dwarfs the list of the things I am certain about. I can show him the math okay ... but I am still puzzling out the order of operations.
Y'all jump in here with your suggestions and thoughts just whenever you feel like ... I'm all ears.
Bill
--
Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as
one goes on.
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For the geometry, I'd start by trying to incorporate some projects with many sides, more than four anyway. And of course, you're going to have to find out what he likes to do and try to get him involved in building something that's going to appeal to him. I suspect you won't have too much trouble getting the both of you enthusiastic about something.
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Bill in Detroit wrote:
> But I am about to 'inherit' a boy just entering his teens. His Dad, a > friend of mine, died almost 2 years ago and lately the boy has been > drifting enough to worry some of the adults who know him. So his uncle > asked if I would try to show him the ropes in a woodshop. In turn, his > Mom asked if I would help him with his math.
<snip>
Get a copy of Fred Bingham's book, "Boat Joinery & Cabinetmaking Simplified" from the library or about $20 from Amazon.
Has a drawing and some verbiage about building a tool box.
Neat way to become introduced to tools and you make something that is useful.
Lots of other neat stuff in the book, but consider that as bonus money.
Lew
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Bill, I applaud your willingness to invest your time in a young man's life. But the success of your attempts will depend entirely on the boy.
I have been blessed with the best 14 year-old son any father could hope for. He inherited some really good genes from his mother's side of the family, and those, coupled with her exceptional parenting skills, have produced a straight-A student that's a few months away from Eagle Scout. He is a model of obedience and has never been any trouble.
His best friend lost his dad to lukemia six years ago. My family has "adopted" this boy, and his mother, who has become my wife's best friend. We spend all spend a lot of time together, eat dinner together probably 3 times week, weekend activites, take vacations together etc.
I have not been able to get either one of these boys to show the slightest interest in woodworking. They are willing to help if I have a task that I need help with, but they always dissappear as soon as the task is done. It's just hard to compete with Nintendo, skateboards and touch football.
Your young man may take to woodworking like a duck to water. But be prepared to move to something HE is interested in if he doesn't. Good Luck.
DonkeyHody "If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. - Abraham Maslow
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Good on you Bill!
Every kid needs a "non family" adult interested in their welfare. Sounds like you and your wife are doing that in spades.
My suggestion is that if he's drifting, you need to anchor him before you start "teaching" him. Do something that is easy and fun and get his interest up, before you start pushing him to add the math component.
You are right, you don't want to teach him to hate woodworking.
I'd share some of your passion with him, and since I'm a wood turner, I think some easy bowl turning would be a good start. You could do the roughing to round, which is sort of scary--and let him take it from there.
See what he responds to and do more of it.
Be sure you are having fun too, and he will.
Old Guy

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Bill in Detroit wrote:

You're a good man and I'm sure your friend appreciates it.
A project I built a few years ago forced me to do a lot of googling and also brush up on some trig. It was a lighthouse with tapered sides. IIRC it was six-sided and tapered from 10" to 6". No plans needed, just DAGS to get ideas.
You could even let him make the mistake of ripping the pieces at 30degrees and finding out they don't quite fit. Then you could show him the calculations or have him find the tables on the web with the correct angle. A little basic electricity to add a light and he learned without even knowing it.
Good luck and let us know how things are going.
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Bill in Detroit wrote:

I have been on the receiving end of a guy like you, Bill. My grandfather on my mother's side. He always challenged me to solve problems. He never spoon-fed me anything, but always nudged me into the direction I needed to go. I can hear his voice: "When I was a young guy, I was trying to figure this out, and I thought this would work.. do you think it will?"
He taught me some very basic, yet very useful stuff, which I still use today. The simple bi-secting of an angle with a compass. The simple construction of several angles by using a compass, parts thereof which will give you any angle you'll ever need...accurately. The biggest mistake that instructors make is by not allowing their students to make mistakes. (That doesn't include safety-related mistakes, of course i.e. parachute packing, mitre saws...you get the picture.)
Sounds to me that both of you have a wonderful opportunity here.
Good luck!
r
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Robatoy wrote:

Allow me, please, to reply to all (so far) in a single posting.
Good answers all. Thank you and I hope others will chime in as well.
Thus far I intend to begin with a tour of the shop and segue into asking him if he has given any thought to what he might like to build. If he hasn't, or if his idea is not a good fit for my shop / his (current) skills, I think I will show him the gallery page here ( http://www.joewoodworker.com/jwwgallerysmall.htm ).
I taught adult education computer classes for three years (full time pilot programs) and there is sometimes a moment in a students life when learning becomes fun and the student becomes self-propelled, needing only a tour guide and not an instructor. A LOT depends on my young friends interest level and motivation. Right now his uncle is providing most of the motion on this. But, if I can light that spark ....
Once we've had a few evenings together and start getting comfortable working in the shop together I suspect that projects will start to flow from the dialog. And from the projects, excursions into theory reinforced by practical experience.
Hmmm ... the next project on MY plate is to build a table to make my bandsaw more useful and safe. That might be a good starter project to work on with him because it consists of a number of simpler tasks that will see long term and very adaptable use. It also opens up the concept that one can make their own tools after first applying sound reasoning to the design. I also have a lightly-used piece of bandsaw blade from before I added the riser that would let us build a bow saw that he could keep.
The guy who took ME under his wing for a season was named Richard Oakley. He was an engineer at the Fermi 1 Nuclear Plant near Monroe, MI and I remember poring over countless pages of test results waaaay back when they had a clogged pipe and had to shut it down (in something of a panic). It was a 6" thick binder of greenbar data dump. I found it endlessly fascinating. That was in 1966 and I was 14 at the time.
I owe Richard this much, at least.
Bill
--
There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and
it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.
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If you're going to do small projects do them FAST, build the skills quickly and get and keep him interested then embark on a Grand Project that Requires Commitment.
Back to Lew's suggestion of a book...
Build a boat with the kid. It doesn't have to be a big boat. It can be a rowboat. But build something that the kid can use, feel, be his, and Be Damn Proud Of. Something he can Show Off to Friends and say "I Built That" and have the friends say "_ing A!"
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Dave Balderstone wrote:
> Back to Lew's suggestion of a book... > > Build a boat with the kid. It doesn't have to be a big boat. It can be > a rowboat. But build something that the kid can use, feel, be his, and > Be Damn Proud Of. Something he can Show Off to Friends and say "I Built > That" and have the friends say "_ing A!"
Bolger has plans for a bunch of simple plywood boats.
Stuff you can launch and use in the west channel of the Detroit river or an inland lake.
Lew
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Bill in Detroit wrote:

I wish you all the best of luck on your venture. For a boy starting woodworking (or anything else), selection of project is a key. The project needs be something he wants to have when it's done, and something within his skill level so that it is a success. Younger boys really have no idea what their skill level is, and rely on mentors like yourself to steer them to jobs within their capabilities. I still remember 8th grade woodshop projects. First project was a key rack, merely a 1 * 6 piece that we planed square and then added a 45 degree chamfer on all sides. Really simple, and to a grownup's eyes, a trivial piece. But at 14 years old, it was the coolest thing ever. I always make scale drawings of projects before I start cutting wood. A pad of squared paper and an architect's scale are all it takes to learn a lot about drafting. Power tools are the most fun part of shop, especially when young. I'd check him out on any tools that he is big enough and strong enough to handle. Making things to store his possessions (racks for his books, CD's, models, clothes, athletic gear) are often a winner. Once he is into it, trips to museams with antique furniture can be meaningful and a source of ideas.
David Starr
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Bill in Detroit wrote:

Sounds ideal. You start with the basics of what you know then you get to share with him the adventure of learning more about woodworking.

FoggyTown
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Wed, Nov 29, 2006, 1:31am From: snipped-for-privacy@online.com (BillinDetroit) doth claimeth he is: <snip> all ears.
http://www.woodturningonline.com/Turning/segmented_turning/index.html There's your math, trig, tools, et al.
Or, you could just make a steenkin' bird house.
JOAT Democratic justice. One man, one rock.
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If he is musically inclined look at one of Grizzleys junior electric gutar kits.
Bill in Detroit wrote:

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Bill in Detroit wrote:

I think it would be best to ask the boy what he wants to build. You can suggest things like a shelf unit over his bed, coffee table, blanket chest or whatever. I'm a bit worried that if you try to encorporate too much math into it, it becomes a homework assignment, instead of being fun like it should be.
I mean, in real life, you're going to build a lot more plywood carcass/face frame projects than a 12 sided cabinet that needs fancy math.
I also think that topics like tuning a bandsaw would be boring to a teen. Try to get him down there with everything set up and build what he wants to. I'm not even sure I'd make him "practice" on crap wood first. If he has to spend considerable time making a prototype out of junk wood first, that delays the satisfaction/gratification. Let him build something he'll be proud of and use. That's the best way to get him into the hobby. Math can be done in seperate tutoring sessions.
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I agree. The math that is required will become obvious all by itself and will give the lad a reason to study it, rather than trying to shoe horn the concept into teaching math. Same principle I guess, but a different approach.

Not to mention that a lot of very accomplished craftsmen perform their skills with nothing more than the most basic math. For woodworking he might even be better served learning the simple math of a craftsman - things like the 3-4-5 triangle for example. These types of things can lead to the deeper understanding of math as well. Most of us that were told that the skilled trades were the reason for leaning something like algebra were quick to figure out that that was a bunch of bull. Not that I'm arguing against teaching math - not at all, but I don't believe the standard lines we have all heard will work any better than they did with a lot of us.
I learned all of my math because I had to. After the fact, I used what I learned and do to this very day. That said, there is a world full of people who don't have the math skills I do, but they sure do build some beautiful stuff.

Agreed again. It's sometimes hard to remember back to when we were a teen. Teen minds don't work like adult minds. Though the lesson in setting up the machine would indeed be a worthwhile lesson, it may not be a very good approach. I guess it depends on the kid.

And of course, then rapidly move him on to spray painting.
--

-Mike-
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On Sat, 02 Dec 2006 07:46:20 -0800, bf wrote:

FWIW, I came upon a book the other day, "Box by Box", by Jim Stack <(Amazon.com product link shortened)65087251/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-4712185-0308804?ie=UTF8&s=books>.
Presents a series of boxes, from the very simple to the rather complex--the first one you can make with a piece of 1/4 inch plywood, a handsaw, and some sandpaper if you don't mind it looking like a plywood box, (or if you've got a bandsaw you can make a much nicer version of it with a quarter board foot or so of walnut or cherry) by the end of the book you need either a pretty well equipped shop or highly developed skills with hand tools.
Nice book because he can grow with it, boxes are always useful, some of the designs are quite fun--there's a wooden safe for example with a working combination lock--and when he gets to the multisided boxes he'll get a real arithmetic workout.
Dan Freedman's "Box Making Basics" would be a good companion--it's better on the theory and practice of box-making but it's not nearly as much fun.
If he can do every project in Stack and in Freedman and do them well, he's got a Hell of a good start as a woodworker.
--
--John
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Bill in Detroit (in snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com) said:
| The thing is ... although I have worked as a die-maker, I only have | a couple years in the woodshop myself. Thus "The List" of what I | don't know dwarfs the list of the things I am certain about. I can | show him the math okay ... but I am still puzzling out the order of | operations. | | Y'all jump in here with your suggestions and thoughts just whenever | you feel like ... I'm all ears.
I'm pretty sure this will seem "off the wall"; but why don't the two of you tackle hand dovetailing together? The math for layout will be simple but confidence-building; and he won't be intimidated by your superior knowledge. He even has a chance to outdo you. :-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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Morris Dovey wrote:

The term 'chance' implies that there is some uncertainty about the outcome. ;-)
--

I like America, just as everybody else does. I love America, I gotta say
that. But America will be judged.
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Bill in Detroit (in snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com) said:
| Morris Dovey wrote: | || superior knowledge. He even has a chance to outdo you. :-) | | The term 'chance' implies that there is some uncertainty about the | outcome. ;-)
Whenever a student can pass up the teacher it says good things about both.
The uncertainty only goes away if one resolves to not try. :-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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